What was the real message behind the “His Dark Materials” trilogy

Dennis Gosnell

Assignment Editor

For those who have read “The Golden Compass,” “The Subtle Knife,” and the “Amber Spyglass” it would come as no surprise that they have been challenged as inappropriate for schools and public libraries.

Posted on a “Library Thing” thread, user Atomicmutant posted that the series was the “anti-Narnia” of book series.

A little about the books

The central theme of the books revolves around the idea of sin. Throughout the books you hear mention of the main character Lyra Belacqua, otherwise known as Lyra Silvertongue, being important to the survival of not only her world but of all worlds. Lyra has a special destiny, or so many believe.

In book one of the series, Lyra is attempting to run from the Magisterium and a woman she later discovers is her mother.  Lyra wishes to reunite with her uncle, which she later learns is really her father, in order to give him the Golden Compass. Through her travels Lyra learns that the Magisterium is afraid of dust, and afraid of anyone who wishes to experiment with it. Yet, that is exactly what her father Lord Asriel is doing.

The Magisterium’s fear of dust originates with the story of Adam and Eve. They believe that dust was created from the Original Sin. Lord Asriel lies to them and tells them that he wishes to destroy or get rid of the dust and thus obliterate the punishment God put on all beings.

This is where things get tricky for the series, and perhaps causes the most trouble. Lord Asriel formulates a plan to battle the angels of heaven and The Authority aka God. The concepts of heaven become a little skewed in “His Dark Instruments”. It is the place that the angels and the Authority inhabit, and that the place the dead inhabit.

The “Fortress” as it is known in the book is the city of heaven. It is essentially an inter-dimensional floating city that houses the angels and The Authority.

The place where the dead go would be reminiscent of the Greek idea of the “Underworld” and it is policed by harpies who have to feed off of negative emotions in order to survive, at least until Lyra arrives and forces things to change.

Essentially Lyra and Will Perry, wielder of the Subtle Knife, are the Adam and Eve of their generation and must choose to between their love and righting the imbalances between the parallel worlds.

This summation does not do credit to the depth and ingenuity of Philip Pullmans combination of science and religious story telling.

Of course they are angry

There are multiple reasons for outrage from religious organizations.

It is has hard to pin point just which part of the story causes the most outrage. So in no specific order here are the topics that would perhaps cause the most issues:

  • There are homosexual angels who have been banished from their home due to their lifestyle choice.
  • There is the idea that The Authority was not the creator of the angels, but the first and most powerful of the angels. The Authority supposedly lied to all the angels and told them that he created them. The Authority is also so old that he abdicated his place in heaven to Metatron and The Authority must be sustained in a contraption to keep his essence from returning to the source of dust.
  • There is also the underworld-like area in which the dead do not experience a happiness or contentment. And would be a place where miseary and nothingness lasts forever.
  • The portrayal of Lyra and Will, as the reborn Adam and Eve, would be considered blasphemy in certain circles.
  • The idea of parallel worlds, and mixture of science and religion.

There are many more examples of anti-religious thoughts in the book.

Why they shouldn’t be angry


While the book does go about portraying religious organizations, angels, and God in a vilified manner there is also a message of acceptance or rather that all people need is a little understanding of the conflicts between individuals.

Lord Asriel throughout the book talks of overthrowing heaven to find the source of dust, but in reality he is trying to correct an imbalance of power between beings. All the while there is a hole in the fabric of existence in which all the dust or life force is escaping. No one knows this however, and are to busy squabbling over petty ideologies to realize that the real danger is indifference to the use and abuse of such power.

Whether or not this is the message Pullman was trying to convey to his readers, his books are certainly thought provoking and an imaginative collaboration of theologies, philosophies, and sciences.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged Amber Spyglass, , banned book, Banned Book Week, , Challenged Book, His Dark Materials. Trilogy, Library Thing, Lyra, Pan, Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife

“Looper” send audiences for a wild ride

Chelsea Ratterman

Editor in Chief

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as “Joe” in TriStar Pictures, Film District, and End Game Entertainment’s action thriller “Looper.” (Courtesy of Alan Markfield/MCT)

Looper” raced into the box office for the Sept.28 weekend among high expectations, bringing a new take on the sci-fi, time travel genre.

The movie stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, whose job is to kill those sent back from the future. In 2044, time travel has not been invented, but it has been 30 years in the future. It has also become impossible to hide a body in the future, so a business venture is set up for hired killers, or loopers, in 2044 to kill victims sent back from the future. The one catch is that when their contract is up, they must close the loop by killing their future self, and is then is released for 30 years.

Bruce Willis plays future Joe, 30 years later, where all the loops are being closed by a mysterious threat. He is sent back but escapes from his younger self, putting both their lives at risk as older Joe attempts to prevent the threat from reaching the future.

As well as loopers, in society there are those who have developed telekinetic (TK) abilities, in small amounts. When younger Joe is on the run, he encounters the future threat and faces the strongest TK in the world.

The film starts off slow, as the complicated plot line is established and all the characters are brought to their appropriate place. When this happens, the pace picks up dramatically as the stakes increase between the younger and older Joe.

The time travel plot is well thought out, with small details lending it credibility, such as when younger Joe carves a message into his arm, and we see it appear as a scar on older Joe.

The film is bloody at its worst. The most astounding scene of the movie is when the TK threat causes the blood to bloom out of a man as he is suspended in mid-air.

They did a decent job on JGL’s makeup and prosthetics to widen his jaw, to lend more reality to the idea of him being a younger Bruce Willis.

At the end of the movie, when younger Joe sees the loop that creates the threat, he takes measures to stop it. The ending was shocking and not one particularly seen coming.

In all, “Looper” is a film well worth the wait and hype that preceded it.

Upcoming box office

Sony Pictures managed to hold the one and two spot for the Sept. 28 weekend, but faces competition in the Oct. 2 releases. “Taken 2” and “Frankenweenie” make their wide release debut, and the awaited “Perks of Being a Wallflower” adaptation expands to wide release after positive results in its limited release run. October is looking to be a redeeming month for Hollywood after a sad end to the summer season.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged 2044, : joseph Gordon levitt, bruce willis, celebrities, , , frankenweenie, future, killer, looper, perks of being a wallflower, sci fi, taken 2, Thriller, time travel

Staff Banned Book Pick: The Catcher in the Rye

: The Catcher in the Rye

By: Narges Taghavi

Feature Editor


J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” is an exceptional story. Although, it might not be something you’ll find the modern day teenager reading and parents might be startled by the novels unrefined content; the story is one that is timeless.  The story follows sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield; a New Yorker that is unlike most teenage boys. He not interested in pop culture or fitting, because he finds that being real is better than going through life as a copy. Although, he has been kicked out of many schools and does not like learning, he is quite knowledgeable an unorthodox sort of way. Throughout the whole story Holden is a very blunt and honest person that doesn’t fabricate the world and is all about what is real.


One of the greatest things about the book is it’s relatable. The character of Holden is much like J.D. Salinger, but he could just as easily convey the reader or someone in his or her life. The book is a “coming of age” tale, its matter rings true still today. It depicts the un-talked about rubbish of the adolescent genre.


Caulfield is at the crossroads between adolescences and adulthood, and though he very mature for his age, he longs for the innocence of youth and is disgusted that nearly half of society is filled with “phoniness.” Many people find that because of its subject matter the book should be banned, but the content is why the book is considered a work of genius.


Many coming-of-age novels touch on subjects like sexuality and religion, but J.D. Salinger brings these issues into light full force, and shows the complexity of them. He paints a very realistic picture of puberty for the reader. It is a wonderful reader for adults and teens a like. Holden questions lots of things about the world and deals with norms of society and breaking down the walls and guidelines present in the world today.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment, Features Tagged Adolescences, , Classic, Holden Caulfield, J.D. Salinger, Realistic, The Catcher in the Rye, Unrefined Content
Graphic by Melissa Bednarek

Banned Books Week features read-outs, professor panel

Chelsea Ratterman

Editor In Chief 

The LRC will be hosting student read-outs during Banned Books week from Oct. 2-5. Oct. 1 is the first read-out at 10:30 a.m. in front of the LRC and the second one is at noon on Oct. 2 also in front of the LRC. These read-outs feature students reading excerpts from their favorite challenged book in a circle of peers, as well as faculty and staff participants.  Each day features different books and readers.

Throughout the week, a display of banned books in the RSC library will be up in the LRC on the first floor.

For more info on Banned Books Week, visit the American Library Association website.

Graphic by Melissa Bednarek

One of the events for the Banned Books week occurring from Oct. 1-5 is a professor panel discussion.

Held Oct. 3 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in LRC Room 109/110, the panel will feature different points of view on the topic of banning books.

The panel features three RSC faculty members, Dr. John Wood, Dr. Jim Hochtritt and Michael Grady, and is moderated by Ben Fenwick.

This event is free to the public.

Professor Michael Grady

Prof. Grady will be on the pro-side of banning books for the Banned Books Panel. He is playing the devil’s advocate for the sake of the panel, alongside Dr. Hochtritt.

“I am taking a side for which I am not truly behind, but when asked, I thought it would be a good challenge, and I plan to come out on the winning side,” said Grady.

Grady is an adjunct professor and teaches Fundamentals of English, Comp I and II.

He holds a B.A in speech and in religion from Baylor University, Master’s of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Masters of English, traditional studies from UCO.

Grady is in his sixth year as a professor at RSC.

Dr. James Hochtritt

Dr. Hochtritt will be taking the pro-banning side on the Banned Books Panel. He is playing the devil’s advocate, alongside Prof. Grady, for the sake of the panel.

Dr. Hochtritt earned a B.A. in American Studies, a B.A. in History from California State University Chico and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from the University of Oklahoma. He is a cultural and social historian whose main area of focus is ethnicity and race in the 20th century American West.

He is in his 12th year at RSC and is a tenured, full-time faculty member.

Dr. John Wood

Dr. Wood is taking the anti-banning stance on the Banned Books Panel. He has expressed that book burning is symbolic and pure censorship, leading toward extremism. In an example given by Dr. Wood, the radical views of Christian Johann Heinrich Heine led to German authorities banning many of his works and forcing him to live in Paris for 25 years as an expatriate. He once said, “Where books are burned, people will next be burned.”

Dr. Wood is currently in his eighth year as an RSC professor and is the faculty adviser for VOICE/OIL, Go Green Club, and the Veteran’s Club.

Dr. Wood holds a B.S. in Journalism, an M.A. in Political Science and a Ph.D. in environmental policy and conflict management all from OSU.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment, Multimedia, Raider Life Tagged ala, banned book, read out, panel, hochtritt, dr. wood, grady, pro, anti, devils advocate

Check in for a spooky fun time at the “Hotel Transylvania”

Chelsea Ratterman

Editor in Chief

Dracula (Adam Sandler) and “Johnnystein” (Andy Samberg) in “Hotel Transylvania,” an animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation.


Hotel Transylvania” opened on Sept. 28 just in time to kick off October for the kids.


The movie follows Count Dracula (Adam Sandler with an over-the-top Transylvanian accent) as he plans his daughter Mavis’ (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday within the Hotel Transylvania, which was built as a haven for monsters from the hordes of torch-carrying humans.


As the party starts to pick up steam the whole gamut of classic movie monsters make an appearance, with the Mummy (Cee Lo Green), Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his bride (Fran Drescher), Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), his wife (Molly Shannon) and his litter of pups and the Invisible Man (David Spade) serving as Dracula and Mavis’ extended family.


When everyone arrives and the party is about to get started, the worst thing possible happens to Dracula: a human, Johnny (Andy Samberg), makes his way to the hidden castle and could potentially ruin Dracula’s plans for his daughter’s future.


Unable to get Johnny out of the hotel, he dresses him up and masquerades him as a fellow monster. As Dracula races around in an attempt to keep both Johnny’s identity a secret and his daughter’s birthday on track, a romance blossoms between the stifled daughter and the witless world traveler.


The film is quick and easy to follow for the young ones. It’s not a fright fest and there are laughs to be had at the stereotypical monster jokes and a farting Frankenstein.


Each character is encased in their stereotype for the film. Frankenstein’s fear of fire leaves him unable to fly, so he has himself and his wife express mailed to the hotel, and the Mummy arrives in a flurry of sand, making the witchy housekeepers job a bigger mess.


“Hotel Transylvania” is at its heart a father-daughter story great for the whole family, and is heartwarming at the end when Dracula makes the decision to let Mavis see the world with her human.


Genndy Tartakovsky, who was the man behind “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack” for Cartoon Network, directed the film.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, David Spade, , Family, Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania, Kids, Molly Shannon, , Selena Gomez, Teve suscemi

Agnes of God

Raynor Littleton

Volunteer Writer 

Agnes Of God 

Agnes of God by John Pielmeier premiered on Sept. 15th at 7:30 p.m. at the HB Atkinson Theatre.

Agnes of God is a three-person play featuring Kim Wasinger (Agnes), Laura Reynolds (Dr. Martha Livingstone), and Michele Field (Mother Miriam Ruth).

Agnes of God is a story about a court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Livingstone who is summoned to a Covent to assess the sanity of a young nun, Agnes who is accused for killing her newborn. Miriam Ruth, the Mother Superior, is determined in keeping Agnes away from the doctor, making Livingstone believe that there is more going on that they are telling her.

Dr. Livingstone and Miriam Ruth are always in the midst of a fight. Livingstone is holding a grudge against the nuns, because her sister became a nun and died because the Mother Superior of the Covent refused to take her to the doctors. Ruth is just trying to protect Agnes and knows that Livingstone is attacking her because she is a nun.

Before any scene change, Dr. Livingstone would monologue what she believes is going on in the story, a little bit about why she has grudge against the nuns and uses an analogy related to the scene that just happened.

In the first meeting with Agnes, she just seems like a young, innocent, sheltered nun. When Livingstone asks her where babies come from, Agnes believes that good babies come from angels and that bad babies come from fallen angels.

You later learn that Agnes had a disturbed past. Her mother was an alcoholic who mentally and physically abused. Agnes believes that being fat is a sin and that she needs to starve herself as a result of the abuse. Agnes said, “God blew up the Hindenburg, he’ll blow me up.”

Dr. Livingstone uses hypnosis on Agnes to find out what really happened to the baby.

There were some technical difficulties towards the end of the story, such as the spotlight going out on Livingstone’s last monologue, but she went on without it, and some stumbling of lines.

This play is for mature audiences only, with foul language and mature content. It was a thrilling, dramatic, mystery with a little humor.

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged Agnes of God, John Pielmeier, Kim Wasinger, Laura Reynolds, Michele Field

The Words do not invoke wisdom

The Words do not invoke wisdom

By: Narges Taghavi, Feature Editor

The Words is another could-be-great movie that falls short of excellence.

The whole plot has to do with a story within a story, within another story.

Continue reading

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged Author, Ben Barnes, book, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, , Nora Arnezeder, Plot, Romance, Thriller, Zoe Saldana

Premium Rush delivers quickly

Chelsea Ratterman

Premium Rush delivers quickly

Premium Rush is the latest movie from rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, last seen in the Dark Knight Rises.

Here he stars as Wilee, a New York City bicycle messenger, one of the 1500 messengers on the busiest streets in the world streets, risking their lives weaving in and out of the traffic to cash in.

Continue reading

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged : joseph Gordon levitt, bicycle messengers, bike messengers, bullitt, chase, dark knight rises, death, general zod, life, man of steel, Michael Shannon, new york city, premium rush, Sherlock holmes, steve mcqueen

Reader not hungry for reality

Dennis Gosnell

Assignment Editor

Bread was a pillar of the books, but was downplayed in the movie.
Photo from MCTcampus

Reader not hungry for reality

If anyone has lived in America long, they know that Americans have a strange fascination with post apocalyptic genre type books and movies.  The question that people are asked in these kinds of books or movies is, “how would you survive or what would you do if you were in this situation?”

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Francis Hughes Scholars Catalog Civic Center History

By: Logan Pierce, editor-in-chief

Starting in September of the fall 2011 semester, the Frances White Hughes Scholars began working in conjunction with the Civic Center Music Hall to catalog the history of the center, from its origins in the 1930s to the present day. Rick Woodard, humanities academic advisor, worked closely with the students to ensure they met the strict research criteria. Continue reading

By 15th Street News Posted in Entertainment Tagged chicago, civic center