12/10/2007

The Golden Compass

Time for more opinions. My last opinionated post got a big response, and I have a sneaky feeling this one will generate some interest too.

It started with a handful of emails from well-intentioned friends of mine. Then a passing reference in church. Then a few good friends mentioned going to see the movie, and a few other friends asked what all the hubbub was about. So I decided to do some serious research. Trying very hard NOT to be a Kool-aide drinker, I went straight to the source, the books, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. I read quite a bit, very quickly. Then I read extensively on the author, including interviews. I stayed away from Christian news sources.

Yes, there is reason for Christian parents to be concerned. Will the movie corrupt and confuse the minds of children? I'm sure not.

It's a very interesting piece of fantasy. The movie is not nearly as dark or as complicated as the book. And the books ARE complicated, and get progressively darker. Frankly much of Pullman's imagery and symbolism I don't get. I think it's meant to be mystical, vague, and certainly something to be discussed. But it's clear that he is vehemently anti-church, and anti-God. The Judeo-Christian God, Yahweh, specifically. He was a middle school teacher prior to becoming a novelist, which is probably why the books are aimed at that age group. And he is and evangelical atheist...that is to say he doesn't just not believe in God, he'd like to convince other people not to believe in God.

An aside: No one can ever say atheists are not religious, some are VERY religious about their belief system. Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins are prime examples. And atheists do not believe in nothing, as some may say, they believe very strongly in science, and often in secular humanism. The credo of humanism can be summed up in "it's ok to do or say or think basically anything you want so long as no one else gets hurt." Sorry, but I don't agree with that premise.

So back to my opinion. I might see the movie, because I like to be fully informed. I might even take a teenage child if I had one, so long as we could extensively discuss the messages in the film afterward. I might not want my teenage child reading the book series though, only because teenagers ARE highly impressionable and illogical and if someone is going to influence their faith, I want it to be me.

Finally, it is said that the books/movies are written as the anti-Narnia Chronicals, and that Pullman despised C.S. Lewis. Frankly, from what I've read, Pullman's writing does not hold a candle to C.S. Lewis. Fantasy and parallel worlds and talking animals is where the similarity ends. Lewis' writing and imagery is beautiful and his symbolism is crystal clear, not meant to be confusing at all. Just because something is more detailed and complicated does not make it better. My advice is go rent The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe again. Or better yet, read the books to your kids. They are fantasic.

5 comments:

running42k said...

Well done. You certainly kept an open mind and I like the final thought of reading to and or with your kids.

dcrmom said...

I love that you read the books. I would but I'm too dang lazy, lol. Today I was reading People, and they basically panned the movie. Gave it 2 out of 4 stars and said it didn't compare to Narnia or LOTR. Praise the Lord!

I agree that this kind of thing is nothing to get our panties in a wad about. Christians need not fear anti-Christian literature. We just need to do what you did -- inform ourselves and then rationally discuss it. So kudos to you.

And thanks for doing the work so I don't have to. ;-)

Redhead Mommy said...

Yes, well done. I also was inundated with emails regarding the movie and books, so I did my own research (mostly through Snopes.com, though!). As a former Language Arts teacher, I hesitate at the idea of withdrawing books from kids, BUT, I also believe that discussions should take place so that they fully understand what they are reading. As a teacher, though, I'm not sure I would buy those books for my classroom library, just on principal.

Odd Mix said...

Woooohooo!

Well said. And well done! I only made it through two of the books and then read the end of the third. Tres Ick.

I will take your final bit of advice, thanks.

jenifer said...

I read the books and loved them, but it looks like i'll be disappointed by the movies.

I didn't find the imagery vague and confusing at all, honestly, and I also didn't find the book to be anti-God or anti-spirituality. It is anti-authoritarianism, which i think is a good thing, personally.

And, I like it much more than the Narnia series. I disliked that series as a kid because it was so "thin" IMO, and "thinly veiled."

I much prefered the more complex Tolkien works as a kid, and i think that His Dark Materials (that's the name of the series by Pullman) is akin to this.

Personally, i felt that my relationship with God and my spirituality were affirmed by the books, and i plan on reading them to my children when they're old enough.

I'll also likely read narnia, a heap load of fairy tales, myths, and legends, harry potter, the bartimaeus trilogy (also about wizards), and of course tolkien and many others.

I just love books.

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