Show 226: Leonard Wheat – Against Religious Superstition: Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”

Audio here!

Friday, The Golden Compass opens in theaters nation wide. Whatever critics may say about this new children’s fantasy trilogy, the die has already been cast. According to Christian activist groups, Golden Compass is a direct affront to Christianity and indeed God Himself, as emails, chatrooms, blogs and conservative television pundits warn everyone that in this trilogy, a little girl “kills God.”

Of course, the truth is not so far removed from the Christian propaganda it has spurned. While there is no doubt Hollywood’s version of author Philip Pullman’s – a member of the British Humanist Association – novel series will be rather tame, the books do indeed offer a non-religious take on C.S. Lewis’s Christian vision found in his seven-book Chronicles of Narnia series (indeed, Narnia was the inspiration for Materials).

Christian activists are arguing that Pullman is being grossly deceptive by offering watered-down film versions of his work to entice children to ask their parents to buy them the books, which will in turn de-convert them from Christianity. If only it were that easy.

But seriously, what does Pullman’s books actually say about Christianity, and religion in general, and what ought a secular society take from either the films or novels in question?

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