Friday, November 30, 2007
The Golden Compass
And so it begins again. The furor that we saw some Christians making over the Harry Potter books and movies has resurfaced with Philip Pullman's "The Golden Compass" and the other books of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy.
The books have won some of the highest honors out there in the publishing industry (the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread award among others). They are also part of his deep seated disdain of Christianity. I've read them and thought they were well written. But they also offer a challenge to my deeply held belief system. To be honest I have to admit that my enjoyment of the books declined with each volume, as his attacks on God and belief became more violent. As a youth minister novels and movies like this are fertile ground for questions and study. I do not believe we best serve our young people by either ignoring or attempting to ban these stories. Much better we confront them (the stories,not the youth!) and discuss what we see as wrong rather than screaming "Heretic" and "Blasphemy" from the steeples.
The best answer to this comes from Jeffrey Overstreet who served "Christianity Today" as their film critic for a long time. As with any critic I don't always agree with Jeff but I respect his knowledge of film and the depth of his faith. He offers a great response to most of the common questions in his column:
"Questions I've been asked, Answers I've given"
In the best of all possible worlds there would not be books that attack and demean ideas and institutions about which we care deeply. You may have noticed that we do not live in the best of all possible worlds. My great concern is how often we as people of faith do far MORE damage to our beloved institutions and beliefs when we lash out wildly. I have no respect or time for people who will condemn a book or a movie while proudly announcing that they've never read/seen it. We are all allowed to decline to view something because we don't believe we'll like it. There's a difference between an opinion and an intelligent opinion.