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Shedding Light on His Dark Materials: Exploring Hidden Spiritual Themes in Philip Pullman's Popular Series Hardcover – September 13, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: SaltRiver (September 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414315643
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414315645
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,945,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kurt Bruner is a graduate of Talbot Seminary and author of books with combined sales of over 400,000 copies. Kurt is madly in love with his wife, Olivia, and their four children, with whom he lives in the shadows of the snow-capped Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Jim Ware graduated from UCLA in 1976 with a B.A. in Classics. After marrying Joni, he enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary, emphasizing theology and Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Ugaritic) and eventually earning an M.A. in Biblical Studies. In 1991 Jim and family relocated with Focus on the Family from Southern California to Colorado Springs, where they currently make their home. He enjoys everything about life in the shadow of Pikes Peak.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Adams on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up because of the publisher, SaltRiver. They also published the best analysis of the Harry Potter series I have ever read ("Finding God in Harry Potter"). So I picked it up, having read Northern Lights (retitled "The Golden Compass" later on) when I was younger, and having seen the recent film adaptation.

The book is a collection of short meditations on certain themes found in Pullman's His Dark Materials from a Christian perspective. They tend to be good, but very, very basic. For instance, one of the mediatations is on "Family," and they talk about all the broken family relationships in the His Dark Materials books, and then talk about how God is our Father and we are his family.

In terms of literary criticism, the book does not provide any overview or summary of the story or Pullman's world, and so in that way assumes you have *some* knowledge of the His Dark Materials universe, while the writing style makes it clear they do not expect you to have any knowledge of the story, which is odd.

In addition, the book does not really explore Pullman's universe and analize it in any kind of depth. Mostly they simply use bits and pieces of it as springboards for thematic discussion. In the way of simply describing and dealing in the universe as is, Finding God in Harry Potter does a much better job of it.

I do recommend this book, though. Bruner and Ware reveal a very important fact about the His Dark Materials trilogy, which is that atheist Pullman *assumes* a Christian world, a world where free grace, love, self-sacrifice, nobility, and honor hold sway, in order to attack that world. No matter what atheist Pullman does, he is revealing the God he doesn't believe in. That is one of the best values of this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Levesque on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me start by noting that Pullman's Dark Materials Trilogy is more a work of Philosophy than Fantasy. To call it a fantasy is like calling the Mona Lisa just a quick sketch. Bruner and Ware, and other "Christian" writers seemed to have missed that concept.
Furthermore, in an effort to reveal the "hidden spiritual themes" within Pullman's work, Bruner and Ware simply twist and rearrange Pullman's text and his thoughts, telling us what Pullman is Really thinking, throw in an unrelated bible verse, develop it through their warped narrowed minded thought process, then magically come up with some lame anti-christian theme. With their techniques, these two authors could make Hamlet sound like a Romantic Comedy, with Jesus as the Hero of course.

My first recommendation to everyone would be to read the Dark Materials Trilogy (Golden Compass/Subtle Knife/Amber Spyglass) before reading any of the books written to analyze it. There is a reason it has created such a stir in the literary is a great work of literature. Read it with an open mind and enjoy the images and emotions and excitement that Pullman offers us.
My second recommendation would be to forego this "Shedding Light..." book. Not only does it NOT shed any light upon Pullman's Dark Materials, it actually casts a blurry shadow and misleads the reader into a false and misguided perspective of a superb body of work.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By W. Terry Whalin on December 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There has been a strong outcry within the religious community about the anti-Christian worldview of Philip Pullman with movements to boycott The Golden Compass film and the books. Instead of joining the boycott (which traditionally doesn't work and only drives more people toward whatever is being boycotted), I decided to read Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware's insight.

Each chapter of this book opens with an excerpt from Pullman then the authors examine different themes from the books and compare them to traditional Christian views, include Scriptures and their own theological insight. It results in a well-crafted and excellent text. In the afterthought section, when a friend hears that Jim Ware is working on this book, he says, "Pullman. Pretty dark stuff, huh?" Many Christians will find the answer surprising.

Ware says, "I've given that last question a lot of thought during the weeks and months since Kurt and I first undertook this project. And the more I've pondered it, the more certain I've become that my friend was wrong...That's not for lack of trying on the author's part, of course. Pullman definitely deserves an A for effort. He's done his level best to offend the sensibilities of traditionally minded, God-fearing people...Yet despite the shadows that hang about the perimeter of his imaginary world Pullman hasn't quite succeeded in keeping out the light. It seeps in relentlessly through the cracks. It upstages the writer's purported agenda and steals the scene at every opportunity. And it makes its presence felt most effectively at the very heart of the drama." (p. 154-155)

Yes, you can go along with the herd mentality and boycott the Pullman books and the film. Or you can take a more balanced approach and celebrate the skilled storytelling from Philip Pullman and understand how he didn't fulfill his intended agenda.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to examine the spiritual themes in His Dark Materials.
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