No one has the right to live without being shocked

Philip Pullman has published a new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (review by Rowan Williams).

Predictably, people are offended.  But in this clip, Pullman has a marvellous, measured response.*


Questioner: Mr Pullman, the title of the novel seems to an ordinary christian to be offensive. To call the son of god a scoundrel is an awful thing to say.

Philip Pullman: Yes, it was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say but no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their lives without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it, and if they open it and read it they don’t have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me. You can complain about it. You can write to the publisher. You can write to the papers. You can write your own book. You can do all those things. But there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or sold, or bought or read. And that’s all I have to say on that subject.


*I was unable to embed the clip, possibly because it is on Philip Pullman’s publisher’s Youtube channel
*I typed up the transcript myself. I’m sorry if there are any mistakes in it.


6 responses to “No one has the right to live without being shocked

  1. We need to get him out here for the next Writers’ Week!

  2. I tell you, from where I am reading right now, that is a truly inspiring quote.

    (He would be a most excellent WW participant. Especially because people who write for children are rarely invited to Adelaide Writers’ Week. It’s a disgrace and a shame, especially when we have a gazillion brilliant such persons living in our fair town.)

  3. I love the clarity of the response – so totally reasonable.

  4. It’s a great response and, I also think, a pretty mild title. I’d guess most Christians would not be offended. It also strikes me as odd that anyone who considers Christ such an important figure, would be surprised that from time to time he’s the subject of critical or satirical comment. Every other historical figure of significance is for crissakes.