A Golden Compass Without An Arrow

At the expense of creating undeserved publicity I believe it is valuable to direct those who don’t outright reject the idea of seeing “Golden Compass” to an article written by Dr. Joel Heck from our Concordia University in Austin, Texas. Here is the link to the article and an excerpt below – http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/Communications/Golden%20Compass%20Commentary.doc

Excerpt from Dr. Heck’s article is in the comment below –

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by trinityhawaii on November 28, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    So what does one do? Boycott the movie? Because an old dictum says that any publicity, even negative publicity, is good publicity, what do we do? Ignore it and hope it goes away, even though the trilogy has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide? When the movie comes out on Dec. 7th, I recommend that Christians respond in several ways. First, in conversation, use the release of the movie as an opportunity for Christian witness. While many people will be unaware of anti-Christian sentiment in the movie (the movie has allegedly toned down the anti-church sections that I cite above), the film still raises the issues of good and evil, the matter of alternative or parallel worlds, and the power of story (the ultimate story being the God-story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to which all good stories point and from which all stories derive their power). Second, if you choose to attend the movie (many parents will decline), do so with eyes wide open, fully aware of Pullman’s perspective. Nicole Kidman is supposed to have stated that she was raised Catholic and wouldn’t participate in a film that was anti-Catholic. Furthermore, some people, such as Catholic religion scholar Donna Freitas of Boston College, claim that Pullman has stated, “My agenda is not to convert anyone to any point of view.”

    Third, attending such a movie with advance preparation, discussion of the movie’s good and bad points, and comparison of the movie with Walden Media’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” can actually serve in some homes as a teaching opportunity during which a parent can contrast two worldviews. The problem with this, however, is the alleged removal, or toning down, of the subtle anti-church and anti-Christian phrases that appear occasionally in the book.

    Because The Golden Compass is the first of a trilogy, one must ask what will happen in the next book (and in the likely next movie). The trilogy, known as His Dark Materials, a phrase taken from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, ends in the death of God, slain by the new Adam and Eve. The first book appears to be the hook, while the third book and movie may well serve as the knock-out punch, at least for those who identify with the plot and its key character, the 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua. At the end of the third book, The Amber Spyglass, Lyra and her friend Will, the new Adam and Eve, find God as a senile old man, resting in a crystal litter. He doesn’t know what He has been doing, and they help him disappear. God is now dead. The achievement of the written Pullman trilogy is that it succeeds in making atheistic materialism imaginatively appealing to the reader and viewer, unlike the feeble attempts of many of the atheists of the past to encourage us to come to grips with the meaninglessness of life. We won’t know exactly how parts two and three of the trilogy will be portrayed in movie form, but my best guess is that the movie series won’t depart very far from the written series. The first one certainly doesn’t, judging from the trailers that appear online. Though imaginatively more powerful than atheistic or agnostic creeds of the past, The Golden Compass still pales in comparison to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the One who is at the same time compass, vehicle, path, and destination, the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

    Whole article: http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/Communications/Golden%20Compass%20Commentary.doc

    Reply

  2. Posted by mitty1 on November 30, 2007 at 4:25 am

    Wow what a great article. What surprises me the most is how little Christians are talking about this movie and the ideas it portrays. I do not think that warning people about a book or movie is publicity. I think it is protecting or most precious and valuable asset, our children.

    We don’t let our children light a match or cut paper with “big people” scissors. If a poisonous household item has a warning label is that considered publicity too? So why are people afraid to say that a movie might be harmful to a child? As the writer of this article points out the imagination is a very powerful thing which a great author uses to show us truth that we might never have seen. When a great author tries to present half truths and lies to children I think it should make us upset.

    As I am writing my comments I can not help but think of a scene from the movie The Lord of the Rings. Frodo has been stabbed by a poisonous blade and is being taken with all speed to Rivendell by the beautiful elf maiden Arwen. As they ride to Rivendell they are pursued by the Evil Black Riders when the Riders have finally trapped Arwen and Frodo with no escape. Arwen pulls out her sword and says “If you want him come and claim him!” She is ready to fight for helpless Frodo who can not defend himself. Should we not be more willing to fight and defend our children from people who want to poison their thoughts against God?

    Reply

  3. Posted by mitty1 on November 30, 2007 at 6:14 am

    Pastor Shawn I am glad that you were willing to post this article on the blog. It gives parents the opportunity to know what this movie is all about.

    Reply

  4. Posted by trinityhawaii on December 10, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Here is an interview from The Lutheran Hour with Gene Edward Veith, a prominent scholar in the relationship of the church with the public square.

    LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for December 9, 2007
    The Golden Compass Part 1

    ANNOUNCER: The Golden Compass – Where does it lead? Is this new movie
    meant to be an appetizer for atheism? I’m Mark Eischer and my guest today
    is Dr. Gene Edward Veith. He’s the provost and professor of literature for
    Patrick Henry College and he’s the author of 18 books, including The
    Spirituality of the Cross and The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, and the
    Wardrobe. Dr. Veith, thanks for being with us today.

    VEITH: Glad to be with you.

    ANNOUNCER: The movie, The Golden Compass, is based on a novel by English
    author Philip Pullman. It won the Carnegie Award for Children’s Literature
    in 1995 and it was named one of the ten most important children’s novels of
    the past 70 years. However, some Christian groups are warning parents about
    the books and their content. Dr. Veith, maybe the easiest way to get at
    this, in this movie, The Golden Compass, who are the heroes? Who are the
    villains? And why?

    VEITH: Well, this is part of a trilogy called His Dark Materials. And that’s
    a line from Milton, the great Christian poet. But Pullman takes the, by now
    pretty much discredited, view that Milton’s poem, which is about Adam and
    Eve and the fall of man, that God is the villain and that the devil is the
    good guy. And in this fantasy series that’s a sort of theme and a
    sub-current that goes on through all of them. The story itself is about some
    children who get caught up in this big adventure and this big quest involves
    different worlds. And the idea is that many different worlds are going on at
    the same time, so there’s actually many different realities going on, which
    ties in, of course, to our postmodernist view that everyone has their own
    truth. And villains are images of the Church, basically. A lot of it is
    cast in sort of anti-Catholicism, but you have these sinister priests and
    nuns who want to squelch all joy and all pleasure. Phil Pullman himself saw
    this as a way to critique Christianity. Just as C.S. Lewis is trying to
    open children’s minds and imaginations to Christianity, Philip Pullman in
    his books is trying to open children’s minds and imaginations to atheism.

    ANNOUNCER: Would you say that he fundamentally misunderstands the Church and
    its message?

    VEITH: Well, he does. Christians do not believe that God is a senile old man
    up in the sky, looking down on the earth. The God that we worship came down
    from heaven, was born as a human being, entered the human condition in Jesus
    Christ, and died on the cross to bear our sins and our afflictions. He
    (Pullman) is missing really the point of what Christianity is all about. He
    sees Christianity just in terms of Law, which is part of Christianity but he
    misses completely the fact that the main thing about Christianity is the
    Gospel.

    ANNOUNCER: How much of this message do you get from The Golden Compass? Or
    is it only after you’ve gotten further along in the trilogy that these
    themes become so apparent?

    VEITH: Well, a lot of readers start with The Golden Compass and don’t really
    see them. But if you’ve read anything about Pullman, and you know what he’s
    trying to do, you can see it being prepared for in The Golden Compass and
    it’s very evident. It’s subtle in the first one, it’s less subtle in the
    second one, and it’s blatant in the third one. But the same theme is being
    developed throughout.

    ANNOUNCER: We’ve been talking with Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Dr. Veith, thanks
    for being with us.

    VEITH: My pleasure.

    ANNOUNCER: This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

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  5. Posted by trinityhawaii on December 17, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Here is part 2 of the Lutheran Hour interview.

    LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Question & Answers) for December 16, 2007
    The Golden Compass Part 2

    ANNOUNCER: Is The Golden Compass an appetizer for atheism? I’m Mark Eischer
    and my guest today is Dr. Gene Edward Veith. He’s the provost and professor
    of literature for Patrick Henry College. We’re discussing The Golden Compass
    which is the first novel of a trilogy by English author Philip Pullman.
    Some Christian groups are warning parents about these books and their
    content. Dr. Veith, could you describe for us the spiritual worldview Philip
    Pullman presents in his books?

    VEITH: What’s targeted is the God of Genesis. The God who created the
    universe, the God who set Adam and Eve in the garden, and warned them
    against eating that forbidden fruit. Of course, Pullman doesn’t believe in
    any God. He is an atheist. The closest thing is what he calls his dark
    materials, the idea that there’s a certain substance in the universe, a
    material substance that is the source of all that’s good. And ultimately,
    he’s defending materialism. We learn that when we die we rot and our bodies
    turn into molecules and atoms and, ultimately, these “materials.” And he
    presents that as a good thing, a joyous thing. Because when we die and rot
    and are back into the material elements of the universe we are at one with
    the universe. We are one with all things. And the way he writes about it,
    it’s a very joyous thing. But what he’s doing is trying to make an
    imaginative case that materialism, the view that only matter, that is the
    only reality there is. And that the material realm is what we should focus
    our spiritual aspirations on.

    ANNOUNCER: Some have said that The Golden Compass serves as bait to draw the
    reader into the other two books.

    VEITH: Well, that’s a good comment. And it isn’t just bait, it’s preparing
    the way you think about certain things.

    ANNOUNCER: One of Pullman’s objections to Christianity is that it involves a
    rejection of this world in favor of an idealized afterlife. Would you
    comment on how Christian faith, though, does, in fact, relate to life and
    vocation?

    VEITH: Yes, Christianity looks to another realm beyond this one, but that
    has always been a great motivator in the way that we live our lives here.
    And the doctrine of vocation speaks about how God works through ordinary
    human beings going about their everyday lives. And for Christians who know
    about God and about Christ, who know Him, they live out their faith in love
    and service to their neighbors. And that has manifested itself in everything
    from the founding of hospitals to the creation of schools and universities,
    all of which are Christian inventions, to the rise of literacy to the
    cultivation of knowledge. Again, our love of, our interest in, nature that
    inspired the original scientists comes from that conviction of the Creation
    that God created this world and so this world reflects His will. But again,
    this view that Christianity has nothing to say about the physical world
    neglects again the most central point of all: that God became incarnate in
    this physical world and so has blessed it with His presence. And Christians
    can never turn their noses up at what God has made and the life that He has
    given us to lead.

    ANNOUNCER: We’ve been talking with Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Dr. Veith, thanks
    for being with us.

    VEITH: My pleasure.

    ANNOUNCER: This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

    Reply

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