For those of you who follow the same preaching blogs I do, you have probably seen comments on this quote before, but I can’t get it out of my head, so I want to get it down on paper. (well…not paper so much as…keyboard…no, screen…no, get it…down in writing. That works).
Our church didn’t do a lot when the movie “The Golden Compass” came out. We made an informational article about it available to parents warning them of the dangers that this film holds. We announced in the bulletin that the article was available, but I don’t think I even made a verbal reference to it. I didn’t want to draw attention to the film in any way to provoke curiosity.
But at the time of the release of the movie, Philip Pullman gave an interview in which he made an interesting statement. He is talking about the “anti-Christian purpose” of his book. In part he says: “…what I’m doing is telling a story, not preaching a sermon.”
The reference for the quote is: http://www.fish.co.uk/culture/features/pullman_interview.htm
As both a fiction writer and a preacher, I must say that either Philip Pullman is incredibly naive (which no one has ever accused him of being) or he is totally disingenuous (the kindest conclusion). For a writer to minimize the power of words is a contradiction of terms. It is impossible to write stories without showing a bias and influencing people towards that bias. No one would say of the parables of Jesus, “What Jesus was doing was telling a story, not preaching a sermon.” The message of the sermon comes through loud and clear through the use of the story.
There are two groups of people who should understand the power of words in influencing people: novelists and preachers. And in Pullman’s case, I am sure that he understands the influence of his story. It was not unintended