After further discussion with readers, including the original one to whom I responded, I would like to clarify my earlier remarks about The Golden Compass. Books of substance have an “atmosphere,” as C.S. Lewis put it, along which the text runs, an atmosphere that permeates the text and is not explicitly stated. When my friends and I were 6-8, we were not converted by the overt symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia, but we were no doubt affected in some way by the atmosphere of the stories. Those parents who believe that the anti-Christian atmosphere of The Golden Compass et al. would hurt their young children would do well to guide their children to other worlds of imagination. Once children are older, however, the books and movies could be useful in showing the contrast between the values and atmosphere of atheism and those of Christianity, a contrast more helpful than harmful to their spiritual growth. In summary, while I maintain my initial assertion that Philip Pullman alone will not make children into atheists, I accept the correction that parents should handle his books more carefully than I had previously written.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 6:30 PM