This is part 3 of 3 in a series about the new movie "The Golden Compass" and the book series by Philip Pullman entitled "His Dark Materials." View part 1 or part 2.
With the background I've built up in the previous posts, it's time I get to the heart of the matter. It seems that The Golden Compass movie is not so bad on the surface, but with the controversy brewing I wanted to find out more. In all truth, I was awakened from a deep sleep at 4:00am in the morning and ended up researching it in the silence of a Saturday morning.
I was slightly confused at the story and wanted to tie up the loose ends and so I scoured the web for a non-biased summary of the books. I can tell you that there is a lot out there about how dangerous this series is, especially for kids. This movie and the books have really ticked a lot of Christians off. From my research, I found that the book is also known as Northern Lights in the UK and it is the first in a trilogy called His Dark Materials by author Philip Pullman. Pulman is a self-professed athiest (more accurately agnostic) who was inspired to write the series after reading C.S. Lewis' Narnia books. Pullman was especially annoyed by the Christian imagery in Lewis' books and set out to create an equally creative story of his own from an athiest's perspective. One can easily make the comparison in the beginning of The Golden Compass when main character Lyra begins her adventures by hiding in a wardrobe (as did the characters from Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe).
THE WHOLE STORY
I will not go into the depth of the His Dark Materials story here, but encourage you to review it for yourself. I found a great summary and analysis here at Barnes & Nobles' sparknotes.com. I suggest you examine the full summary of all the books. It is an in-depth summary and analysis of each book - quite a bit of reading, but worth it if you have kids, grandchildren, or friends with kids. You need to know more about this, because this story is NOT a children's story. It is an adult proposition about the non-existence of God. It contains many subtle and many not-so-subtle attacks to the basics of the Christian faith. The books following The Golden Compass increasingly speak to the topics of original sin, Christ's Church, the existence of God, adolescent sexuality, heaven and hell, homosexuality, freewill and more. In all these areas and more, Pullman specifically seeks to attack the Christian faith.
THE AUTHOR'S AGENDA
As I suspected, the first film/book simply sets up the basis for Pullman's theses. The story itself does not seem that bad. At the same time, New Line Cinema has removed many references to God and the church as well as the entire end of the first book from movie. I believe they've done so as an attempt to lessen the controversy - but I wonder what they will be able to do in following sequels if they're made. In my opinion, The Golden Compass is a stepping stone or an entry way into Pullman's larger purpose - to speak out against a religion that he hates.
From Alber Mohler's briefing on the movie, he reveals some of Pullman's true motives:
"[Pullman] told Hanna Rosin of the Atlantic Monthly,'Why the Christian Church has spent 2,000 years condemning this glorious moment [Adam and Eve's fall from grace], well, that's a mystery. I want to confront that, I suppose, by telling a story that the so-called original sin is anything but. It's the thing that makes us fully human.'"
"Pullman hates C. S. Lewis's work The Chronicles of Narnia. He told Hannah Rosin that Lewis's famous work is 'morally loathsome' and 'one of the most ugly and poisonous things I ever read.' Narnia, he said, 'is the Christian one . . . . And mine is the non-Christian.'"
I would recommend Albert Mohler's briefing on the movie and series. While it comes from a Christian point-of-view, it is not heavy handed and does not focus on nit-picky complaints. What Mohler does accomplish is to warn of the real dangers of the movie and suggest an appropriate response.
AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE
I agree with Mohler on how Christians should respond to the film and series. Take a deep breath. Inform yourself about the entire story and Pullman's agenda. Make sure you are clear on what you believe regarding the points of contention. Check it against the Word of God.
In most cases, I believe Christian boycotts are stupid. When we remove ourselves from the marketplace of ideas, we doing Christ a disservice. It would be better to be informed of the film and series, listen to people's impressions, and be ready to engage others in conversations (not arguments) on the basic truths of our faith.
SHOULD YOU GO SEE THE FILM?
While I believe it could be advantageous to see the film, I do advise caution. If you know me at all, you know that in most cases I don't see harm in most movies as long as we are strong in our faith, but again - I advise caution with this one. I really do not believe the stories from His Dark Materials are appropriate for kids. If you take yours (especially to the upcoming sequels), you better be ready for a long and in-depth debriefing. Whether you should see the film really depends on a number of factors. How strong is your faith? Do you really believe what you believe? How grounded are you in the Word of God? Will it help you engage others for Christ? Only you can answer those questions.
Full Summary & Analysis: www.sparksnotes.com
Fair Christian Perspective: www.albertmohler.com