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May 2023

The Golden Compass, Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials, Book 1)When I picked up this book at the library, I had no idea of the controversy swirling around it. I don’t have the time or the inclination to address all of the charges leveled against this book. Many have done this already. However, I wanted to record a few thoughts:

  • Pullman is a great writer. His book drew me in and kept my interest all the way through. The Golden Compass is a fascinating adventure.
  • Pullman is most certainly not a Christian. In his own words, he says:

I don’t know whether there’s a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it’s perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don’t know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.

Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it’s because he’s ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they’re responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I’d want nothing to do with them.

  • Pullman’s writing very obviously reflects the above stated belief. For example, he portrays the church as supporting attacks on innocent children. Pullman also feels free to re-write Genesis Chapter 3, this time including daemons (see below).
  • Pullman’s characters all have daemons, which are animal counterparts that are part of their human’s soul and conscience. If a human is somehow separated from their daemon, they are viewed as incomplete. Daemons keep their humans from ever being really alone. As a Christian, this is what God is for me; Pullman obviously has a different answer to mankind’s longing to belong.
  • It’s foolish to try and compare Pullman with C.S. Lewis. There’s just no comparison. It’s even more foolish of Pullman to criticize C.S. Lewis.
  • I haven’t read the second and third books in this series, although I plan to. My opinions may change as I get further into the series.
  • I have heard that the movie version of the book (coming out this Christmas) doesn’t include many of the anti-God elements that are found in the book. So please don’t judge the book by the movie!

In spite of all this, I would still let my child read these books. Pullman makes no secret of his worldview. He’s not trying to slip something past us and it’s pretty obvious that he’s not a Christian. His writing would be fuel for some great discussions about the origins of sin, the place of the church, and the presence of God in our lives. Honestly, I would have more of a problem with my child reading something like Ann Brashares’ Forever in Blue. In my opinion, Brashares’ worldview of “no consequences for sin” is much more subtle and difficult for children to detect than Pullman’s obvious anti-God themes.