GoldenCompass071105.jpgWhile I am glad that my fellow blogger Kris Rasmussen has offered additional commentary (and commentators) on Philip Pullman, “The Golden Compass,” and the question of God and atheism in the book/movie, I’d like to respond to her implication that (a) I am somehow offering an extreme position about Pullman (her post title is “A More Moderate Point of View”), and (b) that I think all Christian critics of Pullman are extremists.
My position about Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is moderate. I am basically advocating that people:
(a) read the books cover to cover;
(b) not boycott movies because they might lead to kids reading wonderful literature; and
(c) not ban these books from school classrooms and libraries out of fear.
How is that not moderate? Because I say these things passionately?

I also believe–obviously, since I have expressed this repeatedly–that Pullman’s trilogy is filled with inspiring Christian theology. The fact that I am expressing this opinion in response to what I believe are extreme positions coming from groups like the Catholic League and Crunchy Con blogger Rod Dreher (who makes sweeping generalizations about liberals) does not mean that my opinion is extreme in and of itself.
I am also aware of wonderful dialogue out there from Christians about Philip Pullman, including Tony Watson’s “Dark Matter: Shedding Light on Philip Pullman’s Trilogy, His Dark Materials”, a book I very much enjoyed.
But what I’d like to see are more Christians expressing opinions in support of Pullman’s trilogy, in support of the right for children to read this beguiling work of fantasy, and in support of the lively dialogue about Christian theology we might have if people weren’t going on about boycotting movies and keeping kids from reading.
On a related note, Mark Moring, movie editor at Christianity Today, poses an interesting question about how Christians are handling (or not) the movie release of The Golden Compass:

When [Dan] Brown’s [“The Da Vinci Code“] was turned into a movie just last year, many Christians embraced it as a means of “engaging” popular culture and as an evangelistic “tool.” One even called it Brown’s “gift to the church.” I don’t know about a “gift,” but I certainly concurred that the film–and the books–opened the door for conversations with the culture at large. (I don’t like to think of movies as “tools.”) I’m not sure what happened in the last 18 months, but I just find it interesting that–based on this early buzz about The Golden Compass–the pendulum seems to have swung the other way. The Christian subculture seems to have gone from wanting to “engage” one movie with a message they absolutely deny, to wanting to decry another movie with a message they absolutely deny. I’m not sure what’s going on with that; I might be a while trying to figure that one out.

Let’s talk about this. What’s so different about Philip Pullman? Why the impulse to reject rather than engage?

For Idol Chatter’s complete “Golden Compass” coverage, click here.

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