From time to time, The GreatMoose can be roused from his posting inane dorkiness and useless trivia to post something of life-changing value.
This is not one of those times.
However, it IS a time to provide the The GreatMoose's wisdom to his faithful readers (both of them). If you are unaware, there is a boycott being brought by the Catholic League (NOTE: NOT the Catholic Church, big difference*) against the upcoming movie The Golden Compass. The thing is, they are not really boycotting the MOVIE so much as the are boycotting the author of the books the film is based on, Philip Pullman. The books are known as the His Dark Materials trilogy, which follow the story of "Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a multiverse of parallel universes and a backdrop of epic events. The story begins in Northern Lights with fantasy elements such as witches and armoured bears. As the trilogy progresses, it acquires allegorical layers of meaning, introducing a broad range of ideas from fields such as physics (quantum physics), philosophy (metaphysics, philosophy of religion and, arguably, a degree of hylopathism), and theology (biblical symbolism)." (from the almighty wikipedia)
The first book (Northern Lights in the UK) is called The Golden Compass in the US, and is the basis for the movie. Now, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I HAVE read the books (or tried too, we'll get to that later), so my comments here will be constrained to them. I got interested in them initially for two reasons:
1) the setting is an alternate universe based on steampunk technology. My faithful readers should know of my deep love for steampunk.
2) Giant frikkin' armored talking polar bears.
So, I dove into the first book. And you know what, it was REALLY good. Not the best I've ever read, but very engaging and had some really inventive ideas. Oh, and it's DARK. It's definitely not the kids' book (and one would assume, movie) that it's being marketed as. I wouldn't let anyone under 13 read it. And it ends in such a way that you almost HAVE to immediately start the next book, The Subtle Knife. Which is not as good, but still readable.
And then there's book 3, The Amber Spyglass. Which could be one of the worst books I have ever read, and I have read some stinkers. Pullman lets his obvious disdain for the the Church overpower his ability to tell a story. Which brings me to the point of all of this: The Catholic League (and one would assume the AFA) are painting the movie (and the stories) as an anti-Christian/anti-God diatribe. Which (until book 3, at least) they are not.
We as Christians tend to make waaaay too big a deal about stuff (I'm looking at YOU, American "Family" Association). I talked with Jodie about this a little bit this past week. Boycotting this we don't necessarily agree with is not the best way to make an argument. Is our faith is SO shaky and fragile, that even the slightest opinion to the contrary sends us into hysterics? (Although in all fairness, we do NOT call for the beheading of people we don't agree with, or strap bombs to our kids and send them to the mall to make a point.) But I digress.
It is my humble belief that the stories are really more anti-organized religion, than anti-God. And the Archbishop of Canterbury agress with me: From wikipedia--"Pullman [the author] has found support from other Christians, most notably Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who argues that Pullman's attacks are focused on the constraints and dangers of dogmatism and the use of religion to oppress, not on Christianity itself."
Now, having said that, the last book really is almost over-the-top in its church-bashing. He got carried away, and irreparably soured the first two books, which are great reads. To all those who say "Butbutbut, in the third book he kills God!" No, he doesn't. Try reading it again (or at all). What he kills is the angel "The Authority", who is NOT God, but has CLAIMED to be God, and the Church bought it. That's really the whole problem. In the HDM universe, the "Church" believed the lie that "The Authority" was God, and based the whole church on that. Which is actually a quite imaginative scenario. Anyway, I've gone way long on this, just wanted to share an opinion.
In short, if your idea of God includes witches, souls in the form of animals, polar bears who make armor, alternate dimensions, quantum physics, and God himself being carried around in a glass box, then you should avoid the movie (and the books). Otherwise, enjoy it for what it is, science fiction.
Oh, and giant frikkin' armored talking polar bears.
ONE GIANT POINT OF CLARIFICATION: I AM NOT TRYING TO ENCOURAGE ANYONE TO GO SEE THE MOVIE OR READ THE BOOKS. MERELY MAKE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF. I just meant all this to say I enjoyed the books, and they mean something different to me than what the author apparently intended.
ANOTHER EDIT: An article from ChristianityToday saying everything I did but better and clearer. (Thanks, JTapp!)
EDIT IN: An absolutely brilliant article by a Catholic theologian on who the "real" God in the HDM series is. I don't necessarily agree with her on everything (especially the "feminist God" parts), but she makes a good point. Definitely worth the time to read, if this topic even remotely interests you.
EDIT 2: I'm aware that Pullman has said in an interview that his purpose with the books was to "kill God", and while it pains me to see someone so jaded against religion, it still doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the books. Johnny Depp is a pretty vile America-hating scumbag, but dang it, he makes a movie more enjoyable, you know? Oh, and BTW, if that really was his intention, he failed miserably, beause IN THE FRIGGIN BOOK he does NOT kill God! The IMPOSTER God is killed. Eh, whatever.
Ultimately, this whole post is just a rant, and worth exactly what you paid for it.