By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

CALGARY, December 6. 2007 ( – Following the lead of the Halton Catholic District School Board in Ontario to pull ‘The Golden Compass’ from library shelves, Calgary Catholic schools have been directed by Superintendent of Instructional Services Judy MacKay to unobtrusively remove the books from school shelves pending a review of the book’s appropriateness for young readers.

A Nov. 29th memo to schools from MacKay’s office said, “Given the controversy related to the book, the district will not promote and/or use it to support instructional and/or literacy development pending additional information and initial review. At the same time, since bans and censoring tend to draw increased attention to the potentially inappropriate materials, a course of quiet non- participation is recommended.”

MacKay told CTV Calgary that removing a book from Calgary Catholic school libraries is standard procedure when literature comes under review. “At this point, as a precaution, we’ve removed it from the shelves out of respect for the parents who have expressed concern. We really don’t want to contribute to creating more hype and controversy. We want to be balanced in our approach.”

“Our children are exposed to a wide range of information,” Mackay explained. “One of our responsibilities is to help them understand how that fits with their belief system and to equip them with skills so that they understand how they can fit that into their own belief system.”

The book, originally titled “Northern Lights“, is part of the trilogy “His Dark Materials“, written by self-described atheist Philip Pullman. In interview quotes available from the on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Pullman states that his trilogy was inspired by John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” a classic 17th century British epic poem about the war between God and Satan, but his intention in writing the books is to “invert the traditional Biblical account of the war between heaven and hell,” and to “undermine the basis of Christian belief.”

Pullman says that he “is of the Devil’s party and does know it” (a line adapted from poet William Blake, who said of Milton, “he was a true Poet, and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”).

One of the story’s characters, Mary Malone, a scientist and former Catholic nun says, “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.”

See related reports:

Ontario Catholic School Board Removes Anti-Catholic Book ‘The Golden Compass’ from Library – nov/07112202.html)