Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Golden Compass

Greetings blog people. I haven't posted in longer than I'd like to admit. I apologize. There's been lots of buzz at my church and around the internet about the upcoming movie The Golden Compass. Here is an article you can read that outlines some of the controversy. From the article:
Starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, "The Golden Compass" traces a 12-year-old girl named Lyra from Oxford, England, to the Arctic to the edge of another universe, where she becomes locked in a battle between good and evil. The characters are shadowed by their own "daemons," talking animal companions that take on soul-like qualities.

In early October, the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights launched a boycott of the film, calling it "selling atheism to kids" at Christmastime in stealth fashion.

Director Chris Weitz has said he cut controversial religious content to make the film more commercially viable, with the plan of being more faithful to the original material in sequels.

For instance, the evil organization dominating the world is not "the church," as it is in the book, but the "Magisterium," which is getting criticism anyway because it's a Catholic term.

Here's what I think is funny- they changed some of the language and plot lines to make it "not quite as anti-religious". They did this to make the movie more appealing to a wide variety of groups. Hhhmmm...how ironic. I remember when "The Prince of Egypt" came out they changed some of the scenes, Moses murdering an Egyptian in particular, to make the film more "kid friendly". So Hollywood makes our anti-Christian movies less anti-Christian, and also changes elements of our pro-Christian films to broaden the appeal of both.

I think people need to keep a couple things in mind, before we get all upset.

1. First and foremost Hollywood is out to make bucks. I don't think they're out to change people's perceptions about religion, they're out to make a movie that people will pay to see. With big budget films and studios, anything beyond economics is just an unimportant subsequence.

2. If people from religious groups get upset, I can kind of understand. A movie based on a book where the church is a worldwide institution of evil is an unfair characterization (although more fair than I would like to admit!). However, the answer isn't boycotting. The answer is to do it better. I challenge anyone to name 5 "Christian" movies they've seen that are any good. If we've got a better story than Mr. Pullman has written, we should be better at telling and living that story.

3. We can get all worked up about a movie coming out condemning Christianity. We can fear that our children will read the books and be influenced by the author's anti-theism. But I would contend that Cosmopolitan Magazine and Top 40 radio
(just to name 2) promote messages just as evil as the Golden Compass, they just do it more subversively. Or perhaps we're just used to it and don't hold that media to the same scrutiny. In short, your 6th grade daughter reading Cosmo might be worse than reading Pullman's trilogy.

So we need to teach our kids to think critically. I do believe that ideas and images have consequences. I'm not saying any hub-ub over this film is all misplaced, I'm simply saying that we should be just as discerning in what we are exposed to and what is shaping our children's ideas about what life is all about.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nicely said. I'm not one to buy into conspiracy theories too much, but I do wonder who is behind circulating all the emails... concerned Christians or the movie studio? -Bone Daddy

Professor RJ Gumby said...

Mr. Mustoe:

Well said! Kids need to think critically. My reaction to the buzz about this movie is "What 'church' are they attacking?"

I think we teach kids why Jesus is the BEST answer to the 4 essential questions (meaning, morality, destiny and origin). Then we let them test what they see. And maybe even let them work out their faith.

I may go see the movie.

Five Christian movies that I think are any good:

1) Passion of the Christ
2) Chronicles of Narnia
3) Lord of the Rings Trilogy
4) 1951 version of Scrooge with Alistair Sims (redemption showed large)
5) Gospel of John

Adam said...

Professor,

Thanks for the comment! I'm with you on the 4 questions. You turned me on to Ravi in the first place!

If you wanna go see this bad boy, I'd totally go with you.

One point I have to disagree with, I don't think the Lord of the Rings movies are "christian". I think you could deduce some common themes but I think those are unintentional. Check out this quote from Tolkien:

"I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence."

Yikes!

Adam said...

Bone Daddy, could it be....

....THA' BONESTA!?!?!?!?!?!?

(inside joke...)

Anonymous said...

da one and only...your biggest fan in St.Joe! -BD

The Millers-Because we like it Original! said...

*cough*
Hangmans curse ( I know Frank peretti...jealous? You should be.)
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
Prince of Egypt
Joseph King of Dreams
Love Comes Softly.