Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Golden Compass

Advent Greetings!

I guess it’s time I threw my hat in the ring over the whole “The Golden Compass” (Philip Pullman) controversy.

((Watch out, there are SPOILERS in this post......))

Where to start....

I don’t believe in censorship. That even goes so far as to condemn Chapters/Indigo for pulling Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler) from its shelves. I read “Mein Kampf” while in high school. (Yes, in a high school library!) I thought it to be the radical ranting of a madman. The point was, I got the chance to read it and make that judgement. I don’t believe in censorship.

I DO believe in monitoring what our children read and being a part of the reading as well as the reflection afterwards. My oldest boy, William, still often needs to debrief after watching the animated movie “Cars.” “Why is the town sad?” he usually asks.

Will I allow my children to watch overt violence on TV? No, they are too young right now. But the time will come when they will have to learn to interpret the violence of our media culture and put it in a proper perspective. We will do this together and talk about it together.

I believe in monitoring the age-appropriateness of our children’s media and reading materials, but beyond that, we will have to deal with specific content as it arises.

So now, what about “The Golden Compass?” I took the time to read it this past week and found it to be a very enjoyable book with a lot of great twists and imaginative story-telling.

That’s all it is. A story. A fantasy about people who never existed in a world that doesn’t exist, except in telling of the tale.

The critic leading the charge against the book is a crack-pot by the name of William Donahue. For more on his background and radical comments, please feel free to check THIS out.

Some of the criticism has been about Pullman’s atheistic and anti-Catholic sentiments. If we were to pull every book (or movie), children’s or otherwise, which shared these sentiments, there’s be little left to read. In the end, I find Pullman’s attacks on the Church (Catholic or otherwise) well thought out and refreshing.

Another criticism is that at the end of the third book of this series, the main character kills “God.” I put “God” in quotes because I’m not sure if the entity killed is really God or an “idea of God” which even I might find repugnant. (Please note, I haven’t had the chance to read the whole series yet, but have done my research into the ending.)

In either case. The criteria being used so far to suggest this book be banned would wipe out the entire science-fiction and fantasy sections of any library and whittle general fiction to a shelf or two.

I quote Pullman himself,

"To regard it as this Donohue man has said—that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people—how the hell does he know that? Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers?" Pullman sighed. "Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."
From a Newsweek Interview

One thing is certain. If it were not for the grumblings of William Donahue, I never would have had the itch to read “The Golden Compass.”

Thanks Bill!

Every Blessing.

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