Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Follow the Compass of Gold

I always look forward to holiday movies. It seems like the year’s best hit theaters between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While some of this year’s films are being awaited with excitement, one movie is being met with great controversy. The Golden Compass, based on the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, has stirred up discussions and controversy in Christian circles. On the surface, this fantasy movie has an enchanted look, but when the books it is based upon are examined, a strong anti-religion undercurrent is obvious.

Phillip Pullman, a talented and gifted British author, is a an agnostic. Pullman explains that his book “depicts the Temptation and Fall not as the source of all woe and misery, as in traditional Christian teaching, but as the beginning of true human freedom something to be celebrated, not lamented. And the Tempter is not an evil being like Satan, prompted by malice and envy, but a figure who might stand for Wisdom.”1 The characters in The Golden Compass discover that life is about living for yourself and your own desires. The conclusion in the third book, The Amber Spyglass, reveals that everyone came from Dust instead of a Creator, therefore everything the church had sought to serve never existed. While the first movie of the trilogy is based on the books, the strong anti-religion themes won’t be as obvious. “Several key themes of the novels…are to be diluted in the adaptation.”2

So how do we, as Christians, respond to The Golden Compass? 1 Peter 3:15-16 instructs us to “in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” We need to remember that no matter how we respond to this movie, God must receive glory.

In an interview, Pullman was asked, “Do you believe in God?” His response was, “I don’t know whether there’s a god or not… there may well be a god somewhere, hiding away. Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it’s because he’s ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they’re responsible for promoting in his name.”3 Pullman doesn’t recognize the Truth. As believers, we need to be careful in our reaction and not prove Pullman’s point about the church. Instead, we should be like the compass in the books, and point toward Truth. Only the Truth we know comes from God, while the truth in Pullman’s books is found in man.

The Golden Compass isn’t the first book or movie to have anti-Christian themes, and neither is Pullman the last agnostic author. I hope that we can sift through the onslaught of media we face each day, and stand in love for God’s truth. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground...” (Ephesians 6:13).

As Christian parents, take a stand for the truth. Know what movies your children are watching. Know what books they’re reading. Use God’s Word as the compass of gold for your family, and remember Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

1. Question and Answer Session with Philip Pullman:
2. The Golden Compass (film):
3. Philip Pullman Q&A:

1 comment:

Auntie Amy said...

Excellent thoughts my dear partner in crime. I am so thankful that we are unified, working together, and doing our best to support the "whole."

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