December 22, 2005

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
Far from Narnia

Required reading for people fed up with the religion wars:Laura Miller's profile of children's book author and avowed atheist Philip Pullman in the current issue of The New Yorker.

She quotes from his speech upon accepting the 2001 Whitbread Prize for best children’s book:

In his speech, Pullman contended that the literary School of Morals is inherently ambiguous, dynamic, and democratic: a “conversation.” Opposed to this ideal is “theocracy,” which he defined as encompassing everything from Khomeini’s Iran to explicitly atheistic states such as Stalin’s Soviet Union. He listed some characteristics of such states—among them, “a scripture whose word is inerrant,” a priesthood whose authority “tends to concentrate in the hands of elderly men,” and “a secret police force with the powers of an Inquisition.” Theocracies, he said, demonstrate “the tendency of human beings to gather power to themselves in the name of something that may not be questioned.”

Or as I write in my column:

Unlike Pullman, most religious people cannot divorce story from faith, or morality from God. But the faith he puts in story, like his embrace of this world over the world to come, strikes me as very Jewish.
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

type the word "captcha" (you would rather decode a crazy picture?)