Philip Pullman: an odd letter

By , 14 December 2007 4:37 pm

Using similar methods to those alluded to by C. S. Lewis in the Screwtape Letters I have recovered the following recent letter from a senior devil to his nephew.

My dear Sneerpate,

Rumour has reached me that you are delighted that your patient’s son has started to read Philip Pullman and is going to see the film the Golden Compass. I am appalled at your enthusiasm. I see this as yet another indicator of the declining standards of the Tempters College. I suppose it is inevitable that, after generations of persuading humans that idiocy is a desirable state of mind – with some startling results – junior tempters are stupid themselves.

Do you really believe that these books or this film will ensure this child stays out of the Enemy’s hands? Oh, I can hear your pathetic answer, “Please Uncle Gnawbone, in the last book God is killed off.” And so he is. But do you really think that even the most naïve human child would recognise in that feeble caricature the dreadful reality about whom we can barely think without terror?

However, that is not the real issue. That is simply this; what is the price we pay for them to be tempted by such works? Oh yes, ’god’ is cast down, but those who read these books are expected to put their faith in all manner of things that human scepticism or what is called ‘rationality’ denies: magic, daemons, witches, wizards! You see what you are encouraging? Far from leading this child into the barren deserts of atheism with its insistence that the only things that exist are those that can be seen and felt, you are running the risk that this boy will develop a hunger for fantasy. Do you really not understand the danger? He may acquire a hunger for the supernatural, a longing for that which his everyday world will never provide. Fantasie is a perilous land for us. In those realms, it is all too easy for the Enemy to appear. Weren’t you strictly instructed that the safest route to the flames of our Father’s house is that wide, well populated path that shuns any hint of magic? Indeed so perilous is fantasy even when it is marketed as ‘atheistic’ that there are those amongst us who suggest that under all his many words (how these humans talk!) this Pullman is in fact an agent of the Enemy.

No, Sneerpate, keep the child from all fantasy. Indeed, better still, from reading. The Internet, with its encouragement of disorganised and incoherent knowledge and its promise of instant gratification of every whim is far, far safer. If the child must read, then let it be magazines or catalogues. A healthy taste in materialism can’t be started too early.

Your affectionate uncle


6 Responses to “Philip Pullman: an odd letter”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wuv it! I shall immediately post a link to your blog on another book site. I think this is a wonderful letter, of course the very fact that I am reading it online…but I do read other thought provoking stuff too.
    Thanks for the letter,
    Anonymous Prodigy
    PS: have you seen the movie? If so what did you think about it? and what do you think about the Narnia movies?

  2. Catherine Brislee says:

    Now you have discovered C. S. Lewis’s secret method, may we hope for more eavesdropping in the future?

  3. Chris says:

    Actually only a fool tries to imitate Lewis. He is so good that you always end up looking like a very poor writer.

    But if the occasion demands it I may do more in this vein.


  4. Chris says:

    Dear Anonymous

    Thanks. No I haven’t seen the film: the reviews were lukewarm. I was also unenthusiastic about the Narnia film. There was some magic missing, somehow.


  5. bdwlf says:

    Thank you so much for this refreshing view. It is a wonderful reminder of the glory and omnipotence of God — that He can take something “anti-god” and still turn it around to serve His own purposes. I needed that.

    Your post also makes one think, that while we are protecting our world-views from the onslaught of atheism (which although a seemingly formidable foe, is actually very poor in arguments and evidence), are we perhaps neglecting more insidious facets of secularism — like materialism, selfishness, laziness…

    On the other hand, I’m still not decided whether I will go see the movie. I just don’t know if I want to pay to sit and have my convictions insulted for two hours. Perhaps I will stay somewhere in the middle. I may not support the movie, but neither will I waste time senselessly bashing it either

  6. dugmad says:


    Excellent post!! One of my favourite Lewis books.

    I think the scariest thing about this book/series etc. is his efforts for it to be understood as anti God. There seems to be quite the effort to make sure you go into the movie understanding his motives. And once it is know to be anti God, should believers partake in the event? Not so much at being at risk of corruption but rather seemingly supporting such an open agenda.

    Got one of your books for my Brother in law and it was found in the adult section of the store so maybe your publisher is listing something different.

    Take care,


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