Update 06/12/07: the Pullman film has gained the approval of the US Bishops' Conference. This says a lot about that Conference, alas; but read this (hat-tip to Fr Ray Blake; quote taken from Bonfire of the Vanities):
The film is based on the works of author Phil Pullman, who has written a series of entertaining stories called "His Dark Materials." In his own words: "‘I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,’ says Pullman. ‘Mr. Lewis [C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia] would think I was doing the devil's work’" (from the Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2001). And, "I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak…. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God" (from the Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 13, 2003). Now that he is getting criticism, Mr. Pullman is telling a very different story.Original post (15/10/07): Local action as appropriate: it is staggering that Pullman's books keep appearing in 'Christian' schools, public libraries and on the BBC. It is hard to imagine a similar attack on any other religion being tolerated in this way.
From CFNews (from The Wanderer): He is Britain's second-most popular author of books marketed to young people. He has won the Carnegie medal, received strong reviews from The New York Times and other major daily newspapers, and the book I am reviewing has been declared an American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. Hollywood has just finished a film adaptation to this same book, and the previews are already being marketed to children and fans of the fantasy genre as on the same level as Tolkien.
Far from it. Philip Pullman and his literature are evil. Not ordinary evil like coarse language and embellishing one's resume, but evil on a level that surpasses the actions of Henry Morgentaler - Canada's most infamous abortionist. For what Morgentaler does to the bodies of little children. Pullman does to their souls. His books attack God and the Church, encouraging atheism as the alternative. Perhaps this is why Rowan Williams is the only major Christian leader to embrace Pullman's work: as Anglican archbishop of Canterbury. Williams heads the first Protestant institution to accept divorce, contraception, and abortion.
Having forewarned the reader, here are the specific titles that I forced myself to read. The first is The Golden Compass (previously title Northern Lights), which is now being turned into a movie starring Nicole Kidman. The next two books are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Together, these three books are known as the His Dark Materials trilogy.
I really did not want to read any of these books. However, they are popping up all over on book lists aimed at young people. Thus during the Harry Potter debate, more than one parent asked me whether Pullman's works were as blasphemous as being claimed, or whether this was simply a matter of differing interpretations.
From the start it was clear that Pullman really does not like the Church. He portrays it as oppressive and power hungry. Lest the reader wonder which Church is being targeted for Pullman's contempt, the Church in Pullman's alternate universe boasts a college of cardinals, a college of bishops, priests, nuns, and a Magisterium.
Secondly, Pullman does not appear to like children either. This probably explains why he would exert so much energy trying to lure children away from their belief in God. After all, if you don't believe something exists, why take the time needed to write three novels disproving something in which you profess no belief? Thus the children in Pullman's world are kidnapped, drugged, murdered. mutilated, abandoned, used for occult scientific experiments, and severed from their souls as part of a ritual to open up gateways between worlds. Most of these actions take place at the hands of Church officials, with the Church's official blessing. Pullman is detailed enough in many cases to leave little to the imagination.
Yet none of the aforementioned is as objectionable (and as obscene) as the blasphemy central to the story's plot. Pullman describes God as a liar and a mere creature. The story claims our Lord was a mere angel who evolved from dust. This supposed angel then lied to all the angels who followed by claiming to be their creator. To avoid any confusion as to the God of which Pullman speaks, the author borrows all of God the Father's names and titles from Holy Scripture.
Had I not forced myself to read these books. I never would have believed that blasphemy now constitutes award-winning children's literature. Pullman is proof that our culture deserves a millstone and another flood. How dare Hollywood and the publishing industry insult God in such a manner. How dare they corrupt our children and prey upon unsuspecting Christian parents by comparing Pullman to Tolkien.
No child should be permitted near these books. I also don't recommend them to parents. unless absolutely necessary to protect their children from the books' dark influence. An example is a father who discovers his child reading these books as part of a school list. He should probably have some firsthand experience with the book before confronting the school and attempting to undo any harm done to his child. Yet then he should only read these books after much prayer and careful consultation with his spiritual director. And for goodness' sake, don't let your children see the movie.
Having now read the books. I can attest that Pullman's work is as diabolical as other Christian critics warn. Don't buy the books, don't let your children bring the books home, and don't see the movie. For Philip Pullman is the pied piper of the Devil.