The Churches should learn from arch-critic Phillip Pullman

The seven bishops were surely right to support Shirley Chaplin’s challenge to the ludicrous and oppressive ban on her wearing a small necklace cross to work (not a “crucifix” as some heathen reporters describe it). Trouble is, this gets confused with far less worthy causes like “Christian” objections to basic sex education. Pressure from the churches at election time makes the point- that they are in fact marginal to life in GB, diminished by indifference and now scandal and have been reduced to behaving as, just that, a largeish pressure group, chief spokepersons, the Church of England. If they were the force they were even in the 1950s, a quiet word to Downing St about the operation of new equality laws would have sufficed. For all that, the sea of faith even at ebb tide is still able to make a roar and create an echo from a position of relative privilege within the State. Typically the Church of England is dragging its feet over a wholly elected Upper House which would exclude the bishops and bring formal disestablishment one giant step nearer. Faced with institutional retreat, it came to pass that Christianity has received a gift from God in the unlikely corporeal form of the literally fabulous atheist, author Phillip Pullman, who takes the Gospel seriously enough to rework the Jesus accounts into new fable with two characters, “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. He certainly knows his New Testament. The lesson that influential traditionalists have yet to learn is that a high quality assault with integrity like Pullman’s is testimony to the power of the story. It should encourage them finally to abandon the remnants of State privilege and rely entirely on faith and good works.

In Pullman’s work, Jesus is a charismatic, honest speaker, who believes that the kingdom of God is imminent. Christ, on the other hand, has an eye to posterity, to the need for an organised church and to the requirements of history. “He knows that human beings, being what they are, need structures, they fall into bureaucracy. He knew that the kingdom never was going to come,”

  • joeCanuck

    a small necklace cross to work (not a “crucifix”

    Finally an explanation. I used to think that the wee Jesuses had fallen off and were in the back of our big radio watching the tiny wee bands walk around while they played the music. I got hell from me Ma for trying to remove the back so that I could see the bands.

  • Fearglic

    The sooner we unburden ourselves of imaginary power influences the better.

  • CatinHat

    “The sooner we unburden ourselves of imaginary power influences the better.”


    The problem with the anti-religious is that some are for personal freedom but on the other hand some others don’t want to do away with religion so much as replace it.

    Take homosexuality. I have no inclination to it but I would object strongly to a law saying I couldn’t practice it, because it’s my personal business. The law is to forbid harm not somebody’s view of sin. Actually, who knows, one day I might be inclined to give it a try. Stranger things have happened.

    If some group says it’s sinful that doesn’t bother me if I’m not a member of that club, so long as they don’t try to make a national law against it. But to me some “secularists” have turned this into all but a religion, calling for dismissal from employment of people not expressing the “correct” view on homosexuality. To me that’s as bad as putting gays in jail for adult consensusl sex acts.

    In many ways Harriet Harman is as puritanical as Ian Paisley and her “save Britian from anti-sodomites” is no better than Save Ulster from sodomy. If the Catholic adoption agancy only wants to serve heterosexual couples then let them. Withdraw government funds if desired but threatening prison is no better than locking up practising gays.

    Religion should be a personal matter. It’s not something that should be destroyed only for the state to move in and take it’s place, punishing sins rather than instances of Peter directly harming Paul.

  • I read a couple of Pullmans books before I got bored. Jesus the man has been owned for a very long time by those with a vested interest in maintaining a certain image.

    If Pullman can lower the veil well and good, but I doubt if anyone can.

    As for taking the back off the tv. I used to wonder how on earth they got so many in such a small box…