Why is it bad for a Christian to be offened by these books?


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Initial post: Dec 18, 2007 12:57:32 AM PST
J. Stevens says:
First off I want to say that I haven't read the books, so really I'm not talking about them here, what I am rather weakly trying to clarify is the reason's there are so many people who may seem to be banning the books for no reason.

I want you to take a step back and try to see things from my perspective, I'm not going to try to push my ideas on you, but just try to see from my point of view, you don't need to agree with it, just try to understand it.

I'm a Christian, and there are many misconceptions as to what that is. Many think of the whole thing as only religious rules and regulations. I've never been taught to think of it that way. Instead I've been taught about God, another very misconceived idea, often even by people calling themselves religious. In this light I really and honestly believe I have a relationship with God, He's my best friend... My father, my comforter, my helper... So... if I truly believe that... and I don't want to debate points of doctrine or religion here... but if I truly believe that... wouldn't I be hurt by something that I am told talks about killing Him? Something written by an author that openly declares that killing Him was what he wanted to do in the books? If in fact I believe in and love God with all of me wouldn't I then be concerned about the effect this book would have on children like any literature would? When I hear that the author doesn't like the church (and I don't think he's evil or anything, but was probably hurt by the church like a lot of other people, the church is very flawed) wouldn't I be concerned that the book might represent beliefs that are dear to my heart and at the center of my personal identity in a wrong light? Wouldn't I be hurt by the idea of the author wanting to kill God in his books just like I would be hurt if someone was writing about killing my father, mother, best friend, or my husband?

I'm not saying this to defend the actions of people who might be judging this book unfairly. I just wanted to give a little clarification on why so many have responded this way, I've seen many comments on the narrow minded and bigotry of the Christians who say bad things about these books, I just wanted to throw out there that maybe it isn't narrow mindedness, or bigotry, but rather just a person who is reacting to feeling like a belief that is more important to them then there own life is being attacked. That may be a wrong perspective, I don't know, I haven't read the books and I don't claim to know everything in the world, but it is A perspective. I try to understand as many different kinds as I can.

Please try to understand mine?

Anywho, I hope I have not offended anyone.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2007 3:13:25 AM PST
Music Man says:
Refusing to read a book and encouraging others to boycott it is hardly "banning" a book.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2007 5:51:07 AM PST
J. Beck: I think that your post is thoughtful and you raise a number of good points. For me, the issue is more than simply about whether one decides to read this particular series. Instead, it revolves more around the general reluctance of people to read anything that counters their own firmly held beliefs. Now, I should point out that religious believers are NOT the only ones who do this. I know many atheists who never seriously engage the arguments of theologians and religious believers, indeed they consider it an insult to do so. However, I do think religious people are more guilty of this than most, and it is this reluctance to engage new ideas that the debate over this series and the film boils down to. I think Christians could learn from a lot from this series, for example, the critiques that people make against Christianity, the alternatives that some people see to religion, etc. Even if you didn't agree with Pullman's ideology, as I suspect you wouldn't, it might give you a new perspective on your own faith, and maybe even strengthen it. And furthermore, learning more about what atheists/agnostics/humanists actually believe might clear up some misconceptions. In reading various posts on the debate surrounding this series, I've seen so many ludicrous accusations leveled against Pullman (I've seen him called a Satanist, advocate of witchcraft, poisoner of children's minds, etc.) that I can't keep count. But again, the issue goes far beyond this particular series, and I would likewise encourage atheists/agnostics to learn as much as they can about the targets of their criticism. As for myself, well I was raised in religious family, so I didn't have much choice over whether I wanted to learn about Christianity, but even though I've abandoned the faith, I'm still grateful that I at least have an understanding of it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2007 10:44:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2007 12:35:01 PM PST
Zmortis says:
In response to J. Beck, I think it is admirable that you have a good relationship with your lord and savior. That being said I want you to attempt for the sake of discussion to shift your perspective a little bit. Let's posit your question in the terms of a work that is generally viewed favorably by Christians.

In reference to C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" - Why is it bad for non-Christians to be offended by these works?

Should the people who don't follow the Christian faith be going on to various commercial Web sites that carry this product to complain that the works are pushing an agenda they don't like? Should they be posting purposefully negative reviews because they don't agree with C.S. Lewis' public statements about his faith? Should they be offended if it is provided or recommended as reading material for their children? Should they be trashing the author and his beliefs because they don't happen to agree with him?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then from your perspective, yes, Christians should be offended by Pullman, and should feel justified in behaving like a bunch of upset donkeys.

If you thought that maybe some of these questions would be answered no, then I think you should sit back and take a little perspective yourself. In the big picture Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series is only a series of fictional works. They don't have the power to take anything away from your relationship with your Savior unless you give them that power. If you were to give that kind of power to an atheist author to drive a wedge in your relationship with God, then I would question whether your faith is overly weak. If you think that to prove your faith to God you need to attack any contrary views, then once again I would question if your relationship with Jesus is as solid as it should be.

So to answer your question - Why is it bad for a Christian to be offended by these works? Because you are in essence questioning your own faith in God by doing so. You are essentially saying that some silly Brit author has more power to sway you than Jesus Christ. I don't think Jesus would be so petty and jealous of some commercial product like Pullman's works as to require you take up the flag of a "crusade" to "protect the children".

In your next discussion with Jesus, I encourage you to try to understand how Jesus would want you to best spend your time - in a fight with people over something as trivial as a fictional book, or in prayer and worship of him.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2007 4:59:02 PM PST
It's fine to be offended by these books, or by anything else. But the point is that people should be fair and reasonable in their reactions. How can you fairly judge something you've never examined yourself?

Now, if a Christian reads all three books and gives them a "fair hearing", and is genuinely offended by some of the anti-religious or anti-establishment themes, then I respect that. These books are, by their nature, open to interpretation and therefore misinterpretation, so not everyone will see them the same way or react to them the same way.

So the general complaint to Christian opposition of these books is directed towards the unfair claims and unreasonable hysteria, not at the simple dislike or offense taken.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2008 5:17:17 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 30, 2008 11:41:00 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2008 5:20:51 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 30, 2008 11:41:20 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2008 7:34:41 PM PST
J. Beck, I have to say that you sound much more sane and sensible than a lot of the people who are frothing at the mouth about this trilogy, and I commend you for your serious question. You certainly do have the right to be offended at something that attacks your religion, but I would suggest that the "Church" in Lyra's world has nothing to do with your religion. Here is part of the answer to the question "Why does Pullman portray religion as evil?" from bridgetothestars.net, the fan site for the books:

"...Pullman has said that the Authority [the "God" who dies] is the God of the Inquisition, the burners of "witches", and the God that people claim to be acting in the name of when they do an evil act. Whether the Authority is supposed to literally be God, or whether he exists merely as a metaphor for that God created by human corruption, is really up to you to decide for yourself. Keep in mind that Xaphania [an angel in the story] said that the Authority wasn't the Creator, only an angel who gave himself titles and power since he was the first. ..."

Pullman has also said that he respects the "religious impulse" despite not sharing it, and that his "Church" is an example of religion gone horribly wrong, as he believes that it does when it is yoked to political power.

I guess that snopes.com can be pretty good when it comes to debunking urban legends, but I think that they fell down on the job on this one. I would check out some of his interviews and see what he's actually saying rather than basing your opinion on one or two quotes ripped out of context. I thought that this one where he answered kids' questions was excellent: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21595083/

Also an article in the Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1207/p09s02-coop.html

I have two different books that interpret the trilogy in diametrically opposed ways, one hailing it as a refutation of religion and one claiming that Pullman is a theologian in spite of himself, so obviously, now that it's out in the world he has lost control of what people are getting out of his work. From everything I've read, that's exactly the way he would like it to be.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2008 1:30:36 PM PST
Well personaly, alot are offended by the bible... But no one goes off on a rampage over that.

Just "my" opinon of a book that offends me.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2008 6:26:54 PM PST
Liandre says:
You should read the book before commenting. Justification or dislike of the author does not count in a book REVIEW.
I bought the whole set of books after reading all the nasty Christian interpretations, as if I were not able to come to conclusions of my own. ~~~Liandre

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2008 2:18:31 AM PST
D. Jones says:
So because someone writes what he belives. christians in particular catholics are it seems to me always offended by anyone that makes folks take a different look at man made "religion" and their imaginary friend for adults. I hate to offend anyone ,but it seems religious folk and their ilk never think about who they attack or bother with their fervor about offending their man made concepts.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2008 7:35:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2008 7:36:50 PM PDT
susu says:
I have read all 3 books. I am also Christian. The fact that the 'villains' of the story did their 'work' in the name of the Church was appalling to me. The fact that the victims were children made it abhorrent. As an adult I am quite capable of separating fact from fiction and simply decide that I will waste no more money or time on Mr. Pullman's books. However, as the grandmother of 9, I sincerely hope that my grandchildren never see these books. They are definitely NOT for children. L. S. Jaszczak makes a good point that God the Creator does not exist in the books and the view of the Church is taken from the darkest moments in 2000+ years of Christianity. When men do evil in the name of god it is a sacrilege. Much about the church in the books reminded me of the Spanish Inquisition. Also, I do not find enough literary merit in the books to make them worth reading for anyone. Great literature they are definitely NOT

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2008 8:11:43 PM PDT
Personally, I would make the trilogy recommended (if not required) reading for any kids I knew. Interestingly, the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees. He has proposed that the book be used as part of religious education. I don't know if this is his reasoning, but it shows what happens when religion goes horribly, tragically wrong, which I would think that all of us, religious or not, would agree is a bad thing. Pullman himself has said that the worst thing of all, and I think history bears him out, is when religion is allied with political power.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2008 4:53:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 15, 2008 1:58:30 PM PDT
Knowsmost says:
My take on this - well, first of all, it's not a religious or even a philosophical treatise - it's a NOVEL. It's FICTION. Something that is the product of one person's imagination. Now, fiction can have philosophical/religious/antireligious overtones, but it's still a story nonetheless, and if you look at it that way, not taking everything so seriously as if Pullman is trying to indoctrinate you or your children, you can just enjoy it for what it's worth. On the flip side... I was raised Christian, but no longer believe in God or Christ the way I once did - but I still enjoy reading the Narnia books. Even though I as an adult now fully understand the religious symbolism in them whereas I didn't when I read them as a child. (I also notice the implied racisim in them as well.... but that's another topic for another post.... BUT, I still enjoy them for the story, the characters, and the writing style).

Anyway, of course everybody has the right to feel and think any way they want to feel about anything they read - just as anybody has the right to write it. The US Constitution gives us these rights (and I believe that anybody in the world should also have these rights regardless of what country they live in). The problem is that - at least I've noticed this in my experience with other people - many people who have very strong beliefs or opinions - either religious (including atheistic) or political - tend to get offended very easily when someone disagrees with their beliefs/opinions. If someone believes something different from you, they are bad, wrong, evil, or stupid (this is not what I think, but the way that some people I know react to others' difference in beliefs with theirs) and nothing anyone says is going to change those beliefs/opinions. Narrowmindedness I think is not a characteristic of any particular belief or philosophy, but of a particular type of PERSON - and often people who are narrowminded are the most vocal about how the other side is WRONG and how it has absolutely no merit worth considering (because only MY opinion or belief is right). But, as others have said, I think that before criticizing something, you should at least READ it first so that you can give an informed opinion on what you're criticizing.

As far as the books being anti-Christian or anti-Church... my view of it is that Pullman is more anti-ignorance and anti-cruelty. Even the most devout believers cannot disagree that there have been so many horrible things done throughout history in the name of the church (Spanish Inquisition, Salem witch trials, etc.). I think he is saying that we should make choices based on the universal values of what is right and good - treating others with kindness and consideration, upholding human dignity - rather than on what entity is "in charge" of the beliefs and doing what they say because THEY say it's right. In this story NEITHER the Church nor the anti-Church people (Asriel et. al) were in the right. Both sides did terrible and cruel things for their own purposes, and I think the point is that the end does not justify the means. So we need to be conscious beings and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, choose to make decisions for the good of humankind because it is the right thing to do, and not listen to what some bigger entity - whether it's a church, political party, or other group - tells us to do or believe. So, I don't think the book is against God or Christianity - in fact, the "Authority" in the book was describe as NOT God, God was something even higher than that and the Authority was an angel who just called himself God - or against Christianity, it's against blind dogmatism of ANY kind (religious or secular). It's against any entity, religious, political, or otherwise, who feels that they can justify doing things that are just morally wrong or don't take human suffering into consideration because of some "greater goal" that they feel is important, and how we as individuals need to take a stand against these entities when this happens.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2008 3:39:04 PM PDT
I could write a major post here describing my opinion on this subject, but it turns out cnowmos covered everything in the above post.

Thanks again, cnowmos! :-D

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2008 4:35:28 PM PDT
Hear, hear!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2008 9:02:28 AM PDT
I understand you and agree with you as Paul does who addresses in his letter to the Colossians proper behaviour (Colossians 3 ff) by in no way asking for fighting others but in asking to exchange knowledge and wisdom towards the aim of understanding.

The way you put it the book I am refering to might be one which you have read. ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 4:39:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2008 4:46:29 PM PDT
Snake7 says:
Everyone is fighting each other over fictoinal books, becase and arguments and conflict are entertaning. Especially over the comfort of a computer desk.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2008 10:23:47 AM PDT
I am a Christian. In all honesty, I have not read the book. I have seen the movie, however, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not going to change my religion. It's not going to make me turn my back on Christ. If someone is letting a movie or a work of fiction determine your viewpoint, that person has their perspectives mixed up. It's a very good story line and - keeping in mind that it is a work of FICTION - it brings up some very good points about people who use religion to achieve power (no offense to fellow Christians, but unfortunately there really are Christians out there who do things like the Magisterium.)

I'm also a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia. This series makes a very good antithesis for Jack Lewis's works. If you are a Christian, keep an open mind about it. I think you'll find it very entertaining and enjoyable.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2008 6:02:04 PM PDT
Joe W says:
Well said.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2008 7:58:16 PM PDT
morgan shea says:
i find it funny that people tend to think christians are all crazy zeolots. well we are not. i am an adult in my thirties with two young children and just so you know i will not let my kids read this series. as alot of you talk about these deep meanings that supposedly the author is saying, beyond that religon and god are bad. a young child my not get that. believe what you want, god gave you free will to choose. but dont package up books like this and put in the kids sections of a book store. also there are just as many non-believing people out there that made a stink about the narnia books and movies. so please dont just make christians the bad guys. most parents dont want their kids to see violent or dirty movies until they feel they are old enough to understand and handle such things and as a parent i will do the same thing with books like these. if you were wondering, i did read the books. i like reading fantasy novels and as an adult they have no affect on me when it comes to my faith. a parent has to make good judgements for their children and to me this is good judgement.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2008 11:48:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2008 11:50:04 PM PDT
Joe W says:
morgan shea says: but dont package up books like this and put in the kids sections of a book store. also

Joe replies: Why not? Are books stores only for Christian children? It seems to me that it is our responsibility as parents to vet what our children are reading, and to take a stand, when we feel strongly about it. You said that this is what you have done. Good. That is your role. It is not the role of Barnes and Noble's to vet books specifically to cater to Christian interests, let alone your specific flavor of Christianity. These books were written with children in mind and I have no problem with them; whereas I had to consider long and hard about letting my kids read series, such as Narnia, where the main characters blythely toss around terms like "darkies." *I* understand the context, but as you say 'a young child will not get that' and seeing the 'good guys' say it, assume that it is a perfectly moral term to use.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2009 7:57:29 PM PST
T. L.C says:
ladysea says Ive not read these books but I did see the movie and I didnt see any of this in it .Only when I went searching on the net did I see how much trouble the story caused really I didnt see why I consider myself a true child of christ but honestly I must be dense because I just saw a good fantasy flick for children and wanted to see if there was a sequel to the story WOW was I surprised .I read all kinds of books horror vampire demons getting slaughtered witches fairies were wolfs I never new fiction was written to be taken as fact I guess if I look at my reading list and only pick out real books that would pretty much mean I wasnt reading fiction when I read its to escape the real world and go some where that doesnt exist thats fiction to me and believe me I truly love my god.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2009 8:18:06 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 1, 2009 8:32:33 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2009 8:31:14 PM PST
T. L.C says:
YOU did not offend I think its right to stand for what you believe in or youll fall for anything.Im christian too and I understand what your saying but I must say I read a whole lot and all kinds of books lots you probably wouldnt read I am for all the world a fiction reader I dont think fiction is against GOD but I wouldnt want to read something that was against him in any way.I read about worlds that arent real and escape for however long the book last.
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His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass
His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (Paperback - October 1, 2001)
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