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Topic: His Dark Materials Series -- Possible Spoilers

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Subject: His Dark Materials Series -- Possible Spoilers
Date Posted: 6/29/2010 5:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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I've been thinking about "atheist fiction" and I am curious what folks in this forum thought about the series His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.

I have mixed feelings about this series. It's very creative and interesting, and the anti-religion message is certainly a change from most young adult fiction, but i have to say, but the end of the series, I found Pullman's messages a bit heavy-handed. I'm all for exploring ideas outside of religion, but by the end, I felt like I was being preached at, It was the same sentiment as an evangelical preacher, just a different message. It really turned me off of the series.

Anyway, just curious what everyone else thought. I'm all for athiest/agnostic ideals .... but I don't like being preached at, regardless of whether I agree with the message or not. I believe people should be allowed to investigate discover truth for themselves. It seemed like Pullman was almost trying to tell us what to think. I dunno... just wanted to start a dialogue. Anyone else love the series? hate it? have mixed feelings?

Date Posted: 6/29/2010 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I loved the first book, The Golden  Compass.  The second one wasn't as good and the third one just came completely unraveled IMO.  After such wonderful, cohesive world-building in TGC, the other two were terribly disjointed and rambling.

Date Posted: 6/30/2010 8:37 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 852
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I absolutely  loved the books, all three of them.  I did not find them preachy or going over the top at all.  It did take a pretty strong stance against religion, but then again religion takes a very strong stand against non-believers.  So I really got into the books and have passed them on to several other free-thinking grown-ups who loved the books and the non-religious concept. 

Date Posted: 6/30/2010 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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Vanessa-  I totally agree. I LOVED the Golden Compass and thought it's anti church establishment messages were great! But then he brought in the Will character, and it just sorta went downhill from there. I think there should definitely be more books out there like the Golden Compass ... but not so so much like the last 2 books.

Date Posted: 7/5/2010 11:12 PM ET
Member Since: 5/2/2010
Posts: 7
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I really liked this series a lot. I'm an atheist, but, to be honest, I never saw the atheist message in it. I read it twice ... and, honestly, I just don't understand why this is considered atheist/agnostic fiction. I've read articles that called this series "anti-Christian."

I thought the book was anti-Church, anti-organized religion, and anti-false god. But, by the end of the book, I thought the whole series basically implied that there WAS something greater than ourselves out there, that we definitely had souls, and that "god" ... or whatever this "something" was was out there somewhere.

I didn't really notice any preachy message ... but again, I didn't even notice the atheist message. I sort of thought this book would be good for anyone who believed in god, but not in organized religion.



Last Edited on: 7/5/10 11:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/26/2010 7:57 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 852
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I totally agree with Ranconteur.

You took the words out of my mouth.

His Dark Materials is one of my favorite books and an absolute keeper.

Date Posted: 9/6/2010 3:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
Posts: 51
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I never found the series preachy or heavy handed. In fact, I thought that it pulled punches. I had not read the books until after the christians started getting in a huff about it, so I think I went in expecting there to be something legitimate that they may have based their rage on.

 

I was really suprised at how far you had to stretch things in order to get offended. While I did see the parallels to the catholic church, but it would be hard for me to imagine a large, powerful religious organization that did not have parallels.

 

In my mind, I didn't even see that many parallels to christianity, as a whole. The theology was very different, and nature of the 'holy beings' was clearly far different than christianity.

 

As a whole, they were *very* entertaining books, and well worth the read. Just put down the ignorance and bigotry before you pick them up.

Date Posted: 10/11/2010 11:26 AM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
Posts: 6,435
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I agree with raconteur as well.  If anything, I thought it did have a spiritual message to it, even if it was anti-religion in a lot of ways.  Like Jeff, I didn't really get the extreme offense that Christians took to the series.  Honestly, it seems like (as with most offense people take to novels!) the people complaining the loudest never even read them. 

I liked them a lot...I'm a fan of fantasy so from just a literary perspective I thought they were enjoyable. 

Date Posted: 12/1/2010 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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I loved "The Golden Compass".  I didn't care for "The Subtle Knife".  And I just disliked "The Amber Spyglass".  Pullman had a lot of great ideas, but, to me, it didn't feel like he did a good job of pulling them all together.  The series is clearly anti-establishment/Church (specifically the Catholic Church), but it's not anti-religious.

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 5:09 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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Jennifer,

I completely agree! I felt the same about the books. I loved the Golden Compass but by the end of the third book I was just ready for it to be over. But I did like Puman's basic ideas. Do know if there is any other fiction out there with similar messages/ideas that is maybe no so heavy handed as Pullman's series?

Date Posted: 2/15/2011 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2011
Posts: 7
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It's funny -- His Dark Materials actually started me on the road to deconversion. Somehow, seeing religion through Pullman's eyes made me realize how ridiculous it all was (wait, you're fighting over what...? why?) I didn't feel they were preachy; he did a good job of showing rather than explaining, I thought. Some of the images were really powerful, especially (SPOILER ALERT) the one of God as a fragile old man in a gilded cage.