I've been trying to think of a way of summarizing what an amazing experience it was to read "His Dark Material" by Philip Pullman. I don't think I can... I tried reading a passage to my wife last night, but without the background it just lacked something.
I finished the book with some incredibly passionate feelings about it. Never has any fictional work hit me with quite the same force as this one. This may be due to the subject matter and the current state of my life, but all that aside, I think it is still an excellent literary work.
I went online this morning to look up a little more on the Author - Mr Pullman. I tried his website - http://www.philip-pullman.com. He had some links on their to interviews and so I looked at those. I was hoping to get a little more insight into some of the idea's in the book, but instead I found a couple of gems of wisdom.
These quotes are from the Guardian Unlimited Website, and were part of an online Q&A he did.
I'll give you the pieces of the questions, and his answers which impressed me:
Q - What influenced your courageous and refreshing view of the church and religion?
A - My view of the church and religion was shaped simply by a reading of history. The original impulses of the great religious geniuses - in whom I include Jesus - were, as often as not, something that all of us would benefit from studying and living by. The churches and priesthoods would benefit more than most, but they dare not.
Q - Do you believe that there is no value at all in organised religion?
A - No, I wouldn't say that, because it would be silly; obviously many congregations, of many different religions, do good things such as raising money for charity. No-one could argue with that. But whenever you get a political structure, with ranks and hierarchies, you get corruption; you get people who are more interested in progressing through those ranks than in doing good. Power corrupts.
That last answer really got to me this morning. Maybe I should summarize where I used to be... In the Church with which I affiliate, my father was a pretty big deal - Most of my childhood, when he wasn't at work, he was taking care of Church business. My parents are both die hard members of this Church, so much so in fact, that if I were ever to leave it (Which based on some recent experiences, is not outside the realm of possibility) would likely cause me to be disowned, or at the very least become a great cause of shame to my extended family.
My dad has been appointed as both a bishop and a stake president at various times, the latter generally oversees about 10 congregations in a geographical area. I was pretty much headed on the same track as a kid. I kept all the commandments, obeyed all the rules, and was thouroughly versed in all the policies and whatnot. I spent some time as a missionary as well, and for a long time was labeled as the "Golden Child", of course that was until I screwed a wee something up, and then I was shunned for the remainder of my term, as a border-line apostate, but that's a whole other story, and wasn't really my fault anyway, just a wrong place at the wrong time type of thing.
I then moved over to the US and actually started working for the administration of the Church. I'll spare you the details, but after 6 years of abuse (and finally getting some sense knocked into me) I quit and got a real job. I may share the details of this my other blog... I could entitle it, "How to destroy employee morale and crush any form of achievement"
I think I'm just tired of it. The manipulation, the guilt of not being good enough, the appearances, the judgemental attitude. I made a wee mistake yesterday. On the scale of evil things I could have done, 10 being full on blasphemy, this was probably a 2, maybe not even that high. I got called on it, and apologized and carried on as best I could. The person who called me on it apologized, which I didn't think was necessary, but appreciated. An hour later, I thought everything was fine. Apparentely after I then left, it was discussed in great detail, on exactly how I had screwed up and why they had to call me on it. The person then phoned me to talk about it, and apologized again. I'm not sure why they did this - the apologizing bit. Personally I think they were following the protocol, but deep down could tell something was wrong with it. I was mildly pissed at this point. I then got another phone call later in the day from someone else, saying how the person who called me on my wee mistake, and subsequently initiated a 10 minute discussion on it with all the men attending services that day, "Had my back" and was defending me. What?!?
I'm not sure what to think - 10 years ago I would have known that I shouldn't have done what I did. I was just trying to share a wee thought that meant something to me. One thing is for certain... If I am ever invited to speak again, the response will be a polite, "No Thanks!"
So what might you be asking yourself was the great sin? I could keep you in suspense, but I'm not in the mood for games.
My topic was faith. I wanted to point out that faith is a precursor to other things. Like when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he had to think about it, and then take the thought and create the light bulb. He didn't just create the light bulb one day. And he didn't have the idea and do nothing about it. I had a couple of other pieces to the analogy as well. Apparently they liked the analogy. My mistake was pulling a wee incandescent bulb from my pocket to illustrate the point. Apparently "props" are of the devil.
Better go say a couple of Hail Mary's and then beat myself senseless with a whip, so perhaps God will forgive me for this unspeakable act. Of course now that I have critisized the powers that be as well, Salvation may be beyond my grasp.
Oh well, I'm sure I'll have plenty of company in hell!