“How should Christians react to ‘The Golden Compass’ movie?”

December 8, 2007

From gotquestions.org.

“How should Christians react to “The Golden Compass,” the new movie based on a book by Phillip Pullman? Questions are being raised about the content of the film, given the anti-religious slant of the books and their author. The book series “His Dark Materials” on which “The Golden Compass” is based is aggressively anti-Christian. There are ample reasons for Christians to avoid supporting this series through movie tickets or book sales. It would be counterproductive to stage protests, overt boycotts, or other measures, since that would only give free publicity to the studio selling the film. At the same time, “The Golden Compass” has to be taken seriously by Christian families because the source material is explicitly anti-Christian, and targeted at children. Christian parents and children alike should be prepared to answer some of the false claims made by this series.

The Golden Compass is the first book in a trilogy called “His Dark Materials.” The author, Philip Pullman, is a vocal atheist who is particularly critical of Catholicism. In the trilogy, the church is evil, controlling, ignorant, intolerant of dissent, and sadistic. Pullman does not disguise the church as some other entity, but attacks it more or less directly. The books use terms like “original sin,” “baptized as a Christian,” “Vatican Council,” and “magisterium.” “The Golden Compass” is, compared to its sequels, subtle in its attacks on Christianity. The second and third books become more and more “preachy,” and more overtly hostile to Christianity. The movie can be expected to follow the same pattern: the anti-religious rhetoric in “The Golden Compass” will likely be subtle, or even downplayed. Successive movies will not be able to do the same thing without completely changing the story.

Pullman leaves no doubt about his beliefs and his intentions. He has been referred to as “The Pied Piper of Atheism” for his powerful ability to tell children’s stories and his distaste for religion. Are the books deliberately atheistic? Pullman has stated, “My books are about killing God,” Are they anti-Christian? Again, Pullman has said, “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,” and “If there is a God, and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against.” During the book trilogy, a major character intones, “The Christian religion is a powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” It would be dishonest for anyone to claim that this trilogy, which “The Golden Compass” is a part of, is not deliberately anti-Christian.

The messages conveyed in the series are not compatible with a Christian outlook, either. The main character is named Lyra, because she is a habitual liar. Her lies are intended for purely selfish reasons, and there is never a point in the trilogy where she learns that such things are wrong. Part of her journey in the series includes having a sexual experience as very young teen, which the author portrays as a part of her outgrowing religious control. She represents a “second Eve,” whose rebellion against God is meant to be applauded as a quest for knowledge.

The Golden Compass, along with any other works connected to the “His Dark Material’s” trilogy, are certainly anti-Christian both in content and intent. The advertising of this movie has been very misleading about the religious message it conveys. The trilogy, both books and presumably the movies, introduce atheistic themes gradually, luring children into the story as a way to slip the message in. Advertisements are comparing “The Golden Compass” to “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Pullman’s work is, morally, the polar opposite of Tolkien and Lewis. Scholastic has even created a school curriculum set, including all three books, as a part of public school reading programs.

Works such as these need to be countered, but only in a Christ-like way. At their core, the “His Dark Materials” stories are a fantasy setting for the atheistic worldview, where death is the end of everything, all morals are subjective, and any idea of God is a tool for evil. Christians should not respond in ways that play into Pullman’s stereotypes of believers as ignorant, oppressive, and bigoted. A loving, polite response combined with truthful answers can turn the release of “The Golden Compass” into a great opportunity to witness for Christ’s sake.”

The Golden Compass: Pointing in the Wrong Direction

December 7, 2007

From Steve Cable and Probe Ministries.

“The Golden Compass is the opening gambit in Phillip Pullman’s all out-attack on the religious faith of his readers. The film version is scheduled for wide release in theaters on December 7th following a massive marketing campaign. The movie may be more subtle than the book, but it is still opening the door to the full anti-God message of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Since the intended audience for these books is children and young adults, Christian parents need to be prepared to respond to the advertising hype and peer group pressure associated with the upcoming movie release. You want to be able to explain why a PG-13 movie is not appropriate for adolescents.

Just in case you don’t have time to read this entire article, I am going to summarize my recommendations:

1. Don’t be put on the defensive. Pullman is not the first to try to glamorize atheism and, although his fantasy is intriguing and well written, it does not introduce any new arguments into the discussion. If a friend has read it, consider this a great opportunity to make a defense for the hope that is within you. Since his books are allegorical fantasy, you don’t need to rebut the books. Simply explain why you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

2. Don’t reward evangelistic atheists financially for their efforts. Unless you need to answer specific questions for someone who needs help dealing with The Golden Compass, you don’t need to read the books or see the movie. Let’s send the message that freedom of expression is accompanied by the freedom to choose not to pay to read or see it. If you do need to read it, check it out of the library or purchase a used copy.

3. Don’t allow your children to enter this world without a chaperone (i.e. you as their parent). It is not only anti-Christian; it is also contains elements which should be deeply disturbing to children (e.g. a father murdering his daughter’s best friend; a prison camp for torturing children). Even though I think their time would be better spent reading other things, some parents may want to go over Pullman’s key themes with their older children to prepare them for their classmates who have seen the movie or read the book If you have older teenagers, you could check these books out of the library and use them to dissect Pullman’s worldview, helping them understand that it does nothing to undermine the historic truths of Christianity.

The Message of His Dark Materials

I have read the complete trilogy, His Dark Materials, of which The Golden Compass is the first volume. In my opinion, this trilogy is both well written and well crafted. Well-written in that the primary characters have some depth and I found myself caring about them. Well-crafted in that the fantasy world (actually an infinite number of parallel worlds) and plot are reasonably self-consistent and continue to be fleshed out as the trilogy unfolds. However, even if this were simply a classic allegory of good vs. evil, some of the events and imagery are too dark for anyone younger than late teens. So the problem is not that it is poorly written pulp, but that it is well written with a clear intention on the part of the author to promote a worldview that considers Christianity a bane rather than a benefit.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and His Dark Materials are both allegorical fantasy series written by British authors. However, while The Chronicles of Narnia overtly promotes the message of Christianity, His Dark Materials, promotes the message that the God of Christianity is a fraud and the organized church is an evil blight preventing mankind from reaching our fullest potential. This contrast is no accident considering Pullman’s criticism of The Chronicles of Narnia and of monotheism:

“Morally loathsome,” he called it. “One of the most ugly and poisonous things I’ve ever read.” He described his own series as Narnia’s moral opposite. “That’s the Christian one,” he told me. “And mine is the non-Christian.”

“Every single religion that has a monotheistic god ends up by persecuting other people and killing them because they don’t accept him,” he once said.{1}

Pullman sets out to counter the impact of C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein by creating his own fantasy world in which God is ultimately unmasked as a fraud. The trilogy includes an alternate garden of Eden story, ushering in the Republic of Heaven where people are free to reach their full potential without the oppressive effects of God or organized religion. With over 15 million copies of his books in print, Pullman has had some success with his objective to influence others with his atheist worldview. His Dark Materials has been the recipient of numerous literary awards, most of them for children’s literature.{2} (This categorization of his work is unfortunate since his books are definitely not suitable for children.) However, prior to the movie release, he had not achieved the notoriety he had hoped for:

Four years ago…Pullman wondered why his books hadn’t attracted as much controversy as the Harry Potter series…(since) he was “saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”{3}

One interesting feature of the trilogy is the progressive unmasking of Pullman’s worldview. After reading The Golden Compass, one may be equally disturbed with the actions of those representing “the Church” and those rebelling against it. The intended meaning of the allegorical elements is still fuzzy. However, by the time the reader reaches the climax of the trilogy where the “Ancient of Days” and his minions are defeated in their battle with the “fallen angels,” Pullman’s objective becomes abundantly clear. He invites the readers to embrace his vision of a Republic of Heaven; a Republic where individual self-awareness and self-fulfillment replace the need for truth and a relationship with our creator.

How Does the Movie Compare to the Books?

Of course, we have not seen the movie yet. However, anyone who has ever gone to see a movie version of one of their favorite books knows that Hollywood does not feel bound to stick to the original plot, much less the message. As the release date for the movie nears, many reports are surfacing that New Line Cinema has chosen to obscure the anti-religion message of the books.

“In the end, the religious meaning of the book was obscured so thoroughly as to be essentially indecipherable… The movie’s main theme became, in one producer’s summary, “One small child can save the world.” With $180 million at stake, the studio opted to kidnap the book’s body and leave behind its soul. “{4}

Even if this is true, I recommend that Christians avoid this movie for several reasons:

1. An adolescent who enjoys the movie may well be interested in reading the books where the message is very clear and compelling.

2. If this movie is a success, the studio will begin production on the next book in the trilogy. It will be much harder to obscure the anti-God message of the second and third volumes of the trilogy. In fact Pullman is attempting to reign in his vitriol against Christians because he wants to make sure that all three books are made into movies.

3. If Christians patronize this film, we are financially rewarding Phillip Pullman for his attack on Christianity and encouraging the studios to produce more anti-Christian propaganda than they already do.


Please go back to the opening of this article for a summary of my conclusions. Join me in praying that while the movie is a financial disaster, many Christians will be motivated to share their faith with people who want to discuss the movie and the underlying books.”


1. Hana Rosin, “How Hollywood Saved God,” The Atlantic, Volume 300 No. 5, December 2007
2. The awards include but are not limited to: Whitbread Award-Best Children’s Book and Best Book 2001, Carnegie Medal (England), American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults, A Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon book, A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Children’s ABBY Honor
3. Hana Rosin, “How Hollywood Saved God”

‘The Golden Compass’: Question Whose Authority?

December 6, 2007

From Mark Earley and Breakpoint.

“After months of controversy, the fantasy film The Golden Compass finally opens this weekend. Some fans of Philip Pullman’s books have been tying themselves in knots over this. They have expressed their hope that the film will keep Pullman’s original anti-God message. But at the same time they were declaring that Christians were being ridiculous for saying that there was any anti-God message at all!

So now for the $64,000 question: Is the movie openly anti-religious?

Hanna Rosin wrote in the Atlantic Monthly that New Line Cinema has “stripp[ed] out [Pullman’s] theology and replac[ed] it with some vague derivative of the Force.” In a sense, that is true. New Line, as Rosin recounts, has been keeping a “nervous” eye on the bottom line, knowing that blatant atheism in the movie would hurt sales. Besides, if the film would have delved fully into all of the complexities of the books’ belief system, it would have come to a screeching halt.

In short, Pullman’s anti-God, anti-religion message has been toned down a little in the movie. But it is still there.

The main villain in the movie is a mysterious organization called the Magisterium—a word that will be familiar to Catholics. The organization’s headquarters bears a remarkable similarity to famous religious landmarks, and some of their buildings have pictures of saints on them. Their goal, we are told by various characters, is to “tell people what to do” and to put an end to “free will.” The Magisterium tries to force obedience and stifle thought. And it goes to violent lengths to try to prevent children from reaching puberty and having what Nicole Kidman’s character euphemistically calls “nasty thoughts and unhappy feelings.”

The somewhat simplistic message that emerges is, “Question authority.” But as the Ignatius Press blog points out, it comes across more like “Question authority. Just not our authority.” That is, we are supposed to accept the film’s assertions about what religion is like as, well, the gospel.

But it is just a story, isn’t it? Of course, it is. But as Philip Pullman himself once wrote, “‘Thou shalt not’ might reach the head, but it takes ‘Once upon a time’ to reach the heart.” That is exactly the point made in the new book The Pied Piper of Atheism, which draws the connection between Pullman’s fantasy tales and the legendary figure who stole children away by playing music that appealed to their emotions.

No matter what the filmmakers meant to do, Pullman certainly intended to capture children’s hearts and plant the seed of doubt there. And the film, watered-down as it may be, cannot help but reflect that—as will future films, for in the second and third books in Pullman’s trilogy, the hatred of God is expressed much more clearly and strongly than in the first. (Despite the film’s PG-13 rating for violence, which is justified, parents took younger children to the preview screenings, and more children will undoubtedly be going when the film officially opens.)

In fact, Christian parents are already being bashed by some for not wanting to take their kids to hear this anti-God message. To those parents I say, good for you. Keep questioning the culture’s authority.”

The Golden Compass — A Briefing for Concerned Christians

December 5, 2007

From Dr. Al Mohler and almohler.com.

“The release of The Golden Compass as a major motion picture represents a new challenge for Christians — especially parents. The release of a popular film with major actors that presents a message directly subversive of Christianity is something new. It is not likely to be the last.

Having seen the movie at an advance viewing and having read all three books of His Dark Materials, I can assure Christians that we face a real challenge — one that will require careful thinking and intellectual engagement.

Why is this movie such a challenge?

First of all, The Golden Compass is an extremely attractive movie. Like the book on which it is based, the movie is a very sophisticated story that is very well told. The casting was excellent. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond actor) are joined by others including Sam Elliott and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, who plays the central role of 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua. Kidman is chilling as the beautiful but evil Marisa Coulter and Craig is perfect as Lord Asriel. Actor Ian McKellen (Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is the voice of Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear.

The movie is very well done and will be very attractive to audiences of all ages. The special effects are superior to any previous movie of the type, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy (also released by New Line Cinema). Everything is in place for this to be a blockbuster at the box office.

Second, the movie is based in a story that is captivating, sophisticated, and truly interesting. Philip Pullman is a skilled writer and teller of tales. His invented worlds of The Golden Compass and the entire His Dark Materials trilogy are about as good as the fantasy genre can offer. His characters are believable and the dialogue is constant — largely due to Pullman’s brilliant invention of a companion for each character — a “daemon.”

The bottom line is that these books and this movie will attract a lot of attention and will captivate many readers and viewers.

So, what’s the problem?

This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project.  Philip Pullman has an agenda — an agenda about as subtle as an army tank.  His agenda is nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church.  His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear.  He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.

The great enemy of humanity in the three books, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass (together known as His Dark Materials) is the Christian church, identified as the evil Magisterium.  The Magisterium, representing church authority, is afraid of human freedom and seeks to repress human sexuality. 

The Magisterium uses the biblical narrative of the Fall and the doctrine of original sin to repress humanity.  It is both violent and vile and it will stop at nothing to protect its own interests and to preserve its power.

Pullman’s attack on biblical Christianity is direct and undeniable.  He once questioned why his books attracted little controversy even as the Harry Potter books attracted so much.  He told an Australian newspaper that what he is “saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said.  My books are about killing God.”

Will viewers of the movie see all this?

The direct attack on Christianity and God is toned down in the movie.  But any informed person will recognize the Magisterium as representing the Church and Christianity.  Of course, in our world the Magisterium is the authoritative leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.  In Pullman’s world it represents Christianity as a whole.

Indeed, Pullman’s tale tells of John Calvin assuming the papacy and moving the headquarters to Geneva, thus combining the Catholic and Reformation traditions into one.  In the movie, the Magisterium appears to be located in London.  In any event, the point is not subtle.

The most direct attacks upon Christianity and God do not appear until the last book, The Amber Spyglass, in which Lyra and Will (a boy her age who first appears in the second book) eventually kill God, who turns out to be a decrepit and feeble old imposter who was hardly worth the killing.

Is Pullman’s attack on Christianity exaggerated by his critics?

No — his attack is neither hidden nor subtle.  The entire premise of the trilogy is that Lyra is the child foretold by prophecy who will reverse the curse of the Fall and free humanity from the lie of original sin.  Whereas in Christian theology it is Jesus Christ who reverses the curse through His work of atonement on the Cross, Pullman presents his own theology of sorts in which the Fall is reversed through the defiance of these children.  As Pullman insists, Eve and Adam were right to eat the forbidden fruit and God was a tyrant to forbid them the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

The supernatural element of Pullman’s story is “Dust,” which is seen by the Magisterium as original sin but is presented by Pullman as the essence of life itself.  In The Golden Compass, Lyra is given an “alethiometer” or “golden compass” which is filled with Dust and tells the truth to one qualified to operate it.  Readers are told that a great battle is coming in which forces fighting for human freedom and happiness will confront (and destroy) the Magisterium and God.

In the last volume of the trilogy, a character known as Dr. Mary Malone explains her discovery to Lyra and Will:  “I used to be a nun, you see.  I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn’t any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway.  The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.”

Is there more to the larger story?

Yes, and it has to do with sex.  Surprisingly graphic and explicit sex.  Pullman believes that the Christian church is horribly repressive about sex and that this is rooted in the idea of the Fall.  As he told Hanna Rosin of the Atlantic Monthly, “Why the Christian Church has spent 2,000 years condemning this glorious moment, well, that’s a mystery.  I want to confront that, I suppose, by telling a story that the so-called original sin is anything but.  It’s the thing that makes us fully human.”

Puberty is a big part of Pullman’s concern.  Coming-of-age stories are one of the most common forms of fiction, but Pullman’s packs a punch that readers cannot miss.  He wants to celebrate the adolescent’s arrival at sexual awareness.  Remember that the child’s daemon can change forms until puberty.  At that point it is fixed as a single creature that reflects the personality and character of the young adult.

Puberty means the coming of sexual feelings.  The Magisterium would prefer that children grow up without experiencing sexual temptation, so it is conducting an experiment in order to separate children from their daemons before puberty, when their daemon can no longer change.  This procedure, known as “intercision” makes the child a “severed child” who has no daemon — and thus no soul.  The Magisterium has assigned Mrs. Coulter the job of abducting the children and taking them to the North for this experiment.

As Mrs. Coulter explains to Lyra (who is revealed to be her own daughter) in the first book:  “All that happens is a little cut, and then everything’s peaceful.  Forever!  You see, your daemon’s a wonderful friend and companion when you are young, but at the age we call puberty, the age you’re coming to very soon, darling, daemons bring all sorts of troublesome thoughts and feelings, and that’s what lets Dust in.  A quick little operation before that, and you’re never troubled again.”

In The Golden Compass, Lyra and her companions free the children held at this experimental station in the North and destroy it.  In The Amber Spyglass, Lyra and Will reverse the story of the Edenic Fall by consummating a sexual act in the garden.

Again, Pullman is not subtle.  Keep in mind that this is a series of books marketed to children and adolescents.  Lyra puts a red fruit to Will’s lips and Will “knew at once what she meant, and that he was too joyful to speak.”  Within moments, the 13-year olds are involved in some kind of unspecified sexual act.

“The word love set his nerves ablaze,” Pullman writes of Will.  “All his body thrilled with it, and he answered her in the same words, kissing her hot face over and over again, drinking in with adoration the scent of her body and her warm, honey-fragrant hair and her sweet, moist mouth that tasted of the little red fruit.”

Just a few pages later, Will and Lyra will dare to touch each other’s daemon.  That passage is even more sexually charged and explicit than the first.  The adolescents now know “that neither daemon would change now, having felt a lover’s hands on them.  These were their shapes for life: they would want no other.”

What is it about Pullman and C. S. Lewis?

Put simply, Pullman hates C. S. Lewis’s work The Chronicles of Narnia.  He told Hannah Rosin that Lewis’s famous work is “morally loathsome” and “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I ever read.”  Narnia, he said, “is the Christian one . . . .  And mine is the non-Christian.”

When the first Narnia film was released in 2005, Pullman described the books as “a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice.”

Indeed, Pullman’s His Dark Materials is intended as an answer to Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.  What Lewis (and J. R. R. Tolkein) did for Christianity, Pullman wants to do for atheism.

So, what should Christians do?

A good first step would be to take a deep breath.  The Christian faith is not about to be toppled by a film, nor by a series of fantasy books.  Pullman has an agenda that is clear, and Christians need to inform themselves of what this agenda is and what it means.  At the same time, nothing would serve his agenda better than to have Christians speaking recklessly or unintelligently about the film or the books.

This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews.  While Christians will not celebrate the release of this film, we should recognize the mixture of challenge and opportunity that comes with millions of persons watching this film and talking about the issues it raises.  When the movie is mentioned in the workplace, in school, on the playground, or in the college campus, this is a great opportunity to show that Christians are not afraid of the battle of ideas.

We should recognize that the Christian Church has some very embarrassing moments in its history – moments when it has failed to represent the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ.  Authors like Philip Pullman take advantage of these failures in order to paint the entire Christian Church as a conspiracy against human happiness and freedom.  Of course, that charge will not stand close scrutiny, and we can face it head-on with a thoughtful response.

Some Christians have also held very unhelpful views of human sexuality.  These, we must admit, would include figures as great and influential as Augustine and, alas, C. S. Lewis.  But these figures, rightly influential in other areas of the faith, are not representative in this case of biblical sexuality.  We can set the record straight.

Should we be concerned that people, young and old, will be confused by this movie?  Of course.  But I do not believe that a boycott will dissuade the general public from seeing the film.  I am very concerned when I think of so many people being entertained by such a subversive message delivered by such a seductive medium.  We are responsible to show them, in so far as we are able, that the Magisterium of The Golden Compass is not a fair or accurate representation of the Christian Church.

I can only wonder how many parents and grandparents will allow children and young people to see the movie and then buy them the books — blissfully unaware of what is coming in books two and three.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has enemies; this we know.  Christian parents must be informed about His Dark Materials and inform others.  We must take the responsibility to use interest in this film to teach our own children to think biblically and to be discerning in their engagement with the media in all forms.  We should arm our children to be able to talk about this project with their classmates without fear or rancor.

Philip Pullman has an agenda, but so do we.  Our agenda is the Gospel of Christ — a message infinitely more powerful than that of The Golden Compass.  Pullman’s worldview of unrestricted human autonomy would be nightmarish if ever achieved.  His story promises liberation but would enslave human beings to themselves and destroy all transcendent value. 

The biblical story of the Fall is true, after all, and our only rescue is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The curse of sin was not reversed by adolescents playing at sex in a garden, but by the Son of God shedding His blood on a cross.

So let’s get our bearings straight as we think and talk about The Golden Compass.  This movie does represent a great challenge, but a challenge that Christians should always be ready to meet.”

It’s Not a Hoax: The Golden Compass

November 26, 2007

From Mark Earley and Breakpoint.

“All of you have probably received the e-mail by now. A lot of Christians have, including many of us here at BreakPoint. One of my colleagues received it from five different people no less!

I am referring to the e-mail that is circulating about the upcoming fantasy film The Golden Compass, based on the book by Philip Pullman. It says that Pullman’s fantasy trilogy is openly anti-Christian.

Unlike many other e-mails that get circulated, The Golden Compass e-mail is not a hoax, though, in fairness, there are some incorrect details. (For example, contrary to what the e-mail cites, Jesus is mentioned in the books, and the girl and the boy at the center of the story do not kill God, though they are present when a being calling himself God is killed. God is actually presented as completely unreal in The Golden Compass; there are only angelic beings who try to set themselves up as God and are defeated.)

But the part about Pullman hating the idea of God is completely accurate. He uses his stories to twist and distort familiar biblical accounts of creation, fall, and redemption, making heroes of those who rebel against religion, and having one of his “good” characters even say, “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake.” It’s sort of a Da Vinci Code theme for kids.

But I suggest that we should do more than just read the e-mail and press “Forward.” If we really want to be able to speak out against Pullman’s ideas, we must know what we are talking about. That’s why I mentioned the story details that might seem a bit trifling. Because when Christians start warning the culture about something dangerous, we often get a backlash. And it is worse if we are not prepared. If we just go out there and tell people, “This movie is about kids who kill God!” we just get a reputation as ill-informed scolds. Already that is starting to happen.

There are several ways you can prepare yourself to talk about Pullman’s books and upcoming movies. You can pick the books up at the library and skim them. You can read a book called Dark Matter by Tony Watkins; although Watkins finds more to like in Pullman’s books than we do at BreakPoint, he still does a good job of explaining the problems. You can visit our website—BreakPoint.org—where we have a number of articles, blog posts, and commentaries pointing out Pullman’s spiritual and literary flaws.

I know of one school in Virginia, Immanuel Christian, that is considering having the older students discuss and evaluate the worldview of the books in their weekly book discussion group. This is a terrific idea. When the movie comes out and their friends head off to the theater with no clue about what kind of indoctrination they are going to undergo, kids who have discussed Pullman’s worldview with Christian parents and educators will know what’s going on. Then they can choose the good and reject the bad.

Of course, all of this takes time for parents and teachers who already have enough to do. There is no easy way around that. But it is worth the investment in the lives of our children. As parents, teachers, and leaders, we can and should do no less.”

‘Golden Compass’ movie opening to controversy: Fantasy universe where witches are good, church is bad, God dies

November 17, 2007

From Michael Foust and bpnews.net.

“It’s a fantasy universe where witches are good, the church is bad, and at the end of it all, God dies.

It’s the world of author Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, and on Dec. 7 a movie based on the first book in that series, “The Golden Compass,” hits theaters. For weeks now, the movie has been the focus of e-mails from concerned Christians, curious if what they heard about it is true. In this instance — as even the truth-or-fiction website Snopes.com affirms — the rumors mostly are fact.

Pullman himself is not sure whether he’s an atheist or an agnostic, but his own words leave little doubt that he has a strong distaste for Christianity — at least Christianity as he sees it.

The entire series has been dubbed the “anti-Narnia,” with Pullman regularly expressing disdain for C.S. Lewis’ fictional world and even once calling it “propaganda in the service of a life-hating ideology.” He has sought to write a completely different fictional tale, and he has succeeded. He said in a 2001 interview, “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,” and two years later told another newspaper, “My books are about killing God.”

Pullman has been more toned down in recent interviews, perhaps because New Line Cinema has invested more than $150 million in the first installment and because it needs to be successful if the final two books are to make it to the big screen.

Launched in 1995, the book series has been wildly popular across the Atlantic and won several awards in the United Kingdom. In the U.S., Al Roker of NBC’s “Today Show” recently even made The Golden Compass part of his children’s book club. And, children are reading it: During an interview with Roker, Pullman took videotaped questions from children about the The Golden Compass. He also took questions on the show’s website, where one boy, an 8 year old in Virginia, said he was reading the book with his class. It is being sold nationwide in schools through Scholastic, which also is selling the other two books and claims the The Golden Compass is appropriate for grades four and up.

The movie itself focuses on a 12-year-old girl named Lyra and her daemon (pronounced “demon”) — her soul in the form of a talking animal. Everyone in her world, in fact, has a daemon, which could range from a monkey to a lion. Early in the movie her friend Roger is kidnapped, and she sets out to find him.

The movie — rated PG-13 — reportedly avoids using the word “church” and instead calls it the “Magisterium,” a Roman Catholic term. Additionally, in the second and third books “God” is regularly called the “Authority.” The book and movie gets it name from a golden device that can, according to the books, determine truth itself.

In fact, the most anti-religious elements are found not in the first book but in the latter two. Movie director Chris Weitz has said some of the more controversial ideas have been removed from The Golden Compass to make it more palatable for the public. Weitz said his goal is to make sure controversial scenes and dialogue — critical to the plot — are included in any future movies.

“The whole point, to me, of ensuring that ‘The Golden Compass’ is a financial success is so that we have a solid foundation on which to deliver a faithful, more literal adaptation of the second and third books,” he said Nov. 14 on an MTV movie blog.

If that’s the case, then the next two movies could be even more controversial. For instance:

— In the second book in the trilogy, “The Subtle Knife,” one of the main characters, Will, is told he possesses “the one weapon in all the universes” — a magical knife — that can “defeat the tyrant.” That tyrant, he is told, is “The Authority. God.”

— In “The Amber Spyglass,” the third and final book of the series, Will is told — by two fallen, homosexual angels, no less — that “The Authority” has many names, “God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty.” These were names God “gave himself” even though “he was never the creator.” Instead, Will is told, the Authority simply was the first angel formed out of “Dust” and thereafter God proceeded to tell “those who came after him that he had created them.”

— In another scene in The Amber Spyglass, one of the homosexual angels tells Will that churches “tell their believers that they’ll live in Heaven, but that’s a lie.” Instead, believers go to a “prison camp.”

— In one of the final chapters of The Amber Spyglass, an ex-nun named Mary tells Will and Lyra, “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” Mary also tells them that after she learned there was no God, she soon discovered that “physics was more interesting anyway.”

One of Pullman’s apparent themes is that science and reason trump faith.

“I don’t think it’s a reach to say that faith and enjoyment are antithetical in Pullman’s worldview,” Adam Holz, associate editor of Focus on the Family’s Plugged In, told Baptist Press. “He seems to say that it’s impossible to have a life of joy, of pleasure, and be a member of the church.”

Pullman himself has said his books have Christian themes because that was his world as a child — his father was an Anglican clergyman. If he had grown up as a Jew, he has said, his books likely would have had Jewish themes. His biggest contentions with Christianity specifically and religion in general are the atrocities committed over the centuries in God’s name. That theme seems to have made it into the movie; the narrator in the trailer says the world of The Golden Compass “is dominated by the Magisterium, which seeks to control all humanity.”

“[I]f there is a God and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against,” Pullman told the Telegraph newspaper in 2002. “As you look back over the history of the Christian church, it’s a record of terrible infamy and cruelty and persecution and tyranny. How they have the bloody nerve to go on [the BBC’s] ‘Thought for the Day’ and tell us all to be good when, given the slightest chance, they’d be hanging the rest of us and flogging the homosexuals and persecuting the witches.”

In that same interview he talked about his desire to write books for all age groups.

“I wanted to reach everyone, and the best way I could do that was to write for children and hope that they’d tell their parents … which is what happened,” he said.

The trilogy ends with Lyra, Will and their companions killing “God” and then resolving how their own relationship (they’re in love) will continue.

Cedarville University President Bill Brown told BP he hopes the movie will present Christians the opportunity to discuss their faith publicly in the media — in the same way “The Da Vinci Code” presented such an occasion.

“The God he has in his books — particularly in the last book — is not the Creator God,” Brown said, emphasizing the evil nature of the trilogy’s God. “It’s just a weak being that is blown away at the very end…. I’m opposed to that view of God and to that view of the church, too.”

Holz said he’s concerned about the books’ impact on children.

“Not only has the story got a deeply anti-Christian component to it, but [Pullman is] aiming that story at children who may not have the discernment to notice or understand the message he’s delivering,” Holz said. “I think Christians need to be aware of where he is coming from. Even if they tone down the anti-church references in all the movies, we’re concerned that it’s still going to lead people back to the books, because it’s going to make people curious.”

The Golden Compass Movie – Coming Soon To Your Child’s School: Hate for God and Church, Heavily Advertised

November 4, 2007

I urge all parents to check out Tom Gilson’s blog thinkingchristian.net. According to Tom “The Scholastic publishing company is partnering with New Line Cinema and promoting this film, and the books, heavily in public schools. Even though the books are strongly anti-God and anti-church, they’re getting a strong push in schools as curriculum resources. Please encourage your local schools not to use this material!”

True or False: Separation of church and state means schools won’t teach your child about hating the church and killing God.


A local school counselor today loaned us promotional material from the Scholastic publishing company, touting curriculum resources based on The Golden Compass. This is the upcoming movie version of a book by the author who would like to kill God–the author in whose trilogy God actually is killed–the trilogy of which The Golden Compass is the first book. I hasten to add that God’s death in this series is purely fictional, and the actual God is not concerned about threats on his life. It’s tragic and it’s hard to understand why this author, Phillip Pullman, could so hate what is so good, but he has made his feelings more than clear.

Heavy Promotion
Scholastic, “the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books,” is by far the top source of reading materials for American schools. What they market, schools buy. And they are really marketing this film, along with their resources to go with it. I have here on my table a very impressive 21″ by 31″ (53 by 79 cm.) poster advertising the film, with an “Amazing Student Sweepstakes” on it–the poster is meant for students to see. There’s a PDF copy of it on the web. On the back of the poster are several pages for teachers to copy at no charge and use as curriculum resources (copies are also available here). Scholastic is also promoting the film here.

One has to wonder what Scholastic stands to gain from giving all these expensive materials away. Well, it’s not really all that hard to figure out. The poster says the materials are “generously sponsored by New Line Cinema.” Now, don’t you agree it really is generous for them to co-opt an educational company to advertise their film for them? And then of course, the students will have to read the book to do the study. Guess who sells it? (Scholastic was also the book’s first publisher.)

Objectionable Material Regardless of Your Religion
Now, the information we have so far on this movie is that its anti-God message is toned down from that of the book. Therefore I don’t know if the movie includes “intercision,” as the book does. What, you may ask, is intercision? Read about it at SparkNotes, but be sure your children aren’t looking over your shoulder when you do. (How can they possibly present this at schools?! And Scholastic says it’s suitable for age 10 and up!!!)

Sin Is the Answer?
Here is one section from SparkNotes that I can feel free to quote here:

“In his trilogy, Pullman draws on [John] Milton’s Satan [from Paradise Lost] for inspiration. Both Milton’s Satan and Pullman’s Lord Asriel are gentlemanly, powerful, and suave. But while Milton bemoans the fall from grace caused by Satan, Pullman hails it as the moment when humans gained freedom.”

Kill God!
Of course the idea in a trilogy is to read the second and third books, and not just the first. (Naturally Scholastic is selling nicely packaged boxes of the trilogy. All three books are in my son’s school’s library.) The second book is The Subtle Knife. Looking again to SparkNotes, we discover that this knife is “the one weapon that can kill God,” which is considered quite a desirable thing to do. Subtle indeed.

God and the Church Are Just So Awful and Pathetic
The third book is The Amber Spyglass, which Scholastic considers fine material for 8-year-olds. SparkNotes on that book includes these fascinating plot details (my emphasis in these quotes):

“Because God’s rule is based on a lie, he prefers to rule over people who are obedient and don’t ask questions. As Balthamos explains it, the first big rebellion was not, in fact, led by a male angel named Satan, but by a female being who recognized that God was lying. In Pullman’s book, the rebellion against God was a revolution against a tyrant.

“The Church leaders are terrified by the eleven-year-old Lyra because they know her passage from childhood to womanhood could somehow bring about their destruction. They know that she is the new Eve, the one the witches call ‘mother of us all.’ They are willing to go to almost any lengths to destroy her. The bomb they build is strong enough to create a bottomless abyss in the world of the dead, yet they think nothing of detonating it.”

God’s Death Comes As a Relief–To God
Pullman’s representation of God is typical of his portrayal of the Church. Instead of an all-knowing, all-powerful God with a vast and incomprehensible plan for the universe, Pullman’s God is half-crazed with age and infirmity. When Lyra and Will liberate God from his glass case, he seems pleased. He is so weak and old that he blows to bits with the first breeze, but his dissolution comes as a relief. It is as though God does not want the burden of leadership. In the end, Will and Lyra don’t kill God. Instead, they free him, and he becomes one with the universe again.”

How To Respond?

To read more click here.

Bella: Movie Embraces the Sanctity of Life

November 1, 2007

From Gary Randall and Faith and Freedom Network and Foundation.

“The film Bella, winner of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival’s “People’s Choice Award” has opened in the U.S. and it is pro-life.

Some are calling it a miracle that a film would take such a pro-life position.

The promotions say in one irreversible moment, a simple act of kindness brings two people together and turns an ordinary day into an unforgettable experience. The film’s production notes say, “before the day is through, Jose must confront his own haunting past to show Nina how the healing power of love can help her embrace the future.

People who have screened the movie, love it. It is the story of a Mexican soccer star, Jose (played by Eduardo Verastequi) who endures tragedy and later works quietly as a chef in a New York restaurant. There he meets Nina (Emmy Award winning actress Tammy Blanchard), a waitress who is fired just as she learns she is pregnant and is considering abortion.

However, the story behind the movie may be even more compelling.

This movie is also a step in the personal, spiritual development of the leading man, Eduardo Verastequi.

Verastequi is well-known in Mexico as a member of the pop music group Kairo and a star of telenovelas (soap operas). A couple of years ago, he moved to Los Angeles to continue his career in America.

I heard him tell Neil Cavauto on Fox Business channel a few days ago that after moving to America, he had a dynamic, spiritual encounter with God. He said, “I realized that instead of using my talents to serve and contribute to this world, so we can make this world a better place, I was poisoning our society by the projects that I was involved in.” He has now committed himself to only meaningful projects that will make a difference for God.

While researching his role in Bella by observing the activity at an abortion clinic, he had another moment of truth. He was shocked at all the young teenagers arriving for abortions. He tells how he stood near pro-lifers who were ministering to the kids as they were going into the abortion clinic. He ended up translating for a young couple who only spoke Spanish and in doing so, was able to help them decide not to go into the abortion factory.

Many months later, he received a call from the young father, Javier. He said, “I have good news. My baby boy was born yesterday. I want permission to name him Eduardo after you.”

Verastequi later said that was the “most noble thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was beautiful — by the grace of God I was able to save this baby.”

This spirit is translated into the movie.

Beginning last week, the movie is showing on a limited basis in only 31 markets around the U.S. With success, it will be expanded to all markets.”

Parental Warning: Hollywood’s Golden Compass cause for concern

October 31, 2007

From onemilliondads.com.

The Golden Compass is a film from New Line Cinema based on the first book of a series, His Dark Materials, written by English atheist Philip Pullman. It is set to release December 7 in theaters nationwide. From watching the trailer, it’s easy to see that the film has a C. S. Lewis/Narnia feel to it, but don’t be deceived.


Pullman’s book trilogy is the story of “a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God,” BBC News reported. The Guardian, a British newspaper, goes even further to describe the books as “metaphysical fantasies encompassing parallel worlds, the death of God and the fall of man ….”


“I don’t know whether there’s a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say,” Pullman said in an interview posted on his website.


“One of the [book] series’ main themes — the rejection of organized religion and in particular the abuse of power within the Catholic Church — is to be watered down,” according to the Telegraph, a newspaper in the U.K. “But when the film is released in December the Magisterium will be shown as a critique of all dogmatic organizations, thereby avoiding a religious backlash.”


Therefore, without yet seeing the film, OneMillionMoms.com and OneMillionDads.com is alerting Christians to the potential dangers of The Golden Compass. Because of Pullman’s clearly articulated anti-Christian motives, we are warning all movie-goers to avoid the film.


Additional resources:

– Read Shedding Light on His Dark Materials by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware to explore hidden spiritual themes in Philip Pullman’s popular children’s fantasy series.

– Online: Perspectives: Does The Golden Compass point to a new atheism?

Bella and the Golden Compass

October 29, 2007

I wanted to make everyone aware of a very special award winning movie that hit local movie theatres this past weekend.  It is called Bella.  The reason this movie is so special is captured in the quote below from a prominent pro-Christian group promoting the movie. 

“Bella” is an amazing film that entertains, inspires and celebrates the dignity of human life. It is a rare gem that defies the norms of Hollywood and profoundly illustrates how true, sacrificial love can change someone’s life forever.  

It is important to support “Bella” in an effort to help send a clear and powerful message to Hollywood that there is a huge audience for positive films that embrace family values.” 

The movie was made by a producer of the Passion of the Christ and has received an Appreciation Award from Focus on the Family for its celebration of faith, family and life. 

Co-writer and co-producer Leo Severino has shared publicly that he’s aware of at least two instances where babies are alive today because of Bella’s message of truth and love. I watched it last night and was deeply moved by it. 

It is very powerful.  I highly recommend it.  

Also, I wanted to make everyone aware of a movie starring Nicole Kidman that is set for release on December 7th. The movie is called the Golden Compass and it is based on a trilogy of children’s books that are extremely anti-Christian and written by an avowed atheist.  Evidently, the movie has had a lot of the anti-Christian elements removed in order to make it more palatable to a US audience but the author’s hope is that children will enjoy the movie so much they purchase his books.   

You can read more about it in the articles at the links below.