When Harry Potter came out, the books were subject to burnings and condemnations from several religious groups.
But Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, which puts forward an argument for a rational secular way of thinking and criticizes organized religion, didn’t receive anywhere near the same attention.
The British 70-year-old author is back with another trilogy set in the same universe. The first book, out in October, features life when Lyra was a baby 10 years previous to the beginning of The Golden Compass (US title), or Northern Lights. The latter two books will see Lyra at 20 years old, 10 years after The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
The next trilogy will be called The Book of Dust.
‘Religion is an extraordinary human phenomenon,’ Pullman told NPR. I’m fascinated by it, interested in it, and at some points critical of it.
‘The points where I come critical is when politics comes into the question and religion attains political power. Political with a small “p” in the confines of a family, or political with a large “P” on a larger international scale.’
Pullman then notes how religion is a negative force in the world when it tells people when they dictate sexuality, among other things.
‘When religion gets the power to tell people how to dress, who to fall in love with, how to behave, what they must not read, what they must not wear, then religion goes bad.
‘Sin, evil, temptation comes far too strongly for people to resist. Religion is a private thing, a fine thing and a good thing as long as it remains private. As soon as it becomes public and political, it’s dangerous. That’s the position that I take in the first series, and that’s the one I take in this one as well.’