Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fearing the Compass

There has been much said about "The Golden Compass". I understand the concern. Not being "Christian" afford me the opportunity to stand outside the frey and evaluate it without the dogma or emotional attachment to anything.

A friend recently sent a "bulletin" out on the Golden Compass which prompted more thought on said movie. A while ago a child from my Sunday school group warned me that Compass was anti-God and that I should stay far away from it. In turn, he informed me that his teacher told him that sitting through that 2 hour movie would impact you because such extended exposure to anything will unquestionably influence you.

I add the last sentence because I find it important that we take a step back when castigating. Yes the movie is based on a book that is written by an athiest and yes the children set out to kill God. I would expect any Christian to be bothered by this. However, it is comments like this one that bother me:

I for one am a Christian who values Biblical beliefs, but even if you don't I think you are going to seriously consider not allowing your children to watch this movie after you read a little more about it. For instance, in the movie the children set out to kill God, and when they do they go about life doing whatever they want. Do you want your children to learn that they can kill whoever is in authority over them so that they can be free to do whatever they want? That would create utter chaos. Plus children who are not taught to respect authority are usually the ones who grow up without any fear of police, judges, or the law.

Would this question of authority come into play if one were rallying against a government that was denying your right to pray? The very idea that "human law" is absolute is inconsistent with the nature of belief in something greater than the corporeal realm. Christians do rally against such actions, thererfore the idea that this movie will teach children to rebel against authority is a fear tactic. It is the same mentality that was expressed regarding Pokemon as promoting evolution while the premise behind it was the power of friendship.

Philip Pullman has stated his books are anti-Narnia. He further stated that he is not happy with the way religious institutions have decided to answer the questions of why and what with respect to existence. The question boils down to what Pullman's intent is and how are you, the viewer..reader, going to accept it. Being that this is fantasy, what is the context of the need to kill God? Is it the Gold of the bible? If not, then it really isn't an offense to a doctrine. To react simply to the "killing of God" is to forego understanding. If Pullman is being honest when he says "I am against organized religion" then what does his comments about killing God really mean?

Think of the uproar when The Last Temptation of Christ came out. Many protested, few saw it. When The Passion of the Christ came out, there were those who commented on it being too violent. Words like realism, fantasy and perspective are critical when looking at a work of art. On the surface something may appear to be X but too ensure a solid understanding you must look behind it.

I have not read these books nor have I seen the movie. I would like to and hopefully I will. Pullman is atheist..agnostic (and from what I've read he definitely has a hard time expressing himself on this as in one breath he'll say there is no god and in the next claim we can't know). I understand his disdain for organized religion. I believe that those who represent the faith, as a whole, are not doing it as the Book would want them to. Pullman has taken a drastic, in your face, approach to his belief. My concern is that an opportunity has been presented for dialogue and what some want to do is "burn witches".

I've always been of the opinion that the parent must make every effort to know when their child is ready to be exposed to ideas that demand them to rethink what they believe. Sheltering a child won't keep them from the world. As parents we are to assist our children by being there for when they have the hard questions. If you take this issue from a faith perspective it begs the question: is your faith so weak that it can't withstand the Golden Compass? This isn't a question of throwing the child into the movie without support. I can see the counter argument of not taking your child into a bar, strip club, etc. Again, it is a question of what the child is ready for. As adults we will meet people who do not agree with us. If we simply close ourselves from their ideas we will be unable to understand them and in turn will limit our ability to share anything that we believe will improve their existence.

Interesting take from the HollywoodJesus website.