Do penguins even HAVE a religion?

The inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone. Why don’t the censors realise this?

In the case of The Golden Compass, the reason the book was challenged is listed as “Religious Viewpoint”, a reason that appears in connection with only one other book in the top five, a picture book called And Tango Makes Three. This is based on the true story of a pair of male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo, who for a time formed a couple and hatched the egg of a mixed-sex couple who were unable to hatch two at once. This, if you can believe it, was challenged for six different reasons: “Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group.”

Religious Viewpoint? Penguins?

Philip Pullman has an arcticle in the Guardian. He’s written about the fervor his book, The Golden Compass and the resulting movie have had.

This is a damn fine book, frankly, and it bugs me to know people are against it based on religious grounds. They’re missing a great book because they believe they aren’t going to get anything worthwhile out of it. They’re not even reading past the dust jacket, probably, because the story revolves around bucking authority, in this case, the political-religious leaders of the world Lyra lives in. Their desire to understand humanity comes at the risk of destroying that which they wish to preserve. They’re ruled by fear and the more they learn about how their world really works, the more dangerous their actions become. Lyra’s coming-of-age story plays against a backdrop of a scientific renaissance and its opponents. People who wish to help Lyra on her quest vs. those who want to use her, and the golden compass, for their own dark purposes, and are willing to kill to get their way.

Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration, and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. The rank stench of oppression wafts from every authoritarian church, chapel, temple, mosque, or synagogue – from every place of worship where the priests have the power to meddle in the social and intellectual lives of their flocks, from every presidential palace or prime ministerial office where civil leaders have to pander to religious ones.

That is the whole point of his series. Abuse of power, corruption, manipulation, torture in the name of Gods. It’s a crisis in Lyra’s world, and it’s trouble in ours.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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