New Line’s Cinema’s December 7th film release of “The Golden Compass” could not have come any sooner. I’d begun counting the days a while ago–not because I was dying to see the movie–I already saw it twice. But because December 7th would mark the beginning, or perhaps even the moment, that this controversy, and my place in the middle of it–as “pro” “His Dark Materials” (if you will)–would finally begin to blow over.

During the last couple of months I’ve learned more than I ever dreamed of about what happens when you speak up about something you really, truly believe in–especially when that something you love is something that your fellow Christians don’t–even though what these same Christians are so upset about, the vast majority have never read or seen. I’ve learned that loving a series of books that I discovered and began reading 10 years ago–a series I originally fell in love with because the books crafted such a magical, adventurous, beguiling story that I couldn’t put them down, a series that filled me with wonder and made my imagination soar, a series that eventually (though still years ago now) sent me on a fascinating investigation of what, as a scholar, I see as its theological significance–would cause me to be tarred and feathered today in the religious blogosphere and through emails by people who call themselves Catholics and Christians, many of whom feel like they are in a position to judge whether or not I am allowed to count myself a member of the Christian tradition. Some people have even begged me to stop saying I’m Catholic–because apparently, according to them (who, I must assume, are in constant conversation with God themselves), I’m not.
Since when does loving a story mean you can’t also be a Christian? Since when does reflecting on the theological significance of books that I came to ages ago (nobody seems to want to acknowledge the fact that 99% of Christians are over a decade late discovering Philip Pullman), make me an evil, faith-hating person?
I’ve never before acknowledged the meanness of people who respond to blog posts and such online–I normally feel it’s best just to ignore those who spew viciousness behind the anonymity of their computers. But some of the conversation swirling around Pullman I’ve encountered from “my fellow Christians” in the last couple of months has been shocking. Degrading. Disgusting.
Christians keep worrying about sending kids into a crisis of faith if they read Pullman’s “His Dark Materials.” Well, I’m experiencing a kind of crisis of faith myself at this point–but not because of Pullman. Apparently, I simply love “the wrong kind of literature” at the wrong time, and have admitted this publicly, and in the middle of this conversation, many of “my fellow Christians” forget that ours is a tradition built on forgiveness (not that I think I have anything to be forgiven for), and that only God can sit in judge of others.
So this is the last you will hear from me about this Pullman controversy (at least during this round). Cheer away. But I will never forget the vicious depths to which some Christians will go to try and hurt, silence, and even shatter my right to identify as a member of this faith for loving a series of children’s books.
The questions I’m left with after all this are the following: Is the Christian blogosphere often (though not always) remarkably unChristian? Are Christians really asking themselves WWJD before they hit “send” or “publish”? Shouldn’t they be? What do you think of the state of Christian “dialogue” online?
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