the controversy of The Golden Compass

8 12 2007

The movie The Golden Compass just came out, and from what I’ve heard, I definitely won’t be seeing it.  (So this isn’t a review, but I have read about it, to see what all the controversy was about.)  The commercials make it look interesting, similar to The Chronicles of Narnia.  According to various people, the similarity is no accident.  The author, Philip Pullman, despises Christianity and C.S. Lewis and the Narnia books, so he wrote a trilogy that is anti-God.  In fact, he has said that “my books are about killing God” and that he was “trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief”.  (So you can easily see what his purpose is, and it’s obvious that the books and movies are the sugary candy-coating that helps people swallow his beliefs.)

The parallels with Narnia continue, as this movie begins with a girl hiding in a wardrobe, and she passes through gateways into other worlds, meeting figures from ancient mythology along with talking animals.  There’s also an apocalyptic battle between supernatural powers.  And the girl in it is from Oxford (which ironically is where C.S. Lewis taught), and she may be the only one able to fulfill the prophecy.  Can you see the parallels?  Except in these books, God is evil instead of good, and God is not actually God (but merely the first angel created from “Dust”).

The author has been called “the Anti-Lewis”, and he’s said the Narnia books are “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read”.  That’s some harsh words!  And in his books, an ex-nun says the Christian faith is “a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all”.  Some have even called the series “The Chronicles of Atheism”.  He’s definitely talking about Christianity, too, because in the book it says this about “the Authority” : “God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty — those were all names he gave himself.”

The first movie has been watered-down, and even the first book isn’t as explicit in the death-of-God theme as the second and third books.  (Here’s a spoiler alert, for the rest of this paragraph, although if you’re still reading you’re probably not interested in seeing it anyway.)  In the second book, a boy acquires a knife that can cut through anything, and its prophetic name means “god-destroyer”.  By the end of the trilogy, God is dead (although it was really just an angel who pretended to be God), and the two main characters have reenacted the fall in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve, except this time they save the universe.  Also, in that universe, each person has a “daemon”, which is part of that person’s soul, and it takes the visible form of an animal.

Sometimes Pullman says it’s just a story, just a fantasy, but he’s said in speeches that stories create the morality we live by.  And from the other interviews he does, his beliefs go along with what he’s written, like about a “Republic of Heaven” that has no King.

You can read more here.

I’d like to include a quote from an interview with the author, so you can hear his stance on the books in his own words :

Underlying the trilogy there is a myth of creation and rebellion, of development and strife, and so on. I don’t make this myth explicit anywhere, but it was important for me to have it clear in my mind. It depicts a struggle: the old forces of control and ritual and authority, the forces which have been embodied throughout human history in such phenomena as the Inquisition, the witch-trials, the burning of heretics, and which are still strong today in the regions of the world where religious zealots of any faith have power, are on one side; and the forces that fight against them have as their guiding principle an idea which is summed up in the words The Republic of Heaven. It’s the Kingdom against the Republic.

And everything follows from that. So, for instance, the book depicts the Temptation and Fall not as the source of all woe and misery, as in traditional Christian teaching, but as the beginning of true human freedom something to be celebrated, not lamented. And the Tempter is not an evil being like Satan, prompted by malice and envy, but a figure who might stand for Wisdom.

The myth has allowed me to link together many aspects of the story in a sort of invisible way which might not be apparent to the reader, but which I have found helpful. For example, it explains where daemons come from, and what happens when we die, and why there are many universes.

And the author also said he didn’t write the books as “fantasy”.  He said :

I think of it as stark realism. … I don’t like fantasy. The only thing about fantasy that interested me when I was writing this was the freedom to invent imagery such as the daemon; but that was only interesting because I could use it to say something truthful and realistic about human nature.

In closing, I’m not going to see the film nor read the books.  I don’t want to support such things.  I know, I’m choosing without seeing it, but I’ve heard enough to make up my mind, especially by the author’s own words.  And from what I’ve read on it, the movie and first book are leading to worse things in the sequels.

Help spread the word to people who might take their children to see this, because they should know what they’re getting into…

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One response

8 12 2007
Justin Jordan

There’s been a lot of commotion about this movie, and what bothers me is that it is going to be the kids that suffer. Adults (who aren’t Christians) probably won’t think twice about it, but the kids who don’t know any better are going to fall into it unless the parents take a stand. I can’t believe there wasn’t more of a fight for this movie to not come out!

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