The God-Shaped Hole!

Friday, August 31, 2007

His Dark Materials: Another View

When I first started this blog, it was with the intention of writing essays on God's character and the universal need for His characteristics to be active in our lives. Tonight I stumbled across an essay comparing The Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials, a series of books that denounce and demean the Christian Church.

Apparently, author Philip Pullman wrote the His Dark Materials series as his personal counterpoint to The Chronicles of Narnia. In his series, the Church is a power-hungry organization that controls the smallest details of a person's life, and allows them no freedom. The characters who fight this all-encompassing force, and who end up killing the god the Church worships, are heroes seeking a "humanist republic of heaven."

Because of this review, I now plan on reading this series of books. Just as I have done with writings of Nietzche, Ayn Rand, Heinlein, Jack London, and J.K. Rowling, I now intend to suck the marrow from the bones of these books.

You see, I seek the passions of others. I seek to learn their ideals. I hunger for the things they find most attractive. The authors I've mentioned above, one of the core passions that unites them is a love of free will, a love of choice.

God has given us free will. The ability to choose sets us apart from the animals. It has taken us to the moon, it has built cities and kingdoms... and torn them down. Free will is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.

Free will is the very image of God that He built us to be.

Organized religion takes it away.

When I say organized religion, I don't just mean people who agree on their beliefs. I mean organizations, institutions, authorities. When one person tells another what God's will is, and then says, "or else", free will goes right out the window. In this sense, I say organized religion like I say organized crime.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe presents a world where life is respected and valued, which are some of the values that the people of Lyra's world fight for. This is demonstrated when Aslan sacrifices himself to save Edmund's life, and then leads the Narnians in a battle against the evil forces that are oppressing the other creatures. The Church of His Dark Materials is similar to the reign of the White Witch. Both have almost absolute power over the lives of the citizens of the two worlds, and each has the power to end those lives for any arbitrary reason. Under the rule of the White Witch, it is always winter, and never Christmas. This is similar to Pullman's world, where little hope exists for those under the thumb of the Church. Aslan and his followers portray the respect for life and freedom that Pullman argues for in His Dark Materials. As well, Aslan is a true god, because he endures despite all the evils in Narnia. This validates Aslan much more than the Authority, who is kept alive merely as an excuse for the totalitarian power the Church commands. While the Authority is merely housed in a cell by the Church, Aslan comes to Narnia despite the Witch's power. As well, far from being a "feeble idiot", Aslan has the power to liberate the Narnian creatures and beat back the evil that in encroaching upon their peaceful way of life. Aslan brings to Narnia the liberation from oppression that Pullman advocates for Lyra and her company.

Kristen Hamilton's essay does what I've wanted to do with this blog: elegantly and simply expose the fact that all people, no matter how they despise the name of God, are inexorably drawn to the character of God.