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← Tests of faith over 'The Golden Compass'

Tests of faith over 'The Golden Compass' - Comments

Klaatu barada nikto's Avatar Comment 1 by Klaatu barada nikto

A Christian co-worker sent me this in an email today.

>I stumbled across this today at
>There is a new movie coming out with Nicole Kidman called The Compass

>is supposed to be a "fantasy" kid movie.

Well, the guy that wrote it is atheist and ends up killing God in this movie.

Just check out the link above and send it out to as many people as you know so they will know that Hollywood has tried to be low key about it but the truth needs to come out.

It's funny that it ends with "the truth needs to come out."

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 13:24:00 UTC | #79453

boozec's Avatar Comment 2 by boozec

These books are hardly anti-religous.

"But many other tenets of Christianity remain intact: the belief that spirituality, rather than science, can explain the world; and the idea that it is natural for women to subordinate themselves to men. When Lyra returns to her Oxford, where only men attend university, she can only hope to be educated at a less-prestigious women's college. And her attachment to Will has robbed her of her only power: reading the golden compass of truth. If Lyra's transformation from hero to second-class citizen is what passes for anti-Christian storytelling, maybe we should be looking for a new way out of the religion problem."

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:03:00 UTC | #79472

mmurray's Avatar Comment 3 by mmurray

If Lyra's transformation from hero to second-class citizen is what passes for anti-Christian storytelling, maybe we should be looking for a new way out of the religion problem.

I don't see why they can't be anti-Christian but also old fashioned in their treatment of women? But in any case they're stories -- not `a way of of the religion problem.'


Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:12:00 UTC | #79474

Quine's Avatar Comment 4 by Quine

Take a look at the previews.

EDIT: As time goes on and people see that folks like Tolkien, Rowling, and Pullman can just make up entire worlds, it becomes easier to see how other folks in times long ago could just make up religions. P.S. I am going to hand out copies of the books at Xmas to all the kids I know.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:26:00 UTC | #79477

bluebird's Avatar Comment 5 by bluebird

From the link:
"Buy a $3'll be armed with ammo to convince family/friends there is nothing innocent about Pullman' agenda...twin goals are to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity to kids".

The steamroller is relentless...'kill,crush,destroy' any idea or action that's not permitted by the church.

As the article intimates, the hub-bub may make Christian kids even more curious to see it. If the movie makes them think outside the box, good!!

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:41:00 UTC | #79481

Dax's Avatar Comment 7 by Dax

I'm reading the book right now and so far I, as an adult, enjoy it. I wonder why people are making such a fuzz about this movie. Donahue already complained in a previous article that this movie is about selling religious ideas to kids, and that was, according to him, the rub... strange, I never heard him complain when Narnia was released, with Jesus, euh, Aslan, and all. Or the 10 Commandments, Mozes and all other cartoons targeting kids.
Double standards?

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:54:00 UTC | #79485

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 6 by Cartomancer

"The "Golden Compass" movie is set in a parallel universe similar to Oxford, England, where everyone's soul is physically manifested as a "daemon" or talking animal counselor. Witch clans patrol from the skies and warrior polar bears do battle. The malevolent governing body "the Magisterium" -- also referenced in the book as "the Church" -- is racing to decipher the true nature of the mystical particles known as "Dust" by kidnapping children and cutting away the invisible thread that bonds them to their daemons, which, in essence, removes their souls"

So what fantasy elements does he introduce to differentiate it from the real University of Oxford then?

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:54:00 UTC | #79484

mandrellian's Avatar Comment 8 by mandrellian

"...there is nothing innocent about Pullman's agenda...twin goals are to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity to kids"."

Right, and I'm sure no Christian would ever want to promote a parochial faith or denigrate freethinking to children ...

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 15:00:00 UTC | #79487

Geoff's Avatar Comment 9 by Geoff

I read the books about ten years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed them, although until I read down the article I was confused by the title (Northern Lights, originally)- why do publishers change book titles for the US market? They did it with the first Harry Potter too.

Any publicity is good publicity - let them make all the fuss they want (just as they did with HP, and "Life of Brian", to name but two). They're just narked because it doesn't agree with their favourite fiction book.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 15:41:00 UTC | #79496

briancoughlanworldcitizen's Avatar Comment 10 by briancoughlanworldcitizen

Actually I think it is a pretty subtle attack on Christianity. I liked it though, even when I was a Christian. It may have helped now I think about it ....

Brilliant books, and my daughter loved them!

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 15:46:00 UTC | #79498

Kakashi_monkey's Avatar Comment 11 by Kakashi_monkey

Interesting sounding movies. I might mosey over to the theaters and see them. It's about time atheist movies are released, especially with "Evan Almighty" lurking around.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 15:52:00 UTC | #79499

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 12 by Bonzai

There seems to be a hint of gnostic Christianity to it. In the trilogy "the Authority" (God)is depicted as a cosmic tyrant of the mode of the OT. He deceived the angels by claiming to be the creator of the multiverse and the One True God. The angels rebelled when they found out the truth and a heavenly civil war broke out. In the end the Authority died and his celestial absolute Monarchy was overthrown.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 16:00:00 UTC | #79501

mmurray's Avatar Comment 13 by mmurray

So what fantasy elements does he introduce to differentiate it from the real University of Oxford then?

Well everybody has an animal called a daemon which is essentially their soul/life force. It can move around near them but not very far away.

His parallel universe is really a parallel universe in the sense of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. So the differences are subtle mostly. There are some technological differences -- I think steam replaces petrol that sort of thing. It is awhile since I read them. I thought there were a lot of fun but I like fantasy books and have been on a lifetimes quest to find something as good as Lord of the Rings. Haven't found it yet.


Mon, 29 Oct 2007 16:09:00 UTC | #79503

coretemprising's Avatar Comment 14 by coretemprising

All that money for one more movie. Better spent elsewhere. Bah.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 16:28:00 UTC | #79507

mark8's Avatar Comment 15 by mark8

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 17:02:00 UTC | #79511

alexmzk's Avatar Comment 16 by alexmzk

"Earlier this month, he [William Donohue] called on Christians to boycott the movie because it will "seduce" parents into buying Pullman's "pro-atheist" book."

"fucktard" is not strong enough. if people were boycotting a film for being pro-catholic, there'd be outrage.
i really feel that the Dark Materials trilogy did a lot to help me feel i could actually criticise religion when i read it as a teenager. the books are not explicitly anti-Catholic, but they certainly put forward loads of philosophy that's amazing to read at that age. it's upsetting that they're removing the religious element from the film - almost like undermining Pullman's credibility by turning it into a straight-out fantasy film for kids.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 17:51:00 UTC | #79518

Linda's Avatar Comment 17 by Linda

Pullman's review of TGD:
"I've read this with pleasure and satisfaction. Dawkins is a great rationalist, but he is also a good man. History has seen a number of supreme rationalists who weren't good at all. He gives human sympathies and emotions their proper value, which is one of the things that lends his criticisms of religion such force, because many religious leaders in the world today – certainly the loudest ones – are men who, it's obvious to anyone but their deranged followers, are willing to sanction vicious cruelty in the service of their faith. Dawkins hits them hard, with all the power that reason can wield, demolishing their preposterous attempts to prove the existence of God, or their presumptuous claims that religion is the only basis of morality, or that their holy books are literally true."

The God Delusion is written with all the clarity and elegance of which Dawkins is a master. It is so well written, in fact, that children deserve to read it as well as adults. It should have a place in every school library — especially in the library of every 'faith' school. Naturally, it won't. But with any luck, the teachers in these ridiculous establishments will ban it from their shelves, and thus draw the attention of the intelligent pupils in their care to something that might be interesting as well as true."

Philip Pullman, author of the children's trilogy His Dark Materials.

I hope that Pullman does not let his fans down and that His Dark Materials on film is as honest as the books and sublime as the National Theatre stage production.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 18:09:00 UTC | #79521

Damien White's Avatar Comment 18 by Damien White

Perhaps the church's opposition to this could be a good thing. If the film is atheistic (and I can't comment, having not [yet] read the books) does that mean that if it is a runaway success ala Harry Potter, then atheists can claim those numbers as evidence of growing mainstream support?

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 18:11:00 UTC | #79522

Crazymalc's Avatar Comment 19 by Crazymalc

Err... Why problem did the have with my main main Spongebob Squarepants?

Please don't tell me that they thought he was gay...

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 18:16:00 UTC | #79524

boozec's Avatar Comment 20 by boozec

Fox News link:

""They're intentionally watering down the most offensive element," Donohue said. "I'm not really concerned about the movie, [which] looks fairly innocuous. The movie is made for the books. ... It's a deceitful, stealth campaign. Pullman is hoping his books will fly off the shelves at Christmastime.""

You can't win with these people.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 18:33:00 UTC | #79528

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 21 by Frankus1122

Patrick was the gay one.

I have been teaching this book to grade seven students for a few years now. I am particularly excited that the film is coming out this year. We have a class trip planned to see it when it comes out. However, I do have some fairly religious kids in my class. I wonder if the press attention will get the parents' knickers in a knot.
One of the things I find very useful with this book is it gets the students to think in ways they perhaps haven't before. I try to push them into higher levels of thinking. The characters are complex. It forces the students to critically evaluate the characters motivations. Mrs. Coulter is a pretty bad person, but is she wholly evil? The same goes for Asriel. People's beliefs cause them to do some very nasty things in this book. Is this true of our world?
There is a question raised in this book that I have been pondering for a while: Original sin is the knowledge of good and evil. Is that right? It was wrong for us to disobey god and because of that we know what is good and what is bad. So knowledge is bad - sinful. Ignorance is bliss.
That isn't really a question but it doesn't sit right with me. I don't get it. If I don't get it, I question why.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 18:55:00 UTC | #79533

Quine's Avatar Comment 22 by Quine

Original sin is the knowledge of good and evil. Is that right? It was wrong for us to disobey god and because of that we know what is good and what is bad. So knowledge is bad - sinful. Ignorance is bliss.

Yes, this bothered me as a kid. Sin requires the knowledge of evil (you have to know what you are about to do is a sin), but in the story neither Eve nor subsequently Adam had this before the apple. So original sin was not logically possible, no matter what they did. (I was not a good kid to have in your religion class.)

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Mon, 29 Oct 2007 19:29:00 UTC | #79540

?'s Avatar Comment 23 by ?

Great writing often contains anti-religious and anti-clerical barbs, as well as "heretical" reinterpretations of conventional religious views. Pullman is only one recent example.

These agitators for cencorship are like something out of the big 20th Century dictatorships. Art is useless or dangerous except as propaganda for their preconcieved "truth" and authoritarian agenda. (That appalling Donahue character seems born to be America's Goebells or Beria with his relentless bullying, worship of power and obsession with ideological purity)

Since they cannot hold their own in a reasonable discussion, all criticism and alternate points of view are seen as destructive. Someone should make a film of "Candide" just to watch them make anti-intellectual, bigoted fools of themselves attacking it! I guess the Muslims would get in on that one, too.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 19:42:00 UTC | #79543

Serious's Avatar Comment 24 by Serious

Hmmm. It would be hard to buy this kind of advanced publicity.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 19:55:00 UTC | #79545

notbadfora human's Avatar Comment 25 by notbadfora human

"a bit of a tempest in a teapot"

Would that be the china teapot orbiting the sun?

Bil(ius) Donahue and his ilk are pricks with warped world viewpoints. Catholic League... let them do their worst. As it has been pointed out, this will only get more bums on cinema seats.

"it will "seduce" parents into buying Pullman's "pro-atheist" book"

Really? I remember reading this book years ago and couldn't have cared less about it's not-so-subtle subcontext. How many kids will give a shit about that when you have armored polar bears?!

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 19:58:00 UTC | #79546

Jason P's Avatar Comment 26 by Jason P

His Dark Materials is amazing. Reading the books laid the foundation for my conversion to atheism. I highly recommend them to you, your kids, and all your friends. These attacks are disturbing, but not surprising. The Catholic League is frightened.

Philip Pullman is a confirmed atheist, and is completely on Richard Dawkins' side - see his passionate blurbs for TGD. The books make use of mystical elements and gnostic myth because they are fantasy books. They're not a direct depiction of Pullman's literal worldview. But they are harshly critical of the Church in a parallel universe, as well as of the impostor god worshipped by followers of Abrahamic religions in all the parallel universes. The books have a completely secular and uplifting secular humanist message, and are a powerful argument for the possibility and necessity of living the good life without god.

No one has seen the movie except New Line, so no one knows how much they've kept in. However, the bad guys, who are even worse than they are in the books, are called The Magisterium (clearly a religious group), their agents are dressed like priests and use words like "heresy," and in one early image from the set, a Magisterium seal included a Latin inscription reading "One Church Above All." For what it's worth, Philip Pullman has said numerous times how pleased he is with the film.

For more information about the books and films, check out

As for the column which was quoted earlier and used in support of the claim that the books are not atheistic or humanistic, the column is hogwash. As I said, you have to expect some mystery and some "supernatural" in the sense of "not what exists in real life as far as we know" elements in a work of fantasy/sci fi. It's fiction. And as for gender roles, the writer really picked the wrong fight. Lyra is an incredibly strong, compelling heroine who has managed to appeal to all ages and both (all?) genders as few female protagonists in young adult fiction have. The books are always centered upon her - Will is important, but his role is to help Lyra. Just because he has a knife doesn't mean that he's a Freudian oppressor.

As for the claim that most kids don't get the "subtext," think again, and as I said, check out the website. The books are very serious in their philosophical content and have inspired numerous books of commentary. The philosophy and the humanism is right there in with the incredible storytelling. You have to deliberately shut yourself off to the former in order not to engage. It is a work which makes you think.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 21:35:00 UTC | #79559

Ashley1319's Avatar Comment 27 by Ashley1319

Hm. I do believe that there is a sort of Anti-fundamentalism in the book. Pullman uses the most powerful organization in the world to show how blind faith and dogma will destroy: the Catholic Church. It's not like he was just poking the Catholics in the eye: he's poking all anti-intellectuals in the eye. The books are about the dangers of fanaticism, and of being too quick to label people as evil(the witch covens for example.)
Also, I love how Pullman demonstrates in his books about the way that fanaticism leads to trying to control even the most natural of human impulses.(severing the demons, or 'soul', so that the dust, or 'original sin' won't affect the children)

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 21:43:00 UTC | #79563

hightrekker's Avatar Comment 28 by hightrekker

Might be time to jettison the Cabbages For Christ as a market segment. When you let ignorance control content, ignorance is perpetuated and continued.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 22:55:00 UTC | #79577

35bluejacket's Avatar Comment 29 by 35bluejacket

One interpretation of the garden of eden is that we have recieved the possibility of spiritual death (not physical death), by the eating of the fruit ie, the knowledge of good and evil. By rational thought it is not possible to know or judge if something is good, unless we have a comparison, like a relative evil and viceversa.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 23:43:00 UTC | #79583

35bluejacket's Avatar Comment 30 by 35bluejacket

In sum. Our gift from the garden of eden was the heavy responsibility of free will and rational thought.

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 00:01:00 UTC | #79586