Back at the first of November I received the following email from someone who is in somewhat of a position of authority with the youth and parents of my community:
Subject: Fwd: Request of CAUTION
You may already know about this, but I just learned about a kids movie coming out in December starring Nicole Kidman. I believe it’s called The Golden Compass, and while it will be a watered down version, it is based on a series of children’s books about killing God (it is anti-Narnia).
Please follow this link, and then pass it on. From what I understand, the hope is to get a lot of kids to see the movie – which won’t seem too bad – and then get the parents to buy the books for their kids for Christmas. The quotes from the author sum it all up.
This email really rubbed me the wrong way, so I sent this response:
We (Katie, Hannah and I) have read and enjoyed the entire trilogy.
Yes, Pullman is an atheist, and yes, the books in this trilogy contain ‘anti-religious themes,’ but I think the concern is way overblown. In typical fashion, Christian fearmongers are implying that this book and movie are part of some nefarious plot to undermine Christianity. Give me a break!
Hannah read the trilogy maybe two years ago, when she was 11. After she finished, we discussed with her the ‘anti-religious themes’ in the trilogy. She didn’t see any of it. Frankly, the theological implications were WAY over her head and frankly, probably over most people’s heads. Hell, I have a Ph.D. in literature and I didn’t think much about it until Katie brought up the topic.
In fact, you could argue that people SHOULD read the book and see the movie as a stimulus for important discussions. A reviewer that was quoted on the snopes page you linked to wrote: “[Pullman’s] fundamental objection is to ideological tyranny…”
Lord knows (so to speak) that the Christian church is constantly in danger of committing ideological tyranny and has frequently gone far across that line. Discussion and awareness of the topic is one way to ensure we don’t get near it ourselves.
You are in a position of authority. People listen to your recommendations. In the future, please don’t pass on such concerns based on hearsay.
It was the tone of this email that really got me: the explicit mention of well-known (apparently former) scientologist Nicole Kidman, the suggestion of conspiracy.
Well, apparently author Brandon Sanderson, who writes science fiction for young adults, received a similar email. He addressed his concerns about such censorship in a blog post. I’m glad to see that he brought many of the same points that I thought of–but of course, he expressed them much more eloquently than I.
I also agree with Brandon Sanderson on another point that he makes: if your faith is so weak that it can be influenced by a work of fiction, then you’ve got bigger problems than the work of fiction itself.