Maybe the third time around will be the charm for this very controversial book and author. No pun intended, but author Pullman pulled no punches when discussing his series His Dark Materials or his very strong, negative opinions regarding Christian religion.
His series’ goal is destroying Catholicism and killing God. God in the book is merciless, a tyrant, and a fraud. It’s really no wonder why many people find his book dangerous. So, just who is Philip Pullman and just what is his controversial work “His Dark Materials” trilogy all about?
This is the third shot for a live-action adaption on HBO starring James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Dafne King is getting ready to be released. As hard as it might be to believe, in 2007, a movie starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman hit theaters but Pullman’s books were considered controversial and even dangerous.
This is a science fantasy that takes place in a series of parallel universes and was originally marketed as a children’s book that was released between 1995 and 2000. It’s about 2 pre-teens, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, who occasionally hunt for and occasionally run from their parents.
It’s a story about angels and magic bears, ex-nuns, and outer-body souls that accompany humans in the form of animals known as Daemons. Many of the lines deal with destiny and whether we create it or embrace it which caused a lot of controversy among Christian groups.
Lyra and Will travel through several worlds, ages, and continents because they are chasing characters like Lord Asriel, who is working to dismantle earth’s most prominent church, the Magisterium. They are also trying to take down “Dust” (or original sin) while Mrs. Coulter is working to protect the church’s mighty power.
God is called The Authority who is a merciless tyrant and fraud. (That truly doesn’t help the cause for the book.)
The most dangerous author in Britain
In 2002, the conservative journalist in the UK, Peter Hitchens, published an article about Pullman’s book stating that he believes this is the most dangerous author in Britain. He went on to say that Pullman is the anti-C. S. Lewis that atheists would pray for if atheists prayed.
In 2007, when the movie was preparing to be released, the Catholic League campaigned against the move believing it promoted atheism and denigrated Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism.
In 2008, the series was second out of the top 10 books that others tried to get banned in the U.S, according to the American Library Association. From 2000 to 2009 it held the number 8 spot on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Banned Challenged Books list.
Pullman’s public appearance did nothing to stop the unrest. Shortly after the final installment was released, he told the Washington Post that his goal was to undermine the foundation of the Christian belief. During an interview with the Guardian in 2002, he stated that organized religion is necessarily corrupt.
He said when you have a political structure with hierarchies and ranks, you get corruption. Then in 2003, he had a conversation with Sydney Herald (which truly did nothing for his cause) saying his books are about killing God.
During a lecture in East Anglia in Norwich England, he wondered what prompted them to ask him to speak about religious education. He said due to his criticism of religion in the past, different Christian groups have criticized him and he replied saying any comments he might have would be hostile.
A reporter from the New Yorker was present at the time when Pullman said that he did not think it’s possible that there is a god. He said he could say something about moral education because it has something to do with the way we understand stories.
All said and done, Pullman did see sales climb in the tens of millions and a lot of illustrious awards. He has been called one of the greatest writers in post-war Britain in 2019. On top of that, he was knighted for his contributions to literature.
His books have been translated into more than 40 languages and a thumb’s up to Pullman’s brilliant world-building. Naming just a few titles that can be found in children’s and adult sections in bookstores.