Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another, although much smaller, controversy

In the spirit of finding truth and love "within the discord," I'm going to write about something tonight that I normally don't write about, but as I just stumbled upon it, and as it is fresh in my mind, I'm going to state my opinion, and hopefully what I say will be honoring to God and will simply point towards Him. I believe I said too much in my first two postings, and I believe I may have distracted from the message I was trying to get across by saying certain things. For that I apologize, and I hope my lapse in judgement didn't cause any believers to stumble or discourage anyone I could have otherwise encouraged. The Lord is showing me more and more how little what I have to say matters, but that I can serve Him best by proclaiming His love, His tender mercies, and the great joy He yearns to fill each and every one of His children with.

For the past year, I have been waiting in nervous anticipation for the movie "The Golden Compass" to come out into theaters, as I read all three of the books last winter and THOROUGHLY enjoyed them. I am a self-professed fantasy geek, and reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Chronicles of Narnia series is something I do on a yearly basis.

As the movies depicting two of my favorite books series of all time have come into theaters, and are continuing to come out, I was excited to realize that another, in my opinion, great trilogy was being transfered onto the big screen, although I'm nervous that Hollywood will ruin the books, and destroy my image of them, as their trackrecord of fantasy movies taken from literature isn't the greatest. (Shall I mention Eragon?)

However, as I've waited for the Christmas season to come around, actually bringing with it some decent movies [Prince Caspian, The Golden Compass, Enchanted] that I can take my siblings to without having to worry about nudity and swearing and all the indecency that seems to permeate movies these days, it never even occured to me that a controversy would spring up. Looking back, I guess I'm not surprised now, but I was at first when I heard of the boycott Christians across the country are supporting against The Golden Compass.

Before I go any further, let me explain my full opinion of the books. As I said, I fully enjoyed them; not since being immersed in Tolkien's world for the first time did a story hold me as captivated as did this series by Philip Pullman. I had read other books by him in the past, books with more of a historical fiction twist to them, and the world he spun in my imagination kept my mind reeling at the enormity of what he created on the pages before me. When I finished the second book in the series, I actually threw the book to the floor in frustration as I didn't have the third book yet, and, of course, the story had stopped at a dreadful cliffhanger. (I become very attached to the characters as I read, and when I enjoy a story, my emotions will undoubtably get involved. Call me dramatic if you want, I completely agree with that assessment.)

However, despite my enjoyment of the story, I would not recommend these books for children, Christian children especially. If someone is not firm in their understanding of their belief and what the Bible says about God, the religious subject matter of the book can be disturbing and confusing, doubly so for a child whose mind is still being molded.

In regards to the movies, I don't know how much of the religious material will be put into them, and even so, the first book contains no controversial religious topics other than a counterpart to the Catholic church in the alternate universe the story is set in. As someone who thoroughly disagrees with almost everything the Catholic doctrine teaches, the negative light the church counterpart was painted with didn't bother me at all.

The second two books however introduce the reader to a conspiracy that reaches all the way to heaven, and if taken seriously, is an outright blasphemy to the sovereignty, and omnipotence of God. However, these books, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass are quite obviously fantasy. They are not written to be believed, and even though I understand Phillip Pullman to be an atheist, I don't think even he would claim that anyone, through reading this series, could be persuaded of his beliefs and reject God. The world he spins is so utterly different from not only what the Bible teaches, but from reality as well, I don't see how any person firm in their beliefs could allow a fantasy story to influence their beliefs. Are atheists convinced of the existence of God by reading - and in all probability enjoying - the world that C.S. Lewis created through The Chronicles of Narnia? (I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I've never heard of it.)

Like I said, I wouldn't recommend these books for children, and if/when I am a parent, they are books I won't suggest, or even let them read, until I know that my children are old enough to discern between reality and fantasy; between what is made up and what is true.

Now that I have stated my opinion, here is what I know about this "controversy" that has sprung up. Having not received one of these emails myself, I am not sure what they say, but I believe they are a petition being spread calling for Christians to boycott the movie The Golden Compass as "God is killed" in the books.

I first learned of this petition and boycott while perusing facebook....yes I have an account there.....and I saw a few friends of mine had joined a group with basically the same premise as the boycott emails. Looking over the group, I knew immediately I didn't agree with the petition and the boycott, for the same reasons I came to disagree with the Christian opposition to the Da Vince Code once I had read the book for myself. I almost closed the group in disgust, but I saw a posted item in the group titled "Beware of this MOVIE? Part II." The link led me to this blog: http://apostlepd.wordpress.com/category/advanced-stuff/, which is also linked over the left in the "Who I Read" column. (Thoughts on Spirituality.) I think the person who wrote this article had some very good points regarding what the REAL issue for Christians should be, and I started to write a comment to the post, which ended up being extremely long, so I decided to cut it short and transfer my thoughts over here, where I won't take up a bunch of space on someone elses turf. (I have to admit, it's very liberating to not have to apologize about how much I write.)

Basically, I agree with this persons assessment, that just like movies such as The Da Vinci Code and The Passion of the Christ, they are not something that Christians should band together against and spend energy fighting, as that will just entice more people to see what all the fuss is about, thereby nullifying the boycotts, and does absolutely nothing to further the message of the gospel. As my brother in Christ said, why not use this as an oppurtunity to talk to others about why we believe what we believe, and show them the love of Christ flowing through us? How does attacking something man-made and when compared to God, powerless, show the world that we are different? That we have something they don't have? That maybe that something is worth learning about? If all we do is stamp our feet, run picket lines in cyber-space, and speak out in anger and outrage against something that we have ultimately no power to change, how does that show the unbeliever the gracious and loving spirit of Christ?

Another problem I have with the spirit behind a boycott of this sort, is that is something that speaks of faith in ones own abilities to "fight the devil," rather than letting the LORD do the fighting. The Holy Spirit is inside, just waiting for us to surrender to His control, so that He can produce His fruit in us, and taking something that could be evil - a potentially "anti-God" message from a popular movie - into something good - an opportunity to explain to people, in love why we disagree with the message, if it is something we disagree with. Or even better, an opportunity to explain to someone what we do believe, and through a gentle spirit, a good testimony, and faith in the Word of God, point people to God, His truth, and His wonderful plan of salvation.


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I enjoyed the first and second book, not so much the third.

I had been instructed to read 'Northern Lights' by a lecturer while I was doing my theology degree.

I think a very telling sign about the books is the complete lack of humour. They are so serious. I doubt that Pullman is a very happy man.

I don't like boycotts of films, either. I think they are a waster of time and just generate publicity.

God Bless


Jeremy Myers said...

Thanks for the post. You have put into words what I have been thinking on the subject as well.

I have had several people tell me to boycott the film because it teaches gnostic heresy. That may be true, and as you say, may be a reason for children to avoid the movie, as well as believers who are not grounded in their faith.

But, since various of the NT was written aginst an early form of Gnosticism (1 John for example, and probably 1 Corinthians as well), I think we can actually learn from the movie what beliefs the early church was struggling against, and in this way, help us better understand the NT!

Ironically, when the Harry Potter series came out, Christians were calling for boycotts. Recently, I think I saw an article somewhere about "Christ in the Harry Potter movies." Who knows? Maybe in a few years, we will have a "Golden Compass and 1 John" bible study...

The bottom line is that if our unbelieving friends and neighbors are seeing the movie, if we are are well grounded see it also, it will provide some excellent points for starting spiritual conversations with them.

IndweltDaughter said...

Thanks Jeremy, and great comment.

It is very true that the bottom line really is how can anything we see, read, do, talk about, etc. - how can the way we react to these things point to Christ? How can it relay the love of our Savior through us? How can God use us in anything to be a good testimony, and hopefully point unbelievers to Himself? I hope that more believers realize what really is the issue. How they react to things they disagree with. Because our testimonies, above everything else, is what will ultimately draw people to Christ, or turn them away.

Mall Diva said...

Hi there! I followed your link from hammerswing75 and am enjoying myself quite a bit here!

I saw the trailer for this movie some time ago and thought it looked really good, so I got the book from a friend right away. The story was really fascinating and well written, but I was turned off by Pullman's "alternative" scriptures. You have helped put it into perspective for me, though, by reminding me of the principle thing. So thanks for that!

Anyway, I saw the trailer again today when I saw "August Rush" (a fantastic movie, btw), and it looks so cool that I'm sure I'll see it, but I'll probably wait til it comes out on Netflix...

IndweltDaughter said...

Thank you mall diva! I'm glad you are enjoying yourself here, I hope you have been encouraged. I have perused your blog, and I have enjoyed myself there as well. I think we might have similar senses of humor. :)

I'm glad you liked my post regarding this movie, and thank you for the good review regarding "August Rush." I knew I wanted to see it because of Freddie Highmore, (I love that kid,) but I couldn't tell from the previews I'd seen if it would be good or not. I'm glad you liked it, and it's definately something I'm looking forward to.

I'm also looking forward to fellowship with you in the future! Thank you again for reading my blog, I hope you continue to enjoy yourself.

Many Blessings