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Golden Compass Author said "My Books are about Killing God"


Regarding the following:

Philip Pullman, the author, a self admitted atheist, told an Australian newspaper that "my books are about killing God." Hmm, I thought atheists didn't believe in God. It sounds to me like Pullman knows that God exists, but still wants to kill Him. This is more in line with the devil's M.O. Satan and Pullman have something in common, or maybe they're one in the same.


Frank Joseph MD


Perspectives: In what direction does The Golden Compass point?

Rebecca Grace - Guest Columnist

December 6, 2007

As with any movie I review on behalf of the American Family Association, I felt a huge sense of responsibility when I stepped into the theater for an advanced screening of New Line Cinema's The Golden Compass. I walked out of the theater with an even greater burden ... and a headache.

What I saw on the screen was deep, complex, confusing and very disturbing. In fact, I became more overwhelmed when trying to decide exactly what I needed to tell you about The Golden Compass, a controversial film with great expectations at the box office.

Since so much happens in the film, both on the surface and below, it's impossible to tell you everything. But you don't have to know everything to realize that The Golden Compass will in no way point you or your family in the right direction.

Starting point

It is based on the first book of a series, His Dark Materials, written by English atheist Philip Pullman. With children as the target audience, the movie is to release December 7 in theaters nationwide.

The Golden Compass is set in an alternative world ruled by a sinister Magisterium, which is symbolic of the Church. It is about a girl named Lyra who sets out to rescue her friend Roger who has been kidnapped by an organization known as the Gobblers, more formally the General Oblation Board. Roger's rescue turns into an epic quest to save two different worlds -- one in which people's souls manifest themselves as animals. These manifestations are known as "daemons" (pronounced "demons") and follow a human throughout life giving him guidance and companionship. If the daemon is in pain, so is the human and vice versa.

Daemons are representative of a person's soul and indicate one's personality. Children's daemons can change form and appearance, but once a person reaches adulthood, his daemon cannot change because it is a true representation of who this person has become.

Lyra's daemon is named Pan, short for Pantalaimon, and he journeys with Lyra in search of Roger. But before Lyra even realizes Roger is in trouble, she is enticed by the alluring and attractive Mrs. Coulter after hearing her uncle, Lord Asriel, talk about something called "Dust," which is symbolic of original sin and knowledge. Still wanting to know more about Dust, Lyra keeps her curiosity to herself and decides to go and live with Mrs. Coulter for a while. Before her departure to the North, Lyra is given an ancient device called an alethiometer, which looks like a golden compass.

The alethiometer measures "truth," and once Lyra learns how to read it she is able to see the past, present and future. The alethiometer becomes Lyra's source of knowledge following her escape from Mrs. Coulter once Lyra realizes Mrs. Coulter is head of the Gobblers.

Mrs. Coulter and her Gobblers are kidnapping children and keeping them confined to an experimental station in the far North. Here the children undergo a procedure called Intercision in which their daemons are cut away from them, leaving them without a soul and without a means for Dust to enter their lives as they mature.

This is better understood by paraphrasing a few lines from the film in which Mrs. Coulter explains Intercision to Lyra: "Our ancestors made a terrible mistake. They disobeyed Authority. That's how Dust came into the world. But Dust doesn't settle on children. As children mature it begins creep into their lives and that's what causes them to think all kinds of nasty thoughts and do bad things. But a little cut ... that's all it takes. However, Intercision is not perfect yet."

When Lyra finds out what's really going on, she will do anything to rescue Roger and the other children, even if it means being deceitful, manipulative and willing to kill anyone and anything that stands in her way.

Along the way, Lyra is aided by Gyptians, a group of people who resemble gypies, an overgrown armored bear, a clan of witches, and a slow-talking aeronaut from Texas.

In a battle of good verses evil, it appears that Lyra and her allies represent the good while Mrs. Coulter and her power-hungry rebels of the Magisterium represent evil. But in Pullman's fantasy adventure, the tables are turned. Authority, as in the Magisterium or Church, is seen as bad, while free will -- as in no authority whatsoever -- is seen as good.

Only Lyra has the power to declare a war over free will, and only Lyra has the power to stop a takeover by the Magisterium.

Wrong turn

It's clear to see the complexity of the plot, and what I've explained above is only what happens in the film version. The books flesh out the storyline in graver detail and in a much more overt anti-Christian way. Without reading the actual books, you can get a solid understanding of Pullman and his agenda by doing what I did and reading through synopses of the series at

Since the film is based the first book in a book trilogy, it's obvious from the open-endedness of the movie's final scene, that there is more to come -- perhaps a sequel or a threequel if The Golden Compass fares well at the box office, especially opening weekend. And what is to come is even more disturbing than what's already being shown on the big screen.

In the end of His Dark Materials, God, who is presented as evil throughout the whole story, is defeated and dies.

Pullman's book trilogy is the story of "a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God," BBC News reported. The Guardian, a British newspaper, goes even further to describe the books as "metaphysical fantasies encompassing parallel worlds, the death of God and the fall of man ...."

"One of the [book] series' main themes -- the rejection of organized religion and in particular the abuse of power within the Catholic Church -- is to be watered down," according to the Telegraph, a newspaper in the U.K. "But when the film is released in December the Magisterium will be shown as a critique of all dogmatic organizations, thereby avoiding a religious backlash."

The Telegraph was correct.

The overt religious content has been watered down in the movie, but it's far from subtle. God or the Church is never referred to in the film. Instead the term "Authority" is used. However, it doesn't take much to figure out the film's agenda. I believe any person, believer or non-believer, who has even the slightest knowledge of God, sin and the Fall of Man will pick up on the underlying messages of The Golden Compass.

Now, I'm quick to admit that most children will not watch the movie and walk away with an understanding of Pullman's anti-Christian motives. (I've been a believer for 21 years, and I'm still perplexed -- and greatly saddened -- by what Pullman is trying to prove.) Kids probably won't pick up on any agenda at all. In fact, they may be so enthralled with the intrigue and adventure of the film that they think of it as nothing more than a great movie about another world of make-believe -- assuming they are not scared by several intense scenes and some frightening characters.

But whether we are young or old and whether we pick up on it or not, Pullman's demented beliefs are reflected in The Golden Compass for all of the world to see, and that is more than enough reason to stay away from it.

In addition, what is being touted as a children's movie is very dark and is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence. Personally, I think "fantasy violence" is an understatement. There is a lot of fighting and death throughout the film, including a bear's jaw being completely ripped off and Lyra's attempt to kill her own mother. There is very little, if any, blood.

There are a number of twisted biblical references and a play on biblical names. There is some immodesty and sensuality seen in the character of Mrs. Coulter who is always wearing low-cut, form-fitting dresses.

The consumption of alcohol is present in the movie, and there is a scene where 12-year-old Lyra takes a sip of wine and spits it back into her glass. There is what also sounds like one use of the "s"-word.

Lyra's character should also be of concern to parents. At times, Lyra appears to be a sweet heroine whose boldness is commended. But she is very conniving, manipulative and deceitful, and when she acts in these ways, she accomplishes her purpose -- not something you want your children to take note of.

"What's bad about the movie, therefore, is not overt atheism. That comes in the later books in the three-part series," wrote Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of MovieGuide, in an article titled "Hyping the Willful Rebellious Liar: 'The Golden Compass.'" "What's bad is that it creates a heroine who is selfish, willful and stubborn to such a degree that she does not express love, kindness, joy, peace, or any of those wonderful virtues that make us put others before ourselves. The Good News of the Gospel is a message of love and forgiveness, not a message of control."

While the atheism is not overt, I believe it is still a concern, and I agree with Dr. Baehr about the impression Lyra could leave on children who see the film.

Whether Pullman realizes it or not, he alludes to the impressionistic state of children by making children's daemons changeable in his fantasy world. According to, "With this conceit, Pullman points out the malleability of childhood."

And you wonder why The Golden Compass is being marketed to children? Your child watches the movie, wants the books, reads the books and gets a whole new perspective of God, which could doom him eternally. Don't be deceived. The movie is bait for the books.

Where now?

There's no doubt that Pullman has an agenda, but, as Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, notes in an article titled "The Golden Compass -- A Briefing for Concerned Christians," so do we.

"Our agenda is the Gospel of Christ -- a message infinitely more powerful than that of The Golden Compass," Mohler wrote. "The Christian faith is not about to be toppled by a film, nor by a series of fantasy books."

Read Dr. Albert Mohler's commentary on The Golden Compass

As Christians, we need to realize that we hold the real truth -- the power of the Gospel -- in our hearts.

While that's no excuse to sit back, ignore the film or justify our acceptance of it by telling ourselves it's just fantasy, it is more than enough reason for us to point others, including Pullman, in the right direction -- that being in the direction of Calvary. And we certainly don't need a golden compass to do that.

Rebecca Grace, a regular contributor to, is staff writer for AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association. Shedding Light on His Dark Materials by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware explores hidden spiritual themes in Philip Pullman's popular series. It's available through the American Family Association website.

Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates

Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network,, our parent organization or its other affiliates.


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