Thursday, December 06, 2007

Don't boycott The Golden Compass

I'm not boycotting The Golden Compass, and neither should you. Please, don't draw any more attention to Pullman, his books, or the movie.

I have already read the book, and it is a very well-written and subtle, but effective, attempt to plant negative ideas about God in the reader's mind. The other books only promise to get more explicit in the attack on young minds who would read this series.

Rather than drawing attention to it, however, we should let it die quietly, and engage in conversation with people who express an interest in the movie and the books.

As Marc T. Newman of MovieMinistry says:
I want to make it clear at the outset that this series of articles is not designed to be a call to boycott The Golden Compass. Any attention Christians bring to The Golden Compass by yelling, screaming, offering to pay for the prints to burn them (as I remember a televangelist saying at a rally denouncing The Last Temptation of Christ) will only fuel the curiosity factor. You would think that Christians would have learned that lesson. The hype around The DaVinci Code turned a boring film into a box-office juggernaut, earning it six times its production budget and guaranteeing that Dan Brown’s other book, Angels and Demons, would get the green light (it is tentatively scheduled for a Christmas 2008 release).

Besides, it won’t work. The Golden Compass has become the “must see” film of the Christmas season. Every time the trailer for the film comes on the audience reaction is positive. They are positioning this as a family film filled with adventure and excitement. A Christian boycott will not stop this film from being a blockbuster. And there is a better way to approach this movie.

The method we find used in the Scriptures to confront the accusations of non-believers, or pagans, is not threats, but persuasion. In Acts 17 and 19 we read of Paul speaking to the Athenians, or hear of his tactics among the pagan people throughout Asia. He moved them with arguments. Paul was well-versed in the mythologies of his time, and, when he had the opportunity, he used that knowledge to question, confront, and make opposing claims. His goal was not to win some temporal culture war, but the battle for his immediate hearers’ souls. We should have the same aim in mind.

Christians can successfully use popular culture as a means of starting conversations about morality, ethics, and the Gospel. I have received numerous emails from people describing how they used Bible studies and FilmTalk cards created by MovieMinistry to bridge the gap between entertainment and evangelism. As distasteful as it may seem, The Golden Compass represents an opportunity for Christians to engage lies with the truth. The first step to understanding how that dialogue can take place is realizing that movies are not monologues.

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