My 2 cents on an upcoming movie “The Golden Compass” (scheduled release in Dec 2007)
by Carolyn Chiam
19 July 2007

Heard of “The Golden Compass”, by Philip Pullman?

It’s based on book 1 of “His Dark Materials” trilogy (increasingly popular children fantasy
books) and has been in the stores for quite a while. It will be released as a blockbuster movie
by New Line Cinema this Dec. Starring Daniel Craig (yes the new James Bond), Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, etc. with super-special effects, I foresee the movie could generate huge hype. On the big screen, the books’ anti-Christian contents may be toned down but the film could attract readers to the 3 books, which I read about couple of years back and finished, hoping that the day will never arrive for the books to warrant much attention. Well, it seems that day’s approaching!

As much as I am a fantasy fan and I enjoyed Harry Potter, my personal take on “His Dark Materials” books (how the 1st book won the prestigious Whitbread award really confounds me!) is that they were rather distasteful. Good fantasy is the process of allowing the world to be dipped in myth and magic so that we can see it anew and reopen our eyes to the wonder of God’s creation around us – take LOTR or CS Lewis’ Narnia for e.g.

Of course the beauty of literature and power of words is that people may interpret various
meanings differently, depending on our values, cultural backgrounds, experiences, etc.
But “Golden Compass” and its 2 other books blatantly distort Christianity, give a warped
version of Genesis, embrace sin as freedom and defame God, even if the author started
out well in the beginning of the book…

The trilogy is a sad excuse for this Oxford grad atheist of a writer to release his anti-Christian worldview which arose from past bad experiences with Christianity, however true they may be. And while one may sympathise with him in view that Christianity as a concept has been fraught with the ills of legalism, fundamentalism and repression in our fallen world, we do NOT condone his actions!

Imagine creating an idea of God that is negative within a world that the author can control.
The danger of this translating to life when read by young impressionable readers is how God
is increasingly portrayed as the ultimate bad guy in these 3 novels. Well, of course children
are not dumb, only a strange few would attempt to fly out of the window, thinking they’ve got
powers after watching Superman for e.g.

We are called to make informed judgements and teach our juniors and children (if any)
to do so. So instead of reacting in fear or phobia, it is time to engage in intelligent criticism
of the books and movie, by being aware of its contents….be warned.

While all things are permissible but not all are beneficial….CS Lewis once wrote in “Mere Christianity”:

When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, be understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is allright. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.

I’ve extracted some reviews below from Christianity Today. Interestingly, the issue at hand is not so much of “Bad movie! Bad book! Beware book! Ban book from our kids!” resulting in another wave of something akin to Potter paranoia.

BUT how are we as Christians to respond in responsible ways that honour God, be a good testimony and not turn off pre-Christian believers and without compromising godly principles? Ah, fine balance… In touch with the world but not of it, by relying on God’s grace and strength, I say. How that translates into concrete day-to-day action on our part is the challenge now and ahead!

Review: His Dark Materials – Christianity Today Movies

Sympathy for the Devil – Plugged In (by Focus on the Family)

Movie’s influence is over-rated (Electric New Paper, Jeanmarie Tan, 5 Dec 2007),4136,149738,00.html