Young Adult Fiction for Adults discussion

Series > The Golden Compass

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message 1: by Alexandra (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:28PM) (new)

Alexandra There's been some complaint that it's anti-Christian. I've only read the first book, and I don't think I "got" it enough to comment either way. Some things I can mention that I think would give some parents pause is the main character, Lyra, is the product of an affair between her father and married-to-someone-else mother. Although that's in the past as of this story, it probably will bother some just because it is clearly there.

"The Church" in this imaginary world (not specified as "Christian") is a corrupt establishment (but so parts of it have been at times in our history). As far as the theological issues that the book supposively raises - I don't know, I'll probably need to read the other books to have a grasp on that.

There's a discussion of these books in the Children's book group

message 2: by Renee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Renee | 4 comments Hollie,

I have read all these books plus "Lyra's Oxford". They are pieces of real literature, challenging and very thoughtful.
There are some religious threads in the books. I suppose they could be called anti-Christian, but they would be more accurately described as anti-religious establishment, pro-secular government. SPOILERS FOLLOW. Lyra (the main character) lives in a world that mirrors our own but is largely controlled by religious leaders. It is basically a theocracy that seems vaguely Catholic or Anglican. All science and scientific discoveries are couched in religious terms. Basically the worldview is "through the Western Theocratic looking glass". The books offer alternative perspectives on religious concepts, including the nature of the soul, "angels" and lucifer. Specifically, Pullman's characterization of the relationship between the body, the mind and the soul is fascinating and I believe(though I'm not a theologian), not contradictory to basic Christan beliefs. Apparently the author has made some outrightly negative statements about religion and the existence of God, and obviously that will impact interpretations of the text for some. However, I see these books as excellent works of literature and fertile ground for discussion no matter what your beliefs.

message 3: by Jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Jess | 6 comments For those that are being negative about this book/movie, they need to remember, like they did with Harry Potter, that it is Fantasy/Sci-Fi. It has alternate worlds, things work differently there. There are many Sci-Fi novels where religion is corrupt. This is no different. When Harry Potter came out, many claimed it approved of the cult, satanism. But that series is one of the best loved and most popular. Is this any different?

message 4: by Alexandra (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Alexandra Another thought - I heard (but cannot confirm as fact) that the author is a self-admitted atheist. It may be that some detractors are making assumptions based on this coupled with the portrayal of "the church" in an imaginary world, and haven't actually read the books.

Not to say there aren't valid criticisms - I've yet to form an opinion one way or another on that topic for "The Dark Materials" series.

message 5: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Erin (erincorrine) | 3 comments I read the first book in my YA Lit class in college. I was so amazed that I read the full series (the other two) in the same week. Since then, I have read the trilogy every year.

I am SUPER excited for the movie - I have wanted these books to be made into films since my first reading.

As for the negative publicity - Philip Pullman is an athiest - he doesn't believe in god or religion. With that said, the book is more about power hungry people in the Catholic church who do terrible things in the "name of God."

Lyra, the protagonist, is actually very moral and portrays ideals that most religious/spiritual people would support. I often wonder how many nay-sayers have actually read the book. I was raised Catholic, still consider myself Catholic, and I consider this trilogy the best work of literature I have ever read.

Just my two cents, I guess :)

message 6: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Erin (erincorrine) | 3 comments Holly,

The class was AMAZING! My degree is in Comprehensive English Ed and this class was a huge part of what drew me to teaching Middle School. The man who taught it changed my life!

I am glad you have found a class and are enjoying it!

As for your friend's 10 year old son, the first book especially is not that controversial. If they are a strictly religious family they might have a problem with it, but it is really the third book which is the one that is really controversial. I think the fear is that the first movie might downplay the so-called anti-religious side to get child buy in ... then suck children in to reading the entire trilogy. None of the books are anti-religion in my opinion; they just show an unpleasant but very real side of all religion when awful things are done in the name of god. NOTE - the third book was written several years after the first two and is much more mature than the other two. It is still a YA book, but more on the teenager side than the 10 year old side.

The reading level might be a bit advanced for a 10 year old, and that is the only hesitation I would see. If he is a strong reader, it should be just fine.

Happy reading!!


message 7: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Shannon  (shannoncb) I know this discussion is kinda over, but I just wanted to add that I think Pullman gave himself some bad publicity with the whole I-Hate-C.S.-Lewis thing. Some people have been taking it a bit personally it seems.

message 8: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Rindis Books are eternal. Discussions about them even more so.

Hmm. Missed all that. Yes, that does seem to be a good way to get bad publicity. Did he at least have a good argument?

message 9: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Shannon  (shannoncb) I haven't read the article myself, a friend told me about it. I'm sure you can google it. The gist was that he hated Lewis for being pro-Christian, but I don't think he wrote His Dark Materials simply as a counter-story. The books aren't petty like that. I enjoyed them, and I don't find anything remotely offensive about them.

I have come across a few people who not only refuse to let their kids see the movies, but get very worked up over it without really understanding what they're about. It's definitely an anti-religious-establishment story, as someone else mentioned, but it's not anti-god, I don't think. It wouldn't bother me if they were, but the problem is that people so often condemn without understanding. And that's, frankly, quite dangerous.

message 10: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Shannon  (shannoncb) I just heard on the radio (CBC) this morning that a Catholic school (in Toronto I think, I was in a bit of a daze and still half-asleep) has banned The Golden Compass from its library because the author is an athiest.

That's the thing about book banning. They always have ridiculous, stupid, nonesensical reasons for banning books.

message 11: by Alexandra (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Alexandra Shannon - I agree that's a bit of an odd reason in itself - wonder what the library would look like if they banned all books by athiests. Well, maybe they do, but I doubt it.

Although frankly I don't have an issue with parents deciding for themselves what is appropriate for their children, and I haven't read all of these specific books and so don't yet have my own opinion regarding them, there are a couple things that bother me about banning books from schools. When the people making the decisions or complaining haven't actually read the books, and/or when their complaints/actions aren't applied consistantly.

message 12: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Shannon  (shannoncb) Also, banning a book makes it even more popular! So it's a bit of a farce, really.

I find it insulting, whether it's a school or a parent doing the censoring, and I don't agree with it at all.

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