Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Golden Compass

I've been getting emails and seeing news articles calling for a boycott on the upcoming movie, "The Golden Compass," based on the book by the same name by Philip Pullman. It is part of Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. One thing that discourages me from the outset is that Christians don't usually seem to get outraged unless a movie comes out--books fly under our radar for the most part apparently (Harry Potter notwithstanding). Pullman's books have been out for a number of years. They're well-written. They're not what I believe, obviously, since he's an atheist and the ultimate goal for the children in the books is to kill God, who turns out to be an old imposter who is barely worth killing anyway.

In my personal opinion, mass boycotts are kind of ineffective. Waiting for hysteria and outrage to build and then be told by Christian authority figures what to do--that's not really my style. As well, boycotts just seem to draw more attention to a given movie than it would have garnered in the first place (Exhibit A: 1986's "Last Temptation of Christ"). But...every person has to decide according to the dictates of his or her conscience.

It also surprises me when Christians get enraged and boycott movies dealing with heresy or blasphemy but don't seem to have much problem with other movies loaded with violence, humanism, or other kinds of Godlessness, but I guess that's a different argument.

Personally, we won't be taking our girls to see the movie. First of all, they're way too young and neither Curious George nor Strawberry Shortcake is appearing in it, so it wouldn't hold their interest at all. Secondly, at this age, we still act as the filter and control for most of what goes into their minds, and I just want to give them Bible truth rather than other world views. Time enough for them to find out about some of those later.

But...if they were older and they asked me what I thought personally about Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and/or this movie, I guess I'd say the following:

In the last volume of the trilogy, a character known as Dr. Mary Malone explains her discovery to the two children/protagonists, Lyra and Will: "I used to be a nun, you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn't any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all."

A lot of people, intelligent people, believe that way, girls. But in C.S. Lewis's (who Pullman loathes) "The Silver Chair," Puddleglum the Marshwiggle and two children are trapped in a wicked witch’s underground lair, and she is slowly enchanting them, persuading them to believe that there is no world above the ground. They almost fall completely under her spell when Puddleglum stamps out her fire (burning his foot in the process) and says:

“One word, Ma’am” he said coming back from the fire; limping because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”


Juliet said...

Someone has been doing their homework...great post

S.J. Walker said...

Bull's eye. Well written and very well quoted.

God Bless