This moment of sex-positivity is Pullman's way of signaling to us that the new "republic of heaven" will be better than the old one.
But many other tenets of Christianity remain intact: the belief that spirituality, rather than science, can explain the world; and the idea that it is natural for women to subordinate themselves to men. When Lyra returns to her Oxford, where only men attend university, she can only hope to be educated at a less-prestigious women's college. And her attachment to Will has robbed her of her only power: reading the golden compass of truth. If Lyra's transformation from hero to second-class citizen is what passes for anti-Christian storytelling, maybe we should be looking for a new way out of the religion problem. *
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who would rather open the doorways between worlds than kill a God who doesn't exist anyway.