The Golden Compass, a new movie based on Philip Pullman’s novel, is creating controversy in the Catholic and Christian Right communities. I can’t say I blame them; having read the entire trilogy, his books are quite anti-Church.
That said, I am enamored of his books for the same reason that I adore the Narnia Chronicles (which Philip Pullman disdained). Not only are they great adventure, but the books make you think. About theology. About God. Or god, if you must. About where do we come from, and who is authority. One Conservative rabbi had a comment on how the books encourage b’chirah hafsheet, free choice.
One of the concepts I found intriguing was: Dust. I pulled out my handy-dandy JPS Tanakh and found dust in two pesukim in Chapter 2 of Breishit. What is the Hebrew for dust? I thought “afar” and my husband said “adamah”. It turns out the Hebrew is (Breishit 2:7):
afar min ha’adamah
dust from the earth
Then later(Breishit 3:19):
כִּי-עָפָר אַתָּה, וְאֶל-עָפָר תָּשׁוּב
kee afar ata, v’el afar tashuv
For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.
And just as the movie ended abruptly, I will end here abruptly.
To be continued (when I find some interesting insight to the word ‘afar’)…