But he had it coming.
I finished The Amber Spyglass. This is the third of His Dark Materials trilogy. It was enjoyable. Especially delicious were the attacks on the church. More lovely than that was watching the real church squirm.
The Vatican, the Southern Baptist papacy, and various paranoid preachers are wringing their hands and screaming heresy just like the bumbling Magisterium does in the books. Even the liberal Christian Century devoted its cover to the books and film and sniffed at Pullman's efforts.
Pullman's version of Christianity is a fairly common straw man: the oppressiveness of organized religion.
I don't think Pullman is criticizing a straw man at all. It is a very real man. Pullman lets loose on the church. Let those who have ears hear. The church has it coming. It still fosters ridiculous notions about sexuality, biblical and church authority, and it substitutes superstition for science. Hey kids, let's go to the creation museum! After that a fun trip through hell house and we'll top off the day with two minutes of hate for the gays! Don't ask questions. Just believe.
If the church had any sense of dignity it would not feebly defend itself in a mode of self-righteous posturing but take these critiques to heart.
The Amber Spyglass is a great adventure of human consciousness, courage, wisdom, and love for Life as it is. It is an awareness of Life in all of its physicality, beauty, ugliness, joy, and despair. It is about curiosity, growing, knowing, loving, and waking up. It is about redemption and hope.
I think they are great books for middle and high school youth--perfect for a confirmation class.
The only way the church is going to move beyond its ignorance, self-centeredness, cowardice, and fear-mongering, is if it is critical of itself and of its theology and bravely moves ahead.
I found in Pullman's books the real message of the historical Jesus--not the myth the church turned him into--but the real person. That message?
In the words of Lyra: let's build the Republic of Heaven. Right here. Right now.