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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I Agree with Philip Pullman...

... about one thing. And that is that stories teach. They, in fact, often teach more effectively than any other method I could name.

Here is what the controversial author of The Golden Compass (vol. 1 of His Dark Materials) had to say when accepting an award for it in 1996: All stories teach, whether the storyteller intends them to or not. They teach the world we create. They teach the morality we live by. They teach it much more effectively than moral precepts and instructions.


As the great philosopher Arthur Fonzarelli said many a time: "Exactamundo!"

Too bad Pullman didn't take his own statement to heart. Stories teach. Tolkien knew it. Lewis knew it. Dostoevsky knew it. John Milton knew it. Those were excellent writers. It is usually a sign of an amateur writer when the didactic elements overpower the narrative elements. And I have seldom read published works as tediously preachy as His Dark Materials. He makes the mistake of many well-intentioned Christians who appear to write stories but are really just thinking up premises as a pretext for writing an evangelistic tract. I am a Christian and even I find it objectionable to be tricked by an author into thinking I was going to be getting a story instead of a sermon. Don't get me wrong. I like sermons. It's just that I like stories too. Not only is Pullman's teaching objectionable, but he ruins the story.

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2 comments:

Jonathan Huehn said...

Rev. Stiegemeyer,

I don't know if you've seen this yet but Rev. Paul McCain on his Cyberbrethren blog just posted info. on the new Chronicles of Narnia movie coming out in May of 08. Looks really good! It will be a great follow-up to Pullman's dark movie The Golden Compass.

Vicar Jonathan Huehn - Messiah Lutheran Church Seattle, WA

Anonymous said...

I just returned from seeing the movie and was quite disappointed.
Perhaps it would have been a good idea to read the book first, but I found the story line "jumpy" and the CGI nothing special. I actually found it quite boring, even falling asleep during the dialogue lulls!
There were some references (preachy!) to those who want to control others (the Magisterium) but nothing that I really found that objectionable as some Evangelicals and Catholics protest about this film.
I don't believe I will bother with the next 2 in the series, but I may read the books.
FWIW

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary