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BarbaraN
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Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

I thought it might be worthwhile having a thread to discuss the religion in HDM and especially Philip Pulman's point of view. I'm setting this up as a spoiler thread since it will have to cross book lines. I thought I might drop this into the discussion as started. It is a quote of Philip Pulman from an interview:

--------------------------------
His Dark Materials seems to be against organised religion. Do you believe in God?

I don't know whether there's a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it's perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don't know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.

Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them.
----------------------------

http://www.philip-pullman.com/about_the_writing.asp
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BarbaraN
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

I also found this statement interesting as well:

----------------------------------

Essentially, the trilogy is about the transition of innocence to experience, the triumph of knowledge over ignorance. When we're introduced to Lyra, we're told the inflexible church authorities in her world are anxious to stem the spread of "Dust". Only later do we find that Dust is good - "the totality of human wisdom and experience" is Pullman's description. It's the religious zealots trying to prevent the spread of wisdom who are the bad guys, even if they wear clerics' robes.

Pullman has no qualms with critics who label his books sacrilegious, so how does he describe himself? "If we're talking on the scale of human life and the things we see around us, I'm an atheist. There's no God here. There never was. But if you go out into the vastness of space, well, I'm not so sure. On that level, I'm an agnostic.

"That's not to say I disparage the religious impulse. I think the impulse is a critical part of the wonder and awe that human beings feel. What I am against is organised religion of the sort which persecutes people who don't believe. I'm against religious intolerance."

-----------------------------------

From:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/12/1071125644900.html
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BarbaraN
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

This is from a transcript of a program on Faith and Fantasy. Too much to really quote except for this little bit:
------------------------------

Coffey: J. R. Tolkien did write of the eternal need for us readers to see what the writer had meant. Philip Pullman saves us from much hard work because neither in the trilogy nor in his public statements does he leave us in any doubt about his meaning or intention. Essentially he has taken the Christian story as expressed by Milton in Paradise Lost – and turned it on its head.

Pullman: I don't set out to be subversive. All I set out to do is tell a story. But the thrust of the story, the sympathy of the story if you like, seems to be with the side that many traditionally minded Christians in particular have thought to be the wrong side. The general theme, the general gist of the whole book is that the famous story of the Temptation in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man so-called, when Eve gave way to the temptation to eat the fruit of knowledge and tempted Adam to eat it as well, that this traditionally [has] been presented as being a very bad thing and Eve was very wicked and we all got covered in sorrow and sin and misery from then on as a result of this .. well, I just reversed that. I thought wasn't it a good thing that Eve did, isn't curiosity a valuable quality? Shouldn't she be praised for risking this? It wasn't, after all, that she was after money or gold or anything, she was after knowledge. What could possibly be wrong with that? So that's the question, that's the sort of sympathetic stance if you like of the story and perhaps that's why some people have found it a bit disconcerting.
-------------------------

Worth reading for many points of view. You will have to skim down about one-third to the information on Pullman and HDM:

KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS A SPOILER THREAD

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/relig/enc/stories/s510312.htm
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BarbaraN
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

Another statement by Pullman on his perspective of religion. This is from an article entitled "Far from Narnia"

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/12/26/051226fa_fact

--------------------------------------------------
“ ‘Thou shalt not’ might reach the head, but it takes ‘Once upon a time’ to reach the heart.”....

In his speech, Pullman contended that the literary School of Morals is inherently ambiguous, dynamic, and democratic: a “conversation.” Opposed to this ideal is “theocracy,” which he defined as encompassing everything from Khomeini’s Iran to explicitly atheistic states such as Stalin’s Soviet Union. He listed some characteristics of such states—among them, “a scripture whose word is inerrant,” a priesthood whose authority “tends to concentrate in the hands of elderly men,” and “a secret police force with the powers of an Inquisition.” Theocracies, he said, demonstrate “the tendency of human beings to gather power to themselves in the name of something that may not be questioned.”

This impulse toward theocracy, he announced at the end of his speech, “will defeat the School of Morals in the end.” He sounded oddly cheerful making this prediction; in his books, Pullman enjoys striking a tone of melancholy resolve. He continued, “But that doesn’t mean we should give up and surrender. . . . I think we should act as if. I think we should read books, and tell children stories, and take them to the theatre, and learn poems, and play music, as if it would make a difference. . . . We should act as if the universe were listening to us and responding. We should act as if life were going to win. . . . That’s what I think they do, in the School of Morals.
---------------------------------

I think a lot of Pullman's statements show that he is not so much atheistic but that he sees a blind adherence to an "Authority" as dangerous and that a new approach to spirituality need to replace the old model.

I will have to research further and, of course, reread the last two books but that seems to be what is coming through, at least to me, right now.
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Eldarion
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

The only addition I would make to that is that I think Pullman is also making a point for people to not be submissive to the church and/or religion. Have faith, sure, but don't go to far with it. I think, at times, Lyra shows faith, but she is 'rebelling' against the system, which is something we should all do.
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KirstenMc
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

I have always been struck by the name given to the 'evil' power: Lucifer, bringer of light. I once read a science fiction/fantasy story that compared Lucifer who tempted Eve to partake of the forbidden knowledge with Prometheus who gave the (forbidden) fire of the gods to mankind. I have to agree with Pullman in having a visceral aversion to the depiction of knowlege as the beginning of man's fall or disgrace. If we are not about curiosity and the thirst for knowledge then how are we human at all
ABI
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ABI
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

[ Edited ]

BarbaraN wrote:
I thought it might be worthwhile having a thread to discuss the religion in HDM and especially Philip Pulman's point of view. I'm setting this up as a spoiler thread since it will have to cross book lines. I thought I might drop this into the discussion as started. It is a quote of Philip Pulman from an interview:

--------------------------------
His Dark Materials seems to be against organised religion. Do you believe in God?

I don't know whether there's a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it's perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don't know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.

Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them.
----------------------------

http://www.philip-pullman.com/about_the_writing.asp


His has to be the most true statement I've read all day.

& Connie! What's up with the HP board??? *takes on a panicked look, suppresses a scream* How long will it be down?

Message Edited by ABI on 10-01-2007 10:17 PM
"There is nothing easier than self-deceit."
"Bombing for peace is like f***ing for virginity"
"There is no such thing as death, only the absence of life."
"There is no end, unless you let it."
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

ABI--As far as I can tell, the Harry Potter board is up and running fine. PM me if you're still having trouble accessing it.

~ConnieK



ABI wrote:
Connie! What's up with the HP board??? *takes on a panicked look, suppresses a scream* How long will it be down?

Message Edited by ABI on 10-01-2007 10:17 PM


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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oysteinsevag
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

I have read this series several times, I find something new to love and explore every time I read these books, what struck me so soundly when I first read HDM was that Pullman is not indicting religion, not faith. It is a great distinction. Within the book, the questions present revolve around the organization of religion and what is done in pursuit of the perceived divine.

These books ask us to question our thought process about what we believe in what we have faith in, at the heart I feel this story is a resounding cry for finding true faith. Not FAITH, of the religious kind, but faith that can be described as the belief in the truth. It seems to me the great theme of these books is truth and belief in truth. That is what the amber spyglass beautifully illustrates in the journey through the land of the dead. It is the harpies asking and feeding of the truths of the world and how conscious beings all must acknowledge the truths in their own lives and the world that make these books so powerful. I feel as though this story is a cry for humanity to see the world around us as it is, to accept the horrors and the joys because they are the reality, to believe in the truths that describe humanity, and to take our faith away from what is intangible, and replace it with what is known. This is nowhere more beautifully realized than in the scenes where Lyra and Will accept their love and bloom quite literally from the knowledge that both will forever be sustained in that great love. They have faith in something they know, something they have experienced, and something that is the most powerful force on this planet, more powerful than a nebulous deity which is not present to everyone. These children know love, they believe in love, love is a grounding truth, and it is a faith that they can subscribe too because it is of their own creation.

That above all I feel is Pullmans idea on religion, the significance of truth, of creation, and of intellectual choice is what makes the story. All of these things are counter to religious ideas, in religion our choice is predestined, there is no realistic creation because all of the building blocks were provided for us, and finally the truth is something that is unique to the individual. The only truths present in our lives as human beings are the ones that we experience firsthand, that is the message of the harpies, and that is the message of Pullman. Have faith, but let it only be the belief in what you through experience know to be the truth.

~R
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sunnymoon6
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---



BarbaraN wrote:
This is from a transcript of a program on Faith and Fantasy. Too much to really quote except for this little bit:
------------------------------

Coffey: J. R. Tolkien did write of the eternal need for us readers to see what the writer had meant. Philip Pullman saves us from much hard work because neither in the trilogy nor in his public statements does he leave us in any doubt about his meaning or intention. Essentially he has taken the Christian story as expressed by Milton in Paradise Lost – and turned it on its head.

Pullman: I don't set out to be subversive. All I set out to do is tell a story. But the thrust of the story, the sympathy of the story if you like, seems to be with the side that many traditionally minded Christians in particular have thought to be the wrong side. The general theme, the general gist of the whole book is that the famous story of the Temptation in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man so-called, when Eve gave way to the temptation to eat the fruit of knowledge and tempted Adam to eat it as well, that this traditionally [has] been presented as being a very bad thing and Eve was very wicked and we all got covered in sorrow and sin and misery from then on as a result of this .. well, I just reversed that. I thought wasn't it a good thing that Eve did, isn't curiosity a valuable quality? Shouldn't she be praised for risking this? It wasn't, after all, that she was after money or gold or anything, she was after knowledge. What could possibly be wrong with that? So that's the question, that's the sort of sympathetic stance if you like of the story and perhaps that's why some people have found it a bit disconcerting.
-------------------------

Worth reading for many points of view. You will have to skim down about one-third to the information on Pullman and HDM:

KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS A SPOILER THREAD

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/relig/enc/stories/s510312.htm





Hello there, I am new here and was reading the posts and had to comment. I have never heard of this book til today nor new of the movie either. When I discovered there was a childrens book out there with the purpose of " killing God in the eyes of children" I had to see for myself if this existed. I am not one to take what I read in the headlines too serious so I decided to visit places where this attitude is welcome and openly expressed. What I have found is a hatred that equals or exceeds any hate that can be attributed to religious doctrine (namely christianity). How does this author justify his hatred towards those who believe in God then turn around and point an accusing finger at us. How can he generalize being a follower of God so easily by taking the unfortunate bad examples out there of greedy men and woman who put on a christian name tag in order to dupe ignorant people into following them. To say religion is all about greed and power is like the pot calling the kettle black. I mean, would'nt telling people there is no God, therfore no rules, no truth, no absolute right or wrong be another way of assuming total power for oneself. I mean what is the real benefit out there to saying there is no God? Why is a theory of evolution( no real evidence exists to prove it ) taught as fact...what is the benefit of going around telling people we all came from a lower level creation like monkeys? There could be only one real explaination for why anyone in the prideful human race would go around proudly proclaiming their ancestors are hairy smelly chimps. The overall benefit of this "there is no God" attitude is that to ignore that there is a God is to set ones own rules, to have no accountability to anyone and therefore never have to admit to any wrongs commited cause after all if there is no God then the Bible is fake, The 10 commandments are just some old fashioned suggestions and there are no limits to what we could or should do. I mean whos keeping score anyway. To hear how Mr. Pullman describes the fall as being a good thing puts a knot in my stomach because the bible clearly foretold that there would come a time when man wold call good eveil and would call what as evil good. To hear him say that all Eve was after was simple knowledge and what could be wrong with that...is the very line of reasoning the devil used on eve to get her to abandon the perfect provisions handcrafted for her and Adam. He kept drawing her attention away from all she had and kept showing her the boundary that God said not to cross. His objective was to paint our Lord as a cruel, stingy, taskmaster who was holding out on them ( adam and eve). Mr. Pullman is just another vessel by which this age old serpent has been telling the same old tired story through. He promises that freedom is in our ability to do what feels good to us and to have boundaries set in place by a ficticious God is where our freedom is lost. I see why people get so caught up in this line of reasoning. It appeals to our lower nature that wants what it wants when it wants it. The God I know is one of immense Love and I so regret to hear how so many think of Him as being so horrible. Yes i agree that there have been and will continue to be many a fake man or woman of God out there using religion to get what they want in life. But just cause some of yall out there have been there and done that, by that I mean gone to church ( maybe even several churches) and came away hurt, lost, angry does not mean that God is not real. What it means is that there are places that wear His name but do not live His words in the Bible. I mean if any of us goes to a departmenet store and we recieve bad service once, we most likely will return. If we go there and again recieve bad service we most likely will not go back but instead of abandoning shopping at department stores all together....most people would go on a mission to locate one that was the genuine article. Where they are treated as valued customers instead ignored and sneered at. Likewise if a person has a bad experience at a church they should not use that as an excuse to abandon seeking a relationship with God. They should continue the search until a place is found that truly reflects who He so clearly is in the Bible. A loving yet just God who created w world for us and gave it over to man and entrusted him with freewill. Adam and eve were not robots that had to love God. God wanted them to Love HIm casue they wanted to. When they gave in to disobeying God, it was the same as them walking over to the devil and handing him the title deed to the Earth They traded an entire garden of prefection for a solitary tree. They lost both. They had that dominion and gave it all away because they wanted to be their on Gods. Now through various means mankind still continues the quest to be their own gods by writing stories that speak of the fall as being nothing more than a quest for truth. God was and still is the truth. Mr. Pullman has a wonderful gift of weaving words. What a shame that that God given gift is being used as a weapon against the very one who gave it to him.
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BarbaraN
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Re: Religion in HDM: Killing the Imposter God

I just got a most interesting book, though I haven't really started to read it yet. It is called "Killing the Impostor God" by Donna Frietas and Jason King.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&bnit=H&bnrefer=BROWSE&EAN=9780787982...

They have taken on an interesting premise that, in spite of his expressed atheism, Pullman is not an atheist but is only against what he considers and outmoded concept of God. I thought this thread might be good place to discuss some ideas in the book. If anyone wants to read a sample chapter, it is online as a PDF file at:

http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/77/07879823/0787982377.pdf

I found it particularly interesting in some of the parallels it draws with Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." It does seem to fit, like this description form "Thus Spoke Zarathustra::"

"He was a concealed god, addicted to secrecy... When he was young, this god out of the Orient, he was harsh and vengeful and he built himself a hell to amuse his favorites. Eventually, however, he became old and soft and mellow and pitying, more like a granfather than a father, but most like a shaky old grandmother. Then he sat on his nook by the hearth, wilted, grieving over his weak legs, weary of the world, weary of willing, and one day he choked on his all-too-great pity."

This does seem like an inspiration for the Authority in HDM.
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

Welcome, sunnymoon6! I very much appreciate the tone of your post. Thank you for sharing your ideas on this important subject. There are many readers who agree with you. They find that these books are not for them because of the religious aspect of the story. Others interpret the books to be arguing against the abuse of power by organized religion when some bad apples (so to speak!) occasionally use it (or have used it in the past) in corrupt ways. Still others argue that Pullman is pitting reason against the core of faith itself. It will be interesting to see how the movie that's coming out in December deals with the subject.

~ConnieK



sunnymoon6 wrote, in part:
Hello there, I am new here and was reading the posts and had to comment. I have never heard of this book til today nor new of the movie either. When I discovered there was a childrens book out there with the purpose of " killing God in the eyes of children" I had to see for myself if this existed. I am not one to take what I read in the headlines too serious so I decided to visit places where this attitude is welcome and openly expressed. What I have found is a hatred that equals or exceeds any hate that can be attributed to religious doctrine (namely christianity). How does this author justify his hatred towards those who believe in God then turn around and point an accusing finger at us. How can he generalize being a follower of God so easily by taking the unfortunate bad examples out there of greedy men and woman who put on a christian name tag in order to dupe ignorant people into following them. To say religion is all about greed and power is like the pot calling the kettle black. I mean, would'nt telling people there is no God, therfore no rules, no truth, no absolute right or wrong be another way of assuming total power for oneself. I mean what is the real benefit out there to saying there is no God?


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

Here's an interview with Pullman where he addresses some of the issues brought up in this thread (Again, beware of spoilers):

http://www.thirdway.org.uk/past/showpage.asp?page=3949

Enjoy!

~ConnieK
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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sunnymoon6
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

That was a very interesting interview. Thank you for sharing it. While I do not share his disgust with Christianity, I can sympathize with his frustration over the horrific wrongs commited in the name of serving God. I also agree that serving a religion or a system is a worthless pursuit and one that leads to the giving up of our God given ( in my opinion )individuality. I am one of many Christians who are only about living out what the Bible says and walking in the very specific and unique individual purpose that I was created with. Another author who also happens to be a Pastor (Kim Daniels) addressed how trying to merely live out some religious rules while attending church is to be turned out as cheap imitations basicly from a giant church copy machine. I have lived and experienced both sides of the coin. I was raised to know of God as a child and teen and turned from it to pursue what I thought was a better way. I rebeled against anything that appeared to be an organized approach to learning or serving the God I was taught about in my younger years. Those years of independance were by far the darkest and most hopeless period I can ever recall. I had the freedom to do what I wanted. I indulged myself in all the things I was told I should not do because they were bad. I found out first hand, the hard way, that there was alot of wisdom in what I had been taught as a child and how unfortunate for me that I listened to people tell me it was nonsense to believe in a silly book of fairytales like the Bible(funniest thing was these supposed wise non-believers had worse lives than I did despite their arguements against there being a God). I finally returned to my roots but this time I knew what I was looking for. I did not want any man to tell me who God was . I read the Bible myself. I found a church where the preacher told me not to take his word for anything but to go read it for myself cause he was just a man too. I did exactly that. I discovered that religion was a dead end street but God was most certainly real. Mr. Pullman has had what seems like, plenty of experience with religion and as it is with many, it seems as though it was negative and left him with more questions than answers. The one persepective he does not have at this point, is the perspective of a person who has been personaly touched by God's love. I hear in his words a man who has accepted that life will end for him with all finality with no hope of anything more. That life in the present is, at best, about doing the best with what you got with the understanding that this is all there is. I don't know about you, but if believing in a God who created us for a specific purpose on Earth to be followed by an even greater purpose in Heaven ( depending on the choices one makes) sounds to be a far better way to live than to accept that we are all here by some cosmic accident and have nothing more to look forward to than an end to this lifes pain and suffering. I am sorry to go on so much. I guess it just pains me that this man feels he is really on to something and sounds so sure of his wisdom yet there is a haunting sadness beneath his words that seems to echo what so many others this day and age are saying. What is truth and what is real and why am I here???? I feel fortunate to know God so deeply in my heart that the chaos of this world and all the uncertainty it holds does not weigh like a heavy burden on me but rather I wake up each day so grateful for the beauty that awaits me and the chance to be a light that shines Gods goodness and love to others so that they might know him too. Not as a power hungry dicatator but as a loving Father who, much like Pullmans Grandfather descibed Him, waits for us to come to Him. He sets boundaries for our protection but gives us the power to cross those lines if we want to because He does not want forced love and obedience. Just like any parent, He wants His kids to love Him enough to heed His advice. I as a parent love it when my kids have a chance to do the worng thing but because they love me and know I set a boudary in place for their protection, lay down their desire to get what they want for the sake of doing what I tell them is best. That is why the tree was in the garden in the first place. Had it not been there, then mans freewill would not ever have had the chance to be exercised.Without the chance to disobey God as Adam and Eve had with the tree of knowledge of good and evil, there would never have been the chance for them to prove they Loved God on their own. Mankind has tried every way possible to achieve fullfillment and happiness outside of following what God says in The Bible. It has something called the 10 commandments in it (which most people are familair with) I love how the Bible talks about the first 2 being the most important. #1 Is to Love God with all your heart soul mind and strength #2 Is to Love your neighbor as yourself. To do just these 2 alone takes care of all the other commandments. Why? because to know and truly love God means a person is willing to do what He says no matter what. That means when He says love your neighbor as yourself, the person who loves God with all his heart etc. will be able to deny his wants to do what was right and in the best interest of the other person. That means a person who commited to these first 2 commandments would not have to worry about keeping the command not to murder. He loves God too much and therefore loves his neighbor too much to even let the thought enter his mind. Nor would that person have to worry about the command not to commit adultery cause the person who loved God and his neighbor would seek to protect his neighbors marriage by honoring the bounadries of his neighbor as well as those set within his /her own marriage. This person would not have to worry about slandering their neighbor because they would know that that would grieve Gods heart too much to see His child lash out angrily at another one of His children. Religion is about robotic rules whereas knowing and loving God in a personal way is about sacrificial Love. Love defined, not as human affection one for another but a higher Love called "agape". This kind of love seeks to benefit others at the expense of self. The opposite being lust, which seeks to benefit self at the expense of others. That is why Christianity emphasizes Jesus and His death. He layed down His life because of His love for us. Religion seeks to dominate God seeks to liberate. It is all throughout His word. I have a strong feeling that most people who oppose the idea of there being a God are people who experienced what other people said God was without ever picking up their own Bible and reading for themselves. For all the avid readers out there, it is worth the read even if only for entertainment purposes. It is filled with suspense and drama and twists and turns all the way through. The only difference though is that within it's pages lies your very own personal story penned by God Himself. Few are brave enough to open it's pages to discover what it says because they know that what waits them is something more powerful than mere words. An encounter with the one who knew you while you were being knit in your mothers womb. I pray I have not taken up too much time or space here, Thank you for enduring my thoughts as you have. You have been very gracious. Sunnymoon : )
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DavidC
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---


sunnymoon6 wrote:

The overall benefit of this "there is no God" attitude is that to ignore that there is a God is to set ones own rules, to have no accountability to anyone and therefore never have to admit to any wrongs commited cause after all if there is no God then the Bible is fake, The 10 commandments are just some old fashioned suggestions and there are no limits to what we could or should do. I mean whos keeping score anyway.





It sounds as though you've imagined atheism, especially the atheism that comes through in His Dark Materials, as something other than it is.

Many people, including Pullman I'd say, would disagree strongly that the point of atheism is to be free of any rules or responsibilities, and "to have no accountability to anyone."

Atheists agree people should have accountability and rules. In most cases these are exactly the same rules you wish to follow. It's been my experience that atheists follow a fairly rigid moral code that's indistinguishable from what religious people consider natural law.

Atheists also share your distaste for humanity's proud self-centeredness. Atheists just see it in different places than you do. What strikes many atheists as odd is that religions often seem to reinforce that self-centeredness. Atheists reject the belief that humankind is unique in the universe, and that some religions or ethnic groups are more favored by God than others. Probably like you, atheists find it hypocritical that some people claim a special relationship with God as a justification for doing evil.

Bringing it back to HDM, did you feel that the characters Lyra and Will acted as if, as you put it, it was alright to "to set ones own rules, to have no accountability to anyone and therefore never have to admit to any wrongs commited"?
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

[ Edited ]
Thanks again for your thoughts, sunnymoon! I took a short snippet below and just wanted to ask if you think maybe Pullman is saying a bit of this same thing, in a way, but without attributing the impulse for sacrifice to God (which means he's not saying the same thing at all, I realize)? It seems like participants' following the "rules" of organized religion without thinking about them or questioning them might be argued to be one of the themes of the books? Some readers might think of Will and Lyra's separation at the end of THE AMBER SPYGLASS as a kind of sacrificial love in the sense that they know that if they stay together, there would be that gap between the worlds that would keep letting the "Dust" out and leave the rest of humanity at risk. They sacrifice their time together for the good of all, one might argue. I know what you mean about the difference between the organized church and one's personal relationship with God/spirituality and appreciate your comments. I wonder if Pullman, as you say, gave a personal reading of the Bible, etc. a fair try on his own, as you describe (as an author and a thinker, it seems like he would have) or whether he simply became disillusioned with religion, as he says in the interview, by studying its history and thinking about examples of organized religion's abuses around the world. For him to write so passionately about the subject, it seems like there must be something more personal to the source of his disavowing God and religion than he describes in the interview.

On a side note--could I step outside of the discussion a moment and make a request? If you skip a line here or there in your postings, it makes new paragraphs that break up the text a little and makes it easier for club members to read. Thank you so much!

~ConnieK



sunnymoon6 wrote, in part:
Religion is about robotic rules whereas knowing and loving God in a personal way is about sacrificial Love.



Message Edited by ConnieK on 10-31-2007 09:09 AM
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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BarbaraN
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

[ Edited ]
It appears to me that Pullman's model for God was taken from the Hebrew Bible. I was also reading David's fascinating essay on Gnosticism from his book, The Magical Worlds of Philip Pullman. Here he discusses the Gnostic roots of the God image Pullman uses in the books--the "demiurge." Gnosticism was an early form of Christianity that rivaled what later became the "orthodox" Christianity that was adopted as the state religion of Rome. Even though every attempt was made to wipe out all traces of Gnosticism, it is still a legitimate form of Christianity today with services that resemble the Catholic Mass and bishops that trace their lineage to Peter in the same way that the Catholics do. They believed that the cruel and erratic god of the Old Testiment could not possible be the real God. I would like to take up David's essay and Gnosticm a bit later as a discussion point.

Right now I would like to mention Pullman's point that the God as defined in the old Hebrew Bible is an outmoded idea, which I think is key to his thinking.

On page 31 (AS) Balthamos says:

"The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty--those were names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves--the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself."

As a project I decided to sit down and actually read the Bible from start to finish. I'm still working on it. But to tell you the truth, I was appalled at the behavior of the Old Testament "God". And I might add, the behavior of the "heroes" of the Old Testament. The God of the old testament was cruel, jealous, and vindictive. He would fly into a rage over any loyalty to other gods (and it seems monotheism was not in place even among the Hebrews back then as can be seen in the 1st Commandment). When the Hebrews won a battle he would order them to go in and slaughter all the men, women and children--except for the pretty women which they could keep for their own pleasure--and also hamstring all the innocent horses who would then die a slow and painful death. And that is just a sampling of what I read.

I realize that this was a different time and there were different rules. We have different moral values now. But unfortunately, the three major monotheistic religions still worship and obey that old God image and each, as the Hebrews did then, believe they are special (chosen) humans and the rest of humanity doesn't count. This is not just a generalized view of the Jews, Christians, Muslims but of subgroups within them, so not only do the major religions hate and want to exterminate each other (and everyone else), but sectors within them want to eliminate the other competing sectors. And they believe in imposing the same extreme punishments imposed in the old Hebrew Bible. This is not to say that all or even the majority of the people in these groups are that way. Many focus on the good points and follow more the spirit of the finer part and the newer interpretation put forth by Jesus and later prophets and more spiritual-minded interpreters. In fact I see more value in going back to original teachings of Jesus and ignoring the later "interpretations" put on by ambitious people who used religion as tool for power.

But those that literally follow the Old Hebrew Testament (and they also do seem to pick and chose what they want from it for their own objectives) and its God image are dangerous. I think this is the point that Pullman is making. This particular God concept is no longer relevant to our times. He doesn't seem to have any objection to religion or a divinity as it relates to the spiritual ideals of each individual person. Just the blind adherence to a group that is more interested in conquest and power and "the end justifies the means" (their means) as we see quite clearly in the Amber Spyglass.

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 10-31-2007 12:09 PM
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sunnymoon6
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

Thanks David C. for the clarification. I appreciate the similarities that exist amongst us christians and atheists. I do not mean to leave the impression that people who do not believe in my God (or any God for that matter) are barbaric animals of some sort that have no desire to function within any set boundaries.I believe and see in my everday life many people who are trying their darndest to live by a strict moral code cause they believe it will enhance their lives and the lives of others. What I have trouble undrstanding is what source do atheist morals come from? Who do atheists say gave them their set of specific morals. Christians point to God as being that source for them. Who or what do atheists point to as being the source of their moral code? I pick up in the excerpts I have read and in the interview, that Mr. Pullman desires for the world to be a better place and that he has definite opinions about what is right and wrong. My concern with that is who does he get his version of right and wrong from? I mean, would it not make more sense to believe that something greater more intelligent than ourselves is responsible for a moral code that could assist us in living out our lives to their fullest potential as opposed to people saying basicaly " this is right and wrong in my opinion and because I do not base my opinions on anything other than my own beliefs they are suject to change at anytime because I am a man with limited understanding like the rest of you all" I will not even attempt to suggest that I can understand what Mr. Pullman must have went through before he just turned away from the idea of their being a God. What I will say is that to me it would seem to push God out of the picture is to push the morals our right along with Him. To be someone who says I believe in many of the same moral teachings as you do I just don't believe in the God who originated them, is like me taking an Authors words and making them my own and never quoting the source. I thank you so much for giving me a deeper understanding of how atheists see things. I hope to provide a deeper understanding of who Christians (my definition being people who Love God and know Him beyond being a bunch of rules and actualy live it in private as much as they do in public)are for those who may have misconceptions while we discuss this contoversial subject by means of this authors writings.
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sunnymoon6
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

Hello everyone out there. I am enjoying the exchange of opinions on here. I feel that I need to admit something before I continue any further though. I stink at this stuff and do not participate on discussion boards frequently enough to know sqaut about how it is done properly. To further compound matters, I have a distate for punctuation as well as proper spacing. Not that I do not see the importance of such things, I simply stink at it thats all lol!!! I have a passion for words and have a strong creative streak that lends itself to sloppy writing. My mind swirls with thoughts so quickly that I race to write them dowen before the words are lost. This causes me to skip over chunks of very basic writing rules and for that I apologize. I want it known that it is not my intent to murder the written word with my lack of skill lol! For those of you who are sticklers for correct writing, I thank you in adavnce for graciously sifting through the words to locate the meaning within them. And if it ever becomes to burdensome to endure my ramblings, I will take no offense to being told so. Thanks again, sunnymoon : )
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sunnymoon6
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Re: Religion in HDM ---SPOILERS---

Hello ConnieK,
Yes, I can see that Mr. Pullman is pointing at breaking away from "the system" (robotic rules) in favor of his characters doing something very noble (sacrificing their relationship for the good of all). I can also see how you could draw the comparison despite the fact that his characters are not making the sacrifice for God. In the Bible it speaks of mankind having goodness wired within them by Him but the prescence of sin often drowns out mans good intentions. (which in my opinion, explains why most people desire to be good and do manage to do some good with or without a relationship with God). As a person who Loves God, I feel that our human desire to want to do good is not enough on it's own, when the Creator of and source of goodness has been disconnected from ones life. It's like watching a candle trying to keep burning after someone places a lid over it seperating the candle from the oxygen that keeps it burning.
The candle manages, for a few brief moments, to continue burning,but eventualy the flame grows dimmer and dimmer until it is lost. It seems that it is much the same way with people who try to be good and do good apart form the Author of goodness. People manage to do good apart from God yes, but as the condition of our world demonstrates, mans goodness by itself is clearly not enough because it lacks a connection with the source of it's fuel to keep that goodness burning long enough and consistenly enough to make a lasting differeence in our world.
Mr. Pullamn seems to have a great deal of knowledge about the subject of religion and is very sharp in many of his observations about the way religion has been used to abuse. Only he himself can admit or deny his true motives for disavowing God. I do agree with you though, that it would seem that in order for there to be such an extreme disgust for religion, there would almost have to be some kind of persoanl experience that left a very bad taste in his mouth.
I found it very touching when he spoke in the interview about how his grandfather would talk to him about how God was good and that he waited for people to come to Him. It sounds like for a brief moment that Mr. Pullman was about to experience relationship ( via being intoduced to the God his grandfather knew not the one described in religious circles) but something came along and snuffed it out before it ever had a chance to really get burning. Kinda like that candle I mentioned earlier. His grandfather clearly had a real understanding of who the God of the Bible was. I can pick up a bittersweet sort of tone in Mr. Pullman as he describes his encounters with a man (his grandfather) who Loved God and him (Mr. Pullman) and wanted to connect Mr. Pullman with the source of the love and goodness he was trying to share. It feels like there is a disconnect in Mr. Pullmans mind from what I can tell. He wants the goodness just not the God. I am curious as to what may have sparked his turn in the opposite direction of his grandfather, who he obviously has a tenderness and affection for. Maybe someone on here will be able to provide that missing piece of the puzzle. : )
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