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A Catholic Response to the Golden Compass

By now you have probably read plenty of reviews about The Golden Compass from the His Dark Materials trilogy such as these here, here and here. You may have also read that the USCCB (that would be the US Conference of CATHOLIC bishops) film office has given a positive review to the film.

There is now a book available that goes in depth into the books and the philosophy of the author, Philip Pullman. The Pied Piper of Atheism was written by Pete Vere and Sandra Miesel to help parents and other concerned individuals make an informed decision about these books and movies. It should be pretty clear that these films are not the Lord of the Rings and are not suitable viewing for kids.

UPDATE: Here is a collection of links from our local Catholic paper with more resources and a great review of Pullman's work.


  1. Now I guess everyone’s mad for condemming Harry Potter, since that’s been revealed to be a Christian story.

  2. Matt,
    Rowlins (sp?) I’m quite sure, explicitly identifies herself not as a Christian. Where or what did you hear regarding Harry Potter being a Christian narrative? There is self-aware higher power. It’s an appeal one’s own power, and the power from others, so I think.

    Take care,

  3. There is NO appeal to a self-aware….

    sorry for the lack of a NO.

  4. I have not been a fan of Harry Potter either. I wrote an article on it several years ago. You can read the start of it here.

  5. Hey, guys I’ve heard that in harry potter, the headmaster of hogwarts Rowling wrote to be gay.

  6. Personally, I think that’s just pandering to try and expand the readership.

  7. If you don’t want to see a movie or read a book, DON’T. No one is kidnapping you (or your children) and dragging them into the theaters or bookstores. If you see something on television you don’t like, TURN IT OFF. But stop trying to dictate to the rest of us who are a little more open to the possibilities of the Universe what we can see or do or say. JEEZUS!

  8. The problem is that this type of stuff is everywhere – in every grocery checkout-line, on billboards, on every radio station, in your school. You can’t just “turn it off”.

  9. In what way is The Golden Compass not suitable for children? I’ve seen both it and the Lord of the Rings, and TGC is by far the least violent of the two. Have you actually watched the movie?

    About the books…. I’m an atheist and a huge fan of the trilogy, so my opinion is obviously not going to be similar to yours, but I’ve always thought it was sillly to keep your kids away from something just because it presents a viewpoint you don’t agree with. I read the books when I was a child (a Catholic child) and I wasn’t in the least bit offended or disturbed by it. I thought it was interesting that God and religion were presented as oppressers and enemies of free will, but it didn’t for a second occur to me to change my own opinions because of this. In secondary school I hung around with very strongly religious Catholics, nearly all of whom adored Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass) and the other two books in the trilogy. I never once heard of any of them getting upset over the anti-religious elements, since apparently they, like me, could tell the difference between fact and fiction.

    Personally, if I ever have children I’ll never restrict their reading or viewing habits based on religious elements. If someone comes out with a book series maligning atheism there’ll be no question of keeping it away from my kids as if it was some kind of dangerous poison.

    Anyway…. got a bit ranty there. That’s just my two cents. I don’t know why people are getting so upset over the movie, since nearly all of the religous elements have been removed from it anyway.

  10. if a person’s faith (or that of their children) is weak wnough to be shaken by an adventure involving a highly fictionalized nearly satirized Church, then their problems run much deeper than they know. “boycotts” such as this only reinforce peoples’ stereotypes about a closeminded and controlling Church, which is, in effect, Pullman’s very message.

  11. I am a Christian and a believer in Jesus. I agree with much respect with the atheist’s point of view. If a movie challenges your faith then GOOD!. What I have read from Christians about the Golden Compass is that the Magistrate and god more resemble the “kingdom of this world” and we can all agree that the “kingdom of this world” has been turned over to Satan. There are mostly Christian principles presented in the movie; self sacrifice, honor, grace, courage. I would hope that Christians are against evil that is represented as evil in this movie. It is unfortunate that the true God is not acknowledged, however that responsibility has been given to us to proclaim. I agree with the Killing of the Lord of this world (Satan). I would hope that all acknowledge Christ as Lord. Mankind is full of sin and in need of the salvation of Jesus.

    Educate and equip your children. Most of all point people to Jesus!

  12. Not to nit-pick, but a former Catholic who is now an atheist saying there is no harm in these anti-Catholic books/movie? You seem to be the embodiment of proof that these books ARE INDEED harmful to a child’s faith. Why did you leave Holy Mother Church?

    Along those lines, would you give your child a rattlesnake to play with so that he could have his health challenged? Then why let your children read these books and expect their faith to be strengthened? What REAL tools are you giving them to be able to tell the difference between truth and falsehood?

    mikeycoke: the “Christian principles” you mention (self sacrifice, honor, courage) are not the sole domain of Christianity. A heathen who has never heard of Christ could display these principles or values as well. (Incidentally, Grace is not a principle but a gift from God – His life within our souls. We cannot gain Grace without Him, so the poor heathen – and the atheist for that matter – is out of luck). Anyway, my point is that even people who do evil can have good principles or rules of behavior. Someone who does not believe in Christ can still believe it is wrong to kill another, or that it is right to sacrifice oneself for the good of others. I DO agree with you that it is for us to proclaim the truth, which is why there is a protest to these books/movie.

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