The Longevity Thesis Book Video

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Opinion on The Golden Compass

I've finally finished reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I had bought a copy on sale a while ago, curious about it because of the controversy, and doubly determined to read it after a friend of mine had said to me, "I've finished reading your book, Jen. I'm reading a really good book now. The Golden Compass. It's very engaging."


Of course, it's an extremely well written book . . . but I don't see why it got banned for being anti-Church of all things, and I'm not so sure I'd want anyone younger than 13 reading it. Perhaps the younger set would simply not pick up on some of the rather "racy" concepts that are introduced in the book, and it would be just fine to let them pore through it.

Here are a few things that made me raise my eyebrows in surprise, having not expected to come across such things in a children's book:

1) A child being hurt by a family member she has loving feelings towards. The "he" refers to Lord Asriel, who is first introduced as her uncle, but is later revealed to be her father:

*He seized her wrist and twisted hard.

"Lyra! What the hell are you doing?"

"Let go of me and I'll tell you!"

"I'll break your arm first. How dare you come in here?"*

2) Advocating narcotics use:

*The Master lit the spirit lamp under the little silver chaffing dish and heated some butter before cutting half a dozen poppy heads open and tossing them in. Poppy was always served after a feast: it clarified the mind and stimulated the tongue, and made for rich conversation.*

3) Hinting at different sexual orientations. This one may be a bit of a stretch, but why did the author choose to emphasize the point?

*Bernie was a kind, solitary man, one of those rare people whose daemon was the same sex as himself.*

4) Adultery:

It turns out that Lord Asriel had an affair with Mrs. Coulter in order to conceive Lyra, the story's protagonist. He also killed her husband, which is why there is no Mr. Coulter in the movie.

There are some statements in the book that seem to be anti-Church, but I found that there were others which were strongly validating of traditional beliefs. For the most part the anti-Church views are held by Lord Asriel, who turns out to be not a very nice person in the first place. And if the Church is being condemned for putting their own political interests first and using propaganda to support it, Asriel seems equally guilty of the same.

My conclusion: Mr. Pullman has dealt with several interesting concepts in a carefully neutral manner. He may show certain factions in a bad light, but he doesn't seem to be overly biased in doing so. Perhaps the humans involved look bad, but for all the attention being put on his being an atheist, he doesn't seem to rule out the possibility of there being higher powers that work on the universe.

No comments: