The Golden Compass

On December 7, 2007, a movie was released across the United States entitled The Golden Compass.  It is based on a children’s book that was originally published in England by the title Northern Lights, but was released in the U.S. as The Golden Compass.  This book is the first in a series of three books entitled His Dark Materials, which has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

I have not seen this movie, nor have I read these books, and I have no intention of doing so.  My knowledge of these things comes from others who have published their findings on the internet.  The website has several informative entries on the movie, the books, and the author.  The entry on His Dark Materials is gives a particularly thorough summary of all three books in the series.  With this disclosure, I give you my understanding concerning the matter of this movie and these books.

Philip Pullman, the author of the series His Dark Materials, is an avowed atheist, agnostic, and secular humanist.  He is very outspoken about his atheism, once saying in an interview, “I'm an atheist. There's no God here.  There never was.” (“The Shed Where God Died” – Sydney Morning Herald, 12/13/03).  Pullman has written his books from this atheistic perspective, and his message has now been translated into the format of a major motion picture, by which it will reach many more people than even his books have reached.

The purpose of Pullman’s books and this movie is beyond contention, for Pullman has stated his purpose for himself.  In the same interview cited above, Pullman said, “My books are about killing God.”  In another interview, Pullman said, “I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief” (“Philip Pullman's Trilogy For Young Adults Ends With God's Death, and Remarkably Few Critics” – The Washington Post, 2/19/01).  Pullman considers his books to be a counterbalance to the C.S. Lewis series The Chronicles of Narnia, which has many figures and allusions to Christianity.  Whereas Lewis had intended to promote Christianity, Pullman intends to crush it.

The essence of Pullman’s plots is that the two main characters, a twelve-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl, are followed on a journey from innocence to experience.  They are intended to be figures of Adam and Eve, except in Pullman’s story, the fall of man is a good thing rather than the beginning of evil in the world.  Throughout the series, the church is depicted as a force for oppression and violence, and those who rebel against religion are considered as fighting for good and truth.  One character says, “That's what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.”  Christianity is specifically derided, for one character, a former Catholic nun, says that “the Christian religion…is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all.”  God Himself is depicted as an old, weak, and naïve man, called “the Authority,” whose powerful, evil regent is killed in the end by the good characters.  Finally, “the Authority” is so weak that he dies from a gust of wind.

I write this as a warning to all who read this, especially for those of you who have children.  You are likely to see advertising for the movie.  You will notice that the movie is not marketed as atheist propaganda, but rather it is designed to appeal to children and young people.  The intention seems to be to convince parents to bring their children to see this movie unaware of its meaning, thus foolishly making their children an audience to the anti-Christian message.  This first movie in the series is reportedly the mildest of the three, so it may create a sense of comfort with parents and cause them to assume that the series of movies and books is safe for their children.  Altogether, it is a very clever way to achieve a very evil purpose, which is to destroy your children’s faith in God.

The Golden Compass is not unique is its purpose, but it is one of the boldest attempts yet to “undermine the basis of Christian belief.”  Others have done the same, but they do not usually state explicitly that this is their purpose the way that Pullman has done.  Regardless, this film is another sign to those of us who are parents that we cannot continue to feed our children on the things of the world and expect them to become faithful children of God.  Let us be aware of all things that influence our children, and protect them from evil such as this film.  We are the stewards of our children’s souls, and we will have to give an account to God for them.

Stacey E. Durham


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