One morning this week, I noticed a paper that my seventh-grade daughter had brought home from school. All of the students were going to be required to read four books in the next six weeks, and the group of students who read the most books would be rewarded. There was a catch: all of the books had to be from the list. Naturally, I started looking over the list. I only recognized two of the books, and one of them alarmed me: The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman.
There was quite a bit of discussion about Pullman's books last year when a film version of The Golden Compass was released in theaters. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops withdrew an originally favorable review. The Golden Compass is the first book in a trilogy which has been described as The Chronicles of Narnia for atheists. Pullman himself has admitted that in writing the books, he was hoping to introduce children to atheism by denying the existence of God and portraying religion as evil.
I'm finding that the culture war is knocking on my very own door, here in the middle of nowhere! I cannot shirk my responsibilities as a father, and yet my own 13 year-old daughter refuses to understand why I have to insist on knowing what she and her siblings are reading. The battles that I have to fight for the souls of my children are the ones that hurt me the most.