Dr. R. Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary has written an excellent review of the soon to be released movie The Golden Compass. I encourage all the Oxgoad users, regular readers, casual users, and accidental visitors, to follow this link to Dr. Mohler’s bog post and read his analysis in it’s entirety.
The Golden Compass is a potential blockbuster movie with a stellar cast, special effects, and CGI (computer generated imagery) graphics that rival anything produced to date. Many of you are probably aware that this particular movie has raised the ire of folks within the ‘Christian’ community – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – because it is based on a novel that was written to discredit and disprove Christianity.
The Golden Compass (it was published as Northern Lights in the UK) is actually the first installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy; a series of books written by the award winning British author and atheist Philip Pullman. Hanna Rosin of Atlantic Monthly interviewed Pullman, and Dr. Mohler repeatedly refers to that interview. I have linked to it here.
As one would expect, considering the author, The Golden Compass and the following two movies which may be produced, have an agenda. Mohler writes:
This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project. Philip Pullman has an agenda about as subtle as an army tank…nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church. His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear. He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.
I wouldn’t recommend His Dark Materials as a Christmas gift for your children!
By all accounts, the movie version of the book has softened the tone of anti-Christianity that is palpable in the book. I believe that to be a negative rather than a positive. I’d much rather the movie be true to the book, not because I like the book’s thesis, but because I prefer an overt enemy to a covert one.
How should Christians respond to this movie? Here again is Dr. Mohler:
Pullman has an agenda that is clear, and Christians need to inform themselves of what this agenda is and what it means. At the same time, nothing would serve his agenda better than to have Christians speaking recklessly or unintelligently about the film or the books. This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews. While Christians will not celebrate the release of this film, we should recognize the mixture of challenge and opportunity that comes with millions of persons watching this film and talking about the issues it raises. When the movie is mentioned in the workplace, in school, on the playground, or in the college campus, this is a great opportunity to show that Christians are not afraid of the battle of ideas. (italics added)
Good advice. The last thing needed is a shrill response from Christians, on this topic or any other. I would also encourage Christians to do a self-examination of their TV and movie viewing habits in general. Just because a movie does not depict Christianity as evil and that which must be overthrown, does not mean that the movie is positive. Most movies are sprinkled, some more heavily than others, with the same anti-Christian ideology as expressed in The Golden Compass; only packaged in a different wrapping. One thing I appreciate about Pullman is his clarity.
Christians should be so clear. Clearly discerning what they should and shouldn’t put before their eyes or the eyes of their children. In all things Christians should honor Christ their Lord as holy, always being prepared to answer anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet answering with gentleness and respect.