200px-the_golden_compass.jpgSurely by now most everyone is familiar with this year’s holiday blockbuster movie The Golden Compass. If you are even the least bit connected to any form of popular media, you are aware of the ruckus this movie has stirred up especially amongst the Christian community. All of the fuss can be traced back to comments made by the author of the book trilogy Philip Pullman. In February 2001, the Washington Post interviewed Pullman and ran an article discussing His Dark Materials. Responding to comparisons to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Pullman was quoted as saying, I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief. Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the Devil’s work. There is no doubt that a statement like this would surely stir up a little controversy. Many concerned Christians from public figures to the average layperson have been seeking the answer the question of whether or not this movie (and the books for that matter) is suitable for our young, impressionable children. I am quite sure there have been many groups “creatively” designing their picket signs. Though I almost always cringe at the sight of Christian picketers, I do believe a level of discretion is wise when dealing with movies, music, and other forms of popular media. So the blogs have been hot with discussion on the movie and books.

After attending an advance screening of the film, Al Mohler wrote a brief commentary on the attractions and dangers of the movie and books.

The guys at Reformation 21 have been engaged in some intriguing discussion and bantering over this topic. Carl Trueman kicked things off with some words of wisdom for our boycotting Catholic friends and then proclaiming his puzzlement at all the “hoo-hah” surrounding this movie and giving an interesting critique of C.S. Lewis regarding the use of Narnia to defend against Dark Materials. Things took off from there. To follow the entire conversation, start on this page with Trueman’s post called Catholic League and Pullman and follow the discussion up the page onto the next page.

And just yesterday Adam Parker was sent on assignment to review the movie.

I am sure there is plenty more discussion around the blogosphere and other places. This should be enough to get you thinking about it. As far as my opinion goes, having not seen the movie or read the books, I think discernment is always advised in such matters. Pullman’s explicit comments should raise concerns about the agenda of such a book. At the very least, we should be concerned with the worldview it promotes. However, I plan to see the movie. And if Adam’s perspective holds to be true, then with caution we can enjoy it for the fantasy story that it is.

3 Replies to “The Golden Compass

  1. Having not gotten too involved in the discussions around the blogosphere on this, and having not read the books, and having not seen the movie, I come from a relatively uninformed position on this. But based on the what I do know about the author and his intent with these books, I think there is valid cause for concern here.

    I can generally appreciate an artistic work for whatever statement the author/artist is attempting to make about life, spirituality, society. It’s all fine and good for a work to try to cast the author’s worldview in a positive light – CS Lewis does this I think. But if the author goes on the offensive and literally starts attacking anyone that doesn’t agree seems to move away from academic banter into pure hate.

    And Pullman makes no apology for his hate of Christian Theism – in fact he embraces it wholeheartedly. The endgame in the novels is literally the death of God.

    I cringe too at the sight of “Christian boycotts”. I can take a movie/book like Harry Potter and look past all that stuff and say, you know what, it’s an entertaining story… I don’t personally think the author knows any better (or cares) and so there you have it. But Pullman is only pulling deliberate punches here and this is an open work of hate against Christianity. I don’t know that boycotts will have any worthwhile / lasting effect here, but I do think Christian parents will be very wise to use discretion as to whether or not their children are allowed to see this movie, and if they are capable of understanding the spiritual implications that the storyline makes.

    Sorry I’m rambling… it’s too late for a discussion like this……

  2. It seems that Pullman may slightly fall into the same category as Hitchens or Dawkins. It’s not enough to disagree with Christianity. They want to eradicate it. For me, I enjoy reading things even when they oppose or challenge Christianity. But you have to be discerning enough and mature enough to read works like that critically and not be effected by its views. So I agree, parents need to use discretion. I think discussing movies with your kids is always a good idea. It helps them to learn to think critically about culture and media.

    As far as boycotts, how about this for a picket sign. “Say no to the Golden Compass. It is leading us all in the wrong direction.” Isn’t that so original? I should take up this picketing business.

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