Week 10: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Books: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman & Feed by MT Anderson
There are some books that work really well in print. And then there are those who are absolutely meant to be listened to via audiobook. These are 2 of those books.
The Golden Compass is narrated by Philip Pullman himself, and performed by a full cast. I first listened to it during Fall Term 2007 for LIS 721 (the children's literature version of LIS 722). Although it was hard at first to keep everyone straight, character-wise, I really enjoyed listening.
There was a hue and cry when the movie came out, about how this book was about 'killing God'. Um, no. Organized religion, yes; God, not so much. But it wasn't even *this* book that addressed that idea so much. I do vividly remember one of our daughter's teachers ranting about all this (it was when she was going to the local Catholic school, so I can't say I was surprised), and how he urged the class to neither read the book nor watch the movie. Our daughter did both anyway. I ended up writing a letter to her teacher, which says what I think about the book quite well. Here's some excerpts:
Yes, Mr. Pullman is an atheist, and yes, he writes books. Yet, the actual content of The Golden Compass does not revolve around those facts; rather, one of the central storylines is the search for truth, and to what extent some people will go to any lengths to cover up that same truth. Although Mr. Pullman does, to some extent, delve into the concept of ‘original sin’, and what it means to religions worldwide, the story is more than that. It is about bravery in the face of danger; it is about friendship; in the end, it is about love. True, Mr. Pullman does lambaste the Church; yet, he does not specifically name which Church- - I truly don’t think he singles out the Catholic Church. Instead, I think he is taking issue with the dogmatism of every religion, which in and of itself, is a valid line of questioning that should be explored.
I think this is what put paid to his argument:
I understand that there will be controversy over both the movie and the book. But, I have to wonder about those who are denouncing either or both without actually watching the movie or reading the books. If indeed, the movie and book are so anti-religion, shouldn’t this be an opportunity for religions everywhere (not just the Catholic Church) to speak up and say, “Well, certainly that is what the movie/book says, but here are our beliefs” rather than raising such a hue and cry? The Church has withstood many challenges in the past 2000+ years, and not always through the “love your neighbor” philosophy (for example, the Inquisition comes to mind, as does the historically documented persecution and killing of the Gnostics); yet even now, when something that is contradictory to its tenets comes around, it still feels the need to yell, “Don’t go see/read/do (fill in the blank)!!!” If a mere movie or book is enough to turn someone away from the Church, or religion in general, then it could be argued that his or her faith was perhaps neither that strong nor grounded to begin with. It could also be said that perhaps the people speaking out against it do not have faith that what their teachers, leaders, parish, or Church is teaching is enough to sway the doubters.
Feed was good too, in a different way. Normally, I'm not much for Dystopian novels, but the narrator just nailed the tone of voice & inflections of a teenager.
It's the other book I'm presenting on this term, so instead of doing anything more here with it, here's the link to the wiki my partner & I set up for it:
Winter Term 2009 LIS 722 Feed Presentation .