In Kurt Bruner’s and Jim Ware’s new book, Shedding Light on His Dark Materials, the authors explain several godly messages they have found hidden in the apparently anti-theistic world of Philip Pullman’s series, His Dark Materials. This trilogy, including the books The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, all convey a bleak fantasy world in which the Church is considered evil as well as the Authority, or God figure that is portrayed, as a tyrant in need of overthrowing. However, in Bruner’s and Ware’s, Shedding Light on His Dark Materials, the two try to bring out the many underlying spiritual themes within the series.
There are many small but significant points brought up in this book, such as the word daemon does not actually refer to what we would consider a demon. Another is that the idea behind The Authority does not exactly represent God as tyrant, but as a pretender, such as Lucifer. Several other ideas come out of the fact that the main character in the His Dark Materials series, Lyra, is a person who believes that lying is the easiest way to bypass all of her problems. Although, later in the series she comes to realize that deception does not always work and soon decides to stop her lying.
Shedding Light on His Dark Materials is set up with a specific subject from the series that seems controversial to Christians. Each chapter begins with a small excerpt from a certain chapter from the trilogy that relates to the subject posed. After showing the small piece of the story, the authors explain their own views on Pullman’s books and show how they can derive a hidden spiritual message from this.
With such conflicting ideas within Pullman’s series, it’s no wonder that some people may find themselves outraged at the idea of God being the vile, egotistical villain. One of the points covered in this book is the idea of how The Authority may not be God. Whereas Pullman’s intent was a stab at God, exactly by referring to Him. The authors bring up the point that this may not refer to God, but someone else. In the chapter about The Authority, they write, “In the end, the Authority Lord Asriel’s army hopes to overthrow—the God for whom Mrs. Coulter prescribes a merciful killing, the Tyrant angels hope to defeat—turns out to be a familiar enemy. Despite the names Pullman attaches, the Authority is really none other than Lucifer—that one who carries the foul odor of rebellion against the sanity of submission.” (p. 79)
Overall, Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware have done an amazing job in this new book. It is extremely well-written and contains many helpful theories that bring about new meaning to Philip Pullman’s trilogy. I would recommend this book to anyone who is unsure as to whether or not they should try reading the His Dark Materials series, or to any fans already who are interested in learning more about the hidden spiritual ideas within the series. – Michael Moore, Christian Book Previews.com
Best selling authors of Finding God in the Lord of the Rings Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware team up again in a study of Philip Pullman’s popular His Dark Materials fantasy series. Unlike authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Pullman writes from an intentionally anti-Christian perspective. As the authors explore Pullman’s themes, characters, and charges against Christianity, they ultimately conclude that though Pullman intended to do just the opposite, he has created a cosmos that seems to confirm the existence of a loving God--one where truth wins out over deception, grace trumps the virtue of self-reliance, and relationship is prized above independence. Released in conjunction with the major feature film, Shedding Light on His Dark Materials will equip parents, teachers, and readers to better understand and respond to Pullman’s brilliant but troubling work.