The film "The Golden Compass" is a controversy among Christians-Truth!

Furor Over a New Film Titled “The Golden Compass”-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

A warning about a new film for December, 2007, titled “The Golden Compass”.  There are several emails but all of them say that the film is based on the writings of an atheist author from England and that the film is anti-religious and anti-Christian.

The Truth:

“The Golden Compass” was scheduled for release December 7, 2007.  The stars include 12-year-old Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Ian McKellen.

The film is based on a novel titled “Northern Lights” (“The Golden Compass” in the United States), which is the first in a trilogy titled “His Dark Materials” written by English author Phillip Pullman.

He first published “Northern Lights” in 1995 followed by “The Subtle Knife” in 1997 and “The Amber Spyglass” in 2000.  They are targeted toward children.  The trilogy has resulted in several awards for Pullman including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Award and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

The main character in the film is a young girl named Lyra (played by Dakota Blue Richards) who lives in a parallel universe to ours.

There has been much criticism from Christians about Pullman’s novels and protest against the release of the first film in the series.  The Catholic League has called for a boycott of “The Golden Compass.”

Film critic and author Dr. Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television commission calls “The Golden Compass” “An atheist’s ‘Narnia’ knockoff,” referring to the best selling books “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis.  The first film of the Narnia series was released internationally as “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”   The second Narnia film, “Prince Caspian,” is schedule for release in 2008.

Many view Pullman’s books as a response to “The Chronicles of Narnia” but with an emphasis on “scientific materialism” over religion.  Pullman has criticized “The Chronicles of Narnia” as “religious propaganda.”  In 2001 he told Guardian Unlimited “I hate the Narnia books, and I hate them with deep and bitter passion, with their view of childhood as a golden age from which sexuality and adulthood are a falling away.”

Baehr describes Pullman as “an avowed atheist who has dedicated his life to undermining Christianity and the church among young readers.”  He says Pullman “represents God as a decrepit and perverse angel in his novels, who captures the dead in a ‘prison camp’ afterlife.”  One fallen angel says:

The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.

According to Baehr, one heroine in the story turns from the Church when she realizes “there wasn’t any God at all and … the Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” The Church just kept her from finding love, thinking freely and pursuing bodily pleasures like sex.  The Sunday Times describes the story as “…a quest that takes in the literal death of ‘God’, who is no more than a wizened, foetus-like invalid…Lyra releases human beings from attachment to the afterlife.”

According to “The Golden Compass” website, a key feature of the film is that “In Lyra’s world, a person’s soul lives on the outside of their body, in the form of a daemon — an animal spirit that accompanies them through life.”  Each of the characters in the film has a daemon, which include birds, monkeys, snow leopards, reptiles, and moths. The web site has a feature to help visitors discover their own daemons by answering a series of questions.

There are voices from among Christians who support Pullman.  Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has proposed that “His Dark Materials” be taught in schools as religious education.  His is among voices who view Pullman’s writings as an attack on religious oppression, not Christianity.

Updated 10/26/07