The Evil Golden Compass!!11!!1! (Finale)

9 09 2011

Here’s the problem with dragging writing projects out.  When you think about them for a while, they change.  Ideas…percolate.  That’s a fun word and I enjoy using it.  Percolate.  Anyhoo, in Part 1, I mentioned at the end that there were three issues with the attacks on the book.  Then, in Part 2, I began to explain my points in a different order…now in the finale, I have decided to modify my other two points.  Oh well.  Guess it could be worse.

This = worse

2.  The implications of attacking this book mean that practically every sci-fi or fantasy media should be attacked.

Let’s look at some of the most common attacks on The Golden Compass, shall we?

  • Its written by an atheist author whose beliefs creep in to the book
  • It is an attack on Christians’ beliefs
  • It has witches and other foul creatures in it
  • It portrays the church in a negative light
  • There is no God in their world (or, God is evil if you don’t know what you’re talking about)
  • Some parts of the story are directly contradictory to the Bible (harpies, people’s death’s, afterlife, daemons, etc.)

I’d like to tell you a story now.  This is the story of something I learned in a class last year.  This class was the introductory class to Oxbridge, taught by Dr. Alpern.  We examined logic, writing, the books Republic (by Plato) and On Liberty (John Stuart Mill), and Dr. Alpern’s own book on logic and things–I call this the Book of Alpern.  In the Book of Alpern were many things, not the least of which were a series of lame jokes, but one of this things was an explanation of the concept called ‘counter-intuitive consequences.’  Now, a counter-intuitive consequence is an unintended result of a statement or argument.  Example (right out of the Book of Alpern!):  a parent tells her child that he must go to bed now.  She uses the reasoning that it is necessary for the child to get a certain amount of sleep.  The child responds, saying that the parent doesn’t go to bed at the same time as the child and therefore doesn’t get enough sleep.  That is a counter-intuitive consequence of the reasoning:  child should go to sleep because of x.  However, x also applies to the parent.

If that bored you, or you didn’t understand that, don’t worry.  What this concept means for The Golden Compass debate is that many of the arguments should be brought up with practically every single piece of sci-fi/fantasy media, including the apparent gold standard of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia.  Star Wars should be boycotted because, just like Golden Compass, it has a twisted view of deity and religion.  Stargate should be boycotted, just like Golden Compass, because ascencion flies in direct contradiction with heaven/hell and the enemies pose as gods (not unlike Pullman’s works…).  Narnia should be boycotted because it deals with magic, evil witches, blasphemy, and an incorrect view of theology (Jesus is not a lion).  I don’t understand why Pullman’s books have been so violently opposed by members of churches when the only thing separating it from other fantasy/sci-fi books is a negative view of religion.  Why haven’t other things been boycotted?  Mass Effect, anyone?  Why not boycott that?

In reality, no attacks on Mass Effect because they're just scared of Garrus. Don't mess.

3.  The Church is being hypocritical and proving Pullman right

I don’t think the arguments against the golden compass hold up.  Between the misinformation, concocted, fictional accusations that are just dead wrong and the pickiness that is apparently only afforded to Pullman’s works, there are only a few accusations that have merit.  One, Pullman’s works portray Christianity in a negative light (one of the characters in the books, an ex-nun, calls it a ‘convincing mistake’).  Two, Pullman’s story and rejection of Christianity could turn young Christians away from their own beliefs.  Number two is easy enough to deal with–parents, clergy, and whoever else should deal with Pullman’s story just as they would any other contradictory belief that would impact young minds; it is no different than exposing kids to atheism itself or pantheism or whatnot.

However, Christians who attack the book because of its negative portrayal of Christianity (and organized religion on a whole, for that matter) are totally missing the point and giving men like Pullman more fuel for the proverbial fire.  Pullman’s understanding of Christianity is that the church is a money and power grabbing institution who brainwashes their members and opposes freedom.  He thinks they are worried more about their own hides than actually loving and caring like they claim to.

And what do we do?  We accuse him of trying to force opinions on us.  We object him because he does not believe as we do.  Megachurches staffed by millionaire figureheads who care about their own well-being more than evangelizing and sharing exist all over America.  Sex scandals have permeated the Catholic church’s image recently.  We have wrought death, destruction, and mayhem on others when Jesus told us to “love your neighbor” and “turn the other cheek”–just look at the Spanish Inquisition (nobody expected it), the Crusades, and the Protestant/Catholic conflicts in Ireland.  We stand up for our beliefs by persecuting those who disagree with us instead of lovingly talking about our beliefs–just ask the homosexual community.

In the process of pointing fingers at Pullman’s book, we are continuing the process of hate and ignorance that Pullman sees in us Christians.  I empathize with Pullman, as I am often sick of being stuck with the now-negative label ‘Christian’.  If it were up to me, Pullman’s trilogy would be required reading.  We can learn far more from it than by criticizing it.

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