It Sounds Pretty Dumb the Other Way Around, Too… December 9, 2007

It Sounds Pretty Dumb the Other Way Around, Too…

Bill Donohue should take notice of this piece by Matt Morrison:

Parents at a 12:50 showing of “The Golden Compass” in Fort Worth’s Eastchase district were both shocked and appalled to find that the movie was preceded by a trailer for the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the novel “Prince Caspian”, which some parents fear may cause their children to read a series that promotes spiritual belief and “denigrates Atheism.”

“I just can’t believe this,” said Leah Jones, mother of three and proud atheist. “I can’t believe that they would allow children to be exposed to this kind of thing without warning!”

Apparently there’s also an allusion to religion being made in Prince Caspian!:

In the movie, which is being marketed as a children’s fantasy film, many of the direct references to Christianity have been relabeled. For instance, “God” is only referred to as “Aslan”

“They’re intentionally watering down the most offensive element,” [Don Billohue, president and CEO of the Dallas Agnostic’s Metroplex Native Enlightenment Delegation] said in a CNN News report.

At least the atheists in the piece have some sense. They’re withholding judgment until after they’ve seen the movie. (Crazy, I know):

“Honestly, I don’t think a boycott will be effective,” noted Bob Tomas of The Atheist Television and Movie Association… “Anyway, we’d have to see the whole movie before we started telling our membership how offended they should be by it.”

I’m enjoying the thought that an “Atheist Television and Movie Association” could one day exist 🙂

And no satire is complete with using the best acronym ever:

“It was clear right from the start that the makers of these films intended to take out the pro-religious elements of Lewis’s books. In doing that they are taking the heart out of it, losing the point of it, castrating it,” said Peri Anderson, president of Mothers For United Church & King Eternal Ruling; a British women’s organization that promotes traditional British values and the reestablishment of a theocracy with a male monarch as head of the British Empire and Church of England.

“It seems that wanton Atheism has now completely conquered America’s cultural life and it is much the poorer for it,” she said in The Guardian newspaper earlier this month. “What a shame that we have to endure such repression here too.”

Obviously, the humor in the piece comes from the notion that atheist spokespeople don’t make these types of comments. Meanwhile, Christians in the media seem to revel in this type of talk. They’re movies. They’re entertainment. Most of the children watching these movies have no knowledge of any larger metaphor.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • I don’t think it’s stupid for Christian or other religious parents to be concerned about a movie that’s based on a book series specifically written to promote atheism among kids. Of course, I don’t want government to censor The Golden Compass, but Christians voicing their opposition to its message and urging one other not to see it isn’t censorship; it’s free speech. I’m sure you’d never mock and malign minorities, gays, or women for objecting to a movie that had questionable portrayals of them.

  • Dwana said,

    I’m sure you’d never mock and malign minorities, gays, or women for objecting to a movie that had questionable portrayals of them.

    That is not the issue. The Golden Compass does not have “questionable portrayals of [theists]” in it.

  • Mriana

    “God” is only referred to as “Aslan”

    Apparently these parents do not understand the Norse mythology behind the name Aslan. People really need to get an education about some of C. S. Lewis’s work. It ain’t modern Xianity, but rather a mix of ancient mythology and Christianity.

    BTW, the prof I had for C. S. Lewis got upset with me when I said I didn’t believe Aslan really died, in class- he was just in a deep sleep. For pitty sakes! It’s a kids story. He couldn’t have really died. And that was my argument too, which I’m sticking by to this day. Besides, I can’t see any parent wanting their child to believe that people and animals die, but come back to life- esp in a children’s story. If that is the case, then it’s just another Walt Disney story with some pretty lame teachings.

    Narnia is LOADED with mythology and again, I was pulling punches with the paper I wrote for class. Mr Faunas is the most obvious mythological character of Greek and Roman mythology. The witch = Madusa. I can go on and on, but when it comes to Narnia, the Christians have the wrong idea about Aslan. He may have been King of the Jungle, King of Animals, King of Kings, but he was also from Norse mythology.

    IF it has any relationship to Christianity, it’s only because Xianity “evolved” from other mythology.

    So, why all the beef with the Golden Compass? It makes no sense to me. I haven’t seen it yet, but it seems to me, from the previews, that it is more of the same.

  • I read Matt’s piece. It’s utterly brilliant!

    Dwana said: “I don’t think it’s stupid for Christian or other religious parents to be concerned about a movie that’s based on a book series specifically written to promote atheism among kids.”

    The Christian impulse to shield other Christians, especially children, from what they deem to be harmful influences is certainly understandable. The issue their warnings raised for me, and to which I devoted two posts on my blog, is that a select few self-appointed spokespeople issued their pronouncements and millions of other peopled jumped on board without ascertaining the facts for themselves. Pastors sent emails to their congregations that said nothing more than “I’ve heard this is a bad movie. You don’t want to see it,” and they expected their congregations to accept those warnings at face value.

    The expectations and realizations of ready acquiescence to authority evident in such processes are dangerous to the development of independent thought and to significant participation in a democratic-republican (I’m referring to political structures, not parties) socio political system. I could care less whether people like this movie. But I care deeply about how religious authoritarianism promotes habits of thought and behavior that affect areas of life outside of churches, such as schools, government and public health, to name just a few.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    What ever happened to “live and let live”?

    No one and I mean no one at any time ever has been injured by being exposed to an opposing viewpoint. Everyone of these people theist or atheist who gets upset over seeing the other side is a nutter.

    You cannot avoid religion any more than Christians can avoid atheism. Religion is a reality of this world, as is rational thought- always has been and always will be. Just be thankful that you live in a time and place where you can choose.

    No one has burned a cross or a ? in your front yard recently have they?

  • Julie

    I’m trying to think of similar issues that rile atheist parents. The best ones I can come up with are prayer in schools and God in the pledge of allegiance. I don’t think atheists really get upset about activities that are voluntary, so nobody’s going to tell anybody else to picket a movie that may have Christian symbolism. But then when it comes to compulsory education, that’s a different story. We can’t really just decide not to send kids to school for the minute of silence or whatever. It’s not voluntary. If you don’t have money to send the kids to private school (or if you just believe in the benefit of public school), then you’re stuck with prayer in school, if that’s what your district is doing.

  • It seems pretty evenly thought out. Especially considering that is appears that the most blatant anti-religion parts of the Golden Compass (anyone who’s seen the stage show will remember God appearing in the end in a glass coffin, presumably symbolizing the death of religion) whilst the most blatant pro-religion parts of Prince Caspian have also been cut.

    Do two wrongs make a right? How about staying true to the source material and letting people decide. As ridiculous as that sounds.

  • Having managed to not notice Philip Pullman’s stories until the fuss over the movie, it looks like pretty standard British anti-Catholic diatribe. He makes that point in no uncertain terms by making The Magisterium the source of all evil. For anyone who doesn’t understand why Catholics might get upset about it look up the word in a dictionary and see what it means. I agree with the point that people who don’t trust Pullman’s motives have every right to say so and people who want to go see the movie have a right to. Certainly atheists can understand that people are rather sensitive by a stereotypical and dishonest portrayal of a group they belong to, the wink of an eye doesn’t make it all better.

    The whining by neo-humanists in Britain that they took out too much of the anti-religious invective, though Pullman seems to not have a problem with it, is kind of a give away too.

    I couldn’t stand Narnia and this series looks pretty much the same kind of thing.

  • Thanks for this post Hemant. I certainly think we Christians sounded goofy, and that we were trying to keep our children from understanding the greater issues of life in the controversy about the Golden Compass. It sounds no less stupid coming in the opposite direction.

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