I just read The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked, a 23 page tract by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights about how Phillip Pullman wants to turn my kids into atheists. I get the impression that this is the kind of controversy he's been looking for all along, but the stupid things people are saying about his books still get under my skin.
According to the Catholic League, the point of The Golden Compass movie is to slip a camouflaged, diluted form of atheism in under parents' radar to get kids hooked. These brainwashed youngsters will then ask for the trilogy of novels for Christmas, and their atheist indoctrination will be well underway. I haven't seen the TGC movie yet, and I've heard Hollywood has watered it down and omitted some of the more explicit connections between the Magisterium and the Catholic church in order to give it a broader appeal. If this is true, it's unfortunate, but the filmmakers obviously did this to placate Christians (who probably comprise the majority of the film's U.S. target market), not hoodwink them.
I wonder what the halfwits who are up in arms about The Golden Compass would make of the works of William Blake or John Milton. If they can't even get through 3 children's books, relying instead on secondary sources like the "synopsis" in the aforementioned pamphlet, it's probably safe to assume that it won't ever become an issue.
Rupert Kaye, chief executive of the Association of Christian Teachers, claims it is "revealing... that Pullman chose not to add Allah to his list of names" (for God, depicted as a mendacious angel called the Authority in the books). Now that's food for thought: the atheists in league with Islam. Mr. Kaye has obviously considered this scenario carefully.
Says Caroline Moore, comparing TGC to Narnia in The Spectator: "Lewis's version is informed by his Christianity; Pullman's driven, far more explicitly, by militant atheism." Apparently Christians are informed but atheists are driven, just like the animals they believe we're descended from. When Richard Dawkins compared atheist and homosexual politics in The God Delusion (a book I found snide and disrespectful of religion and which, incidentally, sings Pullman's praises), I thought he was being melodramatic. Now, I'm not so sure.
I support Philip Pullman unequivocally and I will continue to encourage my students to read his books. Censorship, ignorance and hysteria are enemies of truth and beauty, of civilization and of God.