The blogs are abuzz with perspectives on The Golden Compass. Some of these were referenced in Dan’s earlier post about The Golden Compass, but I thought I’d compile a bunch of them here in one place.
And so we come to the one, core argument about the real world made by Pullman through these novels: the God of the Bible is not good. …In the midst of all the sensational plot details that could easily sidetrack our objections, this is the point we need to respond to as Christians. And this won’t be accomplished by picketing movie theaters. Not remotely.
Amy Hall again, after seeing the film, notes that the movie is a sort of “seeker-sensitive” version of the book…
As I was explaining the difference between the novel and film to Derek, he said, “Ah, so they’ve decided to use the seeker model for creating the film series.” Exactly! This film was not made for the fans, it was designed to reel new people in… I guess this is good news for us because we all know how these things work out: Sure, you “just start out” seeker sensitive and promise all sorts of rewards to the faithful in the future, but somehow, you never get around to giving them what they need because you’re too busy trying to tempt others to join you by giving those people what they want.
Chris Weitz, director of The Golden Compass, admits in an interview with MTV that the first film is the “spoonful of sugar” that will “make the medicine go down” when it’s delivered in parts two and three:
The whole point, to me, of ensuring that “The Golden Compass” is a financial success is so that we have a solid foundation on which to deliver a faithful, more literal adaptation of the second and third books. This is important: whereas “The Golden Compass” had to be introduced to the public carefully, the religious themes in the second and third books can’t be minimized without destroying the spirit of these books.
Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes:
Having seen the movie at an advance viewing and having read all three books of His Dark Materials, I can assure Christians that we face a real challenge — one that will require careful thinking and intellectual engagement.
…The Christian faith is not about to be toppled by a film, nor by a series of fantasy books. 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.
Jeffrey Overstreet, film critic at Christianity Today:
…don’t behave in ways that the Magisterium in Pullman’s books would behave. You’ll just make his stories more persuasive, by confirming for the culture around us that Christians only really get excited when they’re condemning something.
David Wayne (the “JollyBlogger”) salutes Al Mohler’s review (see above) and adds that “we’ve got to do better than “nuh-uh” apologetics:”
What is good is that [Dr. Mohler] doesn’t encourage Christians to boycott the movie, but to be informed and respond appropriately, and I would even say winsomely. This is good – I’m already hearing calls to boycott the movie and I think that is a mistake. In fact, I joined a Facebook group called “What if we didn’t boycott The Golden Compass.” I realize that there are children who shouldn’t see the movie, but my take is that if a children’s story can rock the faith of an older teenager or adult, you didn’t have much of a faith to begin with. …we ought to have a faith that is confident and not threatened by false religions, or anti-religion — the Christian faith ought to be able to stand in the face of that kind of stuff.
David Wayne adds elsewhere that Golden Compass author Phillip Pullman understands people in a way that the Church ought to, but usually doesn’t:
[Pullman said,] “‘Thou shalt not’ might reach the head, but it takes ‘Once upon a time’ to reach the heart.” …[Pullman] is very much in line with the wisdom of that great Christian Blaise Pascal who said the heart has its reasons that reason knows not of. Christian apologists have spent years and years attempting to show the reasonableness of Christianity, and have claimed many victories. Yet the religious landscape around us suggests that whether or not we have persuaded many heads, we continue to lose ground in capturing hearts…
My conclusion… the church should respond with warm hearts and sharp minds. (Kind of anti-climactic, isn’t it?) At the end of the day, the Church is going to be attacked—we’ve been put on notice—and we need to respond by loving those who hate us, remembering that they hated our Lord first.
In this case, “loving them” means we must know, and be able to show, what we believe and why we believe it. But more importantly, we must walk by the Spirit so that his fruits—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—will commend our message to the hearts and minds of those we are sent to serve.