"And all the people that you made in your image / See them fighting in the street, 'cause they cant make opinions meet / About god / I can't believe in you"
It's official! My niece and I will be reading The Golden Compass together this winter after we watch the movie. It has apparently made Christian groups mad and there are e-mail campaigns* urging people not to take their children to see the movie or support the book. Go go Gadget Christian Controversy! My favorite quote describes author Philip Pullman as the writer "atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed." Someone ought to put that on a t-shirt.
I'm only on Chapter 5 of the book, and so far it just reads like an adventure story with some dark overtones. I think the Munchkin can handle--and even really enjoy--it. More importantly, I think it's about time we start discussing the idea of questioning institutions like the Church and formulating your own belief system. I wouldn't be doing my job as her tita if I didn't help her ask questions that will make her mother's brain hurt. I can see it now: "She asked if she can start her own Circle? Yeah, um... hey, my house is on fire. Gotta run!"
Mind you, I'm not working with a blank slate here. Munchkinface has already asked her mom if Uncle Dusty will go to heaven even though he doesn't believe in God. I applaud my sister heartily for responding that the only thing that matters to God is that Uncle Dusty is a good person. Really, that's the only thing that should matter to anyone, deity or not. I'm not sure if heaven or hell or purgatory exist, but I'm damn sure that it just feels good to be a good person here on Earth. It feels good to be bad once in a while, but usually only until the tequila wears off.
Supposedly, the later books in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy talk about a senile God that the children have to kill or something. I imagine that Pullman is speaking allegorically about God, but the Christians--those cute widdle angry, conservative, literal-minded bunnywabs--probably think he means THE God. So long, flowing gray locks and beard, robes, stern countenance, etc. Sortof like Zeus, minus the debauchery with mortals. Come on, Christians. You steal all your holiday ideas from the pagans, who clearly know how to throw parties, and then you steal your godhead figure from the Greeks, but make Him a petulant party pooper? Psh.
You know what I think "God" is? Remember that scene at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Whos are gathered around where the tree used to be? They clasp hands and start singing their Christmas song, and this ball of light emerges from the center. It grows brighter, stronger as it rises, buoyed by their voices and strengthened by their hearts. I think that light, that love, is "God". And it's fairly obvious that this god knows how to get a party started. Bring on the roast beast! That's the kind of god I can believe in.
"Dear God" by XTC
* Thanks, Betsy.