The Golden Compass

I have received numerous emails recently (all forwards) “warning” me of the dangers of the new movie “The Golden Compass”.  I believe the movie opens today.  Anyrate… I’m sure many of you have received some of these emails, too.  They basically all say the same thing:  The Golden Compass is based on books by an author who is an atheist and who’s goal is to make children reject religion and realize there is no God. 

If you go on you can read up on this and find out if it’s true or not (Snopes usually does an excellent job of researching and discerning what is true or false).  I read it, and it seems like this is all true, until I realized that not one of their references was an actual interview with the author.  Just with other people, each of which quote the author.

I was talking to a friend of mine about the movie recently, and she went home and talked to her sister.  The sister (who is a mom and active LDS, for those of you who care about that kind of thing) has read all three books.  She said they were excellent.  Very well written.  Yes, at the end of the first one there is something about killing God, but it’s not this piece of evil literature that the emails would have us believe.  She also said the books are not really for children.  My friend found an interview with the author, Phillip Pullman, which you can read here.  I found it quite interesting.

Now, here’s my deal with all of this.  I appreciate everyone who sent me these emails to “warn” me, but I have to say that sending forwards just isn’t always the smartest thing.  If you want to learn about something, you need to do the research yourself.  I don’t like being told to boycott something because they heard something.  It’s just a movie, based on just books.  One of the emails I recieved actually asserted that watching this movie will make kids want to read the books, which will then turn the kids atheist.  I don’t know how true that is.  I don’t see how it can be!  By making blanket statements about boycotting (and signing petitions to boycott), I sense a danger of censorship.  I’m completely against censorship because I am blessed to live in a country that has given us the freedom to believe what we want and say what we want without the repurcussions that some other countries have.  I don’t want someone shoving their beliefs down my throat, but I’m fine with them having a different set of beliefs from me.

I don’t like emails being forwarded to me that tell me what to do without giving compelling reasons WHY I should do it.  I believe if you want to make me aware that I might not like something, sure, give me a head’s up.  However, everyone needs to do their own research and make their own decision.  It’s called Free Will, people.  God gave us brains, so let’s use them! 

I came across another blogger who says all of this a lot better than I am right now, so if you want to read her rant, go see Red.  I don’t agree with everything Red says, but the general idea.  Isn’t that the greatest thing about living when and where we do?  We’re allowed to have differences of opinion and differences of beliefs!!  Yay for us!


20 responses to “The Golden Compass

  1. hmmm…would I ruin your entire post if I said I was seeing this movie as an outing with the Boston Atheists club?

    it’s so sad only 25% of americans actually trust atheists…

    10 bucks says that 25% of Americans that actually trust atheists are atheists themselves. 😉

    Oh, and you only ruin my entire post by not contributing to conversation in a meaningful manner. (ha HA! Take that, Ms. Debate Club!! 😀 )

  2. You make many good points. Although I have not read these books, and have not received any e-mails like you describe–due no doubt to my “advanced” years–no little kids any longer…I have heard some of the same assertions. Remember when Harry Potter came out? Well there were screams and warnings about the witchcraft and leading children astray then, too. Because of Richard’s actually wanting to read a book [rare till then] and the fact that his teacher was already reading vol I to the class, I let him read it first–then I took it over so I could make up my own mind. I love the Harry Potter books, despite the “outing” of Dumbledore–which I don’t believe anyway ’cause it is pertanant to absolutely nothing! So I say, read the book or see the film to decide for you own self/family. Not everything affects everyone the same way anyhow. You may recall that I didn’t want you to read Ayn Rand in HS, because her books helped push a friend of mind to atheism. I think now that it would have made no difference. Janet saw what she wanted to see…as most of us do so readily.

    Cute, Erica, cute.

    Haven’t received any of those emails??? Yes you have!! One of the people who forwarded an email on was YOU! I got one from you, Mom!! Do you even read the stuff you forward on to me????

    If you delve deeper, you will see that Dumbledore’s sexuality DOES make a difference to the story (see previous posts on this subject) and it enhances our understanding of Dumbledore and his actions. Since when is it a negative thing to be different than everyone’s assumptions?

    You were adamant about me not reading “The Fountainhead” in high school because it “made” your friend atheist. I very clearly remember that. Thankfully you backed off because it was required reading in my class, and it certainly didn’t turn anyone *I* know atheist. I hated the book, but what I remember (in a positive sense) is that it’s central message was to learn to think for yourself and not blindly follow the pack. Which, it seems, “The Golden Compass” has an underlying message of, too.

  3. Sorry, me again. I read Red’s blog on this topic and wanted to make a comment, but couldn’t figure out how. However, the English teache in me wanted to tell her that the “rule” is “i before e except in your weird neighbors. Maybe we should add weird, atheist neighbors. Just a spelling trick. 🙂

  4. Well, first to mom’s grammar-
    that i/e rule doesn’t apply, because the word “atheist” comes from the greek “atheo” meaning godless, and latin “ist” mean “pertaining to.”

    I believe Dumbledore being gay was a deep part of the epic story, thereby I concure with Sariah. I have found that nearly everyone that says it doesn’t matter is a devout religious member of some sort, and all tend to agree that Dumbledore is therefore a sinner. Poor Albus. He didn’t choose that life! 🙂

    By the way, I read Ayn Rand my second year of high school, though I read “Atlas Shrugged” not “The Fountainhead.” (which I still haven’t read. Ah well, library time!)

    I was going to write more but decided people might take offense. So instead I think I’ll just write a post on religion on my own blog, because that’s why I have a blog.

    Sariah, I am sorry my comments aren’t meaningful for you. On that note, who has a free trip to Ireland and who doesn’t?!? Nah-nah-nah-nah-naaaaaa-naaaaaa

    The spelling of “atheist” and the i/e rule (or lack thereof) was discussed in the comments in the other blog. And mom, you leave a comment there just as you do on my blog.

    Erica, as far as Dumbledore, I don’t believe it is as deep a part of the story as you think it is, but I’m glad that we agree on something! 🙂 (It’s kinda rare, huh?) I also have never heard of one person saying Dumbledore is a sinner. Most religious people I know go with the idea that being homosexual is not a sin, rather acting on homosexual tendencies is a sin. We do not know that much about Dumbledore. We just know that he was in love with Grindewald. Besides, it’s not for us to judge if he is a sinner or not. And, oh yeah… HE’S A FICTIONAL CHARACTER! This is not the place for a debate on the relevance of Dumbledore’s sexuality. Like I said to Mom… I already did a post on that.

    I actually read more than just “The Fountainhead” for that class, but honestly don’t remember what else I read. I think one was about a supposedly Utopian society, but it sounded really Socialist, too. Then one guy (or girl??) decides to go against what he’s told he’s supposed to do. And I think someone’s name was something like Liberty. I don’t remember!! But I enjoyed that book. Good discussions ensued. 🙂

    Oh, and I’m not gonna be jealous about a “free” trip to Ireland until you are on the plane, over the ocean. So no laughing at me yet. You have another year. 😛

  5. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say…Fred Clause;) just kidding I bet it was the Golden Compass huh? was it just as everybody said it would be, or was it good? Because I thought the previews made it look good.

  6. Seriously…I haven’t read the last two Harry Potter books so no spoiling it for me people! Dumbledore’s gay??!! Oh-my-gosh…who knew (apparently all of you!) Hehe.

    As for The Golden Compass. Arggghhh…the email forwards. I hear you. Will I see it? Only if I can find a babysitter that I trust, so probably not until video…how lame am I?! *wink*


  7. Oh yeah…I forgot to say yay for people having different opinions, how boring would the world be if we all believed exactly the same all the time! BUT, I agree we can all agree to disagree sometimes and that’s not a bad thing.


  8. two thoughts…

    people generally see what they want to see. even pie can be evil if you turn it over in your head enough.

    secondly, atheists so, too, ascribe to faith. it just happens to be faith there is no God, rather than faith there is. sounds like common ground to me…


  9. hahahaha I love people that say atheists have faith. but I won’t address that here seeing as sariah already wants to chop off my head.

    tanya, fred claus was really funny! but I saw it a few weeks ago. I do recommend it as a fun christmas movie, as long as you like vince vaugn, whom I personally find very silly but enjoyable.
    the golden compass was good, but I felt it was a bit short…like it wanted to be like narnia but they over edited. I’ll be interested to see the directors’ cut when they release it on dvd.

  10. i can understand respecting Sariah’s feelings. i would imagine anyone who believes anything at all would giggle when someone says something they wish not to be true. 😉

    whether it’s logical theory, or scientific theory that drives your anger over the faith matter– i would also imagine most scientific thinkers and logical one’s consider that until something is soundly dis-proven, there is always room for possibility. if not, then one would have to assume everything to be discovered has already been discovered– because if we must have concrete, non-conflicting information for a logical, or scientific mind to embrace something, wow… what a sad, boring future we all have. plus, pluto would still be the 9th planet, and hasn’t pluto suffered enough of an identity crisis already? heh.

    personally, i don’t care if you believe in the theory of God, or believe in any number of theories used not to believe in God. that’s your business, not mine. logically keep in mind though, that lack of information makes something neither false nor true. it takes some degree of faith to embrace either acceptance or denial. otherwise, you could concretely prove there is no God rather than challenging others to concretely prove there is.

    of course, i’m just thinking outloud and don’t really have a dog in this fight. Or God; whichever.

    (please don’t take this as a personal challenge. i’m a thinker, too. i like that this conversation has caused me to turn all sorts of possibilities over in my head. i might not even be sure where i will land once i’m done thinking) 😀

  11. *sigh*

    who ARE you? I’m so befuddled as to your identity…

    anyway, people that say they don’t care if blah blah blah are saying that as a disclaimer, mostly because they really DO care, they are just not solidified enough in their own positions to defend them properly.
    Now, atheists are not godless simply because of a lack of proof; it’s also the proof pushing the other way. Evolution, anyone?

    concerning pluto, it’s been known for decades that pluto shouldn’t be a planet, because if it is then we have about 15 other chunks of rock and ice that must be planets. astronomers finally got the courage to denounce pluto, and rightly so. In fact, there’s an awesome example. they did it scientifically so the records of planets would be accurate. if astronomy was a religious organization, they would have left pluto a planet, and covered up all the info about other minor planets, and smothered anyone that said, “wait, pluto shouldn’t be classified a planet.”

    if your sad and boring future is based on logic, wouldn’t it actually be wonderful? think of all the utopian peace principles that could be utilized without all those pesky religious wars!

    (when you say don’t take this as a challenge, it makes me take it as a challenge.)

  12. even evolution must have an origin. i won’t argue against evolution because i also believe in evolution. there’s just that pesky question of where it originates… gases? well, where’d the gases come from. and though it feels like a challenge, it’s not. it is curiosity and since you seem willing to express an opinion, i would think this moment would feel more like an opportunity to educate than a challenge to win.

    perhaps we are approaching this from different places in life. i don’t feel particularly challenged. i guess i see it as an opportunity to discuss, rather than debate. i’m throwing questions out there because i don’t have the answers and maybe i mistook your volunteering that you do as willingness to discuss.

    and no, to me, it wouldn’t be wonderful to have a society based solely on logic. logic is safe– where all parts must come together to make a perfectly agreed upon set of conclusions because no one would dare to challenge. there would be no artists, no music, no discovery, no searching and no hope. that seems pretty boring to me, actually. in a logical world, there would be lots of tired professors with no one to debate. 😉

    the opposite would also be tragic. all that chaos with no one to define it and maintain some sort of order in the world– scary.

    i didn’t know that about pluto, as i tend to only take in bits and pieces. it’s interesting though that it’s been known for decades and took a few brave astronomers to denounce it. it’s backed with evidence though, so it makes sense. i wonder though, if someone simply theorized it was not a planet, but could show no signficant proof (even though it was quite possible the theory had merit), if the community would have simply accepted it was not a planet? i bet some would have, and some would not– and until it was proven either way, both theories had the possibility of being true. which goes back to me thinking atheists and Godists (?) both believe something that possibly could be proven wrong at some point in time, because neither can give definitive, tangible proof of existence or non-existence. to me that’s faith. to you it might be theory. whatever the case, i find it fascinating that people feel so strongly either way. it’s like watching a reflection– same passion, opposite views. [/shrug]

    wars aren’t based on religion, they’re based on ignorance and egos. religion just happens to be the cop-out, imo.

    and i’m fourth_fret, but mostly, i’m just curious.

    p.s. if you took it as a challenge, it’s not because i said not to, it’s because you chose to. that’s logic. 😉

  13. fourth_fret is blogging again? Man, Dumbledore now another something I knew nothing about. I suck. You are all way too deep for me…hehe.


  14. I have read all three – I didn’t get the idea of atheism at all (but then as Zoo said, you see what you want to see). I like the first one, but honestly found the last two to be very poorly written with no character development and poor plot. It actually surprised me that the series was on the best sellers list or something like that for such a long time. I honestly couldn’t figure out why. I am interested in seeing the movie – sometimes when I don’t appreciate the books much I might actually enjoy the movie more – I know its rather odd. I really did like the first book though – a lot. It was just the last two that I found dissapointing and poorly written.

    Personally I don’t really care much about Dumbledore – he’s fictional and can be whatever you imagine him to be. So in my brain he is not gay. Sometimes I think that J.K. Rowling just wanted to make a splash – seeing as her last book was done and would be gradually be moving out of the lime light. Not to be mean or anything, but…

  15. I am at the public library online because all of the sudden yesterday, my internet quit working. my roommates computers are still working (we share wireless) but mine isn’t. seriously, this is the most definitive proof I’ve ever had that there’s a higher power. ahhh! I’m being striked down for my herecy! ahhh! 😉

    (on a side note, a truck just drove by that said “Mahkas Maaahk” on it. And showed a bottle of whiskey. Oh, how I love advertisments that make fun of the boston accent! [marker’s mark whiskey])

    okay, you’re fourth_fret. this makes sense, I suppose, seeing as I’ve always enjoyed your comments. (aka, sariah, you have pretty chill friends.) I’ll take this as a discussion instead of a debate. however that means my debating prowess will be used at home, which means my roommates might murder me. but that’s beside the point.

    evolution: allllll started with energy. we’re made of energy, right? everything is. so the big bang produced a crapload of energy, lots of it that had no where to go. so as gases and minerals and other things sucked it up, there was life, started one nano-particle at a time.
    this would also explain life of some sort on other planets. mars used to have life forms, though nothing like earth, it still had living things. I think that’s fantastic.

    pluto: my first intro to pluto not being a planet was in a Discover magazine article when I was in middle school, probably about 2000 (thanks for the educational reading materials, mom!). it denounced pluto as a planet and outlined exactly why. So when it was officially announced last year, I was not surprised at all. but look at the uproar! look at the facebook groups! people do not like their ideology changed at all.

    war: honestly, what were the crusades then? what is THIS war based on? why would people be blowing themselves up in the name of allah if it weren’t based on religion? to us it may seem ignorant, but to them it’s doctrine. who are we to decide who’s doctrine is right and/or wrong?

    logical world: is also known as utopia. it wouldn’t be boring, because all debates would make sense, wars would end, and bob dylan would rule the musical universe once more. however, the only downside I see to this (look! I’m giving you an opposition argument!) is who would decide exactly who’s logic and morals are correct? Everyone has their own version. In the USA, it takes 9 judges to decide on the entire country’s morals, and even then people aren’t too happy.

    I have been called away to work.

  16. my thoughts on this subject are keeping me awake at night, and provoked me to wash and condition my hair twice because i forgot i’d done it the first time while thinking. someone should be flogged for this. 😀

    quick thoughts this morning as i’m on my way to physical therapy where i intend to quiz my therapist. she’s one of those people who have more degrees than God, and though she’s never said it aloud, i suspect she’s not religious and may have no belief in God. she won’t know why i’m asking what i’m asking though, so i feel like i’ll get a gut response.

    this energy idea is really haunting me. naturally, my first question is… where does the energy come from? and, however many years ago after energy bounced off of energy, it suddenly spawned the start of life? and if chaotic energy can do that, can science reproduce life from energy? like in a controlled study? can you capture energy in a jar? does it have to be a particular type of energy– and if so, wouldn’t it be identifiable and also plausible that science could create a single cell? that would be a very strong start to establishing that is how the earth began. very strong. if science can’t recreate that, does it have the potential to in the future? has it not worked yet because we don’t have enough information? and if we don’t have enough information, wouldn’t that lend some sort of merit to the idea that it takes some degree of believing the unknown to accept life began that way? and again… where’d the energy come from? aren’t origins as relevant as second and third steps? because– i totally get that some are willing to accept life was formed from chaotic energy, but is anyone questioning where the energy came from? did it come from nothing? why would we accept life was created from energy without questioning what energy was created from?

    i understand i’m sounding like a curious child, but… these are the questions that have come up while considering this conversation. i want to know. not to challenge, i swear, but because… i really want to know.

    what’s funny is, several days ago when this whole thing began, i was really a fence straddler in that i felt both arguments held the same amount of merit and the same amount of unknown elements. i think i might be starting to lean, though. and that was unexpected.

    … p.s. kris, fourth_fret is pseudo blogging. she might be pseudo thinking, too. 😉

  17. Day 2:
    I am continuing to have a meltdown with only an hour of internet access a day. I have decided that it’s actually Sariah’s fault, and that she somehow killed my access because I was catching up to her wicked pissah tetris skills.

    okay dude, I actually know a lot of those answers about energy, I just can’t take the time to answer them right now, as my time is extremely limited. Plus I ought to have my physics textbook next to me to make sure my semantics are correct. I may go see my physics prof. from last semester before I answer also, simply because he can clear up any fuzzy answers I have pertaining to energy.
    but I am not positive sariah’s blog is the appropriate forum for this, so feel free to email me/I might email you just so it’s easier to discuss everything.

  18. Erica and Cara, just move this fascinating discussion to Erica’s blog–and we can all contiue to enjoy following it.

    On the other topic…As I said on the phone, Sariah, 1] I honestly do not remember receiving or sending you an e-mail about The Golden Compass. I do remember hearing something…but not enough to form an opinion on the subject myself. In forwarding the e-mail [see, I do not deny it–I just don’t remember it!] I figured I was giving you the same info I had received–and considering time of year, I had no time to worry about it at all! Post Nativity, I have time to look at the facts, and would have before sending it on.

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