The Golden Compass is eating our children and slaughtering our cute little puppies!
Let me preface this by saying I haven't read the books and, obviously, haven't seen the movie (since it's not even out yet).
When did Hollywood become a religious shouting match?? Narnia came out and atheists complained, Golden Compass is coming out and Christians complain. The Last Temptation of Christ comes out and Christians complain, The Passion of the Christ comes out and every other religion in the world complains. Isn't this just like what Satan would want? We're yelling louder than the volume in the theater so it ends up what's actually on the screen doesn't really matter. It's MST3K gone wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
Let's get this straight: yes, it's true that the author of the Golden Compass books is a sort of atheist evangelist who, just like Christian evangelists, targets the most pliable audience: children. But let's also get this straight: according to what I understand about what he's written, he makes some awfully good points about the current state of religious tradition and organization. It would take a lengthy, off-topic article to discuss how Christendom may have been warped and twisted through the middle ages and is only recently beginning to recover from it, but suffice it to say that this sort of twisting is exactly what this author and all other atheist scholars attack.
Atheists mostly attack two things in Christianity: violence as portrayed by Biblical warfare accounts, the Inquisition and capitol punishment of seemingly disproportionate crimes; and strong-armed, dogged disregard for any philosophy that comes close to seeming like it contradicts their own (though it may, actually, not if they really thought about it). There are also issues of corruption that have sprung up recently. Now, we can't just take these things and say "Why, that's not true!!" We have to actually think about it and take everything into account. We can't ignore it, but we can't condone it. We can't compromise, but we must realize what we actually believe. If we believe the Bible, then we must read it and understand it the way in which and the time in which it was written.
We have to realize that almost every atheist we encounter is going to be at least a little intelligent. Either that or he will bring up canned questions developed by other intelligent atheists, the answers to which we haven't actually substantially come up with yet. Well, I have, but the rest of you may not have.
And how have I come up with these answers? By listening to atheists. Well, reading them, mostly. There is a huge atheist community at Digg.com, and I read stories from there every day. Just about every other day there will be some kind of religion-related story on which all the atheists have commented. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be religion related for an atheist to sneak his anti-god word in. But I've read their arguments, I've critically thought about them and I've formulated specific replies so that when it comes up in real life I can be prepared.
Which brings me back to the Golden Compass. We cannot look at this as an attack on Christianity. Whether or not it is an attack is not the point. We need to look at this as an opportunity to understand their side of the story. We need to bring ourselves beyond being intimidated or insulted by a kids' movie and see every challenge as an opportunity. In the end, the Golden Compass will play and many kids will go to see it. What happens afterwards is what really counts. They'll see a cool story - it will be us who will be explaining what the story is about.
Don't let the polar bear scare you. It's only CG.
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