God and anti-God in the movies

As its Dec. 7 premiere approaches, be prepared to hear a growing hue-and-cry about the supposed anti-Christian messages in The Golden Compass.

The Golden Compass is yet another fantasy movie epic based on literary epics, like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia series. [We might also throw in Harry Potter as another example, though HP is an entirely different kind of story.]

Written by an avowed atheist, British author Phillip Pullman, the Golden Compass is like anti-Narnia. Rather than supporting the idea of defending an all-powerful authority against rival forces, Pullman’s trilogy depicts its young heroes as bringing the reign of the authority to an end.

Some Christians who see the anti-Christ lurking behind every tree have already declared The Golden Compass anti-Christian and are encouraging parents to keep their kids out of the theatres, lest their tender minds be subverted by the Evil One.

The Harry Potter books and movies, after all, have created an entire generation of Satanists and wiccans. The Golden Compass might now create an entire generation of doubters or agnostics. It’s the end of civilization as we now it!

C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series began as a fantasy epic for young readers, but Christian allegory worked its way into the books. Many Christians adore the books, since they offer a more obviously religious alternative to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and other fantasy epics.

Strangely, there were no groups protesting the Christian messages inherent in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when it premiered in 2005. So why is it okay to supposedly indoctrinate youngsters with Christian allegory and not with agnostic allegory? Might it be because it would encourage them to think too much?

According to one theologian, Pullman’s trilogy is actually quite theistic, and educational for believers and non-believers alike. The god figure in The Golden Compass is a false god, using fear and intimidation to rule over the land. If there are any parallels to modern religion, well, you can draw your own conclusions there. Pullman wants his readers to think about religion, belief and faith, not just blindly accept them.

Christian conservatives are nowhere near that insightful, however. Deep thought is not a hallmark of the species.

In the end, all the religious fuss about The Golden Compass will amount to little. Movie goers will still go see it. It will eventually end up on DVD and cable TV, and children of all ages and religions will see it and probably enjoy it.

If watching it makes some viewers consider the validity of their faiths, so much the better. Most will probably not get past the entertainment aspect. Christendom will be safe.

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His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)The Golden Compass Trilogy

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