Spinning Yarns That Deceive

Harry Potter books are not as dangerous as ones that directly undermine Christianity.

Reprinted with permission from BreakPoint Ministries.

The Harry Potter phenomenon is the biggest thing to happen to children's literature in decades. And plenty of ink has been spilled arguing about the underlying worldview of these books.



But right behind Harry Potter on the bestseller lists are the books of another author whose worldview is perfectly clear--and that's the problem. Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" trilogy illustrates that stories may be used for ill as well as good, and reminds us of the importance of having a well-developed worldview critique.

Philip Pullman is a teacher and a storyteller who delights in capturing kids' imaginations--and he's very good at it. His fantasy series, the "Dark Materials" trilogy, has been translated into 21 languages and has sold more than a million copies.

Some have compared this English author to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis--and there are parallels. Not only are his stories immensely popular, he lives and writes in Oxford. What's more, he's very conscious of the relationship between literature and worldview. For him, children's stories are about questions like: "Where did we come from?" and "Where do we go?"

By all accounts, Pullman's trilogy is quite sophisticated: Even adults are attracted to the way he weaves together elements from "Star Wars," quantum mechanics, John Milton, William Blake, and other literary sources.

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But that's where the similarities end. As Pullman himself puts it, Tolkien would have "deplored" his writing and "Lewis would think [he] was doing the Devil's work." Why? Well, by his own admission Pullman is writing stories to "undermine the basis of Christian belief."

In a perverse twist on Milton's "Paradise Lost," Pullman creates a fantasy universe in which God is weak and deceitful, and the biblical Fall is the origin of human liberation. What's more, Pullman's version of the war in heaven ends with God's defeat and death.

Are these stories a challenge to the Christian faith? Yes, they're a direct assault. But they are also utterly transparent.

Think about it. Pullman claims he's trying to undermine Christianity. But the Christian faith doesn't appear in his novels. The god he depicts is feeble, not omnipotent. The religion he describes is petty and malicious, not the faith that inspired almost every significant humane and charitable endeavor in Western culture.

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