Sunday, December 6, 2009

His Dark Materials Shines a New Light on Things

Growing up Christian and being sent to church and Sunday school every Sunday because it made the grandparents happy left me with a little resentment towards organized religion. I was baptized when I was baby and do not remember it, however when it came time for me to be confirmed and admit my life to one God and one religion, I really had to think about this. I was about to sign my life away to a belief that has yet to be proven or even fully answered. I was faced with a choice that I had to make, one that I could not make lightly either. I had lots of questions that needed answering before I could accept that this was the right thing to do. I never became confirmed because I was never answered with any response that I felt was a legitimate reason for things or for belief, if there was no answer this was the response I received “that is why they call it faith, you don’t question it, you just believe.”

I feel that Pullman, like myself, did not feel that this sort of response was a legitimate response to the questions that arise within organized religions such as the Christian faith. Perhaps the church is right and there is a God, perhaps he is a loving and virtuous God who has sacrificed the ultimate gift so that you and I will have a place in Heaven, or maybe he is that wrathful and full of vengeance as he is portrayed in the Old Testament. Perhaps the latter is true and the question that Pullman asks of whether we have been lied to since the dawn of man.

Perhaps there was extraordinary cataclysmic battle between good and evil at the beginning of the world, but who is to say that right a good side won. I once heard a quote from a history teacher that I had in High School: “History is written by the winner, not the loser.” Although I did not really think about it at the time, but this quote is true. Think about how the idea of Thanksgiving is taught in our schools; as happy time where we think about how our friends the “Indians” taught us about what friendship was and kindness, not even close. Now let’s look at what really happened; we came, we took, we raped, we murdered, we slaughtered, we purposefully infected, we relocated, and now we break treaties and try to implement taxes on these people.

This misconstrued idea of history has been fed to us since day one because that is how it was recorded. Perhaps that is the same with the Christian religion. Maybe Pullman had thought the same thing and decided to express this idea that maybe God was the really the evil one and that Satan was the good one but he lost and so therefore history was misconstrued and recorded as a lie. I do not think that Pullman is necessarily bashing the Christian faith, but instead presenting a piece of fiction that brings to light new ideas about an ancient history. Maybe the real important thing is to make decisions for ourselves and not blindly following like a sheep.

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