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Banned Book Review 2: His Dark Materials

October 24, 2012

8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman

Reason: anti-Christian message

For those of you who missed the craze when The Golden Compass came out, the His Dark Materials series is set in a world where people have a manifested spirit animal guide which other people can also see and interact with.  The plot is complex, to say the least, and involves a lot of intrigue, church politics, metaphorical representations of sin, and talking polar bears.  Generally it’s the portrayals of the Magisterium which cause people to take offense.  While the term “Magisterium” is used to refer to a body of the Catholic Church and several of the names used for the angel characters are similar or identical to those used in current English version of the Bible, the religion of the world is not explicitly Christian.  For one thing, there is no Christ, which is generally agreed to be the major sticking point upon which the label “Christian” hangs.

I will say that when I read these books for the second time, they did not hold up well.  I suppose that as a teenager I loved the complexity of the world and generally thought anything with witches, spirit critters, and talking polar bears was The Best.  But the second time around I was disappointed by Lyra’s lack of personal agency.  I guess I just grew to prefer a self-rescuing princess.

For an excellent take on the movie The Golden Compass, try the Movies in 15 Minutes Version.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2012 8:03 am

    There’s also the whole “God needs to be killed” plotline and the romanticization of The Fall as symbolized by two teenager’s sexual awakening. The various Christian groups who hated the book kinda got hung up on those parts.

  2. Kristan permalink
    November 7, 2012 9:07 am

    I read this series for the first time this year. I enjoyed the added depth in the first one (movies leave out so much!). The Subtle Knife was enjoyable, and I finished it quickly. I was… Dissatisfied with the concept that the fall was the sexual awakening of these two children. Children of very questionable morals, actually. I love a book with an “anti-hero/ heroine,” but I was not left feeling the “hero” part, just the anti”


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