Movie Review: A Thoughtful Response to The Golden Compass Controversy

Every so often, you run across those evangelical Christians who, despite all the media stereotypes (which, unfortunately, are sometimes true), display an extraordinary ability to engage the "culture war" with grace and scruple--without being reactionary. Film reviewer Jeffrey Overstreet has managed to do just this in his recent review of the new movie, The Golden Compass, which has been the latest subject of culture war frenzy amongst Christians--evangelicals and Catholics alike. Speaking of the books from which The Golden Compass and the remaining two volumes of the trilogy are adapted, Director Philip Pullman is quoted saying, "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." And there's nothing subliminal about them...

Many Christians are boycotting and making a big fuss. Others are daredevilishly reacting against these "radical fundamentalists" and jumping on the bandwagon with both feet. But most, I imagine, are like I was before stopping to listen to a fair and reasonable response like Overstreet's--unsure of how to best respond due to competing tensions. If you fall into any of these three categories (the fourth would be those who simply don't care), then read the review and give it some thought.

Something I would add to Jeffrey's discussion of kids and parents is to use careful discernment with regard to age. If your children aren't old enough to think critically about the complex issues raised by those who levy hard critiques of the abuses of religion, then these movies (and books) are a fad worth passing up. Don't get reactionary about it, and follow Overstreet's advice (especially toward the end). But play your cards wisely, because this game is too risky to throw.

Read the condensed article in CT here, or the full review at Jeffrey's blog

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