Compass: Golden or Moral?

I was a bit surprised to find a post on Vox Nova going beyond just criticism of the forthcoming film The Golden Compass.

Anyone who (orders Bill Donohue’s booklet) will be armed with all the ammo they need to convince friends and family members that there is nothing innocent about Pullman’s agenda. Though the movie promises to be fairly non-controversial, it may very well act as an inducement to buy Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials. And remember, his twin goals are to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity. TO KIDS. Our school is pulling any reading books, picture books, activity books, stickers or promo materials for The Golden Compass that Scholastic sends our way. I want our school to discontinue ANY sales in partnership with Scholastic but that is not to be quite yet.

A few things to ponder here. First, you don’t want to go to Bill Donohue’s corner in the culture wars. You just don’t. Second, while I’ve not read Pullman’s books, I understand they have a certain attractiveness in that they’re well-written and they appeal to a sense of fantasy and adventure.

I noticed an ad for the film on tv today. The movie is rated PG-13. While I’m aware that studios don’t mind when underage kids patronize their restricted-rating films, this is a matter in which parents hold the control. My eleven-year-old doesn’t watch PG-13 movies unless they’ve really been screened. In other words, nothing unless my wife or I have watched it and discussed it first.

As for a teen watching a movie with elements of anti-Christianity or God-killing, I don’t see a problem with that in principle. I’d be more concerned about the “stellar” example of athletes and owners, young actors, or even Bush administration appointees. Lying, cheating, substance abuse, abuse of power, fraud, and going to jail: if that stuff’s not boycott-worthy I can’t see the case for Scholastic.

The talk of boycotting sponsors and even Scholastic Books is missing the point. We don’t need Donohue’s “ammo.” We don’t need another booklet telling us parents what to do, especially considering the source.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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8 Responses to Compass: Golden or Moral?

  1. talmida says:

    Do other parents not read their children’s books?

    You’re right, Todd, they are well-written. The first one is brilliant. It’s all downhill from there, though. I’ve never felt a greater sense of betrayal from a series – I was handing each volume to my eldest (14 at the time) as I finished it. It ended up being a good vehicle for us to talk about God and how literature treats religious faith. But still. I really did feel that I’d been suckered.

    One of the best reviews of the series is at the Green Man Review. It is detailed, literate, and balanced. I wish I’d read it before reading the books — I’d still have read them, but I might have appreciated them more, and been better prepared to talk about them with my kids.

    Hollywood is famous for blanding down books when they make movies. Will this be the case here? Probably. It will be a sweet pretty fantasy — not Pullman’s story at all. But the only vote I get in the culture wars is the one I make with my feet (or my wallet), so I’ll be giving this flick a miss.

    As for the Catholic League? They have once again made themselves the object of ridicule. But that’s not news.

  2. John Heavrin says:

    “…As for the Catholic League? They have once again made themselves the object of ridicule…”

    I would invite you to consider the source…of the ridicule. The Catholic League is fighting the good fight, and they don’t give a damn about Human Respect. Lack of concern for Human Respect is a great, and essential, virtue. This should be second nature for Catholics, but for most it isn’t, and the Church, and Catholic children, suffer for it.

    Being “the object of ridicule” is often necessary for a Catholic, as we are called to imitate Christ, who was also an object of ridicule.

  3. Todd says:

    John, your logic doesn’t line up. The secular culture ridicules lots of things and people, including Britney and Michael Vick. We don’t look to what is being ridiculed by our ideological adversaries and embrace it automatically. It does take discernment.

    I prefer to look at the track record of commentators like Bill Donohue. He defended a predator of college co-eds. And he was rightly taken to task for it.

    What’s up with the capitalization? Respect would seem to be a virtue. Is this some new pc-talk coming from conservatives?

  4. crystal says:

    I read the first book of the series and thought it was pretty good, but not so interesting that I wanted to read the next two. There must be a better way of encouraging certain beliefs without banning the ones that are different?

  5. John Heavrin says:

    Unfamiliar with the concept of sinning out of “human respect”?

    Google it for yourself, but here’s a good example of what it means:

    The Catholic League makes mistakes, as do we all, but their courageous willingness to speak out and brave ridicule is essential. Deo gratias somebody is doing it without worrying somebody might laugh at them.

  6. Soutenus says:

    “I want our school to discontinue ANY sales in partnership with Scholastic but that is not to be quite yet.”

    I should have elaborated. Our principal spoke with us (the faculty) at our last faculty meeting to give us a head’s up on this movie.
    At that time I learned that we have to go through the books that Scholastic brings to our book fairs because so many of them are inconsistent with the formation and/or the academic standards at our school. (A few quick examples: books that condone gay lifestyle, television/cartoon oriented books, horror books)
    I feel that we should seek out a Catholic company to do our Book Fairs AND our weekly reader handouts.

    I believe there is a strong market for a Catholic book company in this capacity. We have found a company to do our Book Fairs but not our weekly reader series.

    Soutenus (from Vox Nova)

  7. Todd says:

    Thanks for the link, John. I guess I don’t have to worry about “human respect” where my relationship with St Blog’s is concerned, eh?

  8. Pingback: Mindless Conformity « Catholic Sensibility

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