While reading Philip Pullman's, His Dark Materials, you need to remind
yourself that this book was marketed toward children. There are some strong
themes, including violent death which are uncharacteristic of children's
novels. However, with references to physics, philosophy and theology, it is
easily enjoyed by adults. While I won't talk about the plot of each book there
were some interesting themes that I thought worth discussing:
Daemons: This is the physical
manifestation of one's soul as an animal. What I found interesting is that when
a person's daemon dies, the person dies or becomes catatonic. Is there
something inside people who make them people? If Terry Schiavo had a physical
daemon the decision to starve her to death would have been easier to make.
Unfortunately, for her, her family, and her insurance company seeing is
believing, at least when it comes to human consciousness.
Dust: This is Dark Matter in our
world. Dust is conscious. The church believes it is the manifestation of
original sin making it the target for ultimate destruction. One character says,
"for all the church's history it's tried to suppress and control every
natural impulse. When it can't control them, it cuts them out. It tries to
obliterate every good feeling." Maybe our universes aren't so parallel
after all. The church makes a big deal of separating children from their
daemons because Dust is less attracted to children. Thus, by cutting the child
away they would never know original sin and live their lives as mindless
servants to the Magesterium. That would NEVER happen in our world. Finally, we
get to the controversy....
If people thought the Golden Compass
was controversial than wail until they make a movie about The Amber Spy Glass. First off, this book
reveals the Christian Heaven to be a lie. The children visit the land of the
dead, only to find out that every one that has ever died lives in a bleak,
bland world... kind of like Indiana
without the racism. Then there is the criticism of organized religion. Mary
Malone, the character I related most to, says of Christianity, "The
Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing lie, that's all."
Mary Malone could possibly be my number one literary hero. Her character left
the Church and described it in a way every atheist can relate to. It was hard
for her because she let down her family. "It felt as if something they all passionately believed in depended
on me carrying on with something I
didn't." Those atheists out there that have a supportive family, I envy
you. For the majority of us, we are made to feel as if we did something
horribly wrong, and the only way to right our crime is to lie about the way we
feel. However she also describes the relief, the huge weight off her shoulders
with my favorite line of the book, "Now I can do something with my whole
nature, and not just half of it."
I recommend His Dark Materials not only to atheists, but to people who simply like a good book. The story is suspenseful and there is love, redemption, and all those other good things that make something worth reading. - JeannetteSorensen.