I'm noticing a similarity among the one-star reviews here. Many of them say "ANTI-CHRISTIAN DO NOT GIVE TO CHILDREN" and some such words, acting as if the book has tons of a violence and sex in it, which it doesn't. These people seem to be afraid the book will make kids lose their faith, which is ridiculous because 1) God forbid a kid should be exposed to views different from his parents', and 2) I read Christian books as a child and they never made me want to believe in God, so why should it be any different the other way around?
Come on, people. Are you afraid your child's faith is so weak he could be swayed by a fictional series? Or, are you afraid he might actually...gulp...start to THINK FOR HIMSELF? Oh heavens no! Not their precious little minds!!
I'm sorry if I'm coming off as sarcastic, but this really bugs me. I mean Christianity has killed people for being heretics, yet when an author writes a book for kids without bothering to hide his distaste for religion, everyone freaks out. I'm sick of it. I'm tempted to throw in a few swear words here, but I'm going to stay (mostly) composed about this situation. Anyway, I would REALLY like to see some change in the next few years or else I am going to get really pissed at America. Not that America cares if I'm pissed at her or not...
I just finished reading Golden Compass, and it was dumb. A thinking child would not be drawn into Pullman's theology. At the same time, it's apparent that many children are not thinking children. The younger, the less thinking. It is good for one parent (the kind who would type in caps that the book is anti-Christian) to warn another parent of like kind to keep it away from their children until they're sufficiently molded. It is quite right. If one generation can teach their children that it's right to keep slaves and another of the same line can teach their children that it's wrong, it does show just how moldable we are when we are young.
Christianity never killed anyone. Dumb Christians with bad theology that weren't brainwashed properly killed people. Who knows? Some of those deaths might have been justified.
If you raise your kids to be religious don't you want them to decide that they believe in God? If kids are sheltered then all you can say is that you brainwashed them to believe in God instead of letting them come to religion.
The Christian God killed a ton of people in The Old Testament.
Do you want people to think you're a nice guy before you let them find out that you're a creep? Are they more likely to give you a second chance if you delay your display of hostility? Once you've thought it through, it makes sense to feed people truth before you feed them lies. What they get first is often foundational. That's why you don't let your kid read this trash.
God kills people, and He has the right. Let me quote a sage that wrote earlier, "Some of those deaths might have been justified." It is good to kill some people. It's sometimes good to take out societies. Context is everything when deciding the good of killing.
This isn't a forum on right and wrong, so I'll leave it there.
If God kills people (or allows then to be killed ) on pure whimsy (ie Job's children), then he indeed does not have the right. If he is real he might have the ability to do so unpunished, but lets not confuse abilities with rights, thats just silly.
"If God kills people (or allows the[m] to be killed ) on pure whimsy (ie Job's children), then he indeed does not have the right."
I don't see your logic. I have the ability to swallow my spit or let it fall to the ground. I do one or the other on a whim! God has even more right to do what He wants than I do, and certainly more ability. He made us, and he has the right to do what He wants with us. It's good for us that He's not a liar or a masochist.
Even if He doesn't have the right, we don't have the discernment to know it except that it was given to us by Him. Use the logic that was given by God to trap God. See if that works for you.
If Leonardo Da Vinci were to come back, would he have the right to destroy the Mona Lisa? If any current popular artist were to decided that anything they have created that is available to the public should be destroyed, do they have the right to do so? When we create something that becomes a part of the public life it takes on a life of its own. We see other people's creations a valuable and meaning for ourselves and our history. To say God has the right to do anything he wants because he is God and doesn't have to answer to anyone is to revert to the elementary school logic that the biggest kid is always right. I know you are arguing that God would never do anything with ill intention and that since something is done by god it is inherently a good act. I am saying however, that if he were to do something with ill intention, if he were to act imperfectly, then it would be wrong.
If the painting belonged to the artist, that artist would have every right to destroy it, even if we found the event to be a tragedy. The guy who has the knife can slash through a painting, and nothing is going to happen to him unless he is accountable to someone. If God does not exist, there is no higher authority than the big bully on the playground. Since God does exist, He is the benevolent bully. Even if you find it to be childish, He can do what He wants, and He's only accountable to Himself. The only reason you can argue from the idea that it's not fair is because God is fair. If He wasn't, all the justification in the world couldn't sway Him.
Whether God's opinion is automatically right is a speculation that we can't succinctly get into here. The question I would have for anyone who thinks that God can be wrong is this: Who defines right and wrong? God can say it's wrong, and you say, "Well, God, it's only wrong because you said it's wrong." God can respond with, "Why would you think that's wrong?" What authority do you have to define morals? Conform to reality, man!
Aren't you defining morals as whatever it is you think god says they are? I have seen Christians disagree on many moral issues each side using Bible verses to try and prove that god is on their side. To claim we know the will and opinion of god would seem a bit presumptuous. When the Taliban government blew up ancient Buddhist stone carvings because they were heathenish there was a great outcry. The carvings were within their boarders, but they were a part of human history too. It was wrong for them to do that, and again I think we have a disagreement on ability and rights.
Do you agree that the American revolution was just, or do you think it was unjust (did the colonies have the right to revolt)? Did the Romans have the right to put Jesus to death? Do these questions even have answers?
If you would like me to "conform to reality, man" please define to me what objectively reality is, I was unaware that all the answers had been found. Which I think bring us back to a point. That's what many people do not like about HDM, the books and others like them remind people that there is more than one point of view and certainly more than one right way to look at things. And it says to some people that the little world they have built around themselves is not what they think it is, and then they become angry and defensive and start telling people to conform rather than telling themselves to relax.
"Aren't you defining morals as whatever it is you think god says they are?" In a sense, yes. But I would contest the part where my thought influences what objective morals are. If I didn't exist, God's morals would still be supreme.
"To claim we know the will and opinion of god would seem a bit presumptuous." It is likewise presumptuous to claim you don't know the will of God when you do.
Blowing up ancient monuments rends my heart. It seems wrong to me. Whether it is objectively wrong, I don't know. Likewise, it seems like standing up to a bully king who won't let you have representation seems right, but they might have been wrong. I'm not sure. It seems like Jesus should not have been put to death, but I'm not sure anyone could have stopped it. It was foretold since the beginning of the world. We shall see what God thought of that.
"...please define to me what objectively reality is..." You're asking the wrong guy. I'm not God. I know enough to not question Him too much, and that's the lesson I hope you can learn from me.
"...there is more than one point of view and certainly more than one right way to look at things." I agree that there is sometimes more than one way to skin a cat. There's hardly a wrong way to express yourself in a painting or a monument. On the other hand, some things only have one valid truth. If that were not the case, you wouldn't be trying so hard to change my mind. Trying to set up moral structures without calculation is like trying to set up physical structures without engineering. You might get lucky, and your "truth" might stand, but more than likely, unless you implement some solid principals, it's going to fall. All I'm telling you is that you should train under the Master Architect. Do what He says, or everything you do will fail. John 15:5 "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
"It is likewise presumptuous to claim you don't know the will of God when you do." How, pray tell, do we know the will of God? The Bible was not written by God but by men claiming to bare God's message. I do not say that they did not receive messages from God, but I would dispute their ability to understand God's message. God is a being who created the entire universe--not just this tiny planet and its insignificant beings. A human being receiving a message from God is like when we give commands to dogs. The human may understand some of what is being communicated but it is not possible for them to understand the entire message. Also keep in mind that the Bible was not written by one person but many, in a language that few people understand. Also, that it was translated by even more flawed people--most of whom never received a message from God--and that the version of the Bible that exists today is missing several stories that would, in theory, add to our understanding God. For example, did Judas betray Christ or was he being a loyal servant of God? Texts have arisen which place our common belief in Christ's betrayal into question; how many more exist that have been censored, burned, or destroyed by small minded men.
This all brings me back to the themes presented in "The Golden Compass." Pullman is placing traditional Christian beliefs into question, but that is not necessarily anti-Christian. Remember that Christianity began as a cult; it was only through a series of mishaps and a rather adamant recruiting process that it rose to become one of the world's dominant religions. Christ was crucified because he upset, what was at the time, the dominant belief system. Christ wasn't a blind follower and neither were his disciples; they were questioning authority. They were rebelling against hundreds of years of beliefs and ideas about right and wrong. In this sense Pullman's books have joined with the greatest part of the Christian religion; its inherit sense of rebellion. Over the years, people have forgotten or misused things written in the Bible to justify their own corrupt desires and ideas. They seem to have forgotten that the core of the Christian belief system is one of love, forgiveness, and peace. There can be no holy war, only wars called holy by unholy men. This is what reading Pullman's books reminded me of. That any God asking me to do something I feel is wrong in my heart is not worth worshiping. That it is my own freewill that makes me like God and not my obedience. It made me think about Faith and God and Religion and any book that can do that is worth reading at any age.
You asked a question about how we know the will of God, then you answer your own question by saying that prophets can hear from God, then you deny that we understand the things that come from God. You relate us to dogs (which is right in some ways, but wrong in others), saying that we couldn't know God's will any more than a dog can know his human master's will.
Let's start by saying that you believe it is impossible to know the will of God, so searching it out must be a pointless exercise. A major difference between us and a dog is that the speaker, in our case, is also the creator. If you say we can never understand God, you're saying that God is not capable of making a creature able to understand Him. Either that, or He doesn't value us enough to give us the ability. You're impugning God.
Then you talk about a fuzzy text that probably sprung up a few hundred years after Jesus that might show that Judas was being obedient. Nevermind that Jesus prophesied that it would have been better that he were never born. You would pick an unreliable transmission instead of an overly attested one? I mean, how many people groups revered the 4 gospels we have over the censored ones? You can take your pick, I guess. That's what we're all here to do.
You then start in on the idea that Christianity was a religion for the rebellious. It's clear you don't see Jesus as God made flesh. If you did, you wouldn't see it as rebellious at all. It was more of a coming back to the basics of the Law laid down by Moses, not the traditions of men. In fact, Jesus was perfect in keeping the Law. You'll notice as you read closely that He observed every festival, didn't eat the wrong stuff, etc. He even obeyed the laws of Rome. He was blameless. That is not rebellion. But again, you will decide what you want.
You have chosen rebellion. If you are consistent in your nature, you will rebel against my comments as well. If you are truly looking to be like Jesus, you will rebel against the things that are not attested to by God and hold on to the things that are. Coming to understand which are which is a life-long study. It isn't easy, but it can be done intellectually. It can also be done spiritually. God still speaks to people.
Amazingly, I don't have to apologize for this post. It is on topic!
Nobody today was there in ancient times when the writers of the bible "talked with" the Judeo-Christian god. We don't have a flippin' clue what really transpired. That Jonestown character had as much validity as any ancient bible-writer, facilitating the aquisition of massive, ultimatly life and death, power over others by claiming they spoke for 'god.' The Cathers were persecuted 'cuz they believed they could figure out religion without any need for the power structure of Christianity. Therefore they threatened that power structure's hold over humanity and had to be ruthlessly eliminated. It's always been about power. Stop arguing with that guy, he would have hapilly burned the Cathars. He's an amoral obscenity purporting to be authoritative & moral because he's religious. The Cathars knew his type well.
I understand how some people may say that it is anti- Christian and in the series where they fight against the Authority (God, and yes, I read the story, a beautiful tale) and say how he is a phony and that he was the first Angel and how he lied and said that he created everybody. Yes, I am a Christian and was pretty pissed off myself, but you just have to understand that it is just a book! When you read it, it is the most beautiful work of literature I ever read! A fresh approach to stories! You can't just say that it is against God and all of that, but it is only a book! Yes, you might not want children to read it, because they believe everything they read, hear, or see! That is exactly why it is placed in the Young Adult section
From the title of this thread I was expecting another slant to the issue. That is, I don't think it is enough to say that the book is not indoctrination; whether it is or not, the tendency is to criticize anti- or non- Christian books for children for the sin of indoctrination. But this sidesteps the entire issue of the incessant indoctrination that children within Christian environments routinely undergo. C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and the rest of the pseudo-Christian library, along with Church, Sunday school, and Christian private and home schools are all rallied around these children in a cultural barricade.
I was one of these children, and I believe that the cry that is regularly let out against secular indoctrination is not only "do not indoctrinate our children" but equally "we must be allowed to indoctrinate our own children without the slightest risk of interference from any other viewpoint." Thus, the fear is that they will not be able to stuff enough Christian dogma into children's adult doggie-bags before the fledgelings fly the coop.
Of course, it is the prerogative of religious parents to feel that way, but while I think that the Dark Materials trilogy fails in crucial areas, I am happy to see quality anti-theistic fiction and hope it proliferates. So to claims that the book is anti-theistic I say: "It sure is. Thank God."
Brenda Walsh, I agree with you completely, and I wish I knew more people like you in real life.
Even if you FIRMLY believed in Christianity, why in god's name would you follow it? You believe that god is going to burn you in the pits of hell for eternity if you break any of the ludicrous sins 'he' tells us not to do, and you somehow believe that's right? Who cares if it's god? If 'he' goes around punishing people for being fat, greedy, or lazy, than that god is a total jerk and you should not worship him even if you believe he is real.