In case you haven’t already heard, a manipulative, anti-Catholic, anti-religious movie is opening today called The Golden Compass. It is based on the first book of a trilogy written by an atheist, Phillip Pullman, who freely admits he is, “trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.” Unfortunately, his agenda comes attractively packaged in a fantasy/science fiction series aimed at the tween set.
Bottom line: Please don’t go to see the Golden Compass. Don’t let your kids go. Don’t buy the books for Christmas. If you have friends with children, please pass this along to them.
I didn’t have time to write up something coherent about the major problems with the book and film of “The Golden Compass,” but thankfully far better thinkers and writers than I have already done so. I’m going to briefly excerpt from a blog article by Amy Welborn, and have also included links to a few other informative stories and interviews below.
Here are the basics:
1. Pullman’s triliogy, in his own words is about “killing God.” And yes, God (the Authority, who is really a weak, decrepit, drooling powerless old man) dies.
2. In Pullman’s vision, authority – specifically religious authority, although he is saying all over the place that there’s no reason to think that he’s only talking about religion – is inimical to human freedom. Stands opposed to it.
3. In Pullman’s vision, human beings only find their true selves freed from the enslavement of religious authority. A reverse Garden of Eden scenario – very gnostic – is at the core of this.
Jeffrey Overstreet has seen the film and is observing the embargo on releasing reviews until the release date. However, he has commented:
Today, I saw the movie. And I’m not going to change a word of what I’ve written as a result. If the filmmakers tried to “tone down” the anti-religious content, they pretty much failed. “The Magisterium” is not a term invented by Philip Pullman. It’s a reference to the Catholic church, or at least to the truth that shines through scripture and the history of the church. And it isn’t hard to see that in the film.
<snip> The Authority – the God that is killed – is not the Christian God. It is a caricature – the caricature of every village atheist mired in adolescence. The “reality” that the fantasy is trying to create is that religious authority stands in opposition to truth, and that – via the imagery – that Catholicism is the primary embodiment of this, and ergo, Catholicism stands in opposition to the truth that brings human beings happiness and an awareness of their true selves.
<snip> What Pullman cleverly explicates is, of course, a set of opinions about religious authority that should be familiar to anyone who works with young people or, in fact anyone who remembers being an adolescent.
Of course, religious authority is the enemy. Because, as an adolescent, I believed that my own way of living out my own vision and yearnings – what lay in my own heart – were sufficient for my happiness, and that any authority that questioned my authority was the enemy of my happiness.
In this sense, Pullman plays on sentiments that almost all young people share, and very expertly.
Ms. Welborn’s entire piece can be read here. First Things magazine also features a very good article about the book series. Jimmy Akin points out the deception the author is now engaging in, by trying to downplay the anti-religious elements lest people stay away in droves. Zenit has a very good interview, “What Every Parent Should Know About the Golden Compass.”
Pass it on!
The December Atlantic Monthly has an article about the movie, including this revealing commentary from Pullman:
In discussing the film, he chose his words carefully, acknowledging that his role now is to be “sensible” so that the next two films get made. Nonetheless, he was honest about what was missing: “They do know where to put the theology,” he said, “and that’s off the film.” Long silence. Then, “I think if everything that is made explicit in the book or everything that is implied clearly in the book or everything that can be understood by a close reading of the book were present in the film, they’d have the biggest hit they’ve ever had in their lives. If they allowed the religious meaning of the book to be fully explicit, it would be a huge hit. Suddenly, they’d have letters of appreciation from people who felt this but never dared say it. They would be the heroes of liberal thought, of freedom of thought … And it would be the greatest pity if that didn’t happen.
“I didn’t put that very well. What I mean is that I want this film to succeed in every possible way. And what I don’t want to do, you see, is talk the other two films out of existence. So I’ll stop there.”