You have to really wonder. If this critic is correct (and I don’t at this point claim that he is) Pullman has fundamentally misunderstood the Christian doctrine of the body. The critic writes:
During the critical expository scene following the near “intercision” of Lyra’s daemon (the removal of her soul), Mrs Coulter, the executrix of the church, explains the process as being “healthy” and a necessary kindness which ensures a child is protected from the “impurity” which adolescence begets.
It’s herein that the conundrum for the conservative 20th century church lies; surely, to remove the agent of original sin is to be lauded; it is after-all what Christ did through his self-sacrifical act. Furthermore, it’s an act played out with each baptism and “born-again” event. Not only that, a soul separate from the body is integral to the church’s idea of spirituality. And in fact, only through the release of the soul from the body is redemption complete.
Wherever the idea that redemption means the “release of the soul from the body” came from, it ain’t orthodox Christianity. Perhaps, however, this misunderstanding is a key to understanding where Pullman is coming from.
The other thing is this–and remember that I haven’t got to the end of the third book yet where this episode takes place:
It comes as no surprise then, when salvation comes to the universe through an allegorical act of that replicates the act of “original sin.” What Pullman is telling us is that the fall of man was truly an extra-ordinary act of love, and if replicated, it’s that act which will redeem us.
Okay the allegorical act is really thinly veiled sex between two deeply in love, just barely adolescent children.
I can’t wait… However, I am eager to see whether Pullman in fact does what the Open Critic claims he does: that is, confuse “the original sin” with the act of sexual intercourse.
If either of these two ideas are really at the core of Pullman’s work, we have a deeply disturbing instance of a characterisation of a gross misunderstanding of Christianity. Can it be that Pullman really believes that Christianity teaches either of these essentially gnostic concepts?