The weasel won

All the people who were upset because they felt The Golden Compass was anti-Christian had better hold onto their hats, because Philip Pullman has really done it in this novel about the birth of a major religion. In Pullman’s retelling of the most famous story in the West, a bit of skepticism creeps in to tales about things like a virgin birth. What’s more, young Mary gives birth to twin sons: one is a God-serving, humble, the-Kingdom-is-coming kind of guy known as Jesus; and the other is a manipulative, church-building weasel nicknamed Christ. Guess who wins out in history? It’s a fast-paced little parable that puts a common-sense tweak to a number of the miracles, while reminding us how much of the Gospels is devoted to social justice and compassion. The way Pullman tells it, the Christian church we’ve got is precisely what we’d have ended up with if the weasel had won. Go figure.