Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos

Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos
Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

Dear Philip Pullman,

You are such a good writer and I respect your Book of Common Prayer atheism, but you really have got it wrong with your latest offering. I comment on the basis of the extract in The Guardian 27 March 2010.

It really isn't a patch on Northern Lights; there is no pace or drama. The argument you put forward is one all Christians must consider, not the rather weak idea of twins, but the mystery of Jesus being both man and divine. The argument was fought over in the early church and hardly surprisingly a number of possible answers emerged.

I am thus massively grateful to Rowan Williams for bringing his wisdom to bear in the review, again in the Guardian, on 3 April.

I wrote my BA Dissertation on Children’s literature as Christian discourses: to what extent and in what ways may Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and the ‘Harry Potter’ novels of JK Rowling be read as Christian discourses? I found in His Dark Materials, as does Williams in The Good Man Jesus, a great deal of serious theological reflection.

It is good and right for non believers to challenge beliefs as indeed it is the other way round. There is a very strong argument that Jesus came to save us from religion and much of what has happened in the institutional church since then is not Christlike. For me the challenge is to identify and proclaim that which is Christlike since it does have the power massively to enrich human life.

It is a tragedy to throw out Jesus with the religious bathwater, but a mistake too not to be open to the divine significance of this man. Like Williams I shuddered at the crude 're-writing' of the angel's visit to Mary. This event, for which there is no historical evidence, has inspired some of the very greatest art. Artists offer such different interpretations. This is man trying to come to terms with the point at which God meets man; it is a mystery, but one to be explored rather that treated shabbily.