Fantasy Friday – The Second

And so it begins. Christians, it would seem, have finally realized what Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy is all about, and the warnings are beginning to propagate. I’ve wondered why it’s taken so long. Seemingly the soon to be released movie version of The Golden Compass has done the trick.

But this does bring up the issue: Just how should a Christian respond to a work of literature by an atheist with the avowed purpose of propounding his views? Add to the mix that the books target children. Well, not really, according to Pullman. But they have won awards given only to children’s books, so I’d say the target audience is generally understood to be children and above.

As I see it, Christians have these options:

  • Boycott the books and movies
  • Campaign against the books and movies
  • Read the books, see the movies – review them
  • Keep kids away, but adults read the books, see the movies – and preach against them
  • Read the books, see the movies with appropriate-aged kids and discuss them
  • Read the books and see the movies – and enjoy them

Mind you, I don’t think the answer is an easy one. These are books that lead to a decidedly atheistic conclusion in which the protagonists kill God.

Here’s what one blogger says:

I will admit that I do have an issue with an author who wants to kill God in the minds of children. I don’t know why anyone would want to take someone’s faith away on purpose, but sadly, there are people like that EVERYWHERE, which is why parents must be active in their children’s lives. I do, however, believe that Pullman and anyone else with an agenda has the right to speak their minds, even if I don’t agree with their thoughts. The Lord knows I have my own agenda too.

In my humble opinion, parents must arm their children with a foundation in faith and their own brains. Without that, evil will eventually overcome good.

To be honest with you, I lean toward this approach, coupled with reading and writing reviews of the books and movies. I believe the Bible is true, that Christianity is reality, and I’m not afraid of teaching children to recognize error. Some of the commenters to the post I referenced have it wrong, however. Their idea is to expose kids to all sorts of belief systems and let them make up their own minds.

That idea can only exist for someone who thinks there is no absolute truth, because certainly if a parent thought something like lead-based paint was dangerous for his child, he’d go to extraordinary circumstances to keep it as far from his little one as possible. This laissez-faire approach to spirituality, then, is nothing but ignorance of the existence of Truth.

Honestly, though, I expect to see a more pro-active approach from the majority of Christians, and I hate to see that kind of reactionary response to the culture. Instead of going the anti-Harry-Potter route with the Pullman books, I wish we could simply point to a better offering—not one written fifty years ago, but one written ten or five or one year ago. I even hate the idea that we are now scrambling to get YA Christian fantasies out, as much as I believe those books are needed. The thing is, they should already be on the shelves.

But they aren’t, or only is small numbers, and none that I’m aware of with the award-winning credentials of Pullman’s books.

Let’s do better. Let’s write better, publish smarter, promote creatively. And if we do, the Philip Pullmans will be relegated to answering our work and not the other way around.

Published in: on November 2, 2007 at 11:09 am  Comments (24)  
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