In a 2001 interview with the Washington Post, Philip Pullman, author of “The Golden Compass,” is quoted as saying, “I want to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”
But in more recent interviews Pullman has denied having an atheistic agenda or any kind of agenda at all. But methinks he doth protest too much.
Pullman spoke last month with Boston University Assistant Professor of Religion Donna Freitas, herself the author of a book that examines the spiritual and religious themes in Pullman’s work titled “Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman’s Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials” (Jossey-Bass, 2007). A Pullman sympathizer, Freitas asked Pullman about the perception that he has an agenda to sell atheism to kids, to which Philip Pullman responded:
My agenda is not to convert anyone to any particular point of view. My agenda is to make them feel, see, enjoy, delight in, be beguiled and amused by the story I tell, which is about two ordinary children in extraordinary circumstances. That’s my agenda. I’m telling a story. I’m a storyteller.
However, in that same interview he said something that gives a window into his agenda.
I think that the qualities that the book celebrates are those such as kindness and love and courage and courtesy, too, and intellectual curiosity, all these good things. And that the qualities that the book attacks are cold-heartedness, tyranny, closed-mindedness, cruelty, the things that we all agree are bad things.
What Mr. Pullman leaves out in this description of his books is the fact that the bad qualities he attacks are always assigned to characters related to Christianity, and the good qualities he celebrates are always assigned to those who wish to destroy the church. This plot device certainly reveals his agenda.
Pullman attempts to undermine the basis of Christian belief by redefining the key principles of the Christian faith in four broad areas:
1. Pullman preaches a postmodern view of truth, denying its absolute nature. He clearly denies that Truth is contained in or revealed by any sacred text, especially the Bible. Truth in Pullman’s world is relative to the circumstances in which you find yourself. His main character and heroine, Lyra, rarely tells the truth. Quite the contrary, Lyra accomplishes most all of her noble ends through deceitfulness. Pullman celebrates the lie over truth, placing the lie in a positive light throughout his trilogy.