“The Golden Compass” criticized as “atheism for kids.”

So have you seen the trailer yet for The Golden Compass? If not then here it is below:

Until I saw the trailer I’d never heard of the books the movie is based on — a trilogy called His Dark Materials — and the first time I saw the trailer I wrote it off as a Chronicles of Narnia wannabe. The only reason I might have had for seeing it in theaters is that Courtney was very excited about the movie. As it turns out, though, I may have to go see it out of my own curiosity now that I’ve learned that the books have a somewhat anti-organized religion tone to them and are written by an avowed atheist.

It seems the movie has been a cause of concern for our good friend and Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, prompting him to put out a press release advising parents not to take their kids to see the film:

“New Line Cinema and Scholastic Entertainment have paired to produce ‘The Golden Compass,’ a children’s fantasy that is based on the first book of a trilogy by militant English atheist Philip Pullman. The trilogy, His Dark Materials, was written to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. The target audience is children and adolescents. Each book becomes progressively more aggressive in its denigration of Christianity and promotion of atheism: The Subtle Knife is more provocative than The Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass is the most in-your-face assault on Christian sensibilities of the three volumes.

“Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells. It is his hope that ‘The Golden Compass,’ which stars Nicole Kidman and opens December 7, will entice parents to buy his trilogy as a Christmas gift. It is our hope that the film fails to meet box office expectations and that his books attract few buyers. We are doing much more than hoping—we are conducting a nationwide two-month protest of Pullman’s work and the film. To that end, we have prepared a booklet, ‘The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked,’ that tears the mask off the movie.

“It is not our position that the movie will strike Christian parents as troubling. Then why the protest? Even though the film is based on the least offensive of the three books, and even though it is clear that the producers are watering down the most despicable elements—so as to make money and not anger Christians—the fact remains that the movie is bait for the books. To be specific, if unsuspecting Christian parents take their children to see the movie, they may very well find it engaging and then buy Pullman’s books for Christmas. That’s the problem.

“We are fighting a deceitful stealth campaign on the part of the film’s producers. Our goal is to educate Christians so that they know exactly what the film’s pernicious agenda really is.”

Wow, anything that gets Bill’s panties in a bunch like that might be worth seeing, but as it turns out he’s quite right that the filmmakers have toned down the anti-religious aspects of the story somewhat. According to some folks it’s been watered down a bit too much:

Northern Lights, the book which first introduced readers to Pullman’s 12-year-old heroine, Lyra, is as dear to its many fans as JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, so tampering with the philosophical content is not likely to be welcomed when the film is released before Christmas.

While Pullman himself has said he believes ‘the outline of the story is faithful to what I wrote, given my knowledge of what they have done’, the National Secular Society – of which the author is an honorary associate – has now spoken out against the changes.

‘It was clear right from the start that the makers of this film intended to take out the anti-religious elements of Pullman’s book,’ said Terry Sanderson, president of the society. ‘In doing that they are taking the heart out of it, losing the point of it, castrating it. It seems that religion has now completely conquered America’s cultural life and it is much the poorer for it. What a shame that we have to endure such censorship here too.’

Kidman has said the critical stance of the film ‘has been watered down a little … I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence,’ she told film journalists in Australia in the summer. ‘I wouldn’t be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic.’

At a preview of footage staged at the Cannes Film Festival in the spring, director Chris Weitz, best known for directing About A Boy, said the film would be a fair retelling of Pullman’s tale.

‘In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic church gone wildly astray from its roots. If that’s what you want in the film, you’ll be disappointed,’ he admitted, but added: ‘We have expanded the range of meanings of what the Magisterium represents. Philip Pullman is against any kind of organised dogma whether it is church hierarchy or, say, a Soviet hierarchy.’

That’s disappointing to say the least, but as Bill Donahue points out there’s always a chance some kids will be inclined to pick up the books after seeing the movies. I’ll have to make a point of picking them up myself as well. The film is still causing enough concern among the Religious Right that several emails have been circulating around warning about its anti-Christian message. The email is cropping up often enough that the folks at Snopes.com already have an entry on them on their site. If nothing else it’s nice to see the other side get a little representation every so often.

87 thoughts on ““The Golden Compass” criticized as “atheism for kids.”

  1. Northern Lights, which is also called The Golden Compass, won the Carnegie Medal upon release and was recently selected by the Carnegie judges as being one of the 10 most important children’s books of the past 70 years.

    So it’s not just anti-religious, it’s also a good read too.

  2. Poor Christians, always so persecuted.  Especially those Roman Catholics.  I mean really, just look at how poorly such Christian films as the Passion of the Christ and the Chronicles of Narnia did at the Box Office and on DVD.  They practically fell out of the theaters because so few people were viewing them.  Surely we can’t allow a viewpoint that opposes those hallowed principles to be voiced can we? Why if we let such a descent occur, we’ll be a virtual minority.  We certainly don’t wield the power we once did in the Good Old Days of the Middle Ages when the peasantry was poor, illiterate and completely ignorant, do we?  It’s obvious we need to return to those days in order to save the world from all the evil and sin that The Golden Compass represents.  We certainly don’t live in a country where freedom of speech is supposed to rule the day, and we certainly don’t have a majority of the population under our control.  Why, from the way we act, you would never believe we were the most powerful and influential voting block in the US and one of the most powerful organizations in the entire world, would you?

  3. Seconding Sadie’s opinion. Far superior to Harry Potter. Would highly recommend them to anyone….atheist or otherwise.

  4. Looks like everybody and their mother wanted a part in this movie.  At least the acting will be good.

    As for it’s anti-christian message, I must confess I haven’t read the books, but what I get from the trailer is the standard “It’s heresy to say things that are un-popular with the powers that be, even if they’re true.” and of course very important developments depend on bringing to light what the establishment would like to keep buried… and if it follows standard conventions, they already know about it so that makes the embarrassment of disclosure even more distasteful to them…

    No… doesn’t sound like the catholic church at all smile

    I’ll probably watch it because Sam Elliot is cool.

  5. My kids read and enjoyed the HDM series, and I liked them too.  Comparing them to Harry Potter is a bit like oranges and apples, because the HDM books are written with a more adult vocabulary and more adult themes.  They are also darker and more cynical.

  6. HDM is truly fantastic, and Philip Pullman is a brilliant author, and a pretty prominent atheist over here too. Richard Dawkins mentioned Philip Pullman’s imagining of how wheels could occur in animals through evolutionary processes. The animals have their four appendages in a triangular shape on their stomach. On the middle two, the animals place huge circular seed capsules produced by a tree. The capsules break open after a while, so the seeds within are taken great distances from their parent tree by the animals. The other key factor is the place in which the animals live is littered with basalt ‘roads’.

  7. As soon as my coworker told me “If Harry Potter had not come out, this would have been the Harry Potter series people would have went crazy over”, I knew I should pick up the book and read it.

  8. As much as I love the HDM series, I don’t think it would have occupied the “Harry Potter niche”, if Rowling hadn’t come along: HDM is not as funny, heartwarming, and basically optimistic as HP.  This is not a judgement of value, but these are factors that helped make Rowling’s epic deservedly popular.

  9. I’ve seen the preview before and I also wrote it off as another kids fantasy movie.

    Now that I know a little more about it’s background, I’ll probably go see it.

  10. I think the majority of the Christian world might look upon those guys in the same way they look upon Fred Phelps…Though, when I was beating the Bible myself, I probably would have got right behind their roasting of CS Lewis. 

    I guess it doesn’t ultimately matter though, they are just some of the worst of a bad bunch in my mind (Fred Phelps and the people at Jesus-is-savior.com). They just show their absolute adherence to dogma and absolute certainty that they are right on their sleeve, why most Christians seem to be more milquetoast and wishy washy about their beliefs when forced to face the absurdity of them. Perhaps that lukewarm attitude annoys me more than anything.

    Whoah!  Sorry, gotta stop, my rant alert just went off!

  11. I keep meaning to re-read NL (renamed for the US at GC). Didn’t really get into it first time round, though possibly I wasn’t ‘really reading’ it- just looking at the words as it were.

    I know Pullman was worried that his anti religeon views may be edited out for the US ‘need a warm an fuzzy ending’ population.  I think he has possibly toned down his rhetoric so as not to harm the release, but from what I understand it ‘counter-religeon’ may be a better phrase.

    If Christianity is so right, and God so powerful, why do some christians seem so unable to stand opposing view points?  I can only assume it’s because they don’t want to repeat the overconfidence of Grand Moff Tarkin.

  12. I just can’t understand when people get upset by these things claiming they’re dissing religion.  I don’t get upset at books and movies that PROMOTE Christian views, and if I did, I would be shouted down (rightly) by all those people who liked the book/movie.  But one story comes along that can maybe sort of be slightly considered anti-religious…. when the sun’s in your eyes and you’re standing on your head… not only does the story espouse “bad” moral values, but it’s a plot by anti-religious Satan worshippers to subvert our children to start sacrificing goats…  Geeze.

    And anyways, what are these “bad” morals that these stories are teaching us:  If you read the Harry Potter books, you might get the strange notion that bravery, honesty, friendship and loyalty are good things…. can’t have that can we?  WTF???  Because they have witches and wizards in them (just the words, mind you… the HP books don’t seem to support the witch stereotype.  They DO support the wizard stereotype, but then so does LOTR and many fantasy movies and books that the church doesn’t have any trouble with) they are automatically evil… no matter if they tell you to be a good person?  Makes no sense… but then I’ve seen this all of my adult life, and it never did make sense.  The only good thing this does is that because of the controversy, many people will go and see it just to see what the fuss is all about.  I suppose it’s that other little thing the church doesn’t like to talk about: Making up your own mind.

    Next time a religious movie comes out, I think I’ll picket the theater.  That’ll show ‘em.

  13. I love this (about their booklet “The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked”):

    It is important that all Christians, especially those with children or grandchildren, read this booklet.

    Not important enough that we’re giving it away for free, but you know…

    I want to print a booklet about their booklet:

    You may think the purpose of “Agenda Unmasked” is to expose atheism in The Golden Compass, but it’s actual agenda—perpetrated by militant Catholic Bill Donohue—is to deliver Christian propaganda directly into the minds of our impressionable parents and grandparents.

    Oh, the Christianity!

  14. The books are not so much anti-religion or anti-church as much as anti-[christian theology].
    As such I can understand why christian parents would be concerned about their children reading the books or watching the movies, as they really are quite insidious (from a christian PoV of course) and are bound to cause at least some people to rethink their faith.
    Personally if I had children I don’t think I would encourage them to read Left Behind, or worse Narnia, so I kinda understand the christian reaction to the whole thing.
    I agree with Zilch that if Harry Potter had never been published HDM would not have occupied its niche. However I think that HP has drawn away a lot of the backlash that otherwise would have been directed towards HDM. Unlike HP, HDM actually is potentially damaging to the christian faith.
    Query: Is there any way to do the spoiler thing?

  15. Here’s how I see the whole “this book is a danger to our faith” thing. We all know what faith is supposed to be, evidence of things unseen.  You have faith in X, and that makes you a good Z. 

    My assertion, and challenge to anyone out there who believes this is that your faith is weak.  You never want to face anything that challenges your faith, and certainly never seek any out.  How do you know your faith is strong if you never test it, and always run from or try to destroy anything that does challenge it.  If it was so strong, you should eagerly face things and then come away with even stronger faith, right?

    However, I find that most people are just afraid of finding out that their faith is not right or real.  They say up front that it’s wrong to tempt god and stuff like that, but ultimately, they know their faith doesn’t really have any grounding in reality, and their deathly afraid that if they start questioning it, they won’t be able to find answers to those questions and they’ll lose that little mustard seed they had before they dared ask questions.

    This book would be a great test of faith for anyone I suppose, especially if their kids read it.  If the right and good principles and beliefs you seek to instill your children with are so great, why not read the book with them if they express desire to read it (I am not suggesting giving them the book out of the blue or forcing it on them), or even easier, go see the movie when it comes out.  No doubt there will be questions, and you should be good and ready with answers to reinforce those precious tenets that are so important to you and your child’s proper upbringing.

    Besides, if you don’t actively seek to strengthen your faith by facing things that challenge it, you WILL eventually be forced to face something that does just that.  However, if you bury your head in the sand and say that it’s all the devil’s doing rather than face anything and find answers to it, you will be totally unprepared when the really big thing is staring you in the face.

    Of course, I hope anyone taking my advice will challenge themselves and as a result ultimately see things from my non-religious perspective, but from the religious point of view, that is sure they are right, there is no reason not to actively challenge your faith in order to make it stronger, is there?  No legitimate reason anyway.

  16. I’m not sure if Snopes.com is really as reliable as everyone seems to think they are, and I unfortunately haven’t read the HDM books myself, but I find the seemingly slanted explanation/viewpoint that Snopes presents on this issue to be a bit suspect:

    Phillip Pullman is an Atheist

    Anybody else think they are being a little less than objective? 

    Also, He is quoted as saying “My books are about killing God.”  I haven’t been able to find the source of this quote to read it in context, but I have a feeling that there is some relevant context that is being left out there, anybody know more about that? (Like perhaps the real quote should read: “There are some who say my books are about killing God.”?)

  17. Funny, I was just having a conversation with a friend the night before last about the status of the HDM movies. We’re both big fans of the books, and I’d thought the first movie was supposed to be out over a year ago. Anyway, it’s good to know the movies are coming out, but I too am a bit disappointed that the anti-religion message in the first film has been “softened.” But I still plan to see it.

    By the way, I just discovered your blog today, SEB, and I’m glad I did!

  18. I’m not sure if Snopes.com is really as reliable as everyone seems to think they are, and I unfortunately haven’t read the HDM books myself, but I find the seemingly slanted explanation/viewpoint that Snopes presents on this issue to be a bit suspect:

    Phillip Pullman is an Atheist

    Anybody else think they are being a little less than objective? 

    BB, how are they not being objective when it’s a known fact that, yes, Phil Pullman is an atheist?

    Also, He is quoted as saying “My books are about killing God.” I haven’t been able to find the source of this quote to read it in context, but I have a feeling that there is some relevant context that is being left out there, anybody know more about that? (Like perhaps the real quote should read: “There are some who say my books are about killing God.”?)

    Snopes lists off their sources at the end of every entry and a simple Google search will provide you with the source:

    The shed where God died – SMH.au.com

    In Pullman’s trilogy, Lyra is the new-age Eve, and Will is the modern-day Adam. God is a wizened spent force of an “Authority”. And “The Fall” is to be celebrated as the defining moment of mankind, rather than the source of all worldly evil. Little wonder that His Dark Materials has been denounced by some religious zealots.

    Pullman, though, expected more. “I’ve been surprised by how little criticism I’ve got. Harry Potter’s been taking all the flak. I’m a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people – mainly from America’s Bible Belt – who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”

    There’s your source.

    Cosmic Connie, welcome to SEB! Kick back, relax, and feel free to jump into comments when you have something to say.

  19. OK OK OK, I was being lazy…AND after re-reading the snopes article, I guess my complaints of non-objectivity are a little misguided.  After reading the source article, I guess there is no question about the quote being taken out of context.  I can’t wait to read these books.

  20. Also, He is quoted as saying “My books are about killing God.” I haven’t been able to find the source of this quote to read it in context, but I have a feeling that there is some relevant context that is being left out there, anybody know more about that? (Like perhaps the real quote should read: “There are some who say my books are about killing God.”?)

    Yes they are about killing god but the situation is far far more complex and nuanced than that. Please read the books BEFORE seeing the movie.

  21. Please read the books BEFORE seeing the movie.

    I most definitely intend to read the books before the movies. It’s the only way to go.

  22. Please read the books BEFORE seeing the movie.

    A fine thing but I don’t read many novels.  The movie is going to have to carry it for me.  I only got a few pages into LOTR but did enjoy the movies.  If that means I missed something (which is surely the case), oh well.

  23. Hi Everyone –

    *SMALL SPOILERS BELOW*

    I’m webs’ co-worker and in the children’s lit department at our school (my wife was a major) the prevelant attitude was that these were woefully neglected books and I really agree.

    On the books themselves and their ‘anti-christian’ message:

    True, they’re dark and have a large critique of the church and, primairly, the legalistic nature of the church they really are well written. I tend to pick and choose my fiction and these books just suck you into their world. They’re just that good and you would be remiss if you didn’t read them.

    I knew Pullman was an atheist going into it and so there was really no shock value to them because I knew his message. But, what surprised me was that there were no real overt moments where he played the atheist card. Instead, there were some really rich descriptions of sin, absolute truth, love, people asking big questions. The points where he became a bit more overt in his agenda, it was obvious and mentally I made a note and disagreed and went on with the book.

    My wife and I read them together and laughed and said ‘Yup, that’s pretty obvious that he would write it that way considering his viewpoint’ and then he’d move on with the story. I didn’t really feel as though it was an agenda piece as much as an intelligent, well crafted story that was influenced by his religious background.

    Obviously, as a Christian, I’m going to spin events and look at sin (in the books he refers to it as dust and dust is a crucial character in moving the story along) and absolute truth a bit differently than him, but I didn’t ever really feel threatened reading the books. Instead there’s alot there. Dust plays a role in shaping people’s lives and it affects people’s daemons; small creatures that are bound to the person and take on different shapes. Our take was they are the person’s personality and/or ‘soul’.

    Like I said, there’s alot to critique about Christianity in the books. For example, in The Golden Compass, Lyra rescues some kids from the Magisterium (sic…it’s late) who were figuring out how to sever the link between the children and their daemons – effectively killing the the daemon and rendering the child a zombie. I took it as legalism taken a bit too far – you kill a person when you don’t allow them to be who they are.

    Anyway, on the movie:

    I think the characters are spot on in casting. Pullman, himself, plays the president of Jordan College; somewhat poetic considering he gives Lyra the altheiometer (a tool to divine what is truth and can answer those that bear it truthfully any question they ask).  Nicole Kidman plays Ms. Coultier – a cold hearted snake would be an understatement. She’s both pretty and cruel at the same time. Heck, even Sam Elliot as Lee Scoresby was great casting, in my opinion.

    I hope they don’t tone down the religious aspect of it. The core of the book revolves around the idea of dust and, although ‘controversial’, would emasculate the story if they left it out.

  24. PeteJ – if you have not been here before, welcome to SEB! 

    The points where he became a bit more overt in his agenda, it was obvious and mentally I made a note and disagreed and went on with the book.

    That’s exactly how I read stories written from a Christian perspective.  I don’t get hung up on whether it fits my world view – within the world of the story, that is the reality.

    As usual it will be the “adults” who will have the most trouble distinguishing fiction from reality.

  25. I didn’t really feel as though it was an agenda piece as much as an intelligent, well crafted story that was influenced by his religious background.

    Religious nutballs ALWAYS confuse the two.

    I remember watching the movie “Stigmata” and thinking “Wow, the writer really thinks the Catholic Church is full of evil people and political agendas” but I don’t remember anyone condemning the movie as being a propaganda tool… at least nothing that made the news.  It seems the church picks and chooses what they get upset about.

    As far as I’m concerned, every movie ever made and every story ever written has a terrible bias, and that’s okay.  If I want a political debate, I’m sure not going to ask for it from Hollywood.  It’s like watching a movie based on historical accounts and getting pissed because it isn’t factual.  Come on.  It’s entertainment.  Deal with it.

    That’s not good enough for some people.  In matters of religion, we should not only protect our children from un-Christian ideas, but also ourselves.  And we do that not by understanding what it is that we’re watching or reading, but by simply isolating ourselves from it.

    Yeah.  THAT sure makes sense.

  26. They’re great books for both adults and children, and even if the themes are watered down the movie looks to be terrific as well.

  27. Wow, I got an email response from somebody about my smartass comment on this thread:

    Bog Brother Wrote: Poor Christians, always so persecuted.  Especially those Roman Catholics.  I mean really, just look at how poorly such Christian films as the Passion of the Christ and the Chronicles of Narnia did at the Box Office and on DVD.  They practically fell out of the theaters because so few people were viewing them.  Surely we can’t allow a viewpoint that opposes those hallowed principles to be voiced can we? Why if we let such a descent occur, we’ll be a virtual minority.  We certainly don’t wield the power we once did in the Good Old Days of the Middle Ages when the peasantry was poor, illiterate and completely ignorant, do we?  It’s obvious we need to return to those days in order to save the world from all the evil and sin that The Golden Compass represents.  We certainly don’t live in a country where freedom of speech is supposed to rule the day, and we certainly don’t have a majority of the population under our control.  Why, from th e way we act, you would never believe we were the most powerful and influential voting block in the US and one of the most powerful organizations in the entire world, would you?

    Jerry wrote: Beside being a smart ass you try to be a know it all as well, are you an atheist? or just like being someone who hates Christians in general? Why should parents allow children to watch trash? I take it you you think children should be able to decide for themselves what to watch? Do you have a line at all drawn in the sand that they should not be allowed to see? Porn? Im sure violence is OK and any gaming CD for xbox and those like it? Children should have restrictions on what they watch, hear, until they are old enough to be told the dangers of what they are watching. Evil is very incidious in it’s ability to mask inself as something to delite, Im sure Eve thought that such a beautiful apple could cause no harm. Im sure you will have a politicians answer for whatever anyones says against your view…Evil is like that…mask the answer with another question until it is all gray and the apple has been bitten. Raven on macbeth.

    My response was as follows:

    Hello Jerry –

    I am glad you read my comment, and believe that I am the epitome of evil as a result. You are quite correct in asking if I am an atheist, I most certainly am, but I am also a former Born Again Christian. To answer your concerns, I also share you belief in the need to restrict the content that children are shown, and I am against pornography in the hands of children.  I also believe that violent materials are damaging to developing minds, more so in my opinion than even pornographic materials; however I am well aware that you and I most likely will fail to see eye to eye on this.

    I very much appreciate your attempt to guess what I do and do not believe is appropriate concerning children.  Your base assumptions about my beliefs and character are what makes living in this nation so terrific.  However, I will refrain from sharing any assumptions about your person based on your response to my comment.  The fact that you felt the need to send your response to me directly rather than the normally accepted manner of responding to it on the forum on which it was posted shows to me a level of dedication that I can only admire.  Your efforts are indeed commendable, though I am a bit mystified about your motives, other than simple venting of frustration and anger in a fairly ineffectual manner.  This is not a slight on you good sir, simply against the internet itself, since the anonymous nature of internet forums and even email makes it quite difficult to have a really meaningful discourse between two or more rational adults.

    Now to address the actual issue discussed: The Golden Compass and Bill Donahue’s attempts to boycott said film.  I fully believe that it is within anyone’s right to speak out against a film that they disagree with.  I also believe it is the prerogative, nay, the responsibility of any and all parents to filter what their children see, read and hear.  I personally believe that the first is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, the second is the responsibility of any adult who chooses to raise children.  I personally have chosen not to raise children, no doubt to the delight of you and those who share your views.

    That said, I would like to point out that the reaction to this film appears to be a bit of an over-reaction.  It does not seem likely that a nation that is populated by a majority of Christians is in any real danger of collectively losing its faith if it were to view a movie, even one in which the main plot revolves around the death of a being that calls itself God.  You would no doubt find the fact that the novels leave the true identity (if any) of the creator of the universe up in the air, as it is in the real world.  However, I cannot properly elaborate further until I have finished reading the books (I am currently working through the first book, but my reading time is limited by things such as work, which I must get back to.)

    In any event, we will clearly not agree on this, but I would very much appreciate any further discourse on this or any other subject you would like to send my way.  Feel free to email me whenever you wish, on any subject. I would be more than happy to take time out of my busy day to discuss things with you.

    Respectfully,
    Terry

  28. BB: and I am against pornography in the hands of children

    *Snort* (sorry, had to do that to build on Les’s *sniff* in a way appropriate to me)
    Why though? It’s not a big deal unless it’s made into one by society, and it’s only the natural body anyway, and tells them that it’s OK to explore. Perhaps children would have a better understanding of themselves +others from earlier so as not to make mistakes

    I like your style of email + patience it shows + gives them a chance, I wonder what gave you cause for comitment, maybe your objectives are not too different than mine, as we both bother with people who will probably never affect us again, probably only for the benefit of them+ those they know. I justify it to myself as practise, because it’s illogical on some levels to help another without some sort of personal gain (ie to feel better about self)

  29. I’m going to file Jerry under ‘no hope’. Someone who equates a kids book that opposes religeon with violence and porn. What exactly is his objection to letting kids see this film?

  30. Kids will whack off to it, go outside and mutilate some squirrels, score some smack, and then go shoot their maths professor that they had big gay sex with while smoking cigarettes the night before.

    The writing is on the wall. Why can’t everyone simply understand their legitimate fears?

    Christians make me laugh. They believe they’ve got superman watching their asses, and yet they are the biggest bunch of pussies imaginable most of the time.

  31. I just watched the trailer, and it looks pretty good.  That, and the fact that New Line did a damned decent job of the impossible with filming the Lord of the Rings, are enough recommendation for me.  Don’t know when it’s due out in Vienna, but I’m going with the whole family.

  32. Why though? It’s not a big deal unless it’s made into one by society, and it’s only the natural body anyway, and tells them that it’s OK to explore. Perhaps children would have a better understanding of themselves +others from earlier so as not to make mistakes

    I can discuss this more in depth later (I’m at work as I type this), but I can sum it up as follows.  Some parents believe porn is an appropriate substitute for giving the “talk” to their children.  However, it is not, and said children can come away from such experiences with incorrect and/or dangerous view about human sexuality.  Sexually explicit materials are intended for adults, and should not be distributed to children, or even young teens.  That said, we can hardly stop curious children from becoming exposed to such things in this day and age, though we should work to limit their exposure, I believe.

  33. I agree that the talk is necessary, it’s not something I really had as my parents didn’t want to bring it up (they said we could talk about ‘anything’ but there was a definite feeling of taboo) and they assumed i’d just know instincively how to deal with +obtain women, that casued me problems

    However I can’t see what dangerous views there are to be obtained from a picture – and if it is just part of reality, the child is going to have to deal with it at some point anyway – I don’t think people can be immune from a mindstate they havn’t already had, and sooner or later they’re going to be exposed to it anyway – same goes for religion; they’re going to be exposed to it, and they’re going to think about it eventually, no matter how much you ‘protect’ them from it earlier.

    Indeed, (by teenage stage) they’ll only be more motivated to investigate what you will not allow them to know when they realise you’re hiding something, partly to find out why, and they’ll resent not knowing if they feel somehow disadvantaged by it.

  34. OK, so your own parents had trouble talking to you frankly about sex.  So did mine.  However, do you really think that viewing pornography instead of this at the age that you probably started asking questions would have given you a healthy view of sex?  Some nudity would probably not have caused problems, but hardcore pornography does objectify women, and presents a highly skewed view of reality in my opinion, and this can lead to some problems for a person as they progress into adulthood, carrying these skewed views of sexuality with them. 

    I know the religious right screams about porn leading to violence and worse, but their hysterics may very well have some basis in reality in relation to children being exposed to porn.  I have my doubts that a healthy man viewing it is going to be swayed to start treating a woman like a piece of meat, but a child who has no experience might very well get it ingrained that the way women are treated in the porn movie he watched is the way to do it. 

    I’m well aware that children whose parents are open and willing to discuss these things are more likely to grow up healthy and well adjusted.  Too, I think a child whose parents are that way could probably handle viewing porn, but I still do not think that the skewed view that most porn presents is a healthy one, even for a child whose parents are open and educated about sex themselves and are not afraid to have “the talk”. 

    I’m of the same mind about excessive violence, be it cartoons, video games or movies, but as I said, I feel that exposure to violence is worse than exposure to porn. I’m giving neither a pass, and the irony that American society feels exposure to violence is acceptable, while sex is taboo (and the other fact that the porn industry is so gargantuan) is not lost on me at all.

  35. but hardcore pornography does objectify women, and presents a highly skewed view of reality in my opinion

    This is what I need to understand – I don’t see what views it’s supposed to get across. For me I think “hmm, that looks like my friend who I semi-fancy, I can fantasise about it”, or “I wish I was there”. It doesn’t make me think women are easy, life seems to indicate otherwise, it just says some women will pose nude for money or emotional trickery, which is true. If they were going to disrespect women, it’s for other reasons that would’ve existed anyway (personality)

    The religous right fears anyone enjoying themselves. Anyway, I also think it’s strange how things like tax fraud and theft are viewed far worse than violence, at least legally.

  36. I thought I was being clear when I said that it’s potentially harmful to children.  This does not mean adults.

    As for the “views” it is supposed to get across, well, it’s not “supposed” to, it’s supposed to stimulate and excite.  However it does present an unrealistic view of sexuality.  You and I, who are adults, realize it to be fantasy.  Porn is absurd and fairly unrealistic in many instances. Children though are not always well known for their ability to tell reality from fantasy (so too many adults as well unfortunately).

    Aside from any psychological/social harm it might do to a child, there is also the other issue of it being illegal and inappropriate. At least here in the US, it is considered endangering a child to expose them to sexual activity, and a felony.  Exposing children to sexual activity is looked down upon almost universally, as it should be.  I fail to see how exposing a child to sexually explicit material is any different, other than the obvious of them not being sexually active in the matter. 

    Do you think it would be OK to take a child into a bar/nightclub?  What about sending a child to an rated-R movie? How about putting them on a battlefield with a rifle? I would not myself if I had children.  These are settings that are not intended for children, and there is no good reason to expose a child to them.  So too pornography.  Besides, children grow up too fast as it is, why rush them even more?

  37. In year six my eldest had sex education at school, though we had already told them both all the facts.  Cue 10/11 year olds coming out of school, telling their younger siblings followed by lots of giggling.

    The problem was we were going to a big family dinner with some rarely seen 3rd/4th cousins for my dads cousins 80th birthday. “Whatever you do don’t DARE say vagina in front of Auntie Joyce”

  38. Aaargh! I’m done commenting here.  I got ANOTHER email from someone about my comment on this thread:

    I just thought it was interesting how you said that the passion of christ and chronicles of narnia did not do good in theaters… Maybe you should read this…http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=1289&p=s.htm

      and try searching narnia also….

      —
      Cooper Miller

    I responded with the following:

    Um, you are aware of the concept of sarcasm right?  Perhaps you should re-read my comment in light of the fact that I was being very, very sarcastic.

    I had no idea that Christians could be so defensive and dense.  (Oh shit, that’s more sarcasm, probably get more emails about that.)

  39. Maybe I just hit some Christian sweet spot with my smart-ass remarks.  Oh dear, this could be the start of something terrible. I wonder how they found the comment, assuming they aren’t lurkers or drive-by trolls though.  I Googled the Golden Compass, and this thread was about 95th on the search results.  If I was doing a search for stuff about the film, I’d have given up way before then.

  40. Bog Brother- I’m sure the fundies found you easily enough.  In their spare time, fundies scour the web to augment their knowledge.  If you google “stupid sex evil”, which I’m sure is a fundy favorite, guess what comes up Number One.

  41. If I could be so fortunate I’d count myself Christian (hey, I love Jesus Christ), yet I don’t see the problem inherent in these books. Is it propaganda? Maybe. It looks like it, but I really don’t know, and I definitely don’t care. I don’t think it’s all that important. I’m certainly not e-mailing my neighbors about it.

    All I know is there are nearly billions of people, right now, not in some fantasy world, but here, right now, struggling to see tomorrow. I don’t have time for fantasy, and I’m pretty sure they don’t either.

    We in the West should ‘thank our lucky stars’ if we’re so inclined to even be debating such non-issues as “The Golden Compass” and its impact on interfaith dialogue while people are starving and dying.

    It’s one thing to die from famine, plague, or some other malady, but it’s high time we all agree it’s unacceptable for a human to kill another, whatever the cause, whatever the cost.

    To me this incident looks like what E.M. Forster called the “last, sloshy stirrings.” I hate to see it all, I wish I was just a fly on the wall, only I’m not.

    The fact that “The Golden Compass” is polarizing people into holding their heads high or hanging them in shame is a luxury on both sides that I believe we ought to acknowledge, and ought to feel some uneasiness collectively for even debating in the first place.

  42. Not to be mean there Tommy, but do you spend all your time and money helping these poor souls that you care so deeply about?  I don’t think the not so subtle attempt at castigating us who are holding this discussion is really going to work.

    Note:  Just in case –

    cas·ti·gate (kst-gt)
    tr.v. cas·ti·gat·ed, cas·ti·gat·ing, cas·ti·gates
    1. To inflict severe punishment on. See Synonyms at punish.
    2. To criticize severely.
    [Latin castgre, castgt-, from castus, pure; see kes- in Indo-European roots.]
    casti·gation n.
    casti·gator n.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    Anyway, is it really so horrible for us to not be thinking about the bad things in the world and get upset/incensed (be we Atheist, Catholic or otherwise) about what you categorize as fluff?  Perhaps we should be focusing all our time to help the poor and downtrodden.  Perhaps we are all terrible people for not doing so.

    What I would really like to know though is this.  Does your help and efforts for the poor come with or without a side of Jesus?

  43. Tommy, you may recall that Jesus encountered the old “We shouldn’t be on trivial things; what about the poor and downtrodden!??”  Do you remember who brought it up and what His answer was?  It gets tiresome to focus on ultimately weighty matters all the time.

    Also, if you think that matters of religion are trivial, remember religion is constantly trying to get roots into politics and affect policy.  And when something goes “boom” somewhere and kills people who were otherwise just minding their own business, there’s an even chance religion was involved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.