Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Warning: The Golden Compass

Or a second title of:

Oh, I’m Glad I Found Out Before Shelling $24 Worth of Regret

My mother-in-awe sent a verified "true" Snopes regarding the soon-to-be-released The Golden Compass. I can’t help but post it here too.  

The Golden Compass
, a fantasy film starring Nicole Kidman that is scheduled to be released into theaters on 7 December 2007, has been drawing fire from concerned Christians. The film is based on Northern Lights (released in the U.S. as The Golden Compass), the first offering in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy of children's books, a series that follows the adventures of a streetwise girl who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister ecclesiastical assassins to defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God.

Books of the trilogy have sold more than 15 million copies around the world, with Northern Lights winning the Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature in 1995 and in 2007 being awarded the 'Carnegie of Carnegies' for the best children's book of the past 70 years. The Amber Spyglass, the final book of the series, won The Whitbread Prize in 2001, making it the first children's book to do so.

The series' author, Philip Pullman, is an avowed atheist who has averred that "I don't profess any religion; I don't think it's possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words 'spiritual' or 'spirituality.'" Critics of Pullman's books point to the strong anti-religion and anti-God themes they incorporate, and although literary works are subject to a variety of interpretations, Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that "My books are about killing God." (Conservative British columnist Peter Hitchens labeled Pullman "The Most Dangerous Author in Britain" and described him as the writer "the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed.")

Bill Donohue, president of The Catholic League, has condemned
The Golden Compass as a "pernicious" effort to indoctrinate children into anti-Christian beliefs and has produced a 23-page pamphlet titled The Golden Compass: Unmasked in which he maintains that Pullman "sells atheism for kids." Donohoe told interviewer John Gibson on 9 October 2007 why he believes Christians should stay away from the film:

‘Look, the movie is based on the least offensive of the three books. And they have dumbed down the worst elements in the movie because they don't want to make Christians angry and they want to make money. Our concern is this, unsuspecting Christian parents may want to take their kid to the movie, it opens up December 7th and say, this wasn't troubling, then we'll buy the books. So the movie is the bait for the books which are profoundly anti-Catholic and at the same time selling atheism.’

Other critics, however, have described Pullman's works as being more generally anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Christian or anti-Catholic:

‘In "His Dark Materials," Pullman's criticisms of organized religion come across as anti-authoritarian and anti-ascetic rather than anti-doctrinal. (Jesus isn't mentioned in any of the books, although Pullman has hinted that He might figure in a forthcoming sequel, "The Book of Dust.") His fundamental objection is to ideological tyranny and the rejection of this world in favor of an idealized afterlife, regardless of creed. As one of the novel's pagan characters puts it, "Every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.’"


What a shame. And I almost bought this series of books for the girl this Christmas too...

Now I think we’ll just stay at home and do something constructive and edifying – like playing a great game of Sorry or Dominoes while having quality family time that won't include any undertones of killing God.

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