No blogging lately; I've spent all my spare moments in the last week or so reading Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials. Pullman's books are not as long as the Harry Potter books, but they are substantial, and they are much harder to read. These are stories ABOUT children, not FOR children; they are complex, contain several threads, and there are so many mysteries to keep track of, and you don't know who the good guys and bad buys are for quite a while. My son says he tried to read them in Middle School and gave up; now, at a sophisticated 17, he likes them. We'll get to the movie sometime, and I'm planning a service the week after Christmas about the books, the movie, and the controversy.
There are more than a few potshots at the Catholic Church, although in this alternative universe, this institution seems to have been founded by Calvin, and so is clearly meant to be a diatribe against any kind of religion which represses human freedom and creativity. The church folks who are putting up a stink are damning themselves by their reaction...if I tell a parable about a bad guy and someone says, "How dare you make fun of me!" they have accused themselves.
The big irony about the book is that it's author is a Humanist who believes that all value resides in this world, but his book, for all that it's about a war against the Church, is luminously spiritual. Never again will I look at dust as merely the grit under my feet. In reality, it connects us all, and in parable, is our reminder that grace abounds. The children's values (and in spite of the fact that they've got the authorities in three worlds looking for them, their values are solid and good) are rewarded not only materially but spiritually. I hope to find something more about Mr. Pullman and his beliefs.