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Saturday, December 01, 2007



So they guy wrote a book you don't agree with. Big deal. Get over it. He's got every right to write what he likes. As a Roman Catholic, i find the kind of response to Pullman that you give embarrassing. I'd like to think my fellow christians had enough confidence in their faith not to gather up their skirts and shriek at the first sign of an atheistic mouse.

Sandra Miesel

If it's a mouse, it's roaring quite loudly.

I do regret not making myself read the accursed books sooner. But it's the movie, not the books that have gotten this on everybody's radar.

Pullman's attack on CS Lewis is most certainly not taken out of context. The whole article is a vicious rant which manages not only to take Lewis out of context but to accuse him of sins he demonstrably didn't commit.

Carl, Pete and I read a stack of Pullman's past interviews back to the 90s. We didn't rely on pull-quotes by others. Anyone can google the same stuff and verify our charges.

Brian John Schuettler

I just went over to Steve Greydanus' site to get his take on the movie. Unfortunately he hasn't posted on it yet.


We should not wonder that Pullman has such great contempt for
C.S. Lewis in as much as Pullman is a perfect example of the Green
Witch in The Silver Chair.
As the witch addresses the two children she entralls them
with the story that there is no sun. The children know in
their hearts that they have seen the sun, yet
imprisioned in the underground, how long we know not,
they lose faith in ever seeing the sun again
and give into the witches soothing voice.
Puddleglum (the lion in wiggleworm clothing),
unlike the USCCB resists the narcotic effects
of the witch's spell and speaks to the children the
truth - that there is a sun and that they have seen it
and that if the underground world is all
the witch has to offer, well, then together
they can make a world to lick the witch's world hollow.

At this the children regain their bearings and
the witch's falsehoods lose
their power.

One wonders what exactly the world
of Pullman has to offer children. Here we have an
Author (authority) telling children how to behave and
in particular telling them to misbehave.
And then he and his fellow travelers
complaining when his authority is questioned. I say what is sauce
for the goose is also sauce for the the duck and the gander as well.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ... go find some sauce.


To illustrate the difference between Pullmans brave new world
(or is it just a reprise of the evils of materialism in the last century)
and the Christian world I have selected two poems the first a poem by Robert Herrick

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter's morn
Smile like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly shorn?

Thus on the sudden come and see
The cause why things thus fragrant be

'Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see Him come, and know Him ours,
'Who, with His sunshine, and His show'rs,
Turns all the patient ground to flow'rs.

The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room

To welcome Him, to welcome Him
The nobler part
Of all the house here,
is the heart,

Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this reveling.

(Robert Herrick b. 1591)

This is of course the view of the child in us,
for no one thinks that December turns to May
and yet when we think on it we know that this
embodies our hope at Christmas tide and the hope of the resurrection.

The festival of Christmas more than any other festival known to man
anticipates the joys of heaven.
Pullman and his ilk like the White Witch in
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
want it to be always winter and never Christmas.

Can this be any coincidence? Is Pullman not the Anti-Lewis, but
more openly and consciously fighting a man who can not fight back.
And isn't he just a little pathetic for it all. I think Matthew Arnolds poem
expresses the view that Pullman would like to plant in every little beating heart.

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


Grimreader, let's switch some words in your argument: so Marx/Lenin/Stalin/Hitler/Mohammad have some ideas you don't agree with. Big deal. Get over it. I'd like to think Christians have enough... blah, blah, blah.

Why oh why cannot Christians stand up for their faith and boldly declare something WRONG and that indeed, this competing emperor has no clothes on. Pullman can rail all day long, surrounded by sycophants about how Jesus and Christianity are frauds and the rest of us are supposed to react with a smile and a 'ho hum'. Why is that?

Ok I'll answer that: I think it's because we aren't supposed to worry about it because none of this is real anyway - a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse, right? There is no God, or they're all the same, so don't get your twinkies in a twist. I'm mean, it's not like Jesus really was God, right? No biggy!

Stand up for Jesus or fall for the evil one.

Carl Olson

So they guy wrote a book you don't agree with. Big deal. Get over it. He's got every right to write what he likes.

So I wrote a post you don't agree with. Big deal. Get over it. I've got every right to write what I like.

Carl Olson

As a Roman Catholic, i find the kind of response to Pullman that you give embarrassing.

I guess I should have asked: Why? Why is it embarrassing to have a Catholic (or anyone, for that matter), point out the disingenuous and condescending nature of Pullman and Company's responses to critics? And why do you adopt the same sort of tone and approach?

I'd like to think my fellow christians had enough confidence in their faith not to gather up their skirts and shriek at the first sign of an atheistic mouse.

And I'd like to think my fellow Catholics would know the Faith well enough to recognize when it is being attacked and when they are being played for the fool.

Mark Brumley

Grimreader wrote:

So they guy wrote a book you don't agree with. Big deal. Get over it. He's got every right to write what he likes. As a Roman Catholic, i find the kind of response to Pullman that you give embarrassing. I'd like to think my fellow christians had enough confidence in their faith not to gather up their skirts and shriek at the first sign of an atheistic mouse.

He's got every right to write what he likes.

Did someone say that he doesn't have a right to write what he likes? If not, it seems that you are making an irrelevant assertion.

As a Roman Catholic, i find the kind of response to Pullman that you give embarrassing.

As a Roman Catholic, I find embarrassing the kind of response you give to Carl's response to Pullman. So what? Are we even? Is your statement of embarrassment intended to further this discussion? If so, it is hard to see how it does. Is it that you don't think what is said above about Pullman is accurate? Then point to the alleged inaccuracies. Or is it that you think it accurate, but you don't think Pullman's ideas are offensive or problematic? Then just say so and we can discuss that.

I'd like to think my fellow christians had enough confidence in their faith not to gather up their skirts and shriek at the first sign of an atheistic mouse.

Why does criticism of Pullman's anti-theistic, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic claims, or of his use of children's fantasy to present those claims, amount to a lack of confidence in one's faith? That seems to be the implication we are supposed to draw of your comment, but it is by no means evident that the conclusion follows from the premise.

How does it follow from the fact that one defends one's beliefs that one must, therefore, not have confidence in those beliefs? It would seem that a more reasonable prima facie claim would be that failure to defend one's beliefs implies a lack of confidence in those beliefs or at least of one's ability to defend them. Of course, I qualify the above as a prima facie case; there can be other reasons one doesn't choose to defend one's beliefs. But at least at first glance your reaction, grimreader, seems more suseptible to your own criticism of a lack of confidence than the view you seem to criticize. Can we agree that, per se, neither defending nor refraining from defending, one's beliefs indicates a lack of confidence in those beliefs?

One more point. Surely Christian criticism here of Pullman is based on the idea that children can be misled by the message and manner in which Pullman communicates it. You may dispute that children will be misled. If so, you should say as much. We can then openly debate the point. But surely if, as Carl, Sandra, and Pete think, Pullman's message can seriously mislead children, it is reasonable that they would speak out against the books and the film based on them.


I guess Laura Miller would be surprised to learn that my husband and I are both big readers. I was an honor student in both high school and college, and I'm currently studying for my Master's degree. I do not read or respond to hysterical emails, and the adults in my house enjoy opera, classic literature, and an eclectic array of music, writing, and movies.

Nevertheless, my kids will not be reading "His Dark Materials," not because of the movie (which they also will not be seeing) but because I heard about the series long ago. As Miller says, they aren't exactly secret. Pullman may be a gifted writer (I don't know whether he is or not) but talent at storytelling doesn't make it all right to attack the Catholic Church and, while he's at it, the beliefs of millions of other Christians. Talent, if he has it, makes the attack worse. And if this writer can't see that, then she isn't half as smart as she thinks she is.

I take storytelling -- whether in books, in movies, or on television -- seriously. I doubt that Mr. Pullman dashed these three books off one day for the fun of it. He was trying to do something specific with them, and I respect (and reject) that. Apparently for all her professed admiration, Laura Miller doesn't take Pullman very seriously. Or maybe she doesn't take anything very seriously, which is a distinct possibility.

Gail Finke

Mark Brumley

Also -- whoops! -- no one's been hiding "His Dark Materials."

Maybe the His Dark Materials trilogy hasn't been hidden but some folks seem eager to hide the anti-theistic message of the books.

Now consider that Coca Cola, which is promoting The Golden Compass, insists that there is no anti-religious agenda connected with the film. Either Pullman's agenda has been hidden from Coca Cola or Coca Cola doesn't care and is lying. Either way, it makes perfect sense to alert people to Pullman's agenda and for Christians to express their disagreement with that agenda.

Little Gidding


[Ding Dong!]

JUNE CLEAVER: See who’s at the door, will you, Beaver?

BEAVER: It was the mailman with a package for us! Must be a Christmas present. Look, it’s free tickets to The Golden Whompass, that new kids’ holiday movie we’ve been seeing commercials for! The one that’s sort of like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

JUNE CLEAVER: No, Beaver, I think it’s called The Broken Compass or something.

BEAVER: Can we go, Mom? Please? Instead of watching The Bells of St. Mary’s again this Christmas? It’s got armored polar bears and teenage heroes and stuff!

JUNE CLEAVER: Well, let me see the envelope. It says here it’s recommended by the Catholic Bishops. Okay, Beaver, I’ll talk to your father about it. I think there’s no reason why we can’t do something a little different this Christmas. I bet he’ll say okay—it stars that pretty Catholic girl he likes.


WARD CLEAVER: [To Beaver] Young man, you’re going to have to explain to me what these books were doing under your mattress.

BEAVER: Gee, what books do you mean, Dad?

WARD CLEAVER: I mean these, Beaver—The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley, Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault, and The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche.

BEAVER: Well, Dad, after we all saw that movie and mom ran away with Eddie Haskell, I thought about it a lot and decided I needed to grow up. So I talked to Miss Canfield and she gave me and Penny Woods some lessons after school. Being an adult is neat, Dad, even if it means that God is dead, because it also means we all get to do whatever we want!

WARD CLEAVER: Well, I guess we all have to grow up some time, Theodore. But what’s this piece of paper in the Crowley book? It looks like a bill from the Mayfield Women’s Emergency Health Clinic for “procedures” for Penny Woods.

BEAVER: Dad, do you have a thousand dollars? I spent all the money from my paper route on that bong you borrowed last night.

Nick Milne

BEAVER: Gee, what books do you mean, Dad?

WARD CLEAVER: I mean these, Beaver—The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley, Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault, and The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche.

I have two of those books in my room right now :(

Peter Woods

My mother read the first two of the Dark Materials trilogy,she said she could not read the third book because the story was getting too ridiculous and absurd. My mother is in her 90s so she has been around the block. When I saw the The Golden Compass had been made in a movie,I decided to read the trilogy myself. Like a lot a people the series deteriates as it goes forward. I think Mr. Pulman just wanted a quick buck because the critics gave him such high praise. I own and read over a thousand books of fanatasy genre;with such authors as David Eddings,Terry Brooks,Katherine Kurtz, J.R.R.Tolkein,and many other delightful authors too numerous to mention. Well that my two bits worth.

Mark Brumley

Little Gidding: lots of fun. Serious fun, though. The bit about the recommendation from the USCCB is devastating. Lots of people don't read the reviews but many people look at the recommendations in diocesan newspapers and go with them. Plus, thanks to the promotions of THE GOLDEN COMPASS spin department, some people who rarely see the USCCB film reviews will be told the US bishops have approved the film and they will think those of us who are criticizing it are excessive. Thanks, Mr. Forbes.

fr richard

Well written, Carl.

Miller: "They recognize him not as an enemy but as an ally in a society increasingly colonized by the vapid preoccupations of consumer culture."

Carl: ""We are material objects with no meaning or purpose to our lives. Buy my books! Watch my movie! Nitwits!"

Loved that.


Your mother got one book further than I did. I read the first chapter of the second book and didn't care what happened to the characters.


As I mentioned in an earlier thread about the anti-Catholicism of the LA Times, the Sunday book section is where one can usually find an anti-Catholic remark or gratuitous insult. This article is a perfect example. Why is this article even in the Book Review section? It is not a review of the books, which were published years ago. The only explanation I can think of is that the Book Review editors needed to get their weekly anti-Christian jab in and this was the best they could come up with.

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