This is an article my brother wrote on the debate that I found quite amusing and fair:
The Golden Compass (aka, Retreading the Plot of EVERY JRPG EVER)
Well, kiddos. It’s that time again; time for the Christians and Atheists to lock horns and battle like squalling infants fighting over a bucket in a sandbox. What’s it over this time? Evolution in schools? Gay Marriage? Nope! Something much more interesting; a movie!
Now, you know me; I’m not a huge fan of completely retarded causes, and this strikes me as one. After all, it’s not like there’s world hunger, AIDS outbreaks, wars, and other fun stuff like that to worry about. We’d rather invest our time complaining about the adventures of a 12-year old girl who doesn’t exist and her friend, a freakin’ armor-clad polar bear.
But, I digress.
The thing I find most interesting about the debate around the movie The Golden Compass is that it’s being attacked by Atheists and Christians, both sides of which see the other side winning. The Atheists see the movies as removing all the wonderful messages that the books teach (such as how Christians are big bullies who just want to control you), and the Christians are complaining about why something so freakin’ sweet (I say again, armor-clad polar bear) has to be wrapped in a message that more or less ditches the concept of personal responsibility in favor of, well, ‘do whatever you want’ freedom. The two don’t go hand-in-hand, really. Oh, and it's aimed at kids, who are too dumb to make good decisions. No, really, they are.
Actually, I should amend; the movie itself (apparently) is fairly innocuous. Hollywood has stripped out a lot of the religion in favor of making it appeal to a wider audience. The thing the Christians are worried about is that the movie will sell the books, whose pages have been written with the blood of Satan himself and will immediately strip the souls from anyone who casts their eyes upon them. Well, alright. Maybe that’s a bit of an overdramatic statement, but it is the basic idea.
So, what do I think? You don’t really care, but I’ll tell you anyways!
As a Sane Christian, I feel two things:
Thing of the First is disappointment. Why? Again, I will point you to the polar bears covered in armor. I was looking forward to this film. A lot. It disappoints me that the movie has to have undertones aimed at little kids, who are already about as dumb as a box of hammers. Now, if this movie had a ‘God’s a Dick’ message and was aimed at adults, there wouldn’t be a problem. Why? Because adults generally don’t believe every single thing they hear. I’m happy to hear that the movies have toned-down the anitreligion, but at the same time, the end of the third book includes the main characters killing an opponent named God. [My amendment: in the book, the character is actually named Authority but is supposed to represent God. I assume they'll call the character the Authority in the movies too] No joke. How are you gonna tone that down? And thus, I am disappointed. As a Christian, it would be irresponsible for me to support a movie that openly attacks my faith without any sort of hope for debate over the points raised.
The second thing I feel is exasperation. I’m so tired of Christian and Anti-Christian groups getting up in arms over everything. Harry Potter, How the Freakin' World was Created, Satanic Symbols on Toothpaste Tubes (Not joking; that was an issue in the 80s). As someone who doesn’t take the world all that seriously, I look at what they say about each other and cringe; seriously, guys. Why are you getting mad?
Christians! You’re not supposed to get mad! You’re supposed to be loving and kind and exemplary so that people look at you and go, “hey, Christians are good people!” rather than, “Wow, that guy is a ranting, raving bucket of moron!”
Atheists! Why are you getting made at people for believing in something? Sure, you might regard it as ignorant, but I’m sure you still tell your kids that Santa is real when they’re young. (For the record, my parents never did that… ironic!) Really, guys, you getting so mad at the concept of God and Christians is like me being incredibly angry with the Trix Bunny and the people who enjoy Trix cereal. I won’t get into the explanation, but I’m right, so don’t worry.
On top of all of this, I’m forced to step back and study my own writing and methods of storytelling when I think about religion in books. Someone mentioned the Chronicles of Narnia ‘poisoning’ kids to the Christian values of honor and bravery and fighting evil ice-witches, and that got me to wondering. Sure, Narnia has a ton of that stuff. Azlan is a Christ character and gets resurrected after being sacrificed for people who have done wrong. You can’t possibly say that’s not a Christian influence unless your head is placed firmly up your trousers. But, Narnia—in all its Christian influence—is still a story about something else. Golden Compass, on the other hand, (and I must say I have yet to read it, so I am working off both sides of the rumor mill here) is a book that directly tells kids that God is a bossy, pushy, jerk and that killing him is probably best for everyone so we can all do whatever we want. And that’s just it; one is a fantasy story with undertones, another is a fantasy story with an agenda.
So what of the Crossverse? My own stories are incredibly influenced by my faith. The Crossverse itself is based around Christian ideas (such as there being a heaven and a hell), and the continuing bridge between all the novels—Martin—is the avatar of God. For all intents and purposes, he’s God’s voice on the Material Plane (Though, he flat out says that unlike God, he’s fallible since he was once human). I feel—I hope—that the difference between my story and one that pushes an agenda is that I’m trying to say, “Look, this is what I believe, and since I created the story’s universe, this is how it will run. If you don’t believe that what I’m saying is the truth, just brand it as another fantasy element in a fantasy setting.” Hell, one of the biggest ongoing debates in Transgalacticon is a conversation between members of different species over the existence of God, and I plan on never really ending it on a definitive point, despite that my own opinion is “OF COURSE HE EXISTS, YOU SLACK-JAWED WORSHIPERS OF RANDOM CHANCE!”.
Why? Because let’s face it; it doesn’t matter how much fussing and screaming you do, because we’re incapable of changing other people’s minds. Really, the only way people change is through their own choice, and the important thing is the debate, making sure to stand by your morals and ideas why actually trying to listen to the opposition. Of course, as a Christian, I’d love for everyone to be Christian. I think that would be pretty cool and solve a lot of problems. At the same time, this can’t happen, or at least, this won’t happen. And why? Because we live in a broken world. Even Atheists have to admit that; the presence of war, strife, hunger, and a Bratz Movie clearly indicates that there are things in this world that just keep it from being fixed. Mostly, those things are people and the things people create.
Which brings me back to where I started; a movie like Golden Compass just ruins things for everyone. How can Christian parents take their kids to a movie that bashes the very ideas that they want their children to accept? How can artists like myself support an industry that favors box-office gross over the original artist’s message, ultimately regardless of what it is? Why can’t we get a movie with armor-clad polar bears that doesn’t have some sort of agenda?
It’s sad, good readers, that we have to see things in these ways. Christians, don’t go see Golden Compass, or at least get more educated about it before you do. I’m not saying never see it; after all, doing what I just did and forming an opinion over a work that you’ve never experienced is generally moronic (though I’m still never gonna play Manhunt 2). Just don’t take your kids without knowing what they’re getting into. Don’t buy the books, and don’t give support to someone who has openly said that our kind is poisonous. Seriously. At the same time, when people talk about this movie; don’t get mad, and don’t rant. Just sit down and use it as an opportunity to prove our kind is a group of good, level-headed people who have a love for ALL mankind at the heart of their philosophy. Remember; mankind is fully of completely stupid people, so they just need more love. Follow what you teach; be nice, be loving, and if people insist of not seeing things they way you do, leave them to their fates. All we can do is talk.
And you, Atheists. I’m sorry your agenda got sliced off of your movie, but you should be ashamed of yourself. If anyone from my team went over to your house and started telling your kids how terrible everything you tell them is, I think you’d be pretty upset. What? We do do that? Oh, uhm… well, I’m terribly sorry about that, and I’ll go have a talk with the Christians later about their overly-aggressive conversion tactics. But you’re making me lose my point! Atheists! So what if your movie is toned down? If it were too antichristian, it would tank so bad that the sequels would never be made. You should be happy! After all, at least we all get to see armored polar bears now. Besides, it’s not like any of this ultimately matters. If you believe there’s no heaven or hell, it really doesn’t make a difference if we do, right? I mean, we’re all just gonna end up dead and decaying in the ground. Now THAT cheery sentiment is what I wanna base my life around! Who’s with me?
Oh, and what will I do with this movie, you’re wondering?
Well, I’ll probably download the books and the movie, thus educating myself while sticking it to the proverbial man. I’m just cool like that. Like an armored polar bear.
Some further insight on the debate and my own thoughts:
Here's the link to what the author has to say about the Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) debate: http://www.bridgetothestars.net/index.php?p=FAQ#12
Read "Is the Authority supposed to be God?", "What does he believe?", and "Why did he portray religion as evil?"
It seems that although the author hasn't abandoned the idea that there is a good God out there (though he seems to be highly against the possibility) his books represent the "bad God" that he thinks humans have created to oppress the world. I agree that many Christians have done a lot of unChristian things in the name of religion but those people (who do not even deserve to call themselves Christians) are not representative of God himself and it is just plain dumb for nonChristians to think so.
I'm not going to go see the movie in theaters. I'll probably watch it later for free but I'm not going to spend money on something that disses what's most important to me. If someone was insulting what you believed, it wouldn't be unreasonable for you to not want to support it either.
In regards to living day-to-day lives as Christians, many Christians are not helping their cause by acting like jerks to anyone who isn't Christian and if there hadn't been so many "Christians" in the world who did stupid evil things in the name of God, there wouldn't be this whole debate to begin with. So they should instead take this movie as motivation to be kind to people and show that true Christians are good people BECAUSE of a good and just God and chalk this movie up as a lesson learned (but not something they should just sit back and say is ok).
Ok VAA! After making you read 2 bajillion characters worth of text, what are your opinions?