A Christian Story?

Last Sunday, the Boston Globe published an article by religion professor Donna Freitas in praise of the forthcoming movie The Golden Compass and the series of children’s books by Philip Pullman on which it is based. The article is also highly critical of those who oppose the movie.

As with the Da Vinci Code, we are starting to see apologists for The Golden Compass whose own religious views render their opinion suspect.

In her article, Freitas applauds the revelation of a feminine deity. She defends liberation theology, which she says calls believers to “disregard doctrine that leads to oppression.” Pullman’s characters, according to Freitas, hold onto their image of God, such as it is–or isn’t–even as they wage war with “authorities called Church and Magisterium–those who rule by secrecy and serve a false God . . .”

She calls this a beautiful, Christian story. By her own praise for the story she reveals that it is just the opposite.

For a more thorough critique of Freitas’ review, see Carl Olsen’s excellent post on the subject. Pete Vere, who with Sandra Meisel has written an entire book on Pullman’s work entitled Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy, will have a review of The Golden Compass in the next issue of Lay Witness magazine.

One response

  1. A year ago a priest contacted CUF with concerns about a series of speakers in his locale, one was Ms. Freitas. I hadn’t heard of her but a Google search turned up enough to comment on her undesirability as a teacher of the faith. The fact that this comment is based on so little, but for me now confirmed by Olsen’s article, shows how transparently non-Catholic Freidas is in her world view. Here are excerpts (my apologies for lack of citations):

    “After reading a number of her blog entries and a few interviews, my initial reaction was that Ms. (feminist) Freitas is worldly. While she speaks much about the human condition, she doesn’t speak in terms of transforming the world (as with Vatican II), but instead seeks the divine in the profane.

    Ms. Freitas does not consider women saints to be role models and, further, she dismisses or does not see in them virtues that come from a relationship with God. Instead, she looks for contemporary (popular) icons to show the face of God (hence the book, “Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise: Spirituality for the Bridget Jones in All of Us”).

    ‘And I think while the mystics are very interesting for us to read about, it’s also very difficult for us to glean spiritual advice from them, or to look at them as role models because there’s so much history between us…. I was looking for somebody who seemed closer to where we are now. And Bridget Jones is someone who resonated with many people I know. And so I thought, why not look at her as a model? Let’s look at somebody who’s close to us, rather than somebody who feels so far away’.

    In a commentary on young adult Christian fiction, Ms. Freitas begins with a characterization of Philip Pullman grouped in with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis:

    ‘With Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and, more recently, Philip Pullman at the helm, books have explored the classic themes of good and evil either alongside or up against the traditional lines of Christianity.’

    Christian cosmology is the paradigm that Tolkien and Lewis do not transgress, whereas it appears that Pullman creates his own cosmology. My concern is that Ms. Freitas will not recognize a Christian cosmology as a critical standard, but will instead simply identify themes that prompt reflection.”

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