Anti-Christian, merely fiction, or both?

November 12, 2007

by Kristen Miller

Warnings have been going out via e-mail about the soon-to-debut film, “The Golden Compass,” calling that it anti-Christian, and even more so, anti-Catholic.

After researching the movie and reading blogs from both sides of the spectrum, the only conclusion I have is for parents to do some homework, and even preview the movie, before sending their kids off to the theatre this December.

According to the official movie web site, the film is set in a “parallel world where humans should take the form of animal companions.”

Twelve-year-old Lyra, the main character, “stands between the end of free will and the beginning of a new age.”

In the film, there is a governmental body, magisterium, that is “tightening its grip on the populace.”

I can see why this would be offensive since “magisterium” refers to teachers in authority within the Catholic Church, who are able to interpret the “truths of faith.”

From what I can gather, the religious institution that is spoken of in the books (magisterium), is meant to be that of a “flawed institution” – one that imposes punishments and has the ability to fight war. The movie’s producers could have chosen a different term for this body.

Watching the preview of the film, “The Golden Compass” looks similar to the popular movie “Narnia,” based on CS Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. It is a fantasy adventure sure to capture the attention of children and adults alike with its special effects and story line.

The author of “The Golden Compass,” Phillip Pullman, is an atheist and has said before that he detests the “Narnia” series. He also said that he is against theocracy, or what he calls religious totalitarianism. Pullman gave the examples of the Taliban and Soviet Communism.

In the final book of the series, a god-like character, “The Authority,” is killed by the children who allegedly resemble Adam and Eve.

What I can gather is this “Authority” falsely claims he is the creator of the universe and not the real authority.

The fact that the movie is anti-religious is open for interpretation, but Pullman appears to have a reputation for being against CS Lewis and his Christian-based books.

But fantasy series like “Narnia,” “Harry Potter,” and “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Golden Compass” are indeed fiction, and should be taken as that.

Nicole Kidman, who is acting in the film, was raised Catholic and said this of the film’s criticism: “I was raised Catholic, the Catholic church is part of my essence. I wouldn’t be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic.”

She also explained the film as being a “watered down” version of the book. Many believe this is a ploy to get children to put this series on their Christmas wish lists as and even bigger plan to make them atheists. I can’t deny nor prove that statement in the research I’ve done.

Without reading the book or watching the movie, I can’t say either way if the movie is anti-Catholic, other than the use of the word “magisterium.”

However, it is unlikely that children will interpret this movie as anti-Christian or Christian.

Even watching “Narnia,” I wouldn’t have referenced it to the Bible if I had not known of the Christian elements ahead of time. It is most likely children won’t make a Biblical reference to this movie, as well.

The film’s producers claim they have kept religious themes to a minimum and that the film is “an entertaining fantasy about love, courage, responsibility, and freedom.”

If the film is indeed anti-religious, I don’t condone it, and Christian parents should get the facts or preview the movie for themselves before sending their children off to the theatres.

Many times though, if parents ban something, children want it that much more. If kids really want to see this movie; they will likely find a way, especially after it is released on video.

My advice: be ready and have those answers there for them if, and when, children do see the movie.

If parents are worried about the books (which seem a bit different than the movie), don’t buy them.