The Golden Compass was the highest grossing film from this past weekend. It opened to a lot of fanfare excitement from those who have read Philip Pullman’s series called His Dark Materials. It also received a great deal of criticism from evangelicals and Roman Catholics who are concerned with the author’s atheistic orientation.
On one level I do understand the concern that many Christians have regarding the film and books. (In light of the box office this weekend I assume the entire series will be made.) In addition, I can appreciate the consternation the Roman Catholic community has expressed since Pullman’s critique of Catholicism is very thinly veiled in his books where he uses the terms magisterium and Vatican in pejoratively.
On the other hand, I wonder if the call to boycott films like this one aren’t shortsighted. Instead of calling for a quick ban on a film like The Golden Compass, what if we were to “redemptively engage” the film. This could happen by viewing the film, or reading the books, and entering into constructive conversations with others who have seen the film. This could lead to discussions about matters of faith, the church, atheism and Christianity.
Another means of “redemptively engaging” the film would be to view it with your children and discuss the characters, plot and overall message of the story. (One must, of course, take age appropriateness into consideration.) None of our children will remain free from outside influences forever, no matter how we try to protect them. A film such as this one may provide an opportunity to compare and contrast faith claims and worldview all the while aiding our children in the development of discernment. Helping our kids understand why they hold the beliefs they do is vital. Helping our kids hold the beliefs they do in a way that is also honoring to Christ and the other is vital too.
Here are a couple of articles that you might find useful in your thinking about this movie, and the many others, that we have the opportunity to “redemptively engage”.
An interview with Philip Pullman and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Williams is the leader of the Anglican Church worldwide.)