The Golden Compass — Child Murder as a Way to Spiritual Power
How to respond to “The Golden Compass” movie and book
Doug Britton, MFT
The Golden Compass and child sacrifice
If you think it’s a good idea to sacrifice (in other words, to kill) a boy in an effort to gain spiritual understanding, then you will love The Golden Compass, a book that has recently been made into a movie. (This is the first book in a series of three by Philip Pullman called “His Dark Materials.” It is titled Northern Lights, not The Golden Compass, in many countries.)
I like fantasy and science fiction, and I’ve read a lot of it. A few years ago I read The Golden Compass. At first I was impressed by the vivid writing and creative story line. As I read, though, I began to sense that something was wrong with the book.
However, I was completely unprepared for the ending in which one of the major characters imprisoned and then killed a boy to gain understanding of spiritual power. As the books progressed, it became clear that this sacrifice was a necessary step to gaining the understanding (and power) needed for final victory over the forces of God — and to kill God himself.
It was the most horrifying example of child abuse I have ever read in literature. What at first seemed to be a creative and compelling story line descended into well-written evil in which God is portrayed as a horrible being.
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More concerns about The Golden Compass
(1) A child-murderer is portrayed as a heroic person at the end of the books.
(2) The books portray God and his forces in an extremely negative light. The God who created and loves us is redefined as senile and decrepit.
(3) The author, Philip Pullman, is not “just a story teller.” He has openly attacked Christianity (and the “gods” of other religions as well). His biases come out clearly in his books.
(4) The book starts out well, but then as the reader is hooked they get progressively worse. The third book becomes openly anti-Christian. For example, a key figure voices the clear message of the book: “The Christian religion is a powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.”
(5) The Golden Compass movie version is a stealth movie, leaving out most of the evil I have mentioned.
For example, the child sacrifice which ends the first book is omitted in the movie. Why? So movie-goers will experience a “happy ending.” It has been reported that if enough people pay to watch the first movie, the studio plans to make two follow-up movies that are more “true” to the next two books (which become increasingly evil and anti-Christian).
The Chicago Times reviewer (who liked the movie) described the movie as a “gateway drug,” and I think that’s a good description.
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(6) Consider carefully the message you would give to the producers by paying money to watch The Golden Compass movie. Remember that they plan to produce follow-up movies that are more “true” to the books if this movie is successful.
(7) Consider carefully whether you want to tell your children you endorse Philip Pullman’s books and movies.
Philip Pullman is a very creative and powerful writer, and it’s easy to be influenced by his strong biases. Children (as well as many adults) can be strongly influenced by what they read.
(8) Lovingly and wisely discuss these books (and The Golden Compass movie) with your children.
Don’t just say, “This is bad.” Instead, help your children understand your concerns. This is true if you do not allow them to see the movie. And it’s true if they have read the books or seen the movie. We need to help our children discover and understand Pullman’s deception.
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(9) Having said all the above, there’s no need to be fearful or hysterical about The Golden Compass movie — or about Philip Pullman.
In fact, we need not be fearful about anything! As David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
(10) The Golden Compass movie and books can give us good opportunities to talk with other people about who God really is.
When someone brings up the movie, we can gently explain our concerns and share the truth about God instead of getting mad.
(11) We should pray for Philip Pullman.
I don’t know why he is so bitter, and certainly there are lots of things organized religions (and Christians themselves) have done that are very wrong. Let’s pray that he will come to know God as he really is. Remember that God loves Pullman as much as he loved the Apostle Paul, a man who actively persecuted Christians yet who eventually came to know Christ.
(12) We should not get angry with others, including other Christians, who endorse the books or watch The Golden Compass movie.
It’s important to be able to discuss topics like this respectfully, and realize we won’t all see things the same way.
(13) Although we need to stay balanced and loving in our response to this movie:
- It’s good for people to know what we are dealing with. This is more than just an innocent adventure movie.
- Although we should engage with our culture, we can do so without financially supporting this movie.
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About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.