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Old 12-03-2007, 09:45 PM   #1
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The Golden Compass, and killing God

Got this from an email list I subscribe to. Curious on your thoughts about this author, the books, and the movie.


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Think of it as the 'anti-Narnia' story if you will. At least I get that vibe from The Golden Compass author Philip Pullman when he states:

"I hate the Narnia books, and I hate them with a deep and bitter passion."

What do you think? Did you pick up any message from that subtle statement?

Which is incredibly ironic, since he borrows a significant amount of imagery and plot points from The Chronicles of Narnia for his books! Let's see, The Golden Compass introduces us to Lucy Lyra, who eventually hides in a wardrobe. There's an alternate world with witches and talking animals and final battles (oh my!). So in other words, he hates the Narnia series with a 'deep and bitter passion', but he was happy to borrow some of the critical elements that make it such a compelling series.

Well, isn't that special!

What isn't so special is the apparent dishonesty coming out of the film's promoters and the author himself. Here's a small sample from Pullman's web site in his own words:

"The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain. Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the 'Once upon a time' business."

Fair enough, except the 'Once upon a time' actually has clear 'messages' from characters in the story like these:

"The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all."

"Every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling."

And the most telling statement of all from Pullman:

"My books are about killing God."

I don't know about you, but when I think "good children's stories," "killing God" ranks right up there with what I look for.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:54 PM   #2
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Golden Compass kills God.
Nicole Kidman kills Golden Compass.
Tom Cruise...


... I dunno.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:57 PM   #3
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I read the Golden Compass and thought it was cliche, goofy and poorly written. I didn't like any of the characters, nor the story. As far as it being a religious story, I think it was clear the author was anti-establishment, but I don't think that there was anything genuinely new to his stance, nor does the church have anything to fear from his books.
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:08 PM   #4
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Like most hot button issues, most of it boils down to fear of the unknown. In this case, yes, some Christian groups, particularly some Catholic groups (since it is seen as a thinly veiled attack on Catholicism particularly) have voiced outrage....

...Yet, at the same time, some Christians--including very prominent Catholic organizations--have voiced their approval.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/Movi....ap/index.html

Quote:
The Pullman series follows the release of the first movie based on Christian author C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia." Both feature epic battles, talking animals, polar bears and a wardrobe. But from there, the works diverge.

Catholic author Sandra Miesel is among those who call "His Dark Materials" the "anti-Narnia." Miesel co-authored a forthcoming book, "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy."

Among her complaints: Every clergy person is evil, and their daemons typically take the form of snakes or frogs. And standing in contrast to the Christian belief in heaven, Pullman's afterlife consists of bodies breaking into particles and being recycled into the material world.

But Miesel isn't a believer in protests.

"That only gives it more publicity," she said. "I merely suggest that if you look at what the material is about, you might find it advisable to stay home, go to another movie, or read a good book."

Other critiques have appeared on evangelical blogs and Web sites. Adam Holz of Focus on the Family, writing on the Christian ministry's Plugged In site, calls Pullman's books and the film a "deliberate attempt to foist his viciously anti-God beliefs upon his audience."

Most diabolical, Holz said in an interview, is that Pullman's audience is children, setting it apart from another book-to-movie some Christians view as heretical -- "The Da Vinci Code."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting gave the film, which is rated PG-13, a warm review. The film is not blatantly anti-Catholic but a "generalized rejection of authoritarianism," it said.

While noting the story's "spirit of rebellion and stark individualism," the office said Lyra and her allies' stand for free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium is "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching."


Sister Rose Paccate, director of the Pauline Center of Media Studies in Culver City, California, said the books portray benevolence toward children and a God figure -- just one that's much different than the one Christians know.

She sees irony in calls to shun the film, considering that one of Pullman's central themes is that people should not follow orders and forfeit critical thought.

"If you just say 'no' to your kids without engaging in a conversation, they're going to see the movie anyway and all you're teaching them is power, not really teaching your values," Paccate said. "If we have faith, what are we afraid of?"

Donna Freitas, a visiting assistant professor of religion at Boston University, goes a step further, calling the books a "theological masterpiece." Pullman's intent aside, she views the trilogy as a treatise on Christian belief.

To Freitas, the series' mysterious "Dust" -- portrayed in the books as connected to original sin -- represents the Holy Spirit. Pullman is not attacking religion but those who use power to corrupt, she said.

Freitas, who co-authored a book on Pullman and religion, says that "ultimately, the arch of the trilogy is about revealing God."
For all the furor regarding the Harry Potter series, the Vatican eventually voiced approval of it, as well. The days of inordinate book and movie banning seem to be as dead as the Latin Mass.
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by UberBeaver
I read the Golden Compass and thought it was cliche, goofy and poorly written. I didn't like any of the characters, nor the story. As far as it being a religious story, I think it was clear the author was anti-establishment, but I don't think that there was anything genuinely new to his stance, nor does the church have anything to fear from his books.
Did you read all three? The "killing God" theme and his whole theological approach don't really come into the picture until the third book. The first and second books to me were like reading strange fantasy, the third book made it CRYSTAL clear what he is all about, especially the anti-CS Lewis thing he has going on. I'm not an atheist, but I'm not a fan of CS Lewis, so I can appreciate what he's getting at.

I don't see what the religious right is all up in arms about. I don't think they are getting the concept that Pullman's "god" and their God is NOT the same thing, lol. The god in Pullman's trilogy is a liar, a trickster, and a con. If anything "killing god" is more like killing Satan/the devil. Pullman doesn't believe in God, so in his books, "God" is simply just another being that tricked everyone else into thinking he is God, in the more Christian sense of the word.

I can't believe how many people I hear ranting about this movie who will admit to me they've never read any of Pullman's books. If you don't want to see the movie, fine, but don't go spreading lies about it. The negative press is only going to help it at the box office anyway.
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
The days of inordinate book and movie banning seem to be as dead as the Latin Mass.
Which is a very good thing to hear.

Anywho, I've not even heard of these books, the author, or the upcoming movie until just now, but based on what's been stated here, I'll say what I always say when I hear of people getting all in a tizzy over a book's content: It's just a book. There's plenty of people that can point to the Bible as an offensive piece of literature that promotes some not-so-pleasant messages, too, but religious folks would be upset over an attempt to ban that book, so...

I rather like this response:

Quote:
Catholic author Sandra Miesel is among those who call "His Dark Materials" the "anti-Narnia." Miesel co-authored a forthcoming book, "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy."

Among her complaints: Every clergy person is evil, and their daemons typically take the form of snakes or frogs. And standing in contrast to the Christian belief in heaven, Pullman's afterlife consists of bodies breaking into particles and being recycled into the material world.

But Miesel isn't a believer in protests.

"That only gives it more publicity," she said. "I merely suggest that if you look at what the material is about, you might find it advisable to stay home, go to another movie, or read a good book."
Precisely. People are entitled to be offended at the content, and say so, but it's nice to see someone realizes things like protests and bans will not help their cause. Sister Rose Paccate had a good response as well. If you don't like it, don't read/watch/listen to it. Simple as that.

Angela
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:27 PM   #7
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What is funny to me about this whole thing is that Pullman has always been very open and forthright about his atheism and his disdain for CS Lewis' works, but now all the books' critics and people trying to stir controversy are latching on to the "anti-Narnia" label like they came up with it themselves and it will somehow offend Pullman.
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje

Pullman doesn't believe in God, so in his books, "God" is simply just another being that tricked everyone else into thinking he is God, in the more Christian sense of the word.


i know nothing about the book or the movie, and would probably only be interested in either its artistic merits or whatever controversy may or may not arise in its wake, but the above comment strikes me as extremely perceptive about the whole issue and, in my mind, thoroughly pulls the rug out from underneath anyone who's able to get worked out about such a thing.
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Old 12-04-2007, 04:57 AM   #9
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Re: The Golden Compass, and killing God

Quote:
Originally posted by MadelynIris


Think of it as the 'anti-Narnia' story if you will. At least I get that vibe from The Golden Compass author Philip Pullman when he states:

"I hate the Narnia books, and I hate them with a deep and bitter passion."

What do you think? Did you pick up any message from that subtle statement?

Which is incredibly ironic, since he borrows a significant amount of imagery and plot points from The Chronicles of Narnia for his books! Let's see, The Golden Compass introduces us to Lucy Lyra, who eventually hides in a wardrobe. There's an alternate world with witches and talking animals and final battles (oh my!). So in other words, he hates the Narnia series with a 'deep and bitter passion', but he was happy to borrow some of the critical elements that make it such a compelling series.

I read both series (actually I stopped with Narnia after book 3 because it just doesn't do much for me) and there are similarities because they both come from the same genre. I didn't see his books as "anti"Narnia, which I found was pounding a message far more.

As for the Church's approval of the movie, the movie will be a watered down version of the book especially in the handling of Church. I find it ludacris that Harry Potter got so much heat from the right wing/Church when these books are far more provocative.
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Old 12-04-2007, 01:07 PM   #10
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All I know is that Daniel Craig is in it, and Daniel Craig is hot, therefore I will go see the movie.



I'll leave now
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Old 12-04-2007, 06:20 PM   #11
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LOL. * kellyahern* Hey, whatever reason works for you, right?

Angela
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:09 PM   #12
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I'd like to see this movie, just for the hell of it, and judge it for myself. Some Catholic groups have put up a stink about it. But they were conservative Catholics and I'm a liberal. A liberal stuck here in the Red State From Hell, Alabama.
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Old 12-04-2007, 08:01 PM   #13
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I can't think of a single Catholic person I know who pays any attention to what movies are supposed to be boycotted and which ones aren't - not even my 70-year-old parents.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje

I can't believe how many people I hear ranting about this movie who will admit to me they've never read any of Pullman's books. If you don't want to see the movie, fine, but don't go spreading lies about it. The negative press is only going to help it at the box office anyway.
Exactly.

I'd love to read the books, especially so after hearing Pullman on the radio this weekend. He seems so intriguing and sincere, and he's also very concerned with global issues--the events and circumstances that bind us all together. Not exactly the kind of fellow bent on tearing society apart...exactly the opposite. He's an inquisitive questioner, and god knows, we need more of those.

Thanks to the interview and controversy, I'll probably watch the movie and read his entire collection!
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:54 AM   #15
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I haven't read the books, but the movie looks pretty cool.

I liked the Narnia books, I've read all of them several times...but I was young and I didn't really read any religious significance into them. Then again I also read Animal Farm when I was very young, and I thought it was about animals taking over a farm...who knew?
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