Pullman defends 'Scoundrel Christ'
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Monday 29 March 2010
His books have depicted God as a senile figure and painted the Catholic Church as a corrupt bureaucracy. And yesterday the author Philip Pullman, who once said he was "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief", acknowledged that his latest book is also likely to offend believers.
Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival ahead of the publication next week of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Pullman, 63, said: "Nobody is forcing anyone to pick the book up or to read it or, if after having read it, to like it. If you don't like it, you can always write to me, or to the publisher, or you can write your own book. No one is stopping you."
The book, which has been released to coincide with Easter, is based on the Gospels and sees Mary gives birth to twins. Jesus is passionate and charismatic, while Christ is his self-conscious, troubled polar opposite who secretly records and embellishes his brother's teachings.
Pullman said has received angry letters from the Christian community accusing him of blasphemy. He was accompanied by security guards to the Oxford event. But some from within the Church were prepared to turn the other cheek.
The Rev Alex Bradley, of the Unitarian Christian Association, said: "Different people see Jesus in different ways. Everyone to some extent has an image of Him, and writers and artists should be free to form their own interpretation.
"Religious freedom remains indivisible, and freedom of expression remains a core value of democratic civilisation."
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