Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Golden Compass

I suppose I’m going to weigh in on the controversy. Not really, though. I’m not going to comment on the books or the movie. I haven't read the books, I haven't seen the movie. Instead, I’m going to comment on the fuss.

First of all, I am a bit confused by it. The fuss, I mean.

“Oh NO! There’s an anti-Christian movie coming out!”

And this is news? Like this is the first one? People have been making movies about their unbelief for years. What’s so different about this one? And why is this one supposed to be so damaging to our faith as a whole? What will make "The Golden Compass" any different from all the others?

Second: The boycott. Of course, Christian groups all over America are screaming about it and wanting to boycott it, thus creating controversy and a whopping lot of free publicity. Here’s a thought: I’ll bet the producers of the movie knew that would happen. Here’s another thought:: I’ll bet they’re counting on it! That means that the Christians are willing (though perhaps unwitting) participants in the game.

Third: To those that think that the boycott is somehow “enforcing a Christian agenda”, I have to laugh. Isn’t that what the Christians are saying about the “atheist agenda” in the movie? C’mon people, get a grip! Everyone has an agenda! Get over it!

Fourth: Some are saying, “The Golden Compass is just a movie, folks! It’s a work of fiction!” While that may be true, I have to say that fiction often has more power to display truth (at least as the author sees it), than non-fiction prose does.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts. Discuss… Or not…

Mark Hansen


  1. I had never heard of this story before the movie came out. But I am always interested in seeing any movie that supposedly has a religious theme. I have never read the Narnia books but always heard there was a strongly Christian theme. I saw the movie and was disappointed. The movie was great! But I didn't get the Christian message. All I can figure was the scene of Aslan's "execution". But since he knew he wasn't going to stay dead, that was more a diversionary tactic than it was a sacrifice. Strangely, LotR, with a fairly obvious "Good-vs-Evil" theme (you have to look for it, I admit), valid self-sacrifice for the good of others, etc., isn't considered a story with religious overtones. So I don't have high expectations of this one hitting me over the head with strong anti-Catholic or anti-God themes or whatever. I suspect that if they even make all the books in this series into movies that it will be so "Hollywooded" (I just made up that word. Like it?), that by the time they get around to killing God in a later movie, no one will even notice.

    Besides, as you say, such themes are not new. And since when have Christians cornered the market on God? If it's truly "anti-God" shouldn't everyone who isn't an atheist get upset? Maybe some groups just like to complain more than others.

    And yeah, especially with movies, any press is good press.

  2. I think that as followers of Christ we should engage the culture and be thoughtful in our criticism and not just reactionary.

    I posted some thoughts about the Golden Compass on my blog here:

    Also, ChristianityToday posted a helpful piece by Jeffery Overstreet that give a balanced view and addresses questions and concerns Christians have about the books and movie.

  3. I saw it today... I thought it was fun. I see it could be viewed as anti-christian, but I didn't read too much into it.

    My faith has not been shaken (plus I got to see two polar bears fight- bonus!).

  4. I read all of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and there are many similarities in the bible. For instance, Aslan, the great lion gives himself to the White Witch as a willing sacrifice to save the traitor Edmund. He is killed, and yet with the morning sunrise the stone table is rend and he comes back- saying that if the witch had understood the true meaning of the 'deep magic', that she would have found that when an innocent dies in a traitors stead, the stone table would rend and he would be among the living again.

    So, how do I feel about the golden compass- I'm not sure yet. I've only heard the fuzz. But, I wish more writers would write like Lewis. I'm sick of the PC statements and trying to please everybody. Please, give me something decent to read my kids to sleep. And don't be afraid to write about God. Even if he is a great Lion. "After all, He is not a tame Lion."

  5. Sparky: Well said!

  6. I thought I'd add an opinion since I have read the Golden Compass and the two books that follow. I don't think any of the others who have posted here have. I have also read the Chronicles of Narnia and other works from C.S.Lewis. Those who have not read these books may not understand why those who have are making the comparison. They both have strong religious overtones. C.S. Lewis tries to build faith in God and Christ specifically. Philip Pullman attempts to excite intellect toward atheism. You can’t argue this if you haven’t bothered to do your homework.

    I agree that the "fuss" adds fuel to the fire which adds to publicity and in the end more ticket sales. At the same time I can see why those of Christian faith (like myself) would want to warn others about this story. Pullman is a little more devious in his devices than Lewis. By the middle of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe the reader can recognize strong parallels to Biblical teachings. Pullman builds mystery and suspense around his philosophic agenda. In book 1 (on which the movie is based) you can see nothing but an imaginative fantasy. By book 2 you realize that god is evil and set on controlling the multi-dimensional universe and every sentient being therein (why?...this is never addressed). By book 3 god is dead, two preteens have had some kind of relationship (sexual?), the murderous parents of the main character are hailed as heroes as they drag the lust loving Enoch down a bottomless pit, and I could go on. The main message I got from Pullman was ...Educated people know there is no god, there is no way to define good and evil, and embrace your passions.

    Now, if this message was in the New York Times (which it is) I’d say everyone needs to decide for themselves, meaning, adults should decide for themselves and teach their children accordingly. To package this message as a kid’s book is wrong and deceitful. I think the public should be warned and if it increases ticket sales for those who could care less so be it. A warning would help those parents who do care what their children view avoid this crack laced candy.

    The movie? Well, the movie is rated PG-13. Parents who care wouldn’t take young kids to see a movie with this rating anyway.

  7. Aaron: That is fascinating! Thanks for the explanation! No, I haven't done all my homework. I did read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and I did follow the Christian theme. The only problem was that I kind of knew what was going to happen, being a Christian myself. It was still a great book, I believe.

    Thanks for the insight on the Golden Compass. I'm wondering if I'll go see the second movie that they put out (probably in a year or two). I would like some closure, though- so we'll have to see what happens.

  8. I Watched it today, and me being christian was shooked. it was candy coated medicing. fooling kids. and im told the 3rd book encourages the down fall of God which i strongly feel is a piss take and regret watchin and contributing to their revenue and telling other people not to watch it will cause curiosity in there mind and 4 out of 5 of them will want to watch it even more so im a bit stuck on what to tell poeple as i dont want any tru christians to watch it beacuse its insulting. and it fools people with weak minds of how life without God is all good when God gave you that life.The film isnt even all that as its to fast paced and the lil girl's charater isnt developed enough. the only thing i like was tthe soul's as pets lol that was a bit cleaver but these writters are ment to be cleaver to decive innocent little children. My names Emmanuel meaning -God with us- so it's ironic i watched the film, regret it.



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