Friday, December 07, 2007

    Golden Compass Controversy

    I haven't read the Golden Compass books and don't intend to -- too many other books sitting by my bed right now. But it's been hard to avoid the controversy stirring over the new film adaptation that opens today. It seems that some Christian critics are afraid that this film, based on a series of fantasy novels by an avowed atheist and critic of Christianity, will turn some young viewers into atheists. I wasn't paying that close of attention, but did a lot of kids convert to Christianity after watching the Narnia movie?

    The Christian Science Monitor offers a thoughtful analysis of the controversy here. It seems, according to their critic, that the worst influence the books and movie might have on youth is that they encourage young people to actually THINK:

    What Pullman encourages is unmediated, critical thinking – the only antidote to the mental stupor that today's culture cultivates in young people. And Pullman does so in multiple ways. For example, by turning the familiar story lines of Genesis, Narnia, and the like, on their heads – thereby prompting the reader to reimagine those stories for him- or herself. In short, Pullman doesn't tell his readers what to think, but how to think. And to think, period. This, I suspect, is what Pullman's critics really find unnerving.


    Michael said...

    For the last six months I have been listening to the Humanist Network Podcast. It has been a fascinating adventure in the "enemy camp", but I have to admit that even though I am a devoted Christian, I respect much of the "Free Thinker" crowd. While a few are indeed out to rid the world of religion, most simply recognize that religion (of many varieties) holds a tremendous power of people, and they fear exposing their children to too much of it. I plan to see the movie with my wife before bringing the kiddos, but my expectation is that it will be much less atheist than people are fearing... but who knows!

    Brian said...

    Hi Michael. Thanks for commenting. From what I have heard, Hollywood has pretty much leeched out all the soul of the books for their film version, so much of what some might find objectionable in the storyline is apparently not present in the film. That not withstanding, I do think our faith should be able to be poked and prodded and questioned and challenged. If it can't resist a movie with magical bears, we are in trouble.
    And, I'll have to check out the HN podcast. Sounds interesting!

    Randy said...

    I actually have read the entire His Dark Materials series. These are not children's books. But they are not something I would discourage jr high and up from reading. My kids read them when they were older elementary or early middle school and never became anti-church from the experience. They remember them as a good story though with some scary parts for younger readers.

    And having finished my own reading a few weeks ago I have to say those who take the alarmist approach that the characters "kill God!" have obviously not read the books. There is an anti-church bent certainly, assuming by church you mean a religious body with a cruel and controlling Inquistional bent to it. I reject such a church, too. And the scene where the lead characters supposedly kill God, well, that simply is not what happens in that scene.

    I thin the "worst" that can happen is it will spark some thoughtful questioning and opportunity for conversation around the nature of the church. Hopefully we are not afraid to do that.

    Brian said...

    Thanks, Randy. That's helpful. I was with some clergy colleagues yesterday and several mentioned they had read the books and found them stimulating and worth a read.

    TerryKM said...

    The topic caught my attention and good points.

    I, too, am a Christian not jumping on the boycotting bandwagon. I posted a bit about it if you’re interested, click here.

    My wife and I saw it together.

    My brother-in-law also made some going points about the movie but with a different angle.