26 September 2010

Day 183: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  ISBN: 9780375838309.

Oh, I do believe I might get my ass chewed out for this one.  Lucky for me, I have very little ass, so people should get bored with it pretty quickly and maybe find some fat to chew elsewhere.  The thing that pisses me off most about banning books for religious reasons is that it completely denies any of the good things about the book.  The religious zealots get so fixated on the "THEY KILLED JESUS" aspect that they completely blind themselves to any other (possibly) positive message, or the fact that maybe the "killing God" is meant as a symbol of something else and not actually, ya know, killing God per se.

But some of that comes up later in the series and I haven't read that far.  So let me share with some of you what our precious, precious children who must have their souls protected at every cost, might be missing out on.  The major thing this book teaches to our children, the main thing that I think adults should be terrified and upset about, is not the religious debate, it's the message that sometimes adults do not have the best interests of children in mind, and that they are willing to manipulate and use and even harm children to get what they want, and therefore sometimes it is up to the child to protect herself and her friends.

Oh Shit.  How did you miss that one?  It's because Pullman pulled one over on you and blinded you with your Kryptonite, which also happens to be your self-proclaimed Spinach.  Popeye the Superman...I just made myself die a little there.

I'm not even implying that you should be pissed off that Pullman wrote it.  If you were reasonable people you would be pissed off that it needed to be written.  If you're pissed off that Pullman presented the Catholic Church (which, to begin with, is in an alternate universe anyway) as an organization that has done terrible things to children and is trying to hide it...uh, maybe you should be less pissed off about that happening in fiction and more pissed off about the real occurrences?  It would be hard for Pullman's work to be so inflammatory if there wasn't some grain of truth. Otherwise it would be easy enough to just read it and say, "Meh, that's not true, but this is an alternate universe and therefore he must be talking about some other Catholic Church."

I don't see what the problem is with this novel.  I really don't.  A novelist can't kill God.  Or rather, he can kill God as many times as he wants: God is first and foremost and idea and the only way you can kill ideas is to stop thinking.  So if you want God dead, please keep banning books, because that is surely a good way to get people to stop thinking.

You know, I think there was a group of people who did that back in the Dark Ages.  They only allowed the clergy to be able to read and only held services in Latin so that the masses had to rely solely on the word of their priests.  Hmm...which group was that again...?

I just find it incredibly ironic and sad that Pullman is promoting self-preservation in children against adults wanting to do them harm, and all the book banners can see is the negative message against the Church.  (Note, I say the Church because I have yet to actually see anything about about Christians or Christianity as a belief system.  I am willing to believe that it shows up in the sequels, but I have yet to see it in The Golden Compass.)

Banned for negative representation of Catholic Church/Christian organizations, use of alcohol by minors, and because the author is a declared and unabashed atheist.


  1. I adore this series, and I am in complete agreement with this statement: "It would be hard for Pullman's work to be so inflammatory if there wasn't some grain of truth." I think that's what people get so upset about - when their own fears and doubts are put right there onto the page in black and white.

  2. Thanks Trisha, I was a little nervous about this post and I imagine if the right people find it I'll still get some backlash.

    I really enjoyed The Golden Compass, although it was very slow getting into it. Once Lyra got to the North though I found myself blowing through the book. When I finished it I was very tempted to dump the rest of my planned reading for Banned Book Week and just finish the series, but I thought that might get tedious for readers and limit what issues I was able to right about regarding banning, etc. I've heard complaints about the movie, but I thought they did a _very_ good job of keeping the flavor of the work while also making it more cinematically appealing. Then again, I saw the movie first *shrug*.


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