Golden Compass (Anti God flick released at Christmas, bad taste?)

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The Golden Compass

I got this in my email box this morning and so checked snopes.com for validity:

He's (Phillip Pullman) an atheist and his objective is to bash Christianity and promote atheism. I heard that he has made remarks that he wants to kill God in the minds of children, and that's what his books are all about. He despises C.S. Lewis and Narnia, etc. An article written about him said "this is the most dangerous author in Britain" and that Pullman would be the writer "the atheists would be praying for, if atheists prayed." Pullman said he doesn't think it is possible that there is a God and he has great difficulty
understanding the words "spiritual" and "spirituality." What I thought was important to communicate is what part of the agenda is for making this picture. This movie is a watered down version of the first book, which is the least offensive of the three books. The second book of the trilogy is THE SUBTLE KNIFE and the third book is THE AMBER SPYGLASS. Each book gets worse and worse regarding Pullman's hatred of God. In the trilogy, a young girl becomes enmeshed in an epic struggle against a nefarious Church known as the Magisterium. Another character, an ex-nun,describes Christianity as
"a very powerful and convincing mistake." As I understand it, in the last book, a boy and girl are depicted representing Adam and Eve and they kill God, who at times is called YAHWEH (which is definitely not Allah). Since the movie would seem mild if you viewed it, that's been done on purpose.

http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

I'm all for expression of individual opinion, but does this seem targeted and at least partially inappropriate to you?



Though it probably deserved its own thread all along, discussions of the "anti-Narnia" claim permeate the film's main thread:I'm actually just fixing to start the first book, though my girlfriend's a big fan and we've had several long discussions about it. From her descriptions (and those of others), it does seem clear that the books have an agenda, and that it is anti-religious.

So, naturally, I don't think too highly of its aims, nor of the fact that some people refuse to acknowledge them for what they are. However, the timing of the release doesn't bother me. For one, the first book in the series is not, from what I can tell, as nakedly ideological as the others. And for another, I think it's just a good time to release this sort of film. If this was particularly planned at all, I suspect the primary motive was financial, rather than ideological.



Standing in the Sunlight, Laughing
Get in line for spankins, the both of you. Tsk!!
Neither of you has read the books, and here you are holding forth on the Agenda behind them?

May I remind you that the Harry Potter movies were denounced as "Satanic" and "trying to get children into witchcraft" upon release of the first one?

I've read the His Dark Materials trilogy and I think it's actually pro-Christianity. It's anti-Church. I think we can all agree that there are many churches that have used the tenets of Christianity as a smoke screen to further their private agendas, no? That's what Pullman is against, but he's much, much more POSITIVE about things than he's given credit for.
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Get in line for spankins, the both of you. Tsk!!
Neither of you has read the books, and here you are holding forth on the Agenda behind them?
I'm not into spankings. Heathen.

I'm not making any final judgment on them, but Pullman himself has made his intentions clear; the quotes on Snopes are downright blatant, actually. Ironically, I had thought up until now that his agenda was a bit hazier, but apparently not.

Anyway, apart from the author's own admissions, the plot has been described in great detail to me; that's not an exaggeration, either. My lady friend and I talked about it for over an hour solid on one occasion, and nearly as long at other times. This does not make me an authority, but I'm not quite going off of a dust jacket, either.

Either way, this will be a moot point (hopefully) soon, as I've blocked out a a fair amount of reading time this weekend.

May I remind you that the Harry Potter movies were denounced as "Satanic" and "trying to get children into witchcraft" upon release of the first one?
Sure. But those people are crazy, Rowling denies it, and in that case the crazy people couldn't cite anything in the books to support the idea.

I've read the His Dark Materials trilogy and I think it's actually pro-Christianity. It's anti-Church. I think we can all agree that there are many churches that have used the tenets of Christianity as a smoke screen to further their private agendas, no? That's what Pullman is against, but he's much, much more POSITIVE about things than he's given credit for.
Pullman's own words on the matter suggest a problem with all theism, not just Christianity, and certainly not just with Churches. Nevertheless, the distinction between the religion and the church is not an especially comforting one, especially given the "every Church is the same" quote.

As for the books being about positive things; I have no trouble believing that. I don't think Pullman is a Satanist, immoral, or anything of the sort. And perhaps his message is just vague enough for some deniability when it comes to specifics. But the agenda is there; it's evident in the events of the third book, and Pullman is perfectly (and commendably) open about it.



And Toosie, just a question about your topic's title (at least the parenthetical part)...

Skipping the issue of what the movie/book's aims may or may not be, when you ask "Anti-God flick released at Christmas, bad taste?" is your implication that if you consult The Book of Matthew or an even higher authority like Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior that there is such a thing as a proper time on the calendar, according to those churchy folks who care about such things, to release an anti-God film? If The Golden Compass were being released in July or on Halloween night, would that be in better taste?


If you're trying to make a provocative topic title, at least apply a little logic.
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Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright
If these films are veiled attempts and an anti-religious message, so what?

Narnia is a thinly veiled pro religious movie, and there have been many other movies that aren't even veiled attempts.

As for the timing... again, so what? Not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas for its religious reasons (hell, not everyone even celebrates Christmas in the first place).
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Lost in never never land
Also, that e-mail implies that there is a lot of that anti-religion theming still in there, however, some of it has already been removed from the movie in order to not lose the religious audience. So I have a feeling many of the religiuos concerns about the film are going to end up being unfounded due to the change in the story.
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If you're trying to make a provocative topic title, at least apply a little logic.
Oooh a scathing riposte! I love it!

I'll admit to hastily cobbling together that post (as Yoda pointed out, I hadn't searched well enough when I started the thread for the one that was already established), however, yes, I did mean to imply that the timing of the release was perhaps a deliberate stab at the religious establishment in this country. Surely you wouldn't deny that there is an anti God trend in this country as evidenced in everything from the removal of biblical references in documents to the removal of prayer in schools (unless, you're not Christian, of course, then you may do what you wish).

I really don't care that this author feels like he has to rescue today's youth from the clutches of organized religion. He's entitled to that opinion as surely as I'm entitled to mine. In the context of the 'Holiday Season' though, I do feel like releasing a film that's anti God (not my words) is disrespectful to those whose beliefs lie in that vein.

And Sammy, I wasn't condemning the man for his work or his beliefs. I was only questioning the sanity of releasing an anti God film in the season where most people of faith rally around their beliefs. As to where I got my ideas vis a vie the author's beliefs, I only looked at the direct quotes attributed to the man.



Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright
Surely you wouldn't deny that there is an anti God trend in this country as evidenced in everything from the removal of biblical references in documents to the removal of prayer in schools (unless, you're not Christian, of course, then you may do what you wish).
One might take the idea that the little thing called "separation of church and state" which is supposedly part of the foundation of the U.S. (and something that I personally believe has been ignored too much), is actually attempting to be applied...

...and yes, I know the response of "but its in more than just the government that the [supposed] anti religion removal of biblical references takes place"... I just felt the need to insert that little bit of reality in an issue a lot of people have with the removal of religious references from things in the U.S.



One might take the idea that the little thing called "separation of church and state" which is supposedly part of the foundation of the U.S. (and something that I personally believe has been ignored too much), is actually attempting to be applied...

...and yes, I know the response of "but its in more than just the government that the [supposed] anti religion removal of biblical references takes place"... I just felt the need to insert that little bit of reality in an issue a lot of people have with the removal of religious references from things in the U.S.
Fair enough, but you've got it backwards. the Constitution says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The meaning is that the state can't govern the church's business, it doesn't mean that the government can't cite religion in matters of law.

I just felt the need to insert that little bit of reality...
After reading Minsky I wonder more and more if reality is in fact purely subjective



Originally Posted by Sir Toose
Yes, I did mean to imply that the timing of the release was perhaps a deliberate stab at the religious establishment in this country. Surely you wouldn't deny that there is an anti-God trend in this country as evidenced in everything from the removal of biblical references in documents to the removal of prayer in schools.
Well personally I wouldn't classify prayer in schools and mangers in courthouses as "pro-God" to begin with. But without getting into a semantic argument or how to define the separation of Church and State in this country, and not even factoring in whatever Pullman wants or believes, NO, I do NOT think New Line Cinema either in their executive offices or the marketing departments give a tinker's damn about a supposedly anti-Christian film being released around Christmas.

The Golden Compass is a big budget ($150-million) fantasy film adapted from a best selling young adult novel with a large following and an Oscar-winning internationally famous movie star (Nicole Kidman) in one of the key roles. I'm sure New Line is hoping to make Lord of the Rings type money on the potential trilogy, but they will certainly settle for the Narnia gate. These big, effects-laden movies geared primarily towards children, like the Harry Potter franchise, are released in exactly two times of year. It's either in the height of summer, or during the holidays at the end of the year (meaning either the weeks around Thanksgiving or the weeks around Christmas). Both times of year draw in lots of filmgoing families, obviously as both periods have days if not weeks off from school.

The Golden Compass wasn't going to be ready for summer 2007, but even if they had rushed to get it there they'd be competing against other big budget fantasies in the latest Potter and Gaiman's Stardust, plus other family fare like Ratatouille and Surf's Up as well as the big draws for the teen market like Spider-Man 3, The Simpsons Movie, The Fantastic 4 sequel and The Transformers. Or they could hold it for a 2007 holiday release where the only other kiddie fantasy flick is The Water Horse and the big animated (or partially animated) flicks are Bee Movie and Alvin & the Chipmunks. Otherwise they have to wait until summer of 2008.



But I'm sure that when they were looking at the calendar trying to find the best fit for their huge investment they were really thinking, 'Yeah, let's release this at the beginning of December (Pearl Harbor Day, actually) so we can cheese off the Christian conspiracy theorists and reactionaries!' Then they burned a few Bibles, sacrificed a baby goat to Belzibub and cackled like witches, just as the evil Phil Pullman had required them to do when he sold the rights to his super successful series of books.


So, like, are you nuts? Do you really think the December 7th release date is trying to further goad or disrespect Christians in some way?



So, like, are you nuts? Do you really think the December 7th release date is trying to further goad or disrespect Christians in some way?
Yeah, yeah, you're right about that, I'm sure I read too much into the timing of the release date. It still doesn't negate the fact that I find the timing to be in poor taste, which is the point that I was originally making.

And yes, I'm certifiable.



I think it's a grand idea. Of course, if I had my druthers, they'd re-release Triumph of the Will in theaters just in time for the "Day of Remembrance," so maybe I'm not the best person to ask...



You ready? You look ready
In the context of the 'Holiday Season' though, I do feel like releasing a film that's anti God (not my words) is disrespectful to those whose beliefs lie in that vein.
If we were to follow that line of thinking, nothing would get released.

What'd do I say on the matter to someone who might be offended? Pssh, get off your horse.
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Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright
Fair enough, but you've got it backwards. the Constitution says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The meaning is that the state can't govern the church's business, it doesn't mean that the government can't cite religion in matters of law.


After reading Minsky I wonder more and more if reality is in fact purely subjective

I wanted to make sure about this before I went on with my comment.. so I did a little searching and found this on the following site: http://www.religioustolerance.org/scs_intr.htm

The first phrasein the First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." is called the establishment clause.
The courts have the responsibility to interpret the U.S. Constitution in specific instances. In their ruling in 1947 of Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Tp", the U.S. Supreme Court ruled:
"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State'."

I just wanted to clarify that, from what I understand about the separation clause, and its meaning, is that not only does it mean, as you said -
that the state can't govern the church's business. It also means that by its action or inaction, it shouldn't favor one religion over any other, or even over those people that have no set religion. This would contradict the second part of your statement - it doesn't mean that the government can't cite religion in matters of law.

There is an example used all the time that clearly break this separation; the "In God We Trust" on the currency. It is just accepted on there, but seems to me that any mention of God on something that is produced by the government is not right.

Then there is the "under God" phrase that was added to the pledge in 1954, and only recently struck down. I even remember growing up, there being one kid who wouldn't stand up and say the pledge every morning. He got a lot of crap from other kids, but it was fully in his right not to be required to say it. I only wish, looking back, that I had been smart enough to, at least once, join him in not saying the pledge, as a sign of the hypocrisy of that phrase having been put in there.

I understand there has been, and always will be a fine line between religion and government, as government officials are more often than not a part of an organized religion, but for as long as I have really thought about it, I have had an issue with how easily religious "stuff" gets intertwined with the workings of the government.

As a side note that is related, I think it should be law that a president cannot put his hand on a bible, or any other religious document when s/he swears the oath... it should be a copy of the Constitution...

whew... anyone still reading?



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
First off, if it's released on 12/7, it must be pro-Japanese destruction of Pearl Harbor.

Secondly, I'm a teacher at a high school, and I will tell you that even if you believe Eisenhower's "under God" was struck down, that "opinion" only lasted a few days. Even so, my students don't say the pledge, and a few of 'em don't get up until I say. "...and for which it STANDS..."

Thirdly, what does December have to do with "Christianity"? Nothing. JC wasn't born in Dec. But, as Holden alluded to, every studio wants your hard-earned money in Dec. Sure, it may be cynical, but it's not "anti-religious", unless you only believe in some religion you are force-fed.

Fourthly, I mostly don't believe in "religion". I do believe that if you are lucky/"unlucky" enough to be called, you should react to that calling and do something positive for this world. Many "uncalled" are making the world a better place.

Fifthly, mark, shut your boring mouth!
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Standing in the Sunlight, Laughing
...And Sammy, I wasn't condemning the man for his work or his beliefs. I was only questioning the sanity of releasing an anti God film in the season where most people of faith rally around their beliefs. As to where I got my ideas vis a vie the author's beliefs, I only looked at the direct quotes attributed to the man.
Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that reads "Dear God, please save me from your followers"?

It's actually impossible to say much about all this without spoiling some really good stuff, so I'm just going to say: don't be sold a bill of goods. The person quoted in your OP was acting out of fear - silly fear, at that.


Originally Posted by OP
...who at times is called YAHWEH (which is definitely not Allah)
Actually, why would you take anyone seriously who makes a statement like that?