Pullman (spoilers for all 3 books)

Gross Family argross at bigpond.net.au
Mon Mar 18 08:05:26 EST 2002

I felt that Pullman was rejecting the emphasis of organised religion on
obedience to authority; in HDM, in fact, God is called "the Authority". It
seemed to me that Pullman's objections to organised religion were about the
importance, in his view, for human beings to make their own choices based on
their own authentic
feelings and opinions, not on the word of some authority (not dissimilar to
Blake's views, if I remember rightly). So I saw it as primarily an argument
against being enslaved to authority, IMO; and, rightly or wrongly, to
Pullman, that's what organised religion seems to be about. To me, Dust seems
represent consciousness, the faculty of conscious beings to think and love
and decide, and the forces that would enslave consciousness are seen as
evil. The whole trilogy seemed to me to be a passionate anthem for life,
love, choice, and even the suffering that must come with these. To Pullman,
organised religion seems to be inimical to these values. While Christians
may believe that this is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of
Christianity on Pullman's part, I do feel he has as much right to create a
world based on his own passionate beliefs as does a person who passionately
believes differently.

I felt that, far from being a rejection of "spirituality" in general, there
is an underlying feeling throughout the books of a pattern, one that sets
into motion all the key events of the plot without removing free will. I may
be wrong, but I have a strong sense that while it is clear that Pullman
rejects the idea of God as authority, he would seem (consciously or
unconsciously) to support the idea of some reality that is behind Dust, that
nurtures consciousness and that set in motion the events in the book that
enabled evil to be defeated. To me, this evinces an attitude that is deeply
moral and passionate, even spiritual, though not religious in the sense that
many people might define it. In fact, the strong passionate belief in the
beauty of consciousness feels to me like a deeply religious attitude, even
while Pullman rejects religion as is is usually taught and believed.

In the end, though, I have to agree with Jennifer that whatever Pullman's
ideas about God or religion, he certainly has as much right to create a
world based on them, and that doing so is no more unbalanced or "sad", than
C.S. Lewis's Narnian books--which, by the way, have always been among my
very favourite books. Of course, there were, and still are, many Christians
who passionately believe that Lewis's views as revealed in the Narnian
are incorrect or heretical, or perhaps unbalanced.

I completely assert anyone's right to disagree with Pullman's views, BTW,
and don't mean to offend anyone by also asserting his right to present his
views with as much passion as he can. And he does it with such beauty and
passion and skill, IMO, that at the very least, the books are food for
thought and imagination and feeling.


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