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2781[mythsoc] Compass and Knife

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  • Diane Joy Baker
    Dec 5, 2000
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      In prep for reading *Amber Spyglass,* I just finished *Golden Compass* and
      *Subtle Knife.* I much enjoyed the first, largely because you have a linear
      tale with good focus, a lot of appealing characters and only a little bit of
      anti-Church dogma. (I use that word deliberately). The world here is very
      interesting, and I could picture the beauty of the Aurora and the stars;
      both phenomena obviously move the author (whom I refer to with his
      initials). Iorek Byrnison *almost* makes up for everything.

      Several things disturb me about *Subtle Knife.* The casual killing of the
      man looking for Parry's letters doesn't bother me so much (this often
      happens in mysteries), but the heralding of Will's abilities *because* he
      killed someone does bother me. I'm also disturbed at the flat assertions PP
      makes about "the Authority" and those who follow Him, with little evidence
      to back up those assertions. Sure, the separation of the children from
      their "daemons" is dreadful, given the world they live in, and the weak
      arguments for performing such a dreadful act further excaberates the
      situation. We're supposed to recoil in horror.

      Yet, we don't see any evidence (other than Mrs. Coulter's exceptional
      presence on the GOB) that any clergy support this act (among certain
      *evangelical* groups, she would not be permitted any influence). If daemons
      are expressions of a person's soul, any Church clergy or Authority would be
      as horrified as Lyra is. It might have been better if PP had couched this
      battle in terms of an inter-denominational squabble within the Church
      (hasn't the man ever heard of denominations, for Heaven's sake?), but then
      he wouldn't be able to tar the whole institution with the same broad brush
      as effectively. OTOH, he could use the denominational struggle as an
      argument against religion ("isn't it supposed to be all one faith?") then
      accuse the whole Church for what this extremist denomination has done.
      Anti-Christians (indeed, those who make arguments in general) do this all
      the time: ascribing what happens in one denomination to the entire Kingdom,
      then browbeating the whole for the excess of that single group.

      If Dust begins to accumulate after one reaches adulthood, is there some
      sense that the more the person sins, the more Dust they have? If it's a
      residue of Original Sin, then everyone would have some Dust, even if they
      were children, and the Spectres would be equally interested in adults and
      children. (Of course, I think we'll find out they're completely wrong, so
      let's not work this out with any logic at all.)

      If one joins the Church, one could conceivably have less Dust---or have it
      changed in some way---as a result of one's faith. (Coulter should be
      choking from the stuff.) If I remember right, the age of reason for
      children within the Catholic Church is seven (one cannot have a First
      Copmmunion before then, IIRC). Dust would conceivably start accumulating
      from that time onwards.

      Nor has *any* mention been made that Christ's sacrifice applies to this
      world at all. (However, if PP wants to attack the Church, he can hardly
      avoid its most central figure, unless he does so in *Amber Spyglass.*) In
      short, the Church, its beliefs, actions, and outworkings, are very
      ill-defined. Of course, PP is not thinking this through very well: he's
      creating a straw man to knock down.

      So far, we've seen only three dimensions---our world, Lyra's world, and the
      Cittagazze. In *all* the multi-dimensions (presumably the witches have seen
      many more of them), is there NO Church figure who does any good whatsoever?
      Oh, no. Never. Of course not. PP must think that if he finds one Just Man
      who is also a believer, it destroys all of his argument. ("An atheist [or
      anti-theist] should be careful of the company he keeps." ---JRRT) ---djb.
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