Philip Pullman: his book will lead people back to the Bible

Quote mining can be a lot of fun. I also considered:

Philip Pullman: ‘It’s not his fault he’s old and silly’

and

Philip Pullman talks politics: ‘I don’t trust them as far as I could throw them.’

The actual article headline:

Philip Pullman: ‘I hope the wretched Catholic church will vanish entirely’

Does he want that? Yes, he’s quoted as saying so in the article. But he also hopes people who read his new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, will be inspired to go back to the bible and take notice of the inconsistencies he noticed while researching it.

We have, he adds, only “a vague impression” of the Bible. “If we have a Christian upbringing, we’re told that Jesus was born at Christmas and all the shepherds came, and the wise men, and the little donkey, and there was a star and so on. And then a couple of months go by, and he’s betrayed and flogged and crucified and then he rose on the third day and everybody had Easter eggs and there were daffodils around and all that sort of thing. And the rest of the time he went around telling stories and curing people. So that’s all we know about him. And we think that the New Testament says that. Well actually, Mark says this and Matthew says that, and Luke says something else and John says something quite different. And we don’t know this, because we don’t actually read the damned thing.”

Pullman also mentions the early translators of it and the risks they took to bring the bible to the masses outside of Masses.

Tyndale and the early translators got into terrible trouble and suffered enormously, because the church disapproved of the Bible in the vernacular; they wanted to keep the story for themselves and allow little bits out very parsimoniously. Eventually it was translated, of course, but the church didn’t have very much to fear because most people didn’t read, don’t read very deeply. They will read the bits they like and ignore the bits they don’t understand or don’t like.”

So what led up to the headline quote? His thoughts on temptation and denial of temptation. The Catholic church became an institution where basic needs had to be ignored in order to meet spiritual goals. It also became an authority that could not be questioned, no matter how many insane and bizarre rules were put in place, no matter how many odd rituals and strange ideas percolated under the lid.

“Now,” he continues, “when you get that sort of authority, in any set-up, the potential for corruption is wide open. And when it comes to looking after children or people who are incapable or helpless, well human beings are tempted. And of course part of the reason it happens is priestly celibacy. They’ll deny it and say it’s nothing to do with that, but of course it is, of course it is. That’s not to say that married men are free from temptation or never given way to it, because of course they have, but the level of frustration and unhappiness and unfulfillment that must build up in a man who’s denied one of the most important aspects of his humanity, it’ll get bad.”

And there are articles galore illustrating just how bad it is. Canterbury Atheists reports:

A comprehensive, long-term study commissioned by the Catholic Bishops’ Council in the United States found that approximately 4 per cent of ordained priests had sexual misconduct allegations made against them between 1950 and 2002.

4% can also be written as 1 out of 25. The John Jay Study (pdf) lists the number of accused priests in their Executive Summary (4392); and the number of people who made allegations surpassed ten thousand.

But enough about that. Pullman’s new book sounds interesting. I might have to give it a glance. I’d rather read an atheist’s mythical version of the story than some born again vampire author’s take on it.

About 1minionsopinion

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