Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials
Buy Rights Online Buy Rights

Rights Contact Login For More Details

More About This Title Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials


Killing the Imposter God explores the complex religious and spiritual dimensions of the best-selling fantasy series. Donna Freitas and Jason King—scholars of religion and popular culture—reveal how humanity's moral and religious issues play out in Pullman’s literary phenomenon, showing that the trilogy—far from preaching atheism, as many have suggested—actually presents a vision of a universe permeated with divinity and rich with the Christian tradition Pullman himself so publicly rejects.  Weaving together critical theory that spans the disciplines of theology, ethics, feminist studies, and philosophy, the authors examine the questions His Dark Materials raises about destruction and salvation, love and redemption, the abuse of power,  and the divine—making the case that Pullman the self-professed atheist has created a Christian classic of our times.


Donna Freitas is assistant professor of religion at Boston University. Her books include Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise and Save the Date, which she cowrote with Jason King. You can contact her directly at

Jason King is assistant professor of theology at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He has been teaching college for eight years and loves his interactions with students and colleagues.


Introduction: A Theologian in Spite of Himself.


1. Confusing God with "Authority".

2. A God Made of Dust.

3. We Are, Each of Us, Divine.


4. The Beauty of Evil.

5. The Good That Makes Us Human.

6. Love Frees Us.


7. A Promised Land of a Different Sort.

8. The Exquisite Taste of Knowing.

9. Love’s Divine Sacrifice.

Conclusion: Building the Republic of Heaven.

A Wicked Interview about His Dark Materials with Gregory Maguire.

Plot Summaries.



About the Authors.



Freitas and King believe that Philip Pullman—whom the New Yorker called "one of England’s most outspoken atheists"—is a theologian in spite of himself, and that Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is a religious classic on the order of the Chronicles of Narnia. Here, the authors attempt to show that the Pullman novels are not about killing off God, but rather, annihilating an understanding of God that is antiquated and unimaginative. Analyzing lengthy scenes from the novels, they find Pullman’s views pantheistic, rather than atheistic. Pullman "resurrects a far more sophisticated divinity" and wrestles mightily with theological questions. Freitas and King explore Pullman’s beliefs about God, good and evil, and salvation, seeing the novelist as squarely situated within liberation theology and "surprisingly Greek, indebted nearly as much to Socrates and Plato as to God the Father and God the Son." Freitas (Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise) and King clearly know their material and have the requisite passion for their topic. Although this is not light reading, the book release’s timing to coincide with the motion picture, His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, should give it higher visibility to a popular audience. (Sept. 7) (Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007)“Most readers of Pullman’s His Dark Materials find ourselves wrestling with its ideas long after we’ve closed the books, and Freitas and King jump into the ring with passion and a truly unique perspective. Reading this lively and thoughtful book is like discussing the HDM trilogy over coffee with your very smartest friends.”--Kathryne B. Alfred, The Longstockings


“Freitas and King clearly know their material and have the requisite passion for their topic.” —Publisher's Weekly


“In Donna Freitas and Jason King's creative, compelling reading, Pullman emerges not as the atheist he always said he was, but as an unwitting witness to a divine force that longs to be with creation. It will not only change how you read Pullman—it may change how you think about your own story, too.”--Lauren F. Winner, author, Girl Meets God