There is a big movie coming out in December that already has much of the Christian community in an uproar. The Golden Compass, based on the award-winning novel by the same name, has been much touted and stars some A-list Hollywood celebrities including Nicole Kidman. It has drawn much enthusiasm, and even more discord.
The author of The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman, is well publicized as atheist. There is a rumor that is based on aspects of truth that the Golden Compass was written to foil the Narnia series which is very pro religion. This would mean that they are anti-religion. In fact, The Golden Compass is actually part of a trilogy called His Dark Materials.
Pullman’s lack of faith coupled with the title of the series makes many religious groups, especially Catholics, very suspicious. And of course, one of the main themes throughout the book is overcoming the church’s influence. Even Snopes.com reports that the film is in fact a message against organized religion.
But is it?
The author stated on November 2 that he doesn’t care what religion people are and that the book and corresponding movie are about the way people treat each other and not about overthrowing the church.
In the book, the church has become extremely powerful and has becoming the governing body over the main character’s society. The church as governing body causes problems throughout the story, and eventually is overthrown. This is where the meat of the anti-church argument comes into play. Pullman, however, claims to have another message.
He feels that church does its best work far removed from the government. He is not anti-religion, but rather anti-religion as government. And even then he is not actually trying to sell that message through the books, despite what some groups claim.
Watering Down the Controversy
New Line Cinema, who created the film version of the movie, actually toned down any religious references quite a bit for the film. But even that isn’t enough to placate concerned parties. The feel unsuspecting parents will take their children to see the movie and then buy the series of books for their children to read. So even a watered down version of the movie will still prove dangerous if there are, in fact, antichristian views portrayed in the books.
Play it Safe
Perhaps the best way for parents to handle the issue is to skip the movie. But if you would rather not skip what looks to be an excellent film, simply discuss the issue with your child beforehand. When or if your children ask to read the book, encourage them to read and discuss the stories with you.
Read the material along with your child so that you can point out things that are just opinions or that differ from your own beliefs. Finally, understand the intended audience of the books are middle school and high school students rather than elementary. They are officially termed “young adult” which means younger children should be reading them alone anyway.