I've been hearing for about 6 weeks now about a new atheistic, anti-Christian, child/morality destroying movie that will be released in Theatres next week on December 7th. It's called the "Golden Compass." It is bad because it's written by an atheist, and some critics say targets and portrays tthe Catholic church as a semi-fascist, ego-centric, theocratic organization bent on preserving itself at all costs. (Now I leave that interpretation up to you.) I've received at least half a dozen emails warning me to protect my children at all costs from this Hollywood distributed evil first written by an English author, and to be sure to also preach against it in my pulpit.
I have several reactions to this event, the trilogy and forthcoming movie:
1. I look forward to seeing it. How can I talk about it in any sort of thougthful, intelligent or coherent way if I haven't read or seen it, or better yet both.
2. I wonder if anyone that has sent me these emails has read the book, of course they can't have seen the movie yet unless their part of the Hollywood intellegensia.
3. Why is it that so often we react violently against the ways in which publishing houses, record labels, or Hollywood organizations seek to shape our children, in particular in terms of their faith experience or moral vision? Isn't it the job of the parents, extended family and care-givers to do that? If you're not doing anything to provide some sort of culture, education, or participatory experience for your children in terms of faith and simply let whatever you get from blockbuster or netflix do so, then you're most likely getting what you deserve.
4. How come we so often hear in evangelical circles what is so bad, or corrupting, or evil in terms of the effect it can have on our children as opposed to hearing - with the same sort of consistentcy and vehemency - what might be encouraging, life-transforming and world-view shaping for our children that is authentic, organic and culturally pertinent?
5. Why is it that we look, in evangelical or catholic circles, to our clergy members to tell us what to do in some sort of a mindless parrot-mimicing sort of a way? I personally aim for, and hope that, the people in the faith community I serve as pastor are growing in their experience, vision, and eschatological hope regarding their faith as active actors and participants with their own minds, thoughts and reactions...not just repeating what I may or may not say on a given Sunday in the alloted 15 minute sermon period.
6. I pledge as a result to actively share, publish and teach diverse and different, culturally pertinent and applicable, concrete and coherent ways, strategies, rituals, and discussion-starters to enable us to not just talk about faith, but to put it into practice in an experiential way with our children, extended families and children of our faith communities. All Starting Today. (See 7).
7. In our family we try to pray most nights before dinner. Our goal as a family is to teach gratitude, to experience as a family that we are dependent upon others (to pick, harvest, slaughter, prepare, etc. our food) and that ultimately everything in life is a gift, which we believes come from the living triune God of the Bible. We will either sing a song (Johnny Appleseed - great theology and fun) or ask our kids to say what they're thankful for. Most times it's for this or that Barbie, for this or that friend. We don't try and change it to say thankful for our sins being forgiven, or for Jesus dying on the cross. They'll get that when they can get it. They can today (as toddlers and under 8 year olds) understand that most things in life are a gift, and that God is the source of all the gifts that we receive. It takes about 2 minutes (tops). It's always fun. The more we do it the more the kids want to do it (even asking for it) and the more they're able to articulate their gratitude in coherent and pertinent ways. Try it. If you tend to forget in the rush of getting the meal on the table...it might just be your kids that quickly start asking or reminding you to say the prayer.
Newsweek (out today) has an article on the Golden Compass Movie (link HERE) that page also has a thoughtful interview about the theology of the Golden Compass that you can listen to (link HERE).