This idea of the internet as a solipsistic wonderland--oh wow! You're reading my blog!--really gained ground this weekend with two of our leading internet magazines--Salon and Slate--each using the premier of The Golden Compass as a springboard for people to talk about themselves while pretending to do otherwise.
I have a lot of respect for Donna Freitas's work on His Dark Materials, but on Salon she unconscionably sets up Catholic Leaguer Bill Donahue as the Grand Inquisitor and herself as Galileo: "Allow me to plead my case, for I think I am innocent. (Though I fear I might be on trial, or even be found guilty without a trial.)" Stop, Donna, we need the wood.
And I would really like to see some documentation for "Catholic principals, librarians and teachers all across the United States and Canada are being told by their diocese to remove "His Dark Materials" from their shelves and classroom curricula." I can find three instances of The Golden Compass being removed from Catholic schools (two in Canada and in Oshkosh, Wisconsin), and in none of them was the diocese involved: trustees, principals and one benighted librarian pulled the book without orders from above. Of course there are probably other, quieter instances of the book being removed (as that's how it's usually done, in public and parochial libraries alike) but the point is that the Catholic Church is engaged in no war with Philip Pullman and no one is being threatened with excommunication. It's just weenie Bill Donahue calling attention to himself via his self-administered interviews, and Freitas falling right into his trap by making him seem more important than he is.
But Freitas, at least, does have a point to make, and it's an eloquent and important one, about the feast of religious inquiry in Pullman's trilogy. Emily Bazelon writing for Slate, on the other hand, explains that she's not going to encourage her sons to read Pullman's trilogy because she really dug Flowers in the Attic even though her mother said it was dreck. (Thanks to Kelly Herold for the link.) Did I mention that I'm going to see The Golden Compass tonight and Nobody Listens to Andrew used to be my favorite book?