Friday, December 07, 2007

The Golden Compass Debates: This Christian Woman Can't Wait to Go

Alrighty. I already have something up for today, but I had to write this, as I just received maybe the fourth or fifth email from "concerned" people who want me to teach my children about censorship and fear.

A lot of people have their panties in a bunch over the Golden Compass and it is driving me nuts.

If your belief in your faith and your God is so strong, how is a movie going to shatter your reality? Are you wanting to teach your children that anything different from your small paradigm is to be feared, reviled, and boycotted or censored?

Fear-based hysteria shaped a lot of people's views on the Harry Potter books and movies. Those books are such a wealth of creativity and an impetus for reading with children previously reticent to read that after the broo ha ha has died down, it all seems a bit silly, no?

Teaching your children to think for themselves, to stay strong in their convictions in the face of oppositional forces is certainly healthier than teaching them to be afraid.

I want my children to believe and let others believe what they will. We cannot change others, but we can certainly change ourselves. The sooner my kids learn that one, the happier they are going to be.

Should we waste our time passing judgment, perpetrating fear, loathing, and nonacceptance?

Or should we try to peacefully go about our lives?

We can't wait to see The Golden Compass this weekend, and I suppose if some movie changes my convictions, my beliefs weren't that strong to begin with.

I am so tired of the bashing of other human's beliefs that seems to be still acceptable these days.

40 comments:

suburbancorrespondent said...

You didn't mention - have you read the books?

Jen M. said...

In the process of...and liking the first one very much!

Rima said...

I must be living under a rock, because I haven't even heard of that movie, but now you've really piqued my interest.

Nancy said...

I applaud you teaching your Christian children how to fit into the real world where not all think alike in their beliefs.

Mamma said...

Amen sister!!!

It's so nice to hear a self-proclaimed Christian woman say these words.

Family Adventure said...

Thank you!

Heidi

Just Seeking said...

I totally agree. The fear-mongering and cries for censorship surrounding this movie are ridiculous.
What happens more regularly in my domain, however, is my supposedly open-minded, liberal friends/acquaintences who want to censor---like the "liberal" dad at our school that doesn't think the kinders should be reading The Little Red Hen. Give me a break!

Lisel said...

I couldn't agree more. The Catholic church has made a statment that they don't want people to see the movie because they then might want to read the books. Heaven forbid children read!! I think it's criminal for an organization to discourage children from reading. Let them read it and think for themselves! Is the church so insecure in its position that it can't take a little questioning? Wouldn't they rather people be true believers after going through the questioning process?

Mommi Tutu said...

Hi there! Just happened upon your blog. Love it! And I agree, we may not all have the same beliefs, but we all have to share the same world, so we might as well be equipped to deal with it.

leah said...

lisel, what do you mean that "the Catholic church" said "they" don't want people to see the movie? Perhaps someone in the church said that? Private individuals, even if they are priests or work for the church, don't represent the church as a whole.

For what it's worth, the US Catholic Bishop's conference gave The Golden Compass a pretty positive review (it's on their website).

As for me, I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to inform people about the movie and books from a Christian perspective. The books get more and more anti-Christian toward the end, and it's not obvious from the movie. People (especially parents) should be able to make their own choice to see the movie or read the books (or let their children), and the more information available to them the better.

I don't think it's censorship to suggest that certain books or media aren't appropriate for children, or that the ideas in them are objectionable. Anyone handing the Marquis de Sade to their kids? (just an example, albeit an extreme one)

But I certainly agree that it's important to equip your children to respond to other people's beliefs. They certainly need guidance, especially to recognize when movies and books can so easily make attractive what the parents might disagree with.

Jen M. said...

The Diocese in our state has sent home a statement with every Catholic school attending child banning the movie. Our kids were in Cath. school until this year (here in our state) and their friends have shown us the letters.

Jen M. said...

But the review from the USCCB was actually very positive, which confused me, given our own state's reaction...huh.

leah said...

Jen, it sounds like your local diocese (or the department that sent the letter - I don't know whether the bishop was directly involved or not) has certainly taken a position. I've never heard of a diocese absolutely disallowing children from seeing a movie, though (I'm not even sure how they could) - that sounds like something in the realm of the prudential judgment of the parents. Are you sure it wasn't just strong counsel? What would the consequence be if a child did see the movie?

The Catholic Church is made up local churches (dioceses), and each bishop has authority over his diocese. And the movie reviewer is just another guy who works for an office at the USCCB. The Catholic Church isn't as monolithic as it can seem.

It's very rare that you can accurately say "the Catholic Church says..." about something that isn't a basic matter of faith or morals.

Jen M. said...

I just called my friend who says the wording is "respectfully requesting" that the families and children not see it. So no, it's not forbidding it at all.

Lisel said...

I misspoke slightly. The Catholic League has called for a boycott of the movie. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/dec/07/the-gambler/

I did not mean to imply that all Catholics feel this way.
I absolutely think that parents should read the books and judge for themselves whether they are appropriate.
I do believe that in order to be truely educated, people need to be exposed to ideas and beliefs that are in opposition to their own, if for nothing else than to understand and solidify their own beliefs. I think this can be done in a responsible way, led by parents.
A concerned parent could read the books with their child and discuss how their own beliefs compare. It seems to me that if a religious organization is concerned about the issue, they should suggest that parents do this as opposed to just boycotting them altogether.

leah said...

Lisel, I'm wondering if you believe that any book is appropriate for children, so long as the parent is there to read it with them, encourage them to ask questions and discuss their beliefs?

I can think of books with ideas and imagery I wouldn't want my children exposed to, in no matter how guided a fashion. It's not a question of weak beliefs being challenged. I don't need to watch pornography with my children to explain why exploiting the marital act is wrong. My children and I don't need to read a story that profanes what we consider holy so that we can discuss why it's wrong.

Just my opinion - and everyone is entitled to one :)

T with Honey said...

I haven't read the series yet but I plan on it because I want to see if what I am reading is true.

My concern about this movie is that if what I have heard/read in reviews about the content of books/movies 2 and 3 are correct then this movie series should NOT be marketed toward a child audience. If my daughter was old enough I would have to read through the entire series to get a feel for the 'coming attractions' for the movie sequels before introducing her to the first one.

But if anyone has a strong faith then a fiction movie should not be enough to lead that person astray.

flutter said...

thank YOU!

Lisel said...

T with honey, you are exactly right that this is not a child's movie or a child's book. The series is Young Adult Fiction. It's really not written for a child younger than 13, and even then it would depend on the child's maturity. I have had several sixth grade students who have read it on their own and enjoyed it, but they were very advanced readers and even then I don't think they understood everything.
I agree that you really have to be careful with these movies aimed at children. I can think of several recent "children's" movies (Shrek for one) that have a great deal of adult humor.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Around here, the people leading the charge against the movie are protestants. So much for the foundational precept of Protestantism by building one's own relationship with God, without interference from people-dominated church hierarchy.

leah said...

bipolarlawyercook, I don't understand your comment. Are you saying that people who are don't like the movie are interfering in other people's relationship with God, the way (presumably) a church hierarchy would?

kristen said...

Great post! And I couldn't agree more.

By the way, I just recently found your blog and I'm enjoying it very much. All the best!

Lori- Fairytales & Margaritas said...

I couldn't agree more!

jen said...

Amen. I've always wondered why things can be so threatening if you are comfortable in your beliefs.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I am hoping to go see the movie tomorrow (if I can ever get over this heinous food poisoning crud...do NOT order Papa John's alfredo sauce pizzas.)

I need to read up on the premise of the books, but I agree. If you are unwavering in your spiritual beliefs, then you should not be "afraid," but be tolerant of others and their beliefs. That's what Jesus would have taught any way!

Emily said...

That's EXACTLY it. If you cannot hold your convictions after a movie, you've got bigger issues going on.

Jennifer said...

Amen, sister, amen. What is there to fear from a series of books and a movie? Perhaps the books and movie(s) will raise questions. And if so...? What is wrong with questioning faith? The movie is rated PG-13. It is not for young children, but, I believe at 13 or so (give or take) a "child" should begin to ask tough questions. Faith is a journey of thought, questions and examination, no?

MamaLee said...

Amen.

Great post! (Coming from a Catholic girl over here...)

XOXO

Mrs. G. said...

I put this book on my class list for this year months before there was news about any movie being made. We aren't reading it until next month but the war drums have already started pounding. I had a parent come up to me on Thursday and chastise me because the book has an agenda. I must be dim because when I read this book years ago with my daughter, I did not pick up on this enormous theme of killing God. I was more interested in the Lyra's adventure and if the polar bear was going to survive. I asked this parent if she had read the book, and she hadn't. She had just heard about it on talk radio. I am so tired of this tired ass controversy. I would never stop my children from reading any book that criticized or questioned any large institutional body...including my beloved Democrats. Enough already. I'm not kidding.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I've gotten one of those emails already which is pretty funny considering the current state of my religious beliefs.

Lela said...

Controversy over these movies drives me crazy! My view is that, I teach my children the difference between reality and fiction, they know our views, and if they have any questions they ask, I answer. But come on, it is still fun to submerge yourself in fantasy for ninety minutes, and it's not a sin! God gave us imaginations for a reason!

Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

Amen. It's a movie--if you watch it as such it doesn't have to be a treatise on Why Christianity is Bad. And if it changes your belief in Christianity, that belief wasn't very strong to begin with. I think the religious organizations who called for a boycott have shot themselves in the foot though--I want to see it MORE to see what all the fuss is about.

crazymumma said...

bigirl is reading it right now. Likes it but not as much as Harry Potter.

The debate is silly, its just a different idea.

andi said...

I read the book when it first came out - in a Children's Lit class at university. My professor had a total man-crush on Philip Pullman and he actually came and spoke to our class. He seemed like a lovely man. Very intelligent and funny.

I loved your response to this - very well-reasoned (as usual). I really think it's important for people not to shelter their kids from beliefs that are different from theirs. I don't think there's anything wrong with kids doing a bit of critical thinking in regards to their and everyone else's beliefs.

On top of that, it would be a shame for kids to miss out on what is an amazing fantasy story - I actually doubt most kids will even pick up on the "anti-church" overtones.

andi from Poot and Cubby

daisie said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! I don't have children yet, but I look forward to sharing Harry Potter with them, and I will never worry that they are going to then become Wiccan!

Mary Beth said...

I feel the same way! And I really loved the movie:)

Oh, The Joys said...

Preach it, Soul Sistah!

Not the Queen said...

Amen! And thank you.

PunditMom said...

Thank you for this. My thoughts exactly!

Lisa Milton said...

I'm right there with you; couldn't have said it better.

We're going tomorrow. And yes, I read the books.

It's hysteria.