27 September 2010

Day 184: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  ISBN: 9780375838309.

I'm actually kind of surprised that the supernatural element of this book wasn't taken up more during the banning.  Nowhere did I see any objections to the presence of the daemon.  Then again, since they were presented as being human souls, I guess it wouldn't make much sense to object to their presence, even in "daemonic" form.

What should be upsetting is the supposed ability of people to live on without their souls and their connection to original sin.  I apologize if the following is news, but I assume that since this book is more than 10 years old, most people have read it or at least watched the movie.  I'll try to be vague enough that there won't be too many spoilers, but I have to be able to talk freely about the intellectual content here.  So basically souls and Dust (which we later find is "original sin") are connected, and of course the Church wants to free children and future generations from original sin, but in doing so it means separating them from their daemons (i.e. SOULS).

I like the idea that souls and original sin are connected.  I am a firm believer that knowledge not only gives us more power and control over our lives, but that it actively enriches our lives.  Without the original sin, we would still be as innocent and unaware as children.  Maybe that appeals to some people, but it makes sense to me that we would have to have that awareness in order to even have souls to begin with.  Why do you need a soul if you are God's perfect creation and incapable of sin?  The soul is theoretically what gets us to Heaven and as long as it follows the will of God it is good.

But then I've always had a problem with the idea of blind faith.  God threw challenges at just about everyone in the Bible, including his own son.  Jesus was allowed and even provoked into questioning his faith in God, so why wouldn't that be considered a good thing in your search for truth and meaning?  If you return to God, doesn't it mean that your faith is that much stronger than someone who has never asked why?  Or someone who has never even thought about what it might like not to have the love and strength of God, or at the very least explore other ideas about God/other Gods?  Regardless of your belief system, I don't understand the desire to limit knowledge when knowing about other cultures and beliefs can only help you in relating to your fellow human.  Jesus had to navigate dozens of different cultures, the Middle East being central to trade during that time.  If the goal of being a Christian is to be more Christlike...why attempt to isolate yourself and everyone else from different view points rather than learn to live with each other in respect and peace?

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 still haven't gotten around to reading this one (or seeing the movie actually) but I will one day!

  2. It's a bit slow to start, but once it picks up it really becomes fascinating.


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