HIS DARK MATERIALS….I realize this is old news, but a few days ago I finished reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a best-selling, award winning kids/teens fantasy story that features a boy from our world who teams up with a girl from an alternate universe that’s populated by witches, magical instruments, talking polar bears, and so forth. The boy and girl fight some enemies, have some adventures, and eventually do battle with (and defeat) the Authority, an evil being of great power.
Good clean fun, right? Not quite. To my surprise, it turned out that the Authority is God. Not just godlike, mind you, God. As in, the God of the Bible. In case you think I’m misinterpreting this, here’s a passage from the third book:
“Tell me, then,” said Will….”what is the Authority. Is he God?”
He sat down, and the two angels, their forms clearer in the moonlight than he had ever seen them before, sat with him.
Balthamos said quietly, “The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty ? those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator….The first angels condensed out of Dust, and the Authority was the first of all. He told those who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie.”
And just in case you’re not absolutely sure that God is really the bad guy in this story, here’s one of many passages that makes clear exactly what Pullman thinks of him:
“There is a war coming, boy….We’ve had nothing but lies and propaganda and cruelty and deceit for all the thousands of years of human history.
….”There are two great powers,” the man said, “and they’ve been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.”
This is pretty heavy stuff. I mean, it’s a kids book, but the entire story is about the overriding evil of God and the Christian church, climaxed by a heroic war in which God is finally vanquished by the forces of good after 30,000 years of despotic rule.
Personally, I find this perfectly congenial. Your mileage may vary. But what I want to know is how this trilogy has managed to fly under Jerry Falwell’s radar. Hell, the Christian right hates Harry Potter with a frenzy just because Harry’s a wizard. They ought to be practically burning down bookstores over Pullman’s books.
So what’s the deal? Why haven’t I heard anything about this? Does the Christian right not know about these books? That seems unlikely. Have they decided not to make a fuss about them for some reason? Did I just miss the fight back when the books were first published? What’s up?