Jul 15, 09
Read in March, 2002
** spoiler alert **
This book was twisted. The plot was very contrived and the characters have lost the remaining appeal that they had in the first 2 books. The "redemption" of Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel is utterly unconvincing. Pullman makes an open mockery of God, whom he depicts as a weak, timid, helpless old being manipulated by a twisted, tryanicial angel. No, Lyra and Wil don't kill God in the end, but Pullman does. The story culminates in the predictable recreation of Adam and Eve's experience in the garden, with the conclusion that Satan had it right all along.
The problem with Pullman's "Republic of Heaven" ideal is that he puts too much faith in humanity. History has proven time and again that men are incapable of building and sustaining a truly benevolent society. We need God in order to build heaven. (The true God, not a warped idea of Him as seen in many religions today). The only thing worse than religious oppression is Godless oppression.
Pullman is right that men have corrupted the truth, and this is manifest in many false teachings in religions today, but he is wrong in concluding that this is God's fault, or that the very idea of God is false, and that God himself is a corrupt invention of man. There is a God, He is good, and there is a true way of worshipping him that affirms humanity.
Pullman is also right that human passions have wrongfully been suppressed by many religions. But he is wrong in suggesting that there should be no higher authority to set bounds on human passions. Our passions are God-given, and God desires that we enjoy them. He teaches us, not to deny ourselves of these passions, but to deny ourselves of selfish and harmful (to ourselves or to others) expressions of these passions. There is an appropriate bounds. True religion strikes the right balance between the full expression of human passion and approprate self restraint.
Finally, Pullman is also right about one thing in the Garden of Eden: it was a good thing, ultimately, that Adam and Eve partook of that fruit. It is in fact what God intended to happen. There was nothing inherently evil in the fruit itself. The sin was in doing so at Satan's urging.