Monday, August 31, 2009

125 Posts Old... Break Out the Champagne! + Bonus Book Review!

Ok, so no champagne, but prosecco is a close 2nd, right?

Actually, I just put the bottle back in the refrigerator (albeit with significantly less prosecco inside) because I think a 4th glass of the bubbly stuff would be potentially dangerous once combined with blogging.

I am currently re-reading the His Dark Materials series. Remember back in 2007 when the movie The Golden Compass came out? It starred a little girl named Dakota Blue Richards (whose parents were obviously hippies)? No? Okay.

The movie The Golden Compass came out back in 2007. The novels on which the movie was based are by renowned YA author Philip Pullman, who also wrote The Ruby in the Smoke. I read TRITS when I was about 12, but was freaked out by an old crone in the book, so abandoned it for less frightening books, like The Three Musketeers.

I'm not joking.

I heard about The Golden Compass and what a wonderful book it was, so I decided to read it. And I did.

It is purportedly a children's book, akin to Harry Potter and A Series of Fortunate Events.

The purports are dead wrong.

The book is, essentially, about killing God. I'm rereading the books because I just reread A.J. Jacobs' hilarious and insightful The Year of Living Biblically. I decided to follow up Jacobs' book about coming to terms with God, if not entirely embracing religion, with a series about completely rejecting and destroying God. Why? I have no clue.

The first time I read the HDM trilogy, I was uncomfortable. I'm less discomforted, this time, but perhaps only because I know how it's going to end, and I know a bit more of what to expect.

Despite the slightly disturbing story-line, it's wonderfully written with amazing descriptions and a sub-text of how important growing up and discovering yourself is. I also agree with some of its contention that militant religion is the main issue that prevents world peace from being achieved. In the series, this extremism is what brings about the apocalypse, or something very near to it.

Okay, yeah, I'll buy that.

Would I recommend it to anyone under the age of - say - 16 who wasn't well-armed with a sense of their own religious beliefs?


I can see an already confused 13 y.o. reading it and freaking out, taking its arguments as gospel . In Philip Pullman's alternate reality, there are no moderates, only extremists, and they're the ones who control the world (his extremists all seem to be Catholics, or something very much like to them. He and Dan Brown should team up for a one-off).

Also, and this confuses me a bit, for all Pullman's atheist rantings, there seems to be a divine force behind the characters in the book, driving them on. If there are angels, and angels composed of Man's consciousness, then aren't they just a symbol of Man's desires? And, if Man doesn't want a god or Authority, or whatever you call it, then why does it exist as a result of Man's consciousness?


So, recommend it? Yes, if you want to read it purely for entertainment, or if you're a militant atheist looking for a childhood call to arms (some of the most close-minded people I've ever met were atheists who were stridently opposed to the close-mindedness of the ultra-religious. It was SOOOO much fun pointing out their hypocrisy. But I digress), then go ahead and read it. If you're very religious - and not open-minded - then I definitely don't suggest reading it.

You very well might die of apoplexy.

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