Friday, December 07, 2007

Golden Compass or Golden Counterfeit

It's pretty likely that you've heard the buzz about the latest fantasy film, The Golden Compass. Never satisfied with hearsay, I wanted to look into it a bit. I watched several clips and trailers online and watched a movie review segment (on mainstream media mind you) that discussed the underlying "anti-Christianity" message. The author is a blatant atheist and the story refers to "the church" as evil and out to punish you at every turn. He's even been quoted saying that he is, "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief" and that his books are about "killing God." (In the last book of this series, a character named "Yahweh" is also referred to as "The Father of Lies" – and the media says that this is all "subtle"?). In this story in particular though, each character has a soul as you and I, except their souls live in animals that walk beside them. They're kind of altar-ego spirits that walk and talk and take on the mood of their human. In a blatant, and downright scary, definition, the animals are called "daemons". (sigh)

Unlike what some of you may be thinking, this blog is not to defame or slam this movie. Regular readers know that I'm not into pushing boycotts around here anyway. God's Word will stand in the end and those not looking to Him will be led astray - it's that simple. Of course I'd willingly and openly steer anyone away from this film, should I be asked about it, but my agenda is to point what to go to, not necessarily run away from.

Let me ask a probing question, what alternative does Christianity offer? To clarify, I'm not referring to Bibleman or Chronicles of Narnia either (the latter being fantastic nonetheless). I mean what in the world is supposed to appeal to children? Most self-professed Christians deny anything supernatural and write it all off as new age or false prophecy. If you claim to believe that signs and wonders are real today, you're likely going to be labeled as some charismatic lunatic.

So, to those that want us all to boycott stuff like this, I ask you, "What is it that you have to offer other than abstinence of all that attempts to satisfy our God-given urges to seek out the supernatural?" Who will look into a child's eyes and say, "You can raise the dead! You can see angels! You can call down Heaven onto this earth! You can walk and talk in a spirit realm primarily unseen by your physical eyes"? Bibleman dolls and VeggieTales won't do it. The Audio Bible for Kids isn’t enough. 300 more cheesy Christian t-shirts will NOT fill this void.

What they need is what we need… Jesus. Look in Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18 – Jesus not only welcomed the children, He "blessed them and laid His hands upon them". Incredible. Can you imagine what Jesus might have prayed? I think we'd be sadly mistaken to assume that He just recited some candy-coated prayer and patted them on the head. I'd like to believe that he exhorted them, prophesied life and proclaimed Kingdom purposes. He said, "Don't hinder them from coming to Me". I feel that, in some ways, we've done just that. We want to pop in a video and subdue their creativity and vigor instead of telling them that "the Kingdom of God belongs to them"! (Matt. 19:14)

Let's be careful not to simply tell the children (and everyone else) what they cannot do, but what they can! They too can do all things through Christ strengthening them. Perhaps even more so because they're not bound by our "adult logic" that often lacks in great faith that can envision almost anything, no matter how outlandish it may seem in the natural. To sum up, I say let's leave behind the Christian versions of worldly things and show them a real Jesus. Let's live a Christianity that embraces the spiritual realm and all of the mysteries of God. If they knew the reality of the true Word of God, they'd need no other substitute! The world can have their Golden Compasses, I choose to look to an eternal Kingdom not made with human hands. No imitation or counterfeit can compare to all that is available to us in Christ Jesus.


Kristin said...

I so agree!! We should allow kids to use their imaginations for spiritual things. How sad to rob them of this joy.

Anonymous said...

I've read a lot about all of the controversy surrounding this movie. I still want to see it and really understand what angle Philip Pullman was coming from in his novels. My mom however is one of those who think if you read harry potter or go see the golden compass, then satan will corrupt you. I still want to formulate my own opinion on how damaging this movie can supposedly be. Also, I'm going to college for film sound, and minoring in visual effects, so my interest is piqued there too. What do you think?

Joel Spencer said...

As with anything, if you're rooted in the reality of God and His Word, I don't think you're as vulnerable to being "corrupted" you know. I'm personally not interested in taking part of/supporting anything that's deliberately attempting to destroy what I believe and live for.

I surely understand your interest from a visual/sound standpoint though, as I'm sure it's fascinating. I'd challenge you though to go out on a limb and believe that God Himself could bestow to you abilities like the world has never seen or heard, without the aid of any outside source.

Ferrari said...

I have also heard, that true fans of the book are disappointed because the message was made more subtle rather than blunt as in the books. Because of all the hoopla i have heard i would like to see the movie just so i can speak with knowledge on it. So when someone in my church brings it up i can say "yes that is true" or "No, they hardly mention it at all" I am not so sure about reading the books, but some friends of mine are interested in seeing it this weekend and i might try to go see it.

rave.n said...


I like that this post wasn't about bashing the movie. The way you described it was very factual.

It just happens that those facts reveal that the author of the original tale was feverently anti-God

I also love that you pointed that supernatural power and presence are God's realm -- and ours to as followers of Christ.

It's nice to see that The Chronicle of Narnia hit the screen first. Was masterfully completed and mesmerizing to all audiences.

The Christian community cheered at that feat. Now a comparable film is in theatres with a very different viewpoint.

Isn't this how life is. We're all given choice on what to mediate on and what to fill our hearts and minds with. What can be made to glorify God and by God is beautiful. But what can be made to take his place can appear just as interesting and enticing.

Our battlefield isn't on the screen. It's not about a show. It's about true transformation and power.

That's what you said about identifying and unlocking true spiritual imagination. The world is becoming well-trained in exercising it's soul. We have to become strong in operating in the spirit.

And that only comes with practice and training. That means opening our eyes to the power of our Savior - not just closing our eyes to things of the world.

Joel Spencer said...

Re: Ferrari

If you do go see it, I'd love for you to return and share your thoughts.

Joel Spencer said...

re: rave.n

Well said. I liked how you stated that "the world is becoming well-trained in exercising it's soul". That's a good point. It does seem that worldy things are subtly targeted to affect us much deeper.

Thanks for sharing.

Monika said...

"there's wisdom in them thar words!"
(much more precious than gold!)
good blog.

J-Rock. said...

I do like that you're not on of the people who are just out to bash the movie itself.

And I like that fact that you take your blog in a different direction and have people to remember the magic and mysticism of God himself.

Personally, I thought it was ridiculous how far people have gone to target this movie hatefully. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a religious or spiritual person myself, but I dislike it when someone goes out of their way to attack a religion. I usually play, well, I suppose it would be "God's Advocate" in debates with those people as I believe that religion is very healthy and good thing to have in your life.

On the other hand, though, people just want to see that one message behind the stories that honestly, I didn't even recognize when I read the books. I was too busy enjoying the story that thoughts of the Catholic Church (the one Pullman was specifically attacking) never came up in my mind at all. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale and the way it unfolded. It truly is on the same scale as the Chronicles of Narnia in my book. Another one that, if no one had ever told me, I would never have known was filled with religious overtones.

To me, people are taking too much offense at the author's personal views and can't sit back and enjoy a good story. If you feel that you can't see this movie (even though the religious overtones are watered down to the point of non-existence in the film) because the author of the book isn't a fan of Christianity, then fine. That's your perogative, but I'm not missing out on seeing the story that I read and love on the big screen because of a subtle gibe at the church.

Just like if I was anti-religion I would of still gone and seen The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when it came to the silver screen because it was an excellent story.

That's my 3 cents. Kudos for your insight, Joel.

Joel Spencer said...

Re: j-rock

Thanks for sharing your viewpoint. When you take a step back and look at how riled up "Christians" get when they want to boycott something, it really becomes apparent how lazy and quiet "we" are the other 99 percent of the time.

Regarding the story, creativity surely flows from God as He was the ultimate Creator. In His image, we too can "create" out of this boundless wealth of imagination.

Thanks for stopping by.