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Nov 6, 2007

Steered in the wrong direction

I don't usually delve into matter all that political here, but there's a controversy brewing and I feel compelled to comment, as hypocrisy needs to be called out.

The story, as summed up by foxnews.com is this:

"A children’s fantasy film that stars Nicole Kidman and features a little girl on a quest to kill God has some Christian groups upset over what they believe is a ploy to promote atheism to kids.

The movie, “The Golden Compass,” is adapted from the first novel in a trilogy called “His Dark Materials” by English author Philip Pullman, an outspoken atheist. Critics fear that the film, due out in December, will encourage children to read the anti-Church series."

New Line, the studio releasing the film, has repeatedly assured moviegoers that the film has been watered down from the original works, taking the religious aspects out of it, but none of that is appeasing Bill Donohue, president and CEO of the Catholic League, who has said "These books denigrate Christianity, thrash the Catholic Church and sell the virtues of atheism."

"The Catholic League has mounted a PR campaign against the movie after researching Pullman's own writings about his series. The organization has published a pamphlet called "'The Golden Compass': Unmasked," which is for sale on its Web site."

If you're interested (and to be fair), here is the link for the pamphlet. Meanwhile, I'll take the high road and resist commenting on the fact that the Catholic League (which is surely a pure and just organization) aims to profit off the sale of the pamphlet; nowhere on that page is mention of the proceeds going to charity or the like.

I am at once bewildered, angered, and am Jack's Complete Lack of Surprise over this move. I have not read any of the books, and did not know anything about the film outside of the trailers that I've seen. In the interest of full disclosure, I would classify myself as an agnostic atheist (at best). As such, I'm pretty offended by the hypocrisy here.

A number of questions here: Would the League have a problem with kids seeing any number of "pro-Christian" movies, like, say, The Passion of the Christ? I'm guessing not only would they not, they would in fact push hard for kids to see it. Why is that okay and this not? Are opposing viewpoints really that scary? Suppose the "church" shown in the film was truly evil - is blind support really what you want? In other words, is the church infallible? Are you really that worried that your kids might not end up sharing your beliefs, and if so, what then? Why can't people decide for themselves what movie(s) to watch?

Here's are some more questions, excerpted
from a letter written by a Christian on the news-leader.com website (found via Google):

"Why are Christians choosing to create a hostile environment for this movie to flourish in, instead of using this opportunity to create communication between child and parent? When a parent says, "You cannot watch this movie!" that accomplishes only one thing: it piques the child's curiosity. Every child banned will wonder why their best friend is allowed to see it but they are not. Where will your children get their ideas about the movie if they don't get them from you?

What we seem to have forgotten is that the great C.S. Lewis wrote that people who worship the wrong god, but continually search for the good in that god, still go to heaven. Does that mean that everyone not labeled "Christian" will go to heaven as long as they continuously "seek good"? From what I can tell, "The Golden Compass" is about overcoming oppression and evil ... which sounds like "seeking good" to me!

I believe that God gave us the greatest gift: the freedom to choose. That ability to choose is what gives us the ability to freely love God, or to reject him. As Christians, we must respect that freedom of choice. Here's your opportunity: will you allow your children to watch this movie and then discuss the difference between the reality of your faith and beliefs versus the fictional world portrayed in the movie? Or, will you forbid the movie, creating curiosity in your child that can only be satisfied by watching the movie behind your back and discussing it with peers and friends, rather than with you?"


3 people have chosen wisely: on "Steered in the wrong direction"

Farmacy said...

I've read the entire series... the whole "killing God" aspect ignores the fact that God is trapped in a cage (more or less) and happy to be released (I believe he smiles as his cage is cut open).

The whole series is more or less about religions run amok, and the cruelty created because of it (children are basically killed by the Nicole Kidman character to try to seperate them from their freedom of choice).

It's a decent series, but it certainly isn't a call to arms against religion. It just makes readers think.

Robb said...

Call me a cynic, but the producers of this movie are surely dancing around their offices as we speak in the light of this "controversy". Free publicity for them.

As to the Catholic League CEO, well, it is his job to be professionally "outraged". To my eye it is all rhetoric and hyperbole and nonsense, but whatever. I mean, wouldn't the world be a better place if instead of complaining about what is likely to be a mediocre re-telling of a pretty decent book, he, you know, took a stand that torture was wrong and incomatible with Christian values? But that might risk his job, while complaining about "Hollywood" will surely get him lots and lots of donations and sales of his own book, er, pamphlet. He makes money, Hollywood makes money, Fox news makes money by giving their viewers an easy target to gripe about, it is all the product of an old symbiotic relationship.

And my mother, whom I'd consider devout, read the series and loved it. Obviously she didn't agree with the theology, but guess what, it is a make-believe story! I mean there is a talking bear and these weird animals that ride around on coconuts for wheels for crying out loud. It is a couple of hours worth of entertainment, not a template to base your life's morality on.

Sheamus the... said...


UH...also...I love good titles and "His Dark Materials" is pretty sweet.

I will see the movie and comment more from a Xians perspective then. Until then...