The Golden Compass

I have now received from two different sources on the Mormon grapevine this link about the upcoming movie, The Golden Compass. According to the e-mails, this movie is based on a series of books by a devout atheist, who is both anti-religion and anti-Lewis, and means his books as an atheistic counterpoint to The Chronicles of Narnia. The claim is made that the children in the story kill God in the end. Normally one might check this sort of thing out at Snopes, but in this case it is Snopes itself that is being passed around.

This is the first I’ve heard of this brouhaha (I have seen previews for the movie). Is this just some sort of Evangelical-driven hysteria a la the animus against the Harry Potter series? Or is there more substance to this one? Does anyone know?

On a broader level, assuming arguendo that the author is indeed an atheist with an axe to grind, does that in itself suggest boycotting the movie? I remember Arthur Henry King was always a big advocate of the importance of the morality of an author, that if the author was not moral in his real life the literature he produced could not be truly moral, either. I don’t know that I bought that idea at the time, but I haven’t given it much thought. What do our literati think about this?

Comments

  1. I have read all three books and found them to be thought-provoking and complex as well as exhilarating, and enjoyed them at least as much as the Harry Potter series. The atheism angle will go right over the heads of children, just as the Christianity angle goes right over the heads of children in the Narnia books (although Lewis is the slightly cruder allegorist).

    I’m curious though. Why would you assume an atheist, with or without an axe to grind, to be immoral?

  2. Kevin,

    Is this just some sort of Evangelical-driven hysteria a la the animus against the Harry Potter series? Or is there more substance to this one? Does anyone know?

    In this case, their criticism is fairly valid. I am guessing you haven’t read the books. Indeed Philip Pullman has his characters kill God at the end of book three, in a most insulting way.

    I wouldn’t boycott this movie. I think if you raise too much of a ruckus you give the author what he is looking for, when really he should just be ignored.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Bill, I didn’t mean to say the author was immoral. I was making an analogy to a position that King took vis-a-vis morality and seeing whether (a) his position is coherent in the sphere of morality, and (b) we should extend the same kind of principle to theism/atheism. You’re right that it looked like I was equating atheism with immorality, which was not my intent.

  4. Eric Russell says:

    This controversy is absurd on a couple of levels.

    First is the fact that such a controversy still exists amid concurrent complaints from the National Secular Society that the anti-religion themes were removed or watered down in the film. A fact which, according to most sources, is true.

    But more importantly is that so many people are complaining who have not seen the film. You just can’t talk if you don’t know what you’re talking about. (Of course, that doesn’t stop most people.)

  5. Atheist does not equal immoral in any case, Kevin.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Right Ann. If my explanation of what I meant still isn’t clear on that point (I meant for it to be), consider this my acknowledgment of it. If I weren’t a Mormon, I’d probably be an atheist myself.

  7. Katherine says:

    I read these books as a kid and loved them. In hindsight, I realize there are some pretty heavy atheistic overtones, but I think most of that went over my head initially. I remember appreciating the series for being much more complex and thought-provoking than my usual fare–I definitely plan to see the movie.

  8. I got an email about that just this morning. It was sent out over our ward’s Relief Society mailing list.

    I also feel uniquely qualified to comment because I just recently finished reading the trilogy.

    The books are quite obviously against organized religion. I see it being about power hungry leaders using religious beliefs to control people and keep the masses stupid, and how that is a Bad Thing, and should be stopped.

    I also think the books are uniquely compatible with LDS beliefs. I think lots of what would bother Christians about these books are things that Christians would also cite as reasons the LDS aren’t Christian.

    Lastly, something that I think is a very important point is that the ‘God’ they kill in the story bears more resemblence to what I would call Satan. He’s a being who named himself God, lied about his power and deeds, and sought to control the whole universe through force and coercion.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Since I botched the Arthur Henry King thing, let me just clarify that I was thinking of arguments he made in a half-remembered forum address, which I just now found in BYU Studies 11/1, entitled “Some Notes on Art and Morality,” which you may read here.

    An illustrative sentence will illustrate why I thought of this essay: “The art of even an imperfect faith is better than the art of no faith at all.”

    So part of my question is whether people buy AHK’s insistence that the religious belief of the artist is relevant to how we relate to the art itself.

  10. Nick Literski says:

    Perhaps someone can explain to me how an atheist goes about killing deity?

    Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

  11. It isn’t very apparent in the first book, but the trilogy is virulently anti-religion. However, I don’t think I would prevent my children from reading the books or seeing the movies, I would just use them as a springboard for discussions about why the author is mistaken in his beliefs. I thought the books were very thought provoking and had great conversations about them with an atheist friend who read them at the same time I did.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    I found an essay about this at First Things, in case anyone is interested.

  13. True enough, Starfoxy, there are a lot of interesting doctrinal comparisons, from the “dust” question, the questions about spirit and matter, the status of the soul, the status of the dead spirits awaiting redemption. And what is the aletheometer, (the golden compass) if not a sort of liahona?

    And yes, the God of the third book is a sort of pathetic OZ-like character; reminded me a little of the Genialissimus of Vladimir Voinovich’s Moscow 2042.

  14. endlessnegotiation says:

    I think Bill in #1 underestimates children’s abilities. We read both Lewis’ and Pullman’s series together as a family and our oldest children (ages 11 and 9)– without much prompting– were able to identify the Christian and anti-religious parallels in both sets of books. I would be loathe to turn my children loose on the Pullman books all on their own because I do think they carry a pernicious message. I find Starfoxy’s remarks rather naive in light of all that Pullman has either spoken or written about the intent of his books. To Pullman the character Starfoxy calls Satan is how Pullman views the Christian God– or more specifically the Catholic God.

    My understanding, like Kevin’s, is that the movie waters down the anti-religious aspects that are more obvious in the books but the real “danger” (I hate using those scare quotes) is that parents will see the movie with their kids and then simply turn them loose on the books without discussing them together.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    They call the Golden Compass an aletheometer? That’s interesting. The first part comes from the Greek aletheia, which means “truth.” This word is formed in a fascinating way. According to Greek myths regarding the transmigration of souls, before returning to this world one would drink from the river Lethe, which would cause the person to forget his former lives. The a- in aletheia is a privative (like English un-). Therefore, the truth is that which has been “unforgotten”–IE remembered.

  16. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    “His Dark Materials” is the ugliest set of books it’s ever been my misfortune to read. I will not see this movie and I would not be happy about my kids reading the books. I don’t know that I’d stop them but I do know that if they did read them, I’d be watching carefully.

  17. The First Things essay is very much worth reading and mirrors quite closely my thoughts on the series. I was less bothered by the death of God (and that scene needs a close reading to fully appreciate — it is often misread by readers. Which is not to say that it may not be offensive, but that the configuration of God etc. in Pullman’s world is not an exact analogue with creedal Christianity’s [let alone Mormonism's]), and more disappointed by the way Pullman’s atheism weakens the third book and the fantastic world he had developed.

    Also: FMH has recently discussed the His Dark Materials trilogy.

  18. I should add that Pullman’s series is required reading for Mormon writers for the very reasons mentioned above — it’s an excellent illustration of how ideology can have a negative impact on storytelling even when the storyteller is a very gifted writer.

  19. I have not read the books, so this simply is a fwiw:

    If he kills Calvin’s God, or the God of much of Christianity who gets his kicks out of having people sit around singing his praises for eternity (extolling his glory with no progression of their own), or the God who burns people in everlasting hellfire for not hearing about him when they had no chance to hear about him, I can’t blame him.

  20. Timely post, Kevin.

    You’re right on the etymology. The alethiometer is explicitly a truth telling device, and the derivation of the name is mentioned in the books themselves.

    As for the substance, I have to agree with Starfoxy. The God of the books isn’t really God in any sense that we’d recognize. The books aren’t anti-God, I’d say, though they’re certainly critical of many of the excesses of organized religion.

    As for morality or immorality, Pullman is an advocate of a highly moral agnosticism/atheism with major gnostic undertones, and this comes across very clearly in the books. One can criticize the books for being anti-religious, but not for lacking a moral vision. In fact, there’s a discussion by one character of the question, if I don’t believe in God, should I still do good things? And the character articulates a rationale for moral atheism, which is Pullman’s own position.

  21. Nick,

    Ask Nietzsche.

  22. SC Taysom says:

    Kaimi,
    I’m confused as to how a story advocating a highly moral agnosticism can simultaneously display “major gnostic undertones.” This sounds interesting, but since I haven’t read these books I am having a difficult time imagining how such an approach would work. What am I missing?

  23. Sure, SC.

    Start with the basics. Yes, there’s the etymology. A-gnostic = not gnostic. We all know that.

    But it’s more complicated because in the English language as commonly used, the word agnostic is not really the opposite of gnostic. It means more like, “on whether God exists, the jury’s out.” (Surely you know this.)

    Now, Pullman has variously described himself as atheist or agnostic, on the question of whether God exists. He’s not sure whether God exists. Using the word as commonly understood in today’s English, he can reasonably be called an agnostic.

    Pullman’s books rely on a lot of gnostic-like ideas, though. His characters have souls that are separate from body or spirit and that are expressed as shape-changing familiars that accompany them; he makes extensive use of demons and angels and mystical matter; he posits a God figure who is not really benevolent and not really God; and so on.

    It’s a modern sort of gnostic-influenced approach, like William Blake’s (Pullman acknowledges his debt to Blake), rather than an attempt to fully recreate 1st or 2nd century gnostic ideas. Thus, my description of Pullman’s book as having gnostic “undertones” . . .

  24. Also, isn’t the knowledge (gnosis) referred to in the word agnostic different from the gnosis referred to in gnostic?

    A-gnostic means without knowledge (as to whether God exists). Gnostic, though, refers to various movements _seeking_ their own knowledge or enlightenment.

    Whether or not one has knowledge as to whether God exists, one can still seek knowledge and enlightenment, no? Meaning, one could simultaneously be both a-gnostic and gnostic, right?

  25. In this case, their criticism is fairly valid. I am guessing you haven’t read the books. Indeed Philip Pullman has his characters kill God at the end of book three, in a most insulting way.

    He has given a number of interesting interviews as well.

    The biggest problem the series has is that he fails to pull it together at the end.

    The chosen child must save the universe by choosing the right act without coercion or guidance. What is the miraculous act she must choose? It turns out to be teeny bopper sex. How does it save the universe, well, the author has to fudge on that.

    How did the afterlife evolve? No consistent basis is provided at all (the author posits evolution, “god” is just an overgrown angel who has gone senile and was an early evolutionary fluke — he has no psychopomp skills or function at all).

    It is an engaging, nicely set up “promised child” genre book followed by the backstory of the promised child’s faithful companion. Then the two come together to harry the underworld/land of death and face the gods to triumph. The author just fails to pull it off at the end.

    The books are engaging because they are creative, pull together solid mythic elements and have a tempting hook (the spirit companions everyone has). They just don’t come together at the end, and settle for empty preaching and an incomplete resolution that he has acknowledged calls for a follow-up book, which he fails to produce.

    Oh, and how does the dust have all the truth it has? No reason at all, we discover.

  26. tesseract says:

    Well, I have to say I loved the books, for all the same reasons that the people who enjoyed them commented about prior to me – i found them very original, creative, and thought provoking.

    Me being lds and a christian, I did not find it to be offensive. Although Pullman has received harsh scrutiny, I’ve heard that several Christians have come to Pullman’s defense including Rowan Williams – the Archbishop of Canterbury – arguing that the book is negative toward the contraints and dangers of dogmatism and the use of religion to oppress, not on Christianity itself.

  27. I commented on the FMH thread about this a few days ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I loved these books. I found them moving and beautiful and although I can understand that they can be read as “atheistic,” I didn’t read them that way at all. And I certainly didn’t read them as being ugly and ant-god. I think that is being too defensive–the type of religious oppression he is railing against should bear no comparison to our own. Unless we mormons secretly wish Satan’s plan for us to never choose between good and evil was really the right one?

    I, too, think that the “god” of the book bears no resemblance to our God (and there is no mention of any Christ or Christlike figure–unless you consider Lyra, who has to go down into the world of the dead, make a sacrifice, etc. in order for people to be saved).

    I don’t think that what happens between Lyra and Will is “teeny-bopper sex.” I read that part as falling in true love and perhaps, some kissing. The point, I think, was going against the idea that sexuality is wrong and degrading to humans, but instead that is part of what makes human experience rich and meaningful. We’d agree with that, I think.

    Also, these books are fantasy books and are *not* set in our world (except for the parts about Will). Although you could argue that the books are anti-religion or whatever, there are still angels and souls and truth and the redeeming power of love…

  28. Even my Atheist friends say these books are depressing, so I’ve steered clear, FWIW

  29. Funny, I’ve never heard of these books, but they immediately brought another one to mind which in another part of the world stirred up a similar controversy. Nobel Prize winning Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz (who recently passed away), wrote an excellent book called “Children of Our Alley” (sometimes called Children of Gebelawi in English translation) where one of the main characters towards the end kills the character that represents God.

    Basic story of the book is many generations of local life in a typical Egyptian alley (kind of the Egyptian equivalent of telling the story of the life of a village in other parts of the world) are chronicled, with key leaders rising and falling over the years who are pretty straightforward symbols of the key prophets in Islam (Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, etc.). All the while there is an aloof, forboding, but ultimately life-giving character named Gebelawi who is almost never seen behind the walls of his palace. Towards the end of the book, a character who represents modern Socialism and Science (this was several decades ago when the two were seen as pretty close to one and the same) sneaks into Gebelawi’s house, and in the dark slips up and accidentally kills Gebelawi.

    The symbolism seems pretty clear at first glance, science/socialism (modernity basically) killed God. But Mahfouz meant it not to say that God is dead – his character is very remorseful and scared of what he’s done, and more importantly fails in the leadership role of past prophets and bumbles into destroying Gebelawi to boot – it was meant more as a warning that we risk destroying our sprituality by over-reliance on science/modern modes of thought. But that actual message didn’t stop the Egyptian authorities from banning the book in a conservative fit, and decades later a crazed fanatic stabbed the old man and nearly killed him.

    Anyhow, couldn’t help but note the comparison. It’s a wonderful book (as are many of Mahfouz’s works, for which very good English translations exist). Check it out here:

  30. Forgot the link, here:

  31. The first two books are wonderful. The last is a bit of a dud and rather cruel. On the whole, Pullman’s screed is against the violent and coercive excesses of organised religion and the ridiculous Nobadaddies religion has often created. I can get behind that. Expect the movies to be much less militant.

    I like what Ray said. In many constructs, “God” is downright nasty.

  32. Ronan: I like what Ray said. In many constructs, “God” is downright nasty.

    Amen bro.

  33. Personally I expect the movie to be stunning.

    I expect the second movie to be strong (The Subtle Knife is the name of the second book).

    The third book is going to be harder to pull off. Given that he has not been able to pull the fourth book together, I’m not sure where that will ever lead, but I expect the movie to push him to do that.

    Useful links:

    http://www.randomhouse.com/features/pullman/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Dark_Materials

    Q: Did you write His Dark Materials as “fantasy”?

    A: No. I think of it as stark realism.

    also

    Pullman denies that His Dark Materials can be seen as the antithesis of The Chronicles of Narnia,

  34. I should have also included:

    http://www.hisdarkmaterials.org/

    In the links to consider.

  35. A few days later, Britain’s National Secular Society, of which Pullman is an honorary associate, told the U.K.’s Observer that the filmmakers were “taking the heart” out of the series by removing its “anti-religious elements.”

    Philip-Pullman.com

    hmm, he is toned down a bit since the last essay I saw:

    His Dark Materials seems to be against organised religion. Do you believe in God?

    I don’t know whether there’s a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it’s perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don’t know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.

    Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it’s because he’s ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they’re responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I’d want nothing to do with them.

    Anyway, I expect the movie to be stunning.

  36. I agree with William Morris’s comments above. The third book just stumbles. Rather than creating new ideas and expanding the world, as the first two books did, the third book just fully chokes on ideology; the first two books are full of a kind of blasphemy reminiscent of the old Preacher comic book — the kind of blasphemy that keeps a narrative moving forward. The third book switches over to the kind of blasphemy that very drunk and socially backwards atheists might engage in at 2:30 Saturday morning…

    The fact that the fiction promotes a world view other than our own… Doesn’t bother me. We never had this conversation about the Lord of the Rings, which certainly promotes a religious world view different from the Mormon one — indeed, so do the Narnia books, for that matter.

  37. For heaven’s sake, it’s fantasy. When I read Tolkein, Donaldson, Brooks, etc. in high school, I didn’t think much about religious overtones, parallels, metaphors. I picked them up sometimes–how could you not–but it’s not like they promoted principles to confuse my religious beliefs.They were just stories. Joseph Campbell in leotards & pointy ears. Heck, I’m a high priest who likes Beckett & Sartre. Does this put me in danger of hellfire?

    That said, when I was a new convert at age 17, I remember watching an old Star Trek where Kirk, Spock & Bones finally beat & destroyed the tyrannical god Apollo. Captain Kirk, in true Shatner form, announced “You’re through, Apollo. We don’t need you gods anymore. The children have grown up.” And there was Apollo, fading, crying with arms outreached to the heavens and crying, “Zeus, Aphrodite, you were right. They don’t want us anymore.” And there I sat, hugging my pillow, cring like a damned fool.

  38. hilariously, while reading this and not having heard of it before, i received an email from a former eqp we haven’t heard from in years (and i wasn’t even aware he had my email address!). the email was prefaced with a request to read it in its entirety to ensure we were “aware” so as not to “support this wicked effort.” timing is everything.

  39. I got this email a day or so ago, and my reaction was two fold: 1) if I boycotted this movie, my oldest would KILL me and 2) whoever sent it to me obviously hadn’t read the books.

    I’ve read The Golden Compass twice, and found it to be an intriguing book set in an intriguing world (I liked it better the first time, interestingly enough). I found The Subtle Knife a bit disturbing, and had no interest in reading the third when it came out.

    My oldest discovered the series last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. She did recognize that the author didn’t like organized religion, and that the first book is the best of the three. But that didn’t stop her from enjoying the books. And we’re all excited about the movie. How can you go wrong with a talking bear? Or a really really cool flying witch? (Hey, you do have to admit that the trailer is WAY cool.)

  40. I have read the His Dark Materials series. I think that people who jump to the conclusion about Pullman writing out of blasphemous discontent fail to recognize the largest theme throughout the book.

    His Dark Materials is about coming of age and growing up. Wihtout trying to spoil the book for those who haven’t read them, I will say this: how many times have people “killed” God as they grow older? In some circles, doing away with such mysticism is almost a rite of passage.

    “There may well be a God somewhere, hiding away. Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it’s because he’s ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they’re responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I’d want nothing to do with them.”

    If Pullman was an atheist, it would make more sense to me for God not to even exist in the books. The fact that the chracters kill God, I think, could be symbolic to something that we, as Latter-day Saints, reference constantly in our lessons: the great apostacy.

    The instruments (compass, knife, and spyglass) are the means by which Will and Lyra gain insight, travel to new worlds, and gain knowledge. Kinda like the tree of knowledge.

    Which means that Will and Lyra are fully capable of being an allegory to Adam and Eve.

    Consider also the showdown in the Amber Spyglass; does it not reflect the war in heaven from LDS doctrine?

    Reading parts of this thread feels like watching a witch hunt gather. I must insist we resist the urge to throw out Pullman’s books for surface impressions of his work.

    I first read Pullman’s books in 7th grade. I took from them a great treasure; the willingness to admit that religion as I understood it was not how it truly was. Pullman’s work played a significant part in my quest for religion as a source of inspiration; a story that raised important questions about my own faith that only I could answer. And had I never undergone that quest, asked myself those questions, I never might have found the church.

    This thread raises another interesting question; if you would keep your child from reading these books, what is it exactly that you’re afraid of? That they will reject God entirely? Or God as you understand Him? I understand that parents have a responsibility to their children. But can you really be responsible for someone else’s faith?

    My mother did not micromanage my reading. I drew my own conclusions about religion from books that I read. I joined the LDS Church at 16. She is a Catholic. According to Catholics, she failed in her parenting by allowing me to become a heretic. LDS parents would say she allowed me to serve God according the mandates of my conscience, not hers.

    Who is right? Depends on who you are and what you want to tell yourself.

    Interpreting Pullman will be the same way.

  41. the whole demonology thing is taken right out of ancient greece.

    pullman’s god is the evil creator ialdabaoth of the sethian gnostics. he even more or less lifts lines right out of nag hammadi tractates like apocryphon of john where ialdabaoth boast of being the only god.

    far more obvious, pullman’s metatron character comes right out of 3 enoch, though there metatron’s not evil.

  42. My 2 cents:
    I read the books, the first I would recommend to anyone, the second and third I wouldn’t. It seems to me that the second and third were later additions that were created only after the first was so popular (there is probably no truth to that, but they really struck me in a manner similar to the later Matrix movies). The things I have taken from the series are that Pullman really, really doesn’t like the way God is conceived in traditional Christianity, early teenage shameless sex is what saved the world, and I really wish he hadn’t been overcome with bile. The morality he desires in the book is not far from LDS thought, but it is fueled by quite a bit of anger (it just drips from the page). It is no wonder that people are put off by it.

    If you noticed that the things that bug me all come from the later books, then you’ll understand why I recommend only the first, which is brilliant.

  43. Oh, and the fact that Lyra’s parents, who have been her greatest enemies up until that point, do an about face in the third book and talk about how they have done everything out of love for her and then sacrifice themselves. That is just weird.

  44. I could never get into Tolkien. I’ve always liked Narnia, though I think Lewis’s Space Trilogy is far superior. But His Dark Materials is easily my favorite fantasy series ever. And frankly, Mormons who are quick to praise Lewis and condemn Pullman should read the Space Trilogy first. There Lewis is doing much the same thing Pullman does, though obviously with a different theological slant (and one not necessarily kind to Mormon beliefs, but then Mormon beliefs are not necessarily kind to “mainstream” Christian doctrines either; be careful of who you call a fair-weather friend). And keep in mind that His Dark Materials is essentially a retelling of Milton’s Paradise Lost (hence the title of the series). Mormons would behoove themselves to read Milton as well. For an introduction to both His Dark Materials and the Space Trilogy, I compare and contrast Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and Joseph Smith at my website here.

  45. Chalk me up as another fan. Best children’s fantasy ever. Yes, it’s woven with heavy-handed anti-religion, but oh, the journey is worth it. Just the construction of a “daemon” explores so many avenues of what a soul is. And the narrative is wonderful. End of the last book was a bit of a letdown, but it was almost impossible to pull all that together in a believable fashion.

  46. Eugene-

    “Because, regardless of what universe you are in, truth persists, in an eternal center, even when approached from opposite directions.”

    LOVED-this paragraph and statement.Brilliant!

  47. I read the books in high school. I rather enjoyed them, but yes, the anti-religious element is obvious. However, it’s much like the controversy over the Da Vinci Code. If you’re a Catholic, Protestant, or other traditional Christian, it’s a huge issue. However, many of the unique doctrines of Mormonism make it less controversial.

    When I read His Dark Materials, my view was that Pullman’s main problem with religion had to do with the fall. In the books, the bad guys (ie organized religion) are trying to prevent the fall from happening (again). Pullman’s characters come to realize that it is necessary and beautiful…. See why this isn’t so much a problem for Mormons? :D

  48. I’ve read the trilogy. I thought the third book was very weak and did not resolve itself in a very interesting way. But I did not find it evil by any means. I think Pullman’s slant is anti-religious–specifically in terms of the way the fall is perceived by most Christians.

    But to get up in arms about the movie is ridiculous. And I’m curious if they even approach books two and three in the movie anyhow. The first book was excellent and if the movie sticks to the material in the first, it will be a fabulous adventure/fantasy story.

  49. Can a person be anti-Lewis?

  50. I recently have received several forwarded messages from various people about the new Golden Compass movie that is coming out. These e-mails all send you to the “Snopes.com – Rumor Has It” website that has put a decidedly negative spin on the book/movie with their opinions of the content of the material. (Although no one on the website claims to have actually read the books, one did state he/she “skimmed” it and came up with some conclusions that I did not reach from reading all three books. i.e. castration/circumcision) Since my husband and I both read this book series this past summer, so here is my own opinion.

    The underlying theme for me of The Golden Compass trilogy is basically a desire to get rid of all the false ideals, precepts and travesties that have been committed in the world in the name of religion and get back to the fundamentally basic purities upon which life was created. I thoroughly enjoyed the many parallels I found between things that the trilogy was describing in a fictional way and the truths that we enjoy through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doesn’t The Book of Mormon relate to us that there is a “great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.” (see Nephi 13:4-9) With this in mind, wouldn’t you want to fight off this church and the person responsible for such a horrible institution? The third book in the trilogy plainly states that the person claiming to be God, or as he is called in the book the “Authority,” isn’t actually God, but someone who took over control for his own purposes. Consider this condensation of a passage from The Amber Spyglass:

    …the Authority is not the creator… All we know is that at some point the Authority took charge, and since then, angels have rebelled, and human beings have struggled against him, too. This is the last rebellion. Never before have humans and angels, and beings from all the worlds, made a common cause… We’re not going to invade the Kingdom… but if the Kingdom invades us, they had better be ready for war, because we are prepared…it’s my proudest task to join…in setting up a world where there are no kingdoms at all… The Kingdom of Heaven has been known by that name since the Authority first set himself above the rest of the angels. And we want no part of it. This world is different. We intend to be free citizens of the Republic of Heaven.” (page 188)

    Considering the many horrific events that have taken place in our own very real world in the name of religion, I personally would share in Phillip Pullman’s character’s sentiment about organized religion that is quoted on the infamous “Snopes” website. I can understand how many people would be upset with this book series if they identify the negative aspects of man-made religion as something with which their church has participated. On the other hand, I found it refreshing to see that children’s true characters (or daemons) do not take shape until an age of accountability, and that the fall of Adam and Eve was and is absolutely necessary for all mankind to exist.

    Obviously, with over a thousand pages of reading in the three books, it would be much too lengthy for me to expound further. I felt that The Golden Compass trilogy was a great read, both superficially for the story and intellectually for the religious discussions that it promoted. Remember, that it’s just a fictional story, not intended to be some sort of new doctrine. Like my brother reminded me, these same types of things were said about Harry Potter and how JK Rowling wanted kids to be devil worshipers, etc. What you personally get out of a book is what you want it to be. Let’s remember that the world is full of a million opinions and we get to (and should) form our own before we forward “passed-on” e-mails.

  51. Pianomaam says:

    Remember in “The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Series by Douglas Adams, God disappears in a puff of logic?
    That was thought provoking, funny,and maybe offensive,yet no big fuss was made over that!

  52. Is the big deal that this is juvenile literature? I mean, I can’t tell you how many BYU students I’ve seen sporting Atlas Shrugged, and I don’t know of a much more atheistic book.

  53. For those who have read both – how do you think Pullman’s trilogy compares with Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony? To me, they sound rather similar in the end.

  54. Remember in “The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Series by Douglas Adams, God disappears in a puff of logic?
    That was thought provoking, funny,and maybe offensive,yet no big fuss was made over that!

    Probably because the next lines in the book read: “Oh, that was easy, says Man, who, for an encore, goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing!”

  55. Bro. Jones says:

    (Spoilers in this comment, as there have been in many others.)

    I was not as troubled by the “death/murder of God” at the end of Pullman’s books as I was by the oddly sexualized “Fall of Man” parallel between the two main characters. In my opinion, it came out of nowhere, made a lousy end to the series, and just underscored the gradual progression over the course of the tale from an intellectual but non-controversial fantasy tale to a fairly rabid anti-religion rant. It almost ceased to have a story by the last half of the third book.

    I don’t begrudge anyone who liked the entire trilogy, nor do I question their religious afffiliation. I just think what started off as a really unique fantasy world turned into diatribe that, as William Morris said in #18, shows what happens when you’ve got a nice story to tell but can’t put down the axe you want to grind.

  56. I’m excited to see the movie. I think Ronan (#31) exactly summed up the trilogy. Thematically, I don’t think the first two books are problematic at all. I was very disappointed in the third, particularly the side story with the nun and the implied teen sex at the end, but I don’t think it would be inappropriate for older teens, especially if parents read along and discussed.

    I absolutely loved the first two books, and the movie looks gorgeous (my only concern is that the actress who plays Lyra looks a bit weak in the previews). I won’t take my youngest kids, and I want to preview it before deciding whether to take my ten year old, but I will see it.

  57. doing what's right says:

    My feelings on all the comments above are…I love a good read just as much as anyone but because it’s fictional does it make it the right thing to read. If the story talks about teen sex and killing God why would I want my kids to read and/or see the movie? Being LDS myself I am aware of the fact that we are taught that we shouldn’t read or watch those things that would not invite the spirit. This story does seem to be a wonderfully enteresting one but does it allow you to feel justified in HF’s eyes to read it. I’m not sure that I could answer yes to that question and that my children should be aloud to read it and/or see the movie. Something to think about.

  58. Doing whats right –

    The story does not talk explicitly about teen sex. I read the books and never did it cross my mind that they had sex. I’m curious to go back and read and see where people inferred that from. I’m pretty sure it is nothing overt because I DID NOT imply that.

    As far as them killing God – like several people have already said – the God is more of a satan figure who usurped power and took someone else’s glory, not God in the sense that we understand God to be.

  59. Bro. Jones says:

    Yeah, what #58 said. (For my part, I perhaps wouldn’t have started reading if I knew how things would wind up, but those issues in the last book kind of jump out of nowhere on the reader.) The third book is so twisty and allegorical and symbolic that people can take it as almost anything they like, although the anti-religious subtext is none-too-subtle. I wasn’t as much offended as I was baffled.

  60. Bro. Jones says:

    Oh, *most* of what #58 said. Question: if Lyra and Will aren’t having an awkward sexual encounter in the woods at the end, what exactly are they doing? Having a tender, awkward, non-physical goodbye that leaves them curiously mature and empty afterwards?

    I will say that the book doesn’t explicitly say anything about what happens. (Though two of my non-LDS friends who read the book reached the same conclusion I did.)

  61. In First Things, Daniel Moloney insightfully summarizes what Pullman has accomplished as follows:

    As is, I can fairly characterize His Dark Materials in this fashion: imagine if at the beginning of the world Satan’s rebellion had been successful, that he had reigned for two thousand years, and that a messiah was necessary to conquer lust and the spirit of domination with innocence, humility, and generous love at great personal cost. Such a story is not subversive of Christianity, it is almost Christian, even if only implicitly and imperfectly. But implicit and imperfect Christianity is often our lot in life, and Pullman has unintentionally created a marvelous depiction of many of the human ideals Christians hold dear.

  62. I do not see how anyone who is truly a christian can approve of these books. Yes the movie was watered down but that does not change the books. Pullman says many times how he hates cs lewis books, organized religion. Also he was quoted more than once saying his books were in fact about killing God. Here are the excerts and the whole articles as well.

    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.”

    Here is the link to the whole article http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/12/1071125644900.html

    Here is another part of the same article where he says he is an atheist and then says he is an agnostic depending on where you are.
    Pullman has no qualms with critics who label his books sacrilegious, so how does he describe himself? “If we’re talking on the scale of human life and the things we see around us, I’m an atheist. There’s no God here. There never was. But if you go out into the vastness of space, well, I’m not so sure. On that level, I’m an agnostic.

    Here is an article where he talks about hating cs Lewis books and the excerpt where he says it http://www.powells.com/authors/pullman.html
    Pullman: He does. But I think it makes a big difference if you read those books as a kid. I read them when I’d already grown up, and I thought they were loathsome, full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself. Whatever Christianity says, I don’t think it’s that.

    Here is another article where he says God is dying in his book http://www.thirdway.org.uk/past/showpage.asp?page=3949 and here is the excerpt
    A lot of people assume from The Amber Spyglass that you must be an atheist.

    Well, they can assume what they like. Of course, I don’t say, ‘There is no God.’ I say: ‘There is a God, and here he is dying’ – and this is what I was particularly pleased with, as a result of an act of charity. And he goes ‘with a sigh of the most profound and exhausted relief’.

  63. You might also want to check out what Scholastic is trying to do, bringing these books into schools as teaching materials. They are promoting it heavily. Parents should be notified of what their kids may be bringing home from school as required reading.

  64. Forget these books. Read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamozov. Is it anti-christian or the most penetrating view of Christianity ever written? Is it atheistic or the most faith-affirming book ever written by someone not name Mormon?

    I haven’t read the Golden Compass, but I’m not worried by a fictional story. On the other hand, I don’t want my kids to tackle Dostoevsky until they are in college. They aren’t cognitively prepared to tackle that kind of gut-wrenching reality until their brains have developed. That happens about 22-25 years of age.

  65. Stargazer Alchemist says:

    I’ve read through most of the comments above, skimmed others, and I am shocked by some of what I read. I’ll point out a few things here, then get to my main point.

    Tom G in Comment 63 – Most school districts allow parents to review books before they are sent home as required reading. I believe they are required by law to. And even so, my local district notifies parents before the books are sent home, so if the parents still allow their child to read it, it’s on them, not the schools or the publisher. Even if you aren’t notified, you have every right to talk to your school about it.

    Liz in Comment 47 – I agree, Da Vinci Code (along with it’s prequel novel, Angels and Demons) has caused a lot of problems amongst organized religion. Most of that is caused by the alternate view Dan Brown presents. That still doesn’t take away that they are amazing books.

    Now here’s my point. Most of you are bashing the author and movie, but the movie isin’t even out yet. And why are you doing so? Because it’s wrong.

    Whose to say something is wrong? From what I can tell, most of it is because Pullman does not agree with what you believe, and some of you are worried that by your children seeing this movie, they will lose faith in the religion you brought them up on. If you see it with them (them being your children) and then discuss it afterwards, why are you going to worry? It’s like the Harry Potter series. I am an avid reader, and I cannot find anything in there that suggests Satanism. Yes, it presents the ideal of witchcraft, but as I said before regarding Dan Brown’s novels, it does not take away the quality of the books.

    I am also getting the vibe that anything different from you and yours, is completely and morally wrong. We are all entitled to our beliefs and views. But there isin’t one answer to anything in this world, certainly not to “The God Question” and if there is, kindly let me know. I was born into a Catholic family, and my father told me at a young age that I can believe what I choose to. I am an Atheist and I am happy with that. I do not believe there is some higher power and when I die, I’m either six feet under or cremated. Once my girlfriend and I have a family together, we will be preaching the same thing to our children. Is that wrong? If so, why?

    There are alternate views to everything in this world. Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s our right to disagree with them. As Volitare said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If you feel books and movies like the Golden Compass, or the Da Vinci Code will cause a problem with you and yours, don’t see it and live your life how it is. Why make a stir?

    Regards;
    Stargazer Alchemist

  66. Steve Evans says:

    Stargazer, the Da Vinci Code was problematic not because of its anti-Catholicism, but because it was a piece of crap.

  67. Stargazer Alchemist says:

    I disagree Steve. Da Vinci Code was one of the better books I read that year.

    And it was problematic for Dan Brown’s views. I can find links if you’d like.

    Regards;
    Stargazer Alchemist

  68. Steve Evans says:

    Stargazer, if DVC was one of the better books you read that year, you should have been more selective. 2003 was the year of Middlesex, Oryx and Crake, The Time Traveler’s Wife…. heck, even Eragon was better. DVC was a middling book and a ghastly-poor movie.

  69. Stargazer Alchemist says:

    You assume I read it the year it came out, and I did not. I read it in 2006 and have recently read Angels and Demons. I find the book to be stimulating and one of my more… well used books. The movie however, I will agree with you on.

    However we are getting off topic.

    Regards;
    Stargazer Alchemist

  70. Steve Evans says:

    If you read it in 2006, I reiterate my criticism. 2006 had even better books than 2003. You need to get out there, man!

  71. I’ll have to agree with Steve. I’ve read several of Dan Brown’s books, and the Da Vinci Code is merely the most readable of a sorry lot. Brown consistently plays fast and loose with his facts, pretty much in all of his books. But, hey, it is fiction.

    I haven’t read “The Golden Compass” or any of it’s sequels, so I’ll reserve judgment.

  72. See Philip Pullman speak for himself about his writing and his beliefs:

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/2007/11/exclusive-video-philip-pulman.html

  73. I just read all 72 posts and I think everyone’s comments were very insightful… until the childish insulting of one another’s choice in books.

    I first heard of the His Dark Materials books on this post actually. I saw the previews for the film and as an avid movie goer I wanted to check on the rumors that a good friend (who is L.D.S.) told me about, how it “Teaches children to be atheists.” If anything at all the comments from everyone has only encouraged me to search out the books and read them for myself. The comments from the individuals who have actually read all of the books and have compared them with the beliefs of the L.D.S. faith have been the most persuasive in their arguments.

    Just because I’ve read the classic works of Homer in highschool doesn’t mean I’ve been converted to worshipping Zues. Two things hit me as completely outrageous. The first is how one contributor said that they would read the books along with their children to point out that the author’s beliefs are “wrong“… as Christians, particularly of the L.D.S. faith, we need to be tolerant of the beliefs of others and note the things of their beliefs that have truth in them. The second thing was what Blake, #64, said about his kid’s brains being fully developed… for one Blake, you highly underestimate the mind of a child let alone perhaps a highschooler. For another thing, the way a person developes their mind is by asking questions, having their ideas challenged so that they need to back them up.

  74. I was unwittingly caught up in this controversy myself when my 8th grade honors class voted it (The Golden Compass) as a novel to study. As their teacher, I allowed them to select anything from the district’s approved novel list. They voted, and my school ordered the books. Then, the email fiasco began. In my short life, I have not seen so many LDS parents pushed to and fro, as it were, by every long-winded rumor spread by uneducated, well-meaning, and fearmongering “Christians.” So far, I have 3 students who are not allowed in my classroom while the book is being discussed. I find it immature to take such a reaction to a book you have never read, based solely on your objections to the philosophical ideas of the author.
    I’ve done my research on the subject, a lot of it too. This has been blown way out of proportion. Also, for those of you who have received this email through their ward websites as some above claim to have done, I have some advice. Tell your bishop and ward webmaster that someone is using the ward/priesthood/relief society email list to spread deceitful propaganda and drum up unnecessary fear and prejudice among the people of his ward. That should raise some eyebrows.

  75. Hi, We need to be preparing the way for the Lord (Luke Chpt 3 v 4). This movie is just one more way of desensitizing our children to what is really true. Fair enough it encourages debate which gives Christians a chance to speak, but we are all responsible for our children. don’t underestimate the potential harm, pray, so that God can use it for good and the true Christian response is to mourn for those who are being desensitized.

  76. Eric Russell says:

    You go, SarahJo! Evans got pwned!

    Fear not, Andrea, we Mormons are with you! We know this movie is a lie, for as the Book of Mormon tells us, the compass was actually brass.

  77. To Janet (comment 75), the only thing I might say is this. The opposition to this movie is based on half-truths and whole lies. What then is desensitizing children to what is really true?

  78. Oh snap SarahJo.

  79. To GQMonkee

    Perhaps I didn’t say it quite to right way. We become desensitized when we watch something that looks like light but is really serving darkness. This movie does that. Pullman said in an interview when a child asked him why he thought of the name daemon pronounce demon, that he doesn’t know why but that he keeps on ‘getting’ more ideas about these beings and will be expanding on these ideas in his next book! Just as children now all talk about fairies and how wonderful they are, can you imagine them talking about demons the same way!

  80. Yes, Andrea, I can. They talk about witches that way too. The book “Twilight,” written by a devout Mormon, has kids talking about vampires that way. You are putting words together in a strangely accusatory fashion, as if “getting” ideas has a devilish connotation.

    If children start talking about wanting little animal buddies called daemons or demons, I do not believe they will go rushing out to get possessed by Satanic forces. Gnomes, fairies, genies, wizards, and leprechauns were all originally evil things. The popular personifications of these things today are cuddly and cute. Having a cuddly and cute demon will not lighten or desensitize anybody to the dangers of an actual demon from hell.

  81. Hi CQ Monkee. It is important to discern where a person is getting their inspiration from. Discernment is not the same as an accusation. In 1 Timothy Chpt 4 Verse 1 it says “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” I’m not suggesting people will get possessed by Satanic forces, but rather that they will be led astray in their thinking by opening a door to these things, as they are dressed up as light and seem to promote good values.Children generally will have less discernment than adults.

  82. Well, the books actually DO promote good values. They don’t just seem to. As for your “discernment,” I believe it is knee-jerk, judgmental prejudice. You seem to assume many facts not in evidence. As a concerned and discerning adult, you may want to actually — oh, I don’t know — read the books. I apologize that my tone is a bit harsh, but yours is more than a bit self-righteous. Call me reactionary.

    There are books in this world which promote evil. There are movies, essays, poems, television programs, politicians, and religious leaders that promote evil. I do not see the evil pushed forth in this book series, and I have done my fair share of research. There is very little in this world that is only good or only bad. Perhaps we should all exercise a little more discernment and help our children do the same.

  83. Reactionary!

  84. I know this doesn’t add any insight, but it was so funny I have to say:

    I got the anti-Golden Compass email awhile ago (it only made me want to read the books/see the movie more!) from a friend (Mormon) who got it from her sister (non-Mormon). Her sister had left this note on it:

    “Hi Guys,

    Please read this, it is true, one of the pastures at our church actually sent us an e-mail warning us of this movie.

    Hope all is well.”

    HA! I guess you know something’s true if your pasture emails you about it. I know, I’m mocking someone’s spelling and that’s just immature, but it was funny and it made my day.

  85. I haven’t read the trilogy but I have read three books written for children that were adapted from the Major Motion Picture. These are the watered down version. They are really disturbing. The main concept they present to children is that having a daemon is the most important thing in the world and interestingly it is the magisterium which I gather is meant to represent the church that wants to separate them from their daemon. It is the sickest childrens story I have seen yet and it definitely flys in the face of Gods Word. I’m not accusing, or judging anyone and I don’t see myself as more righteous than anyone else. God loves us all the same. Sure warning people not to watch the movie will obviously make many curious to watch it but the warning is really for parents with young children and that is why it is important. The authors motive for writing these books also needs to be questioned. Just because the churches have failed to do as they should at times does not mean that Jesus has failed or give man the right to exalt himself above God. Good values are important but trying to live out the second commandment Jesus gave without the first just won’t work. Its only as we begin to love God and His Word that we realize how much God really loves us, so that we can love others better.

  86. Yeah, the daemon is there, um, soul. So it would be important to have it.

  87. The daemons in these stories, as mentioned above, are an outward representation of one’s soul. The church in the Golden compass is severing the link between people and their souls when they pull people from their daemons. They do this before puberty to keep children from losing innocence, thus reversing the effects of The Fall. These books are about the need of The Fall, about the need of agency and experience, about standing against injustice in high places. Perhaps that is missed in watered-down versions of the story, but that is what the series is about.

  88. I have also read the books. In the story the first Angle that God created convinces that Angels that follow him and man kind that he is God. In the end the battle is over a false deity. What religion, Mormonism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, would have a problem with killing a being that is impersonating God? I wish people would read the books before condemning them.

  89. The concern is really about children reading the books or watching the movie and being given a false view of God. I didn’t realize that the daemons were actually an outward representation of one’s soul. But even so, daemons or as they are pronounced ‘demons’ are associated with evil not good. This is confusing for children and could lead them into occult practices down the track as many movies depicting ‘good’ witches have done. With regard to The Fall, Jesus is the only one who can reverse the effects as He has conquered sin and death through His death and resurrection. He stood firmly against injustice in high places. I believe it is up to individual families if they want to read this book with their older teenagers as there seem to be many interesting ideas in it for positive conversation, but I do not think it would be a suitable book to study at school.

  90. Not a false view, Andrea, but a fictitious one. I agree that it is up to us all to teach our children the gospel. I believe it is funny that you say something is “up to individual families” but then put your own age constraints on that. As for what is suitable to study at school…well, the censorship talk is something we haven’t gotten to yet.

    People are clamoring about,trying to warn people to avoid, boycott, and fear this book. It is a fear based on lies. Teaching kids that such a fear is valid is far more damaging, in my mind, than teaching them that witches can sometimes be good (see “The Wizard of Oz”). I have read very few criticisms of this book that are actually written by people who have read it. This is mostly because those who have will not be able to give much credence to the lies being spread about it.

    If you want to shelter your children from opinions that do not match your own, good luck to you. I will support that choice in what way I can. If you want to shelter the children of others from opinions that do not match your own, I call that “thought control.” It was evil when Hitler did it. It was evil when the Pharoah’s did it. It was evil when the Spanish Inquisition did it. Rule by fear and unfounded rumors is a very scary thing.

  91. I really fine it funny that people of Christian or islamic faith would be scared that a simple movie or book could harm them. This fear shows just how shaky their religious foundation is, maybe Pullman’s books hit at the root of all religions, that they are built on a foundation of lies and half truths.
    The reality is that the god written about in bible is only one side of the story. belief in god is strictly a personal choice. Wether there is a god or not we never know for sure.

  92. Another contribution this series makes is to challenge the idea of idealized childhood that C.S. Lewis creates in Narnia – not just through the final scene with Lyra and Will. His characters are complex and always morally ambivalent.

  93. Latter-day Guy says:

    Edward [92],

    I also fine it funny. Wether I fine it as funny as you do, I never know for sure.

  94. If being a Christian means believing in and following Christ then a Christian needs to have a strong conviction about God’s Word being true just as Jesus did. The warnings about this movie and book are not about ‘fearing’ evil, which the bible makes clear is wrong to do. It is about responsibility as a Christian parent to only teach our children what is true. You stated that their is a difference between a false view and a fictitious one, but then you said it is good to teach our children that there are good witches. On what do you base this view – you mentioned a movie. Movies and books do de-sensitize.

  95. You seem to be arguing for a quite puritanical view which would exclude almost all fiction. I can’t imagine living in such an austere literary environment myself, nor would I wish the consequent impoverishment of the imagination on any child.

  96. Let me clarify. I do not believe that “holy” witches exist in the real world, I have no problem with them existing in the imagination. The concept is not threatening to me or any children I know. Never has or will the church teach that the only good teachings teach of Jesus. We are to seek out good books and follow the admonition of Paul, seeking all that is good or praiseworthy. This certainly qualifies in my opinion.

  97. I personally was once a child who was affected by such teachings. I was raised in the Catholic Church, heard about God and love but given no warning against involvement in the occult, such as clarvouyants, horoscopes, tarot etc. We didn’t read the bible. I got involved in the New Age movement without really realizing it and it just about destroyed me and my family. Thankfully Jesus stepped in and my life has completely changed. Calling evil things good and good evil is confusing for children. It may go over their heads but it can affect their hearts. I’m not suggesting that these books could not be used for good but the idea of an animal spirit for a soul, Eve taking the apple was a good thing and killing God, sounds like the opposite, dressed up in a nice way.

  98. Eve taking the apple was a good thing

    Andrea – are you LDS? Because this is pretty much in line with LDS thinking.

    I don’t have an opinion on these particular books since I have not read them, nor seen the movie.

    I’m not prone to censuring myself or my children much though. I really believe it’s important that we teach correct principles and how to be critical thinkers.

  99. GQ Monkee says:

    To clarify, the LDS Church believes that the fall of man, brought about through Eve and Adam eating the fruit in the Garden is a good thing. As for the animals, you need to see that symbolically, like Jimminy Cricket on Pinnochio; then again, that is a movie about possessed toys. ;). As for killing God, I do not know a religion that really promotes that. I’m also not aware of many atheists who want to teach people to kill things they don’t believe exist.

  100. Eric Russell says:

    I’ll be the first to say the controversy in terms of the film itself is much ado about nothing. I’ve never read the books, but I saw nothing in the movie that had anything to do with either god or godlessness.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing to get excited about with the film itself. It’s a lot like the Harry Potter films at their worst – rushing from scene to scene, as if it’s trying to cram in all the major characters and events, without ever developing a coherent or affecting story on its own. I imagine the movie will probably be fun for people who have read the books and now get to see its colorful characters and landscapes, but it doesn’t really work as stand alone film.

  101. No I’m not LDS , but this Eve thing might explain why we have such different views on this book/movie. How could it be right for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit when this was what God told them not to do? Especially given that He then cursed the serpent for tempting them, and the fact that Jesus had to give up His earthly life to then save fallen humanity.

  102. Andrea, the very abbreviated version:

    1) The Fall was essential for God’s children to exercise agency (by gaining a physical body and being subject to temptation) and learn to walk by faith.

    2) God, the Father, knowing the Fall would occur, accepted Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer before the creation occurred.

    3) Eve was beguiled by Satan. She ate the fruit. Adam then partook of the fruit to remain with his wife and fulfill the first commandment God gave them. (Gen. 1:27-28 in part says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply . . .”)

    4) Jesus was born, lived, died and was resurrected to keep the promise He had made prior to the creation – to redeem all of humanity from the effects of the Fall.

    So, according to Mormon doctrine, God knew the fall needed to happen; He gave Adam and Eve two competing commandments (the first one being to stay together at all costs and have children, the second to not partake of the fruit); He promised to redeem them when their choice inevitably caused the Fall; He sent His son to redeem them. Eve partaking of the fruit certainly was a result of being tricked by Satan, but, in the big picture, it led to them fulfilling their mission (the measure of their creation) and giving us the chance to return to God – a net good in the end.

    That was a very simple version, so please excuse its lack of detail. To really give you the whole picture, I would have to quote much more extensively from the Bible than I can in this forum.

  103. Also, about the punishment of the serpent, my reading of the Bible and other Mormon teachings leads me to believe that Satan was punished more for trying to put himself in the place of God (by becoming the one who would control / command Adam and Eve – and their subsequent descendants) than just because he lied to Eve (beguiled her) and convinced her to eat the fruit. Iow, it was because he intentionally tried to get them to break a commandment of God. It wasn’t just that he did something he should not have done, but that he did it with full knowledge that it was against the will of God that he do it. He openly fought against God, so he got punished for it.

  104. Thanks, Ray, that about sums it up. Also, Andrea, you need to understand the symbolic context of The Fall in the book series. To the author, a Fall from Grace to a life of experience is essential to life. We all suffer a similar fall in our lives, but we cannot/will not trade it for a life without the power to choose. Obedience is only righteous and good when when disobedience is a compelling option. While in their state of innocence, not knowing good or evil, Adam and Eve were unable to do either. The pain of the fall was necessary to show them the benefit of choosing good.

  105. It seems to me that God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose to obey Him or not before the Fall, not as a result of the Fall. Freewill was not the result of the Fall but rather sin was because they made the choice to disobey God. At no time did God say that the fall was necessary or good. On the contrary He pronounced a number of curses. One of them being to Eve when He said ” I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing”. It must have therefore been possible for Adam and Eve already to fulfill the command to go forth and multiply or God would not have said He would increase something that was not already possible. I agree that God knew what was going to happen and therefore out of His love for mankind, knowing how weak we are, He already planned to send Jesus to save us. Although the painful consequences of evil may cause some to turn to God and choose good, (Romans Chpt8 v 28) this does not equate to calling the fall ‘good’. God didn’t give mankind the freedom to do as we please. He gave us the freedom to choose His way or remain separated from Him. How can a Holy God ever call sin ‘good’. Christians are not self-righteous for declaring this, rather they are people who believe and trust in the righteousness of Jesus alone, knowing that salvation can only be given to those who will receive Him as Lord and Saviour. This is not my idea or opinion. It is all over the bible from beginning to end, and it is the message that God wants us to know because He loves us and wants us to surrender our lives to Him so that He can show us the wonderful plan He has for each one of us

  106. Andrea, I said it was a very abbreviated version. *grin*

    The irony is that I wouldn’t argue with anything you said, especially since I was reading the account literally in my summary. Personally, I view the Garden of Eden account figuratively and allegorically, which allows for some latitude in interpretation. Mormonism allows for slightly different readings – as long as the overall interpretation focuses on God’s grace in arranging the Atonement of Jesus prior to the creation of humanity. The other “details” are open to debate, frankly – even though most of us would classify the Fall as a necessary evil. Maybe that’s a better way to say it than calling it a net good.

  107. i have pondered and read and thought about this whole issue many times… and it seems that often we connect to the first opinion (or e-mail) we hear of in any matter. ideas of god-killing are naturally offensive to those who hold deity sacred–be it christian or any other religion. What is so important however is context, as well as an intelligent engagement where knowledge and free agency truly provide answers needed.
    It seems that Pullman is questioning institutions of religion that corrupt and abuse power. The god in question is not an archetype of a loving father, but a fraud, a trickster that usurped power and allowed atrocities to be conducted in his name… it would appear that this passing away or liberation frees characters not to be anarchists, but to do good; to be moral according to a new code where heaven can be established on earth. Though for Pullman this can only be achieved by the removal of institutions, there are those of us who are also fighting against corruptions in the world in order to be better. in the LDS world, we are always striving to build the kingdom here on earth….you see, people have differing views on the hows…but the end goals seem surprisingly similar sometimes.

    the notion of the fall as a wicked and sinful thing is questioned also; in one of his interviews, pullman says that he has issues with this tradition…and that he honours eve. I find this fascinating too and add my voice to those who earlier outlined the LDS views on the necessity of a fall, and the mercies of a Saviour.

    in short, my lengthy little addition to the conversation is to say that i am more scared of boycotts and bandwagons than i am of other people’s unique ideas put into fiction. Pullman has some vastly different ideas to my own, and though i enjoyed the first two books immensely, i found that the third entered a new and more complicated stage that bothered me more because i like to see a happy ever after where boy gets girl and stay together!
    do i think these books are dangerous… no. do they differ in places from my own understandings and beliefs… yes. but that is life! people shun difference, or fear what is not understood. For many the LDS church is a scary and strange realm of alarming differences, though really all you have to worry about from those guys is loosening a few belt notches from all those cookies floating around!

    if this whole matter is too controversial, and after doing your homework you feel that pullman’s work is not for you and your family… a good book i just read is “The Alchemyst: Secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel,” so much fun!!

    Kathleen (MA: specialist in children’s literature)

  108. Kathleen,
    My son loves that book! Can’t wait for the next one!

  109. Well, this morning my bishop read us a letter which another bishop had forwarded to him, enjoining all to boycott this evil, atheistic movie. The bishop who sent the e-mail happens to work for the Church, so my bishop suggested (from the pulpit)that the letter likely had come from somebody high up in the red seats. I am quite certain I know where the letter came from, since I am on the e-mail list of one of the other bishop’s friends (a sweet, right-wing guy who periodically forwards those awful e-mails about conspiracies etc.)

    So now my bishop has told our ward not to see this movie. I’m not sure I would see it anyway (I’m really into Edward Norton at the moment), but doesn’t my bishop’s injunction put me in a rather difficult position? If somebody in my ward were to catch me renting _The Golden Compass_, might they rightly accuse me of not supporting my bishop?

    So I think I’ll watch _American History X_ instead. Again.

    Seriously, how do we gracefully deal with such things? I truly love my bishop. I also see him as naive and sometimes gullible. I must admit that this has had a rather large effect on my trust level. And honestly, I could use some help at the moment because of some trials a child of mine is experiencing, but I do not feel comfortable talking to my bishop.

    This is not a simple problem. It DOES have an effect on how I feel at church.

  110. If somebody in my ward were to catch me renting _The Golden Compass_, might they rightly accuse me of not supporting my bishop?

    Hmmm. I wonder if such a person has a significantly different view of the role of a bishop than I do. I don’t look to my bishop for advice for what cologne to wear, what books to read, what children’s movies to watch, what type of cookies to bake, etc. If he offers his opinion on such matters, it shouldn’t surprise him if I don’t share his view.

  111. Margaret (110)- I think now that I’m older than the bishop, I am able to see that he is not always acting like a bishop, just like apostles and prophets aren’t always acting as apostles and prophets. There is nothing magical about LDS pulpits that stop anyone, bishop or not, from saying dumb things. Sometimes we need to support our bishop’s right to make mistakes. It might do someone good to ‘catch you’ renting The Golden Compass.

  112. Actually, I haven’t believed in magic pulpits for many years.
    It’s more the cultural dynamics of the situation which interest me–and make me rather sad.

  113. Margaret, your bishop has done a well-meaning but shameful things. Some warn against things they know little to nothing about. As for an injunction coming from “the red seats,” the bishop is a fool to assume that. If something comes from the first presidency to be read over the pulpit, it will say so in the letter.

    If I was in your situation (and I am thankful that I am not), I would talk to my bishop about the concerns I had. I’m sure my statements above show just what side of this fence I’m on. I would pull my bishop aside to speak candidly about the book and its supposed “agenda.” I would possibly go as far as asking that he consider retracting his statement, not asking him to endorse the book but seriously asking that he remove his (and his ward’s) endorsement of the boycott.

  114. Someone posted this link on another blog site. I found it to be very a very interesting response to this hullabaloo.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/commentaries/fearnotthecompass.html

  115. Latter-day Guy says:

    Margaret,

    Ask the Bishop if the email came from church HQ through official channels. If not (and, of course, it didn’t) tell him that speculating about its pseudo-official nature is not really appropriate, especially in his official capacity and from the pulpit. Then, rent he movie for a YM/YW activity.

  116. Margaret, if you don’t feel comfortable talking with your bishop about this right now, would your DH be able to do it? Is there someone else (any member of the ward or one of his counselors or the High Council rep for your ward or a member of the SP or anyone else in a position of “authority”) with whom you would feel comfortable who could talk with the bishop? Frankly, from my current position and perspective, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, so I would find someone else who can address it if you don’t feel like you can right now.

  117. Margaret:

    who gives a rats behind about the movie, you need to kick the Bishop’s door down and talk to him about your son. He needs to know he’s making things worse. If he is a good man, as you say, he will greatly appreciate your information. Every Bishop I know desperately wants the feedback and help of the members.

  118. Margaret,

    Seriously, how do we gracefully deal with such things? I truly love my bishop. I also see him as naive and sometimes gullible. I must admit that this has had a rather large effect on my trust level. And honestly, I could use some help at the moment because of some trials a child of mine is experiencing, but I do not feel comfortable talking to my bishop.

    If you do not feel comfortable talking with your bishop, bring it up with his boss, the stake president. And if the Stake President makes you uncomfortable, bring it up to a general authority.

  119. Adam Greenwood says:
  120. GQ Monkee says:

    Adam, thanks for posting that review. It was very interesting and thoughtfully written.

  121. if something’s coming from the red chairs that the whole church should be aware of, it will be announced publicly and not selectively through e-mail to certain wards. Always remember opinion is not doctrine. If all else fails, do the homework and pray, you are entitled to revelation concerning yourself and your family.

    If you are in doubt, leave it out, it’s only one set of books and a movie.

  122. ps…

    sometimes we have to see the calling and not the man. Go to the bishop with your son first, he has been given the position and responsibility over your ward via the correct channels. If you are still concerned, then I would address a higher authority. Remember we all make mistakes, in being naive he probably thought he was doing the right thing… I know that those emails have done the rounds in LDS church offices in England also… but then there are a lot of strange and controversial things that get forwarded round those places that do not reflectthe official stand point of the church.

  123. Margaret,

    As you well know, direction for the whole church comes in official letters, the Handbook of Instruction, etc. While the church will likely not have any official comment on “The Golden Compass”, there are many well intentioned people who will anticipate or express personal opinions. And I suspect that your well intentioned bishop has now alienated himself in the eyes of your son, especially as a relevant spiritual mentor and leader.

    I’d probably go talk to the bishop first, and express your support and love for him, but lay out your concerns, and the uncomfortable position you and your son are now in. As Ray said, if your bishop is not responsive, there are others you can turn to, including your husband who certainly has the ear of another Stake President.

    My wife and I have talked a lot about the movie, and the books, and have been considering going to see it. I almost certainly at some point will read the trilogy, available time being the prime deterrent. I prefer to speak about these things from an informed perspective.

    I would only add as others have said, Bishop’s love feedback, as I think they all, as my own tenure as a young bishop a few years ago proved, lose sleep about how members perceive what they say. And they are never infallible.

  124. Um, I read the book, a while back, and I loved it. I am a total Christian, but I am aware that every bit of these stories is fiction. How can Christians make such a big fuss about The Golden Compass and Harry Potter, but totally leave The Lord of the Rings out of their criticism? Honestly, LOTR is just as “bad” as Harry Potter, in darkness and such. I have done research, and Tolkien did NOT mean to have any parallels in Christianity.
    Anyway, I will go see this movie as soon as I can.

  125. Thanks CQ Monkee for the website above re fear not the compass. This really covers everything I have felt pretty much about this movie. I recommend everyone read this website. There is a big difference between Christians warning other Christians which we should not take offense at and Christians going out and boycotting a movie and literally trying to take away others free choice. Children all mature at different rates and have different levels of discernment. The reason this movie needs to be a concern is because the author has openly spoken out against God and is aiming his message at children, who are vulnerable. Of course his God will look like a ‘straw God’ because if someone does not know God how can he understand His true character , or otherwise he would really want to know God. with reference to the website above it seems Pullman may have a reason to feel wounded by God as his father died when he was 7. It seems his attack on Christianity is really aimed at God. Our view of God always affects how we see others. We cannot see the big picture and often we mistaken God for the authorities that are over us in the world and churches/school etc. God looks at us through the eyes of love. I recently read that if every human being could see how much he or she is loved by God, there would be no such thing as an unsaved sinner in the world! Often the hardest thing for anyone to do is to accept that God actually loves them even though they don’t always do everything right. It says in the bible that “We love because God first loved us”. My suggestion to anyone who is not sure whether they should or shouldn’t read the books or watch the movie would be to simply pray to God through Jesus about it with a sincere heart.

  126. That sounds like very good, Mormon advice, Andrea. *grin*

  127. I tried to read the books (had bought the entire series, in fact) and found the first one so disturbing that I could barely finish it. In an entirely uncharacteristic fashion, I kept putting the book down and later making myself, though unwillingly, continue the story.
    Daemons attending every human, an almost entirely evil cast of characters, and fanatical adults torturing and killing children contributed to a plotline I found anything but entertaining. I failed to find any light or uplifting moments to make the darkness presented reasonable. I pressed forward with the second book, despite my misgivings, hoping to find anything to justify the accolades that surround the book and failed.
    I later learned about the author’s intent to “to undermine the basis of Christian belief” and though I believe he fails in his feeble attempts, I did realize what disturbed me about the book. In my opinion, there is a spirit of ill-will about this book. It seems to be trying to condemn everything, yet champions nothing. Even the ‘fantasy’ of the story was not fun. I would not recommend this series, regardless of the author’s intent, and especially not to children.

  128. Andrea, the thanks for the article belong to Adam Greenwood, who posted it. I do have to say I like what you said in your last post though.

  129. Well, I’m a veteran (some say addictive) fantasy reader and am in the process of reading these books. (Something I would probably never have done, were it not for the fuss. I don’t generally read youth fiction.) Anyone interested in reading (and commenting on) my account as I go along may feel free to do so at Mormon Momma.

  130. I was given the book the GOLDEN COMPASS in 2001 by a dear friend who is devoutly LDS. However, I just started reading the triology last week–since I’m not usually a fan of fantasies. I think the books are very well written and theoloically very MORMON. The authors theological premise regarding Original Sin and the supposed “Fall” of Adam and Eve is exactly that of II Nephi: that the fall was a good thing that allowed humans to progress. The story also revolves around the characters trying to learn about the nature of a partical called “Dust.” The villians think this spiritual material is evil –the source of Original Sin–while the heros discover that this dust (spiritual matter) is actually what gives us our humanity and allows us to progress.
    So while I can understand how Evangelical Christians might have problems with the books’ theology, the ideas seem to resonate with the most unique–and praiseworthy–aspects of Mormon theology.

  131. How refreshing to find on of all places a Mormon website, a rational and thoughtful discussion of The Golden Compass. I honestly expected more frothing at the mouth and endless quotes from scripture–my apologies.

    I read Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, just as I’ve read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I consider myself a growing Christian and none of these books mentioned have ever made me question my deep faith. If I can credit Mr. Pullman with anything, it’s his challenge to me as a Christian to question and to change the ugly face of blind religion, which has been responsible for some of the worst acts of tyranny against innocent people.

    A poster here hit the nail on the head when they wrote the “god” that Lyra destroys is the false one made up of greed, fear and lack of compassion. Sad to say, that seems to be the same god many of my fellow Christians worship without fail. No wonder atheists challenge Christians so much–very few have behaved Christ-like at all. I think it would be better served by all people regardless of belief, to read or watch The Golden Compass and discuss the themes openly and honestly.

    The Bible says if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible to you. Even that small amount of faith cannot be easily done in by a fantasy novel that questions and in the end, strengthens ones belief.

  132. If Phil wants to write about killing God I could care less, but to try to influence children to be atheist is wrong. I am a follower of Christ and I believe if you don’t accept Jesus as your Savior then you will go to hell. There is no gray only black and white. I will not see this movie and support people going to hell. You cannot even compare a movie like Harry Potter or LOTR to this piece of garbage. Also, if Phil is an atheist then how can his characters kill God? I thought atheists did not believe in anything spiritual. He is just another hypocritical moron who is trying to shock the world. Well sorry to say but I am not shocked I have come to expect these kinds of things in this world.

  133. Dawn, you obviously know Mr. Pullman much better than the rest of us, since you are on a nickname basis with him. Tell him I said hello when you see him again.

  134. Latter-day Guy says:

    C’mon, Dawn. Don’t sugar coat it! Howd’ya really feel?

  135. Well, I’m off to see the movie in a few hours, with a carload of close LDS friends. Most of us have read the books–or are currerntly reading them–and we think they’re pretty darn thought-provoking. As I wrote above, I’ve never been a big fan of fantasie, but I found the novel of THE GOLDENR COMPASS very compelling; I was genuienly moved and troubled by the plight of the kidnapped children. I truly admiu-red the heroine, Lyra; while she is headstrong and courageous, she also has weaknesses (she lies alot)–and I was alwasy aware of the fact that despite her sterngths, she was still a mere child who because of her physical and emotional immaturity was always in grave danger.
    The daemons were also a fascinating aspect of the story–a truly traditional “fairy tale” aspect of the story. A person’s DAEMON the unseen but essential aspect of their nature. The daemons symbolize the spiritual aspect of a given character’s human nature.
    So the plot by the Gobblers to seperate children from their deamon is symbolic of too many religions which have condemned human nature as inherently fallen, evil and sinful (the doctrine of Original Sin)
    As a Mormon I reject Original Sin. I embrace the doctrine that people are born innocent; that”as man now is, God once was.” For me, this last idea means that our human nature is our deepest and most profound connection to Diety–because the Gods are like us. As Brigham Young taught, “the natural man is a FRIEND to God.”

    http://www.reformmormonism.org

  136. I still can’t see why christians are afraid of Atheists. The golden compass is as much a fairy tale as is the bible. Philip pullman is against any religion that has turned political. Christians don’t seem to remember very well the history of their religion. How about the Spanish inquisition for starters. the wars between islam and Christianity. This is a religion steeped in blood. If you don’t join us we kill you. the jews and Buddhists don’t go getting followers by beating them over the head. i doubt the jewish guy named Christ would even bother to set foot in a church if he returned, if that were at all possible. We all live in denial that is how we get through life. The whole of human life is denying we will die and be forgotten. We see this every day, but it is comforting to be told all we have to do is pray to an invisible being and eternity will be bliss. even thou there is no proof. but hey thats faith.

  137. Two in a row. We’re on a roll.

  138. Rob Lauer says:

    Saw the movie last night. It’s very good–though the plot structure, characterizations and mood were better in the novel. I went with three LDS friends and one devout PENTECOSTAL (!–who at first did not want to go because his church had warned him that the movie was “evil.” (his word; not mine.)

    Guess what? They all liked the film. My LDS friends in particular were impressed by the “Mormoness” most of the ideas. One of my LDS friends said she was hitting the local bookstore this morning to buy the entire triology.

    Toward the end, a good witch character speaks about the great war that lay ahead for Lyra (the little girl who is the story’s central character.) When Lyra asks what the war will be over, the witch replies that thw war will be over human free will. The last time I checked, that was the reason for the War in Heaven as described in Mormon scripture.

    Of course, Calvinism (which is the theology of the Christian Right–those who are callinmg for a boycott of this movie and the books) rejects “free will” as an illusion, and focuses on the power and might of God. One message of this film and of Pullman’s books is that the central message of Calvinism is false: individuals are free, and no God controls their thoughts, feelings, actions or fate.

    But Mormons have this beautiful, RADICAL theology about human Agency: the individual is eternal, uncreated, “co-equal with God,” and most progress by his/her own agency and efforts.

    THIS is one of the theological reasons why all other Christian churches insist that Mormons can not be Christians, but are another religion altogether.

    As far as I’m concerned, so be it. Give me the ideas and the noble vision of human potential found in Mormon theology and in books such as those by Phillip Pullman over the absurd, negative docrtines of Christianity.

  139. I have to say certainly Phillip Pullman did not write his novels to support Mormon theology. His books are really anti-authority of any sort. I’m not a Mormon but it seems there is much authority in the Mormon church ( Bishops. Red chairs?) Calvinism is perhaps an extreme form of Christianity and we can always find fault with different denominations. If I had a dollar for every time a ‘Christian’ said or did something hurtful to me I’d be fairly well off, but if I had a dollar for every time a ‘Christian’ blessed me I know I’d be extremely rich! What about all the many,many christians who go out risking their lives for the sake of the gospel, going without to bless others and the incredible miracles God does among them. Try reading ‘Bruchko’ by Bruce Olsen and “Out of the Black Shadows” by Stephen Lungu & Anne Coomes. Real amazing stories not fantasy. Yes God gives us freewill, but we need to surrender to His authority – this is where we find perfect freedom. Christianity is really about surrendering to God and trusting in Him through Jesus.

  140. “Yes, God gives us freewill, but we need to surrender to His authority – this is where we find perfect freedom. Christianity is really about surrendering to God and trusting in Him through Jesus.”

    Well said, Andrea. Would you like to speak in our ward next month? :-)

  141. “Yes, God gives us freewill, but we need to surrender to His authority – this is where we find perfect freedom. Christianity is really about surrendering to God and trusting in Him through Jesus.”

    This is the non-Calvinistic orthodox Christian view of freewill–

    HOWEVER–in his King Follet Disocurse, Joseph Smith taught that God never had the power to create the human mind (the Doctrine & Covenants also teaches this) and that each human mind is “co-equal with God.” While currernt LDS theology is certainly devolving back to it’s evangelical Christian roots,it makes sense that many LDS now talk about God giving us our free agency.
    But Classical Mormon theology (1840’s–1920’s) teaches that each of us is eternal, uncreated, without beginning or end, and that we have always been free agents. If one reads the “council in Heaven” narratives in “The Pearl of Great Price,” no where does it teach that God GIVES us free will. Rather, Satan fell because he wants to TAKE AWAY our free will.

    My Heavenly Parents don’t require that I surrender my Free Agency or Free Will to Them or Christ or anyone else.

    Which is why I’m a Mormon and not a Christian.

  142. Mr. Lauer makes a very good point when he says that giving up our agency to God is exactly what Satan wanted us to do. Give up our freedom, that is. Perhaps a better way to phrase Andrea’s comment is that we should freely surrender ourselves to the will of God, rather than surrender our will to Him.

  143. Rob Lauer, There are two issues that are being conflated here. First, Andrea didn’t say we should surrender our will or agency. What she actually said was that we should surrender to His authority – and I can’t think of a more Mormon way to phrase the overall principle.

    Second, while I agree with what you said, I would posit that God had the “power” to create a scenario in which we could not exercise our will freely (since even mankind has done that), so, in a *practical* way it can be said that God did “give us freewill” – by allowing us to exercise it. You can say He “surrendered that power” by the nature of being God, but I could posit that it was, therefore, a choice He made which allowed Him to “give” free will to His children. If we aren’t careful, we can end up in a semantic slugfest, when we should be in agreement over the central point being made.

  144. So what about scriptures such as Psalm 33 verse 6 -By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. Isaiah Ch 42 verse 8 – I am the Lord, that is My name; And my glory I will not give to another nor my praise to carved images. God created everything including man and woman according to His Word (its in the bible from beginning to end) and we were created to worship God as God. If we were equal with God we could save ourselves, but we can’t. I know for instance that no matter how much I want to do right I still sometimes say the wrong things or think wrongly. My will is corrupted by sin. Even though I want to do right I am aware that there is a sin nature at work in me that I need to continually surrender to God, and walk in His Spirit instead. Satan fell because he exalted himself above God. He was the one who tempted Eve in the garden to try to get her under his control. He wanted Eve not only to experience and know evil but also to be destroyed by it. Thankfully God has already won the victory for Eve through Jesus at Calvary. It is amazing to think that we can all be a part of this great love story!

  145. Andrea, I honestly don’t understand what you are trying to say here – or, at least, why you are saying it. We believe what you are saying, but it sounds like you are trying to “convince” us of something you think we don’t believe. Am I missing something?

    I appreciate your conviction, particularly since I share it, but I don’t understand the context.

  146. Ok… read LOTS of comments, watched the movie, and I just want to add my two cents. Probably gonna be more than that by the end.

    Ok, I love the Chronicles of Narnia.I’m a christian(the pentocostal kind that has head-banging rock music that worships God at church. I play the bass)I don’t agree at all with mormonism, in fact I see it as cult-like, and the catholic church distcutst me because almost nothing they do is biblical, but thatis neither here or there. this forum will suffice

    I watched that movie. People say that its watered down. Ok.
    But the whole dust being sin, and dust being good just made me want to scream in the therater. It just angered me whent that happened.And killing God? thats just sad.
    Jesus is life.

    The one thing I did notice was that the book was writen with a very common poibnt of view that God is evil, and that he’s merely a fabrication to control people and take away their free will.

    But God gave us free will. He doesn’t stifle us or make us empty. He just wants to be with us. Its not that he wants to punish us, he didn’t come to condemn the world, but top save it. the thing is that we made the choice to take our lot with satan. God cannot go back on his word. He said the outcome of sin is death.
    When it all comes down to it, God made us because he wanted us to love him by choice, not because he forces us to.

    I dunno… take what I say for what its worth, and let the spirit of God guide you to the truth.

  147. Um, they don’t kill God in the first book. So, unless they radically altered the story, I’m guessing you’ve not actually seen the movie or read the books, but rather read an article/email about them.

    So, there is that.

  148. Lecial, the comment about “Dust” being sin is both absent from the book/movie and a rash generalization of the symbolic meaning of “Dust” in the book series. “Dust” represents experience and knowledge, things the Magisterium wishes to control. They want children to stop learning for themselves and blindly obey what they’ve been told.

    Once again, about the God killing? Someone attempts it; that’s why the series is about killing God. No one accomplishes it. No one kills God in these books. The books don’t say the Creator is a fabrication, either.

  149. No Ray i don’t really think you do believe what I’m saying, and I’m not trying to convince you of my way, just sharing the reason why I believe what I believe. It seems you all think this movie supports Mormon theology in that Satan wanted to take away freewill and therefore the God in this movie is actually Satan? Sure attempting to take away our freewill is one tactic Satan uses, especially in cults (every cult contains the lie that if you leave that particular group you are doomed or that you can’t actually leave, somehow you will always be attached to it through some kind of ritual), but this wasn’t the case in the garden of Eden, was it? It seems he was trying to get Eve to come under his will and out from under God’s, which you all seem to be saying was a good thing. I also think perhaps your definition of freewill is actually different to mine. My understanding of freewill is basically that we have the freedom to choose either God’s way or our way which will always have negative consequences. Also because I believe our will is corrupt (as a result of sin) we do need to surrender our will to God. How this can be wrong I don’t know because God knows better than us.

  150. Andrea, I’m not sure why this is, but you seem to be suffering some confusion in regards to LDS doctrine. First of all, with regard to agency, the best way I can explain our concept of free will is to quote from The Book of Mormon:

    “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.(2 Nephi 2:27)”

    This clearly states what agency is to us and matches up quite well to what you say it is to you.

    As for the issue of the devil in the garden, this stretches further back in our theology. According to LDS theology, Satan has been attempting to subjugate the human race before it was brought to mortality. Once mortal man was placed on this earth, he saw it as an opportunity to beat God. Only, the devil was fooled. God set up the test of the Garden of Eden for a reason. Knowing that man must gain experience and choose good over evil, He gave Adam and Eve two commandments that could not both be obeyed. In tempting Eve, Satan had an evil will, but he was fooled into pushing forth God’s plan of happiness. Satan’s actions were not goo, but the outcome of them was.

    Through the Fall, we are brought into a world where we can face both right and wrong. By choosing wrong, we lose freedoms (like an alcoholic who has a hard time deciding not to drink). By choosing the right, we keep ourselves free. Whatever Satan does to harm the human race, his goal is always to destroy the agency of man, to enslave our race.

  151. OK My confusion comes from the comment No. 142 which seems to indicate that LDS thinking is that Satan’s main purpose is to take away human freewill. On the contrary it seems from Genesis that Satan was pleased Eve had a freewill because this gave him the opportunity to tempt her to disobey God. The main purpose of Satan seems to be to deceive mankind into disobeying God. This is the same kind of subtle deception that appears in The Golden Compass. I also am concerned with the idea that LDS thinking says it is wrong to surrender our will to God, when this is the very thing Jesus said before going to the cross ‘Not my will but yours be done’ and we say in the Lord’s Prayer “Your will be done”. Rather than defending our freewill shouldn’t we be surrendering it to God. In this way we won’t be dominated by any human institution or obsessive idolatry. I believe the idea in the movie is more in line with the actual sin of Eve – don’t let anyone rule you, you can be your own God, than with Christian truth.

  152. Andrea,thanks for responding. I think I know what a good part of this confusion is now. When you mention “surrendering” your will to God, it seems to some that you mean you are letting God make your choices for you, something I believe God would refuse to do. LDS doctrine teaches that the way of righteousness is to choose God’s will above all else, but the choosing is very important. You cannot be righteous without the option of being unrighteous. So, if you are surrendering your choices to God’s will, that’s understandable. If, however, your are surrendering your ability to choose, that’s heresy to us.

  153. A few more clarifications:

    1. While I would say that deception is one of Satan’s tactics, and that he does want us to go against God’s will, the devil’s ultimate goal (in regards to humanity) is to gain control over us.

    2. To my knowledge, “don’t let anyone rule you” and “you can be your own God” were never listed biblically in conjunction with the transgression of Eve. Last I checked, it went like this. Eve was told not to eat the fruit. Then, seeing that it was delicious and that it would make her “like” God in knowing good and evil, she ate the fruit and shared it with her husband. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about that.

  154. Andrea, your confusion over the LDS view of Lucifer’s motivation is understandable. Sometimes Mormons forget to distinguish between what we believe Satan tried to do to God’s spirit children *before* Adam and Eve were created (in the pre-existence, which led to his “fallen angel” status mentioned in the Old Testament) and what he tried to do *after* Adam and Eve were created (in the Garden of Eden).

    First, he proposed a plan that would bring all God’s children back to Him by denying their will and keeping them from sinning in any way. He asked for the glory of God (exclusively for himself) in return. When that was rejected and he was cast out of Heaven, he turned his attention to getting us to disobey God – thinking that would draw us away from God, frustrate God’s will and make mankind as miserable as he was. (“If I can’t exist in the presence of God, then I’m taking as many with me as possible. I’m not letting God win.”)

    This is the fundamental reason we have a hard time with Calvinist predestination; it eliminates the free will that we believe lies at the heart of the grace of God that provides a Savior and Redeemer even though we sin as fallen creatures. If we have no real choice, what’s the use – the purpose of this life? We simply can’t accept the idea that a God who identifies Himself as our Father would create many of us as “feeling” beings simply to cast us into Hell through no fault of our own in order to torture us for eternity. “God is love” rings absolutely hollow to someone who has been “elected to damnation.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,485 other followers