NEW: Book discussions scheduled–scroll to the end.
On December 7, 2007, the $180 million film The Golden Compass will be released in American theaters. Emails are circulating about its atheistic origins, cautioning Christian parents not to let their children see the movie. I’ve been studying this issue, and I’ve posted several articles on it, which are listed below.
The movie is based on the first book in Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, which has been a bestseller over several years and has won numerous awards. The Scholastic publishing house co-produced the film and is now heavily promoting the books for use as teaching materials in public schools.
What’s the truth about this film? How anti-God or anti-church is it?
None of us have seen the film yet. Rumors suggest that the anti-religious elements have been toned down in the film version. Nevertheless the movie is an advertisement for the books, so it matters what is in them.
I’ve been reading the trilogy and writing what I find as I go through it. From one perspective the series is very well written. I’m especially impressed with the pacing of the books, the way Pullman keeps creating new problems as he solves old ones, so that the reader feels a continuous alternating sense of relief and suspense, always carrying him or her forward toward the end.
On another level, the books really are strongly and clearly opposed to church and God. How does this play out? What images carry these themes? Is Pullman really writing about our churches and our God, or has he just created an alternate, fantasy universe, irrelevant to our own? What is Scholastic doing with these books in schools? What should we do about it?
I’ve been answering those questions while reading through the trilogy. These links will open pages in the older blogging system used until 12/4/07:
The Golden Compass and “Killing God”–Not An Urban Legend
My first encounter with the issue.
Coming Soon To Your Child’s School: Hostility Toward God and Church, Heavily Promoted
This link includes shortcuts to SparkNotes plot summaries–a great way for you to get your own quick overview of the books. The main subject, though, is Scholastic’s promotion of the movie and books for use as teaching materials in public schools.
Once Again, How Can This Be Legal?
Is Scholastic on the verge of violating the First Amendment by making curriculum resources out of these books? No answers here, just questions, and a comparison to a parallel case.
On Christianity, the Arts, and How To Have a Disagreement
How we can respond in a Biblical manner to all this.
Original Sin Is the Source of Truth? (The Golden Compass)
One of the astonishing themes of the first book in the trilogy.
Death of Divine Authority—Pullman’s Agenda
Based just on the content of the first two books, this appears to be the underlying purpose of Pullman’s fiction.
BreakPoint.org on The Golden Compass
This link exists primarily for discussion on my BreakPoint article published November 16.
“I’m Trying to Undermine the Basis of Christian Belief”
That’s what Phillip Pullman told the Washington Post in an interview. Note also the link there to an excellent Mars Hill Audio discussion on the book.
“Democracy of Reading” or a Hidden Agenda?
Phillip Pullman says he doesn’t have an agenda, and every reader should be able to draw their own conclusions? How believable is this? And even if it were true, does he really expect this of third-graders?
Strongly Recommended: Jeffrey Overstreet on The Golden Compass
Well balanced and knowledgeable, a great, thorough analysis
A New Bearing On the Golden Compass
Phillip Pullman’s values, and God’s; and how they may have gotten confused.
Rehabilitating The Golden Compass’s Religion
Donna Freitas wrote in the Boston Globe that Pullman has only killed an impostor God, and the real one is strongly supported by his books. Is she right?
Are Christians over-reacting to The Golden Compass? Some perspective helps us answer that question.
Preacher-Man Phillip Pullman
Phillip Pullman claims he has no message to deliver, just a story to tell. An insightful storyteller’s analysis by John C. Wright reveals this to be a hollow claim from within the story–no reference to Pullman’s prior atheistic assertions required.
Book Discussions In Tidewater Virginia
Whatever Christians may think about the books and the movie, we need not become anxious or lose our joy over it. This is a great opportunity to tell the truth about a better story, a true story, the story of Jesus Christ.
Dates have changed due to library scheduling error. On December 11 and 13 I will be hosting discussions on The Golden Compass (and the whole series) in York County, Virginia, libraries. The December 11 discussion will be at the Yorktown Library, and the December 13 event will be at the Yorktown Library. Both events will begin at 7:00 pm.
Please come if you’re anywhere nearby!