The notice showed up in my facebook inbox a few days ago. A friend had invited me to join the group “Do NOT Support The Golden Compass.” I noticed that several of my friends had already joined. Now, I am very particular about the groups I join on facebook. I have to be absolutely sold on a particular ideology before I align myself with it (See: Pudding is Awesome, It’s Funny When Old Ladies Swear, Backpacks on Wheels are NOT COOL, etc.) Now, I had no intention of seeing the movie, more out of disinterest than religious zeal. I had seen the previews and the posters, and it appeared to me to be another big-budget ($180 million) rehash of a children’s novel (one I’ve never read), a convenient way for a movie studio to cash in at Christmas time.
So I decided not to join. But I did look into why people were upset about it.
Turns out, The Golden Compass is the first book of religious skeptic Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials. (If the compass is, in fact, golden, Mr. Pullman, is it not shiny? How, then, can it also be dark? What do you think of that? Unless it’s tarnished gold. Or “dark” as in evil. Hmm. Touche, Mr. Pullman.) From what I’ve read, the book portrays religion and clergy as evil or in the very least, nasty, and his idea of the afterlife doesn’t line up with Christianity’s vision of heaven. In the final book, so I hear, the god-figure is unveiled as a fraud, and gets killed by children. But, like I said, I haven’t read any of these so I don’t know a whole lot about it.
So, there you see, why some people are getting all hot-and-bothered by yet another controversial kids book/movie with unchristian religious themes. Their problem is with the soft sell: Kids will watch the movies, which may or may not be watered down and “safe” versions of the books. Then, they’ll want to read the books and will hate the church and the whole generation will go to crap and all the kids will become atheists. After all, children are fragile little things, always teetering right on the edge of pursuing devil-worship. And, as we all know, ever since Harry Potter came out, there’s been an epidemic of pre-teen sorcery. I guess we’ll have to start over with the next batch of Sunday-schoolers.
Really, that’s what it amounts to: Allowing kids to see this movie will doom an entire generation to the fires of Hades. Better to not let them see it at all than to subject them to it and have to talk to them about it. Sometimes we Christians aren’t big fans of dialog. Are we afraid? Is that what it is? Since when did a movie threaten our eternal securities? Since when did we not like conversation, and questions, and doubt, anyway? I thought God was bigger than that stuff. I thought God was bigger than my doubts (and the boogeyman, Godzilla, or the Monsters on TV), that He was bigger than some story by an atheist. This is just one more thing to tell kids not to touch, and by doing so to make them curious about it.
In the last few days, the anti-Golden Compass movement has gotten ample press. (See: CNN.com) What, exactly, is the message we want to send with a boycott? That we, as Christians, have the buying power to squash movies we disagree with? Or is it that we have an endless supply of things to get uptight about? Or is it that we're afraid?