Monday, March 22, 2010

Hooray for Philip Pullman

I was talking to some fellow Unitarians on Sunday and we all said how much we are looking forward to reading Philip Pullman's new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, as the ideas in it sound very Unitarian. We also remarked that the Unitarian concept of God is far closer to Dust than to the Authority, since many Unitarians are pantheists or panentheists who believe that the Divine is immanent in the world.

Unitarians have been in existence as a denomination since the 1500s in Poland (they were driven out of Poland for their heretical views), the 1600s in Transylvania, and the late 1700s in Britain, and throughout that time have asserted that Jesus was just a man. He may have been special and inspired, but he was just a man.

Unitarians and others in the 19th century learned much from the new Biblical criticism coming from Germany in the 19th century, and realised that the Bible is a palimpsest of different voices and editors. Nowadays atheists and humanists and agnostics are welcome to be members of the Unitarian movement.

Pagans also love Philip Pullman for his positive portrayal of witches, and the wonderful idea of daemons, which are rather like the concept of totem animals which is popular with many Pagans.

So it was with some dismay that I just heard that fundamentalist Christians have been issuing death threats to Philip Pullman because they don't like his latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Stupid, ignorant, narrow-minded, bigoted fools. It is fairly obvious to anyone who has read the Bible with an open mind that the Jesus of the gospels and the Christ promoted by Paul are very different. Christ is a mystical entity whose body is the church (and who should never have been conflated with Jesus). Many liberal Christians say that Christ is an archetype within the psyche (or words to that effect).

In any case, even if you think Christ is the supreme ruler of the universe, issuing death threats is not the way to convince non-believers that your faith is worthwhile - quite the opposite. And if Christ really was the supreme being, I daresay he could look after himself. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord"; "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Goodness me, haven't these people actually read the Bible?)

I am very much looking forward to reading Philip Pullman's new book, and hope that these evil people do not carry out their threats. I am sure that all decent people will be praying for his safety and protection.


Kay said...

Thanks for posting this! I've pre-ordered the book through Amazon and am so dang excited. I'm a huge HDM fan and am sure that this will be as good as those. :)

Dancin' Clown said...

You got my interest. I found this excerpt

Yewtree said...

Thanks for the excerpt - it is very intriguing, and not at all what I was expecting. I definitely want to read the whole book now. There is a legend that Jesus had a twin, actually, but in the legend it was Thomas Didymus (both of the names mean twin - the first in Aramaic, the second in Greek).

dreamguardian said...

James the Brother of Jesus by Robert Eisenmann is an excellent scholarly & NON fiction work. Supprised the fundee mob haven't caught up with him yet! (

Yewtree said...

Thanks dreamguardian.

I have also just bought The Man they called the Christ by David Doel, Unitarian minister & Jungian therapist. It makes some similar points in a different way, but points out that the story of Jesus is an allegory for the human condition and the spiritual journey.