8, 8 days until Disney! Ah ha ha!

(SPOILERS) His Dark Materials trilogy (SPOILERS)

Warning : SPOILERS ahoy!

OK, so I've been reading Philip Pullman's _His Dark Materials_ trilogy -- good fantasy for younger audiences (kind of in the Harry Potter vein, but darker and smarter), and I just got to the big "reveal". The series involves two kids (one from Earth, one from another universe) who team up and fight against an evil, powerful entity called the Authority. OK, so, standard fare.

Well, not really. As is eventually revealed, the Authority is in fact God. That's right -- the biblical God. Here's an excerpt from the third book :

"Tell me, then," said Will...."what is the Authority. Is he God?"

(The angel) 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."

Uh, damn. Basically, the whole thing ends up being about the overwhelming evil and perfidy of the Christian Church and its God, and the series wraps up with the forces of good -defeating Him- and ending his tyrannical regime. It's pretty cool, too.

So here's my question : maybe I totally missed something, but how come Harry Potter gets all the ire of the Christian-right? I mean, this trilogy is massively popular, has won (I think) more awards than Harry Potter ... and yet Harry Potter gets banned because it "promotes witchcraft"? By comparison, in the world of these books, the Christian God is a liar, a despot, and the single worst thing to ever happen to mankind. Did I miss the Christian-right backlash on this one? Are they just ignoring it? What gives?
Permalink Snark 
August 24th, 2005
HDM never got the attention that Potter did. If and when it does get anywhere close to the attention of Harry Potter books, the author will end up like Salman Rushdie: hiding and under death sentence from the religious fanatics. It does get *some* attention, and the movie that is being made is going to have every last reference to god removed (thus destroying the whole plot like almost every movie hollywood makes from a book), so that they don't end up on a fatwah from Pat Robertson or the other AmeriTalibans.
Permalink Peter 
August 24th, 2005
Massively popular?

I guess I'm really out of touch. I've never heard of it.

I like the premise, though.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 24th, 2005
You are searching for logic in people who does not think logically.
Permalink bizzle snizzle 
August 24th, 2005
It's massively popular (or it was a few years ago), amongst its target readership which was between about 10 and 15 but it does survive as a crossover Adult book as well.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 24th, 2005
>> don't end up on a fatwah from Pat Robertson or the other AmeriTalibans.

The correct terminology is Pat Robertson, radical christian cleric.
Permalink Mongo 
August 24th, 2005
+++ You are searching for logic in people who does not think logically.+++

I suppose that's better than searching fo' grammar in peoples who am ungrammified.


Also, now that the plot has been spoiled I'm actually interested in the book. Ah well.
Permalink muppet 
August 24th, 2005
Yeah, my little cousin was reading 'em and I got hooked. They're a definite notch above Harry Potter in terms of, uh, characterization and language and environment and description and pacing and plot.
Permalink Snark 
August 24th, 2005
muppet sez : "Also, now that the plot has been spoiled I'm actually interested in the book. Ah well."

Well, you were the one who read the thread that said (SPOILERS) twice in the subject. But you'll probably enjoy the series even knowing that the Authority is God. It's very enjoyable.
Permalink Snark 
August 24th, 2005
I wasn't planning on reading it so I figured "spoilers, what the hey, I'm never going to read the damned things", but, like muppet (egad, nooooo!) I'm now interested in reading them but it's too late. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 24th, 2005
I think the main reason that the more *ahem* vocal of the pious haven't gone ballistic is that they don't tend to read a lot of books. Reading one book a lot doesn't count.

So whilst HP has been made into a film and is on their radar, this hasn't. Yet. I understand that is to change shortly*, although the film version is going to be a little less up front.

*( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/4133846.stm )
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 24th, 2005
It was also a damn good play at the National, although watching the two three hour plays back to back almost killed me. No chair is comfortable for that long, especially theatre chairs.
Permalink Andrew Cherry 
August 24th, 2005
Its not that much of a spoiler there's considerably more to His Dark Matrials than just that God has feet of clay.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 24th, 2005
Having poked around a bit, I noticed an interesting conversation / interview conducted with Philip Pullman, the series' author, and Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The latter is very enthusiastic about the books, and their conversation deals rather directly with a lot of the issues I was wondering about. Interesting!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2004/03/17/bodark17.xml
Permalink Snark 
August 24th, 2005
"Uh, damn. Basically, the whole thing ends up being about the overwhelming evil and perfidy of the Christian Church and its God, and the series wraps up with the forces of good -defeating Him- and ending his tyrannical regime."

He's said over and over that Christianity and all religion is evil. Not much of a surprise there.
Permalink KC 
August 24th, 2005
That interview produced the lovely quote:

"The curious thing about fundamentalism is that I think it's a very, very modern phenomenon. It's a kind of reaction to a scientistic rationalism which says, it couldn't have been like that. And the fundamentalist, instead of saying, well what question's being asked here, immediately bounces back and says, oh yes it was, and you then have a sterile standoff, which doesn't at all get to the level of the mythological and the proper positive sense that you're talking about."

That's the Archbishop of Canterbury BTW.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
August 24th, 2005
Think we can bait the Archbishop to a visit to ?Off? He sounds *extremely* bright, and he would be a big addition to our periodic science vs religion threads. Probably has a quick wit, too.

Yeah, he would make a great new regular. Just getting him here once would be all that's needed. We all know: Once you start ?off, you just can't stop.
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 24th, 2005
He's certainly a lot better than the last duffer they had as Archbish; I'm surprised he got selected for the job as to much of the blue-rinse brigade who make up "Christian Britain" he probably seems like a dangerous radical. Plus he's got a beard, and men with beards are untrustworthy... :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 24th, 2005
I've wondered the same things. One of the main characters is named God Killer, and the two main characters (starting with the second book) are an allegorical Adam & Eve, which we're told explicitely. It even has Metatron, Angels involved in the rebellion, and the first paragraph, perhaps even the first sentance, in the first book mentions Daemons.

The book is a direct attack on the Church, and doesn't hide it.

But, perhaps, that's why it's escaped the Church's ire. With Harry Potter, they're riding the coattails of something that's relatively innocuous, but they don't want to raise the status/popularity of His Dark Materials.

What I do wonder, though, is how many semi-lenient Christian parents buy this book for their children only to discover all of the above.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 25th, 2005
Oh yeah, I highly recommend this series. Especially in audio format. It's a dramataization with a complete cast, and the author narrates. He's got a really classic voice, and you can just imagine that he got his start as a story teller rather than a story writer.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 25th, 2005
Refreshingly different from Left Behind, Right Behind ...
Permalink trollop 
August 25th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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