Doktor Luther smashes “The Golden Compass”

The managing editor of “First Things” is Anthony Sacramone, a Missouri Synod Lutheran, who channeled Martin Luther in his immitable blog Luther at the Movies, which I have been inspecting every week to see if it has come back from its health-imposed hiatus. Now I see that the Doktor’s execrable assistant, the aforementioned managing editor, is taking up partial blogging responsibilities at the First Things blog and so is putting Luther at the Movies to bed. (You will want, however, to go to that site to read Doktor Luther’s farewell.)

Anyway, the spirit and prose stylings of Luther at the Movies remains, and Mr. Sacramone has to be one of the best writers on the web (of whom there are untold millions). Here is a sampling of what he says about “The Golden Compass,” the movie version of Philip Pullman’s anti-Christian fantasy:

It is typical to give Pullman high marks for some of his more inventive gimmicks, like the daemons. Frankly, they wore thin by the second book. Just more talking animals. The author’s inversion of, and therefore dependence on, C.S. Lewis is as subtle as a colonoscopy, but he also owes a debt to Madeleine L’Engle, it seems to me. And then there are all those witches, the single most boring group of preternatural creatures ever concocted. In the second book, they just go on and on until you realize why the Puritans finally burned them at the stake–it was the only way to make them stop talking.

I couldn’t stomach the whole trilogy, frankly, because Pullman’s muse is fueled by one thing and one thing only: hate. And the object of that hate is not just obscurantism or authoritarianism or clericalism. EVERY LAST CHRISTIAN, EVERY LAST PERSON CONNECTED WITH THE CHURCH, IS EVIL. When Pullman was called on this in an interview, he replied that it probably bespoke a lack of art on his part. No, it bespoke the focused intention of the author: To vilify Christians and Christianity.

. . . . . . . . . .

So if little Robespierre comes up to you with his little mopey face and pleads, “But the Hitlers next door let their kids see The Golden Compass,” you just reply, “And that’s because Arthur and Eva are horrible parents with a penchant for movies about blonde-haired, blue-eyed people trampling northern lands by aid of the occult and gimcrack science. Now go back to your alcove and finish reading The Gulag Archipelago and learn what a real atheist alternative universe is all about.”

Read the whole thing, which also ridicules some Christian groups and publications that PRAISED the movie (which, by the way, is bombing at the box office–it cost as much to make as two of the Lord of the Rings movies, but it is not making its expenses, putting the plan to film the other two books of the trilogy in jeopardy). I’m making the First Things blog with Anthony Sacramone an honorary member of Cranach’s blog roll.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    I did like the review when I saw it the other day. I thought it some ways it was actually an improvement over LatM, since apparently the miserable, execrable assistant is even snarkier than his boss.

    That said, I honestly don’t see why anyone would be up in arms about the film, mostly because the books were so lame. I mean, a hardline materialist writing fantasy? What could possibly go wrong? There are things far more subversive around that would probably be better worth our time and energy to fight.

    I don’t plan on seeing it, but that doesn’t mean I’m boycotting it, either.

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    I did like the review when I saw it the other day. I thought it some ways it was actually an improvement over LatM, since apparently the miserable, execrable assistant is even snarkier than his boss.

    That said, I honestly don’t see why anyone would be up in arms about the film, mostly because the books were so lame. I mean, a hardline materialist writing fantasy? What could possibly go wrong? There are things far more subversive around that would probably be better worth our time and energy to fight.

    I don’t plan on seeing it, but that doesn’t mean I’m boycotting it, either.

  • Doug

    I have written a review of the books if anyone is interested. Please feel free to pass it along.

    http://www.christiansymbols.net/downloads/his_dark_materials_review.pdf

  • Doug

    I have written a review of the books if anyone is interested. Please feel free to pass it along.

    http://www.christiansymbols.net/downloads/his_dark_materials_review.pdf

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    I haven’t bothered to read your review, but this quote you pulled from Pullman for the introduction is a good example of a good portion of the blind ignorance that fuels his hatred for Christianity, and made the books, in my opinion, more laughable than objectionable:

    “I loathe the ‘Narnia’ books,” Pullman has said in previous press interviews. “I hate them with a deep and bitter passion, with their view of childhood as a golden age from which sexuality and adulthood are a falling away.”

    That is, Narnia has very little at all to do with sex, yet His Dark Materials is about nothing else. Throughout, he equates knowledge of good and evil with sexual experience. The age at which the daemons’ take their form is when the kids hit puberty, and is when they’re considered able to distinguish right from wrong. If memory serves, Roman Catholics put that age at seven, well before sex is on the minds of pretty much anyone, and my own parents definitely expected me to know right from wrong in many respects well before I knew anything of sex. On the other end of the spectrum, neurologic development says we might not really be able to distinguish those sorts of things until we’re between 19 and 22. Either way you take it, sex was never a part of the picture before Pullman made it the foundation on his own.

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    I haven’t bothered to read your review, but this quote you pulled from Pullman for the introduction is a good example of a good portion of the blind ignorance that fuels his hatred for Christianity, and made the books, in my opinion, more laughable than objectionable:

    “I loathe the ‘Narnia’ books,” Pullman has said in previous press interviews. “I hate them with a deep and bitter passion, with their view of childhood as a golden age from which sexuality and adulthood are a falling away.”

    That is, Narnia has very little at all to do with sex, yet His Dark Materials is about nothing else. Throughout, he equates knowledge of good and evil with sexual experience. The age at which the daemons’ take their form is when the kids hit puberty, and is when they’re considered able to distinguish right from wrong. If memory serves, Roman Catholics put that age at seven, well before sex is on the minds of pretty much anyone, and my own parents definitely expected me to know right from wrong in many respects well before I knew anything of sex. On the other end of the spectrum, neurologic development says we might not really be able to distinguish those sorts of things until we’re between 19 and 22. Either way you take it, sex was never a part of the picture before Pullman made it the foundation on his own.

  • Joe

    I think the reason we should be “up in arms” about this movie is because as I parent I am required by my duty to raise my children in God’s ways to “up in arms” about all kinds of things that send an anti-Christian message to my children. Just because this one isn’t as bad as another is not a very sound reason to give it a pass. It is also good to send the message to Hollywood that we don’t appreciate this kind of film. After all they will produce only what they can sell.

  • Joe

    I think the reason we should be “up in arms” about this movie is because as I parent I am required by my duty to raise my children in God’s ways to “up in arms” about all kinds of things that send an anti-Christian message to my children. Just because this one isn’t as bad as another is not a very sound reason to give it a pass. It is also good to send the message to Hollywood that we don’t appreciate this kind of film. After all they will produce only what they can sell.

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    Your raise a good point, Joe. It’s entirely likely that I might care more if I had kids.

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    Your raise a good point, Joe. It’s entirely likely that I might care more if I had kids.

  • Bror Erickson

    So the movie and the books provided me with a great opportunity to write an article in the news paper here. my take is I don’t like being told what to do what to watch or see. I think I can make my own decisions about that in christian freedom, both as an adult and a parent. Though I don’t have much of a choice in what my son watches, he doesn’t live with me. But i don’t think we do our kids any favors trying to shelter them, or getting up in arms and teaching them to be reactionary. Pullman’s points are weak. As I said in my article, we Christians don’t need be so afraid of the big bad wolf. experience shows that if you chase him down he is a scared cat in the corner. Pullman is no exception to that.
    The books are tiresome on many accounts. They do equate sex with knowledge of good and evil. And religion as being the source of all that is bad in this world. these are very tired and weak points that can easily be answered. answer them properly and you have a good chance of strengthening your kid’s beliefs more than destroying them, by letting them read the books, if they have the fortitude to get through them. pullman is not C.S. Lewis, or Tolkien, those were just dishonest remarks used to sell books.

  • Bror Erickson

    So the movie and the books provided me with a great opportunity to write an article in the news paper here. my take is I don’t like being told what to do what to watch or see. I think I can make my own decisions about that in christian freedom, both as an adult and a parent. Though I don’t have much of a choice in what my son watches, he doesn’t live with me. But i don’t think we do our kids any favors trying to shelter them, or getting up in arms and teaching them to be reactionary. Pullman’s points are weak. As I said in my article, we Christians don’t need be so afraid of the big bad wolf. experience shows that if you chase him down he is a scared cat in the corner. Pullman is no exception to that.
    The books are tiresome on many accounts. They do equate sex with knowledge of good and evil. And religion as being the source of all that is bad in this world. these are very tired and weak points that can easily be answered. answer them properly and you have a good chance of strengthening your kid’s beliefs more than destroying them, by letting them read the books, if they have the fortitude to get through them. pullman is not C.S. Lewis, or Tolkien, those were just dishonest remarks used to sell books.

  • Joe

    Bror Erickson – but my post was not about telling anyone but my own children what to watch or not to watch. That is something I must do. But I am not teaching them to be reactionary. I used “up in arms” only because I was responding to Will’s post where he first used the phrase.

    What I do is explain to them that there are some people in this world who have become arrogent enough to reject God and that they often try to get others to reject God too. Then I explain to them what the particular problem with the item is in terms they can understand.

    You seem to be suggesting an approach that will probably be similar to what I will do when my kids are older. But my oldest is 7 and I am clearly in the stage where I need to set boundries of what she can and can’t be exposed to. Critical study of opposing world views is still a few years off.

    Before we began homeschooling she would come home from school and tell me all about how frogs are X million years old. I would have to unteach her and explain to her that evolution is not true. I want her to fully understand the theory of evolution but at 7 she is not ready to study it critically. I simply must tell her that it is not true and reinforce the Truth of ceration.

  • Joe

    Bror Erickson – but my post was not about telling anyone but my own children what to watch or not to watch. That is something I must do. But I am not teaching them to be reactionary. I used “up in arms” only because I was responding to Will’s post where he first used the phrase.

    What I do is explain to them that there are some people in this world who have become arrogent enough to reject God and that they often try to get others to reject God too. Then I explain to them what the particular problem with the item is in terms they can understand.

    You seem to be suggesting an approach that will probably be similar to what I will do when my kids are older. But my oldest is 7 and I am clearly in the stage where I need to set boundries of what she can and can’t be exposed to. Critical study of opposing world views is still a few years off.

    Before we began homeschooling she would come home from school and tell me all about how frogs are X million years old. I would have to unteach her and explain to her that evolution is not true. I want her to fully understand the theory of evolution but at 7 she is not ready to study it critically. I simply must tell her that it is not true and reinforce the Truth of ceration.

  • Bror Erickson

    I agree joe. Thanks for clarifying “up in arms.” I of course grew up with the contradictory teachings of Evolution and Creation until I was 11 or so and rejected Evolution, seeing it was in conflict with what I truly believed, and science in general. I just didn’t think about it until then.
    I still take my son to dinasaur parks though, He is only 5. He likes them. I like them . God had some magnifecent creatures on earth that are no longer with us. Can’t wait to see them in Heaven.

  • Bror Erickson

    I agree joe. Thanks for clarifying “up in arms.” I of course grew up with the contradictory teachings of Evolution and Creation until I was 11 or so and rejected Evolution, seeing it was in conflict with what I truly believed, and science in general. I just didn’t think about it until then.
    I still take my son to dinasaur parks though, He is only 5. He likes them. I like them . God had some magnifecent creatures on earth that are no longer with us. Can’t wait to see them in Heaven.

  • Joe

    My five year old also loves dinosaurs. He goes to many a museum to see them. So far he has not really thought about how old are they etc. Answers in Genesis has put out a museum guide that has Biblical facts and explanations of the most common museum exhibits. I don’t have it but I am think about getting it. Obviously, there not Lutheran so I’ll have to study it myself first.

    Evolution was a huge stumbling block for me growing up. I began to create my own theology so I could make the two of them fit together. It ended up leading to me becoming a Christian in name only during my high school and college years. I had no one giving me any reason to reject evolution. No one was watching what information I was taking in and discussing it with me.

  • Joe

    My five year old also loves dinosaurs. He goes to many a museum to see them. So far he has not really thought about how old are they etc. Answers in Genesis has put out a museum guide that has Biblical facts and explanations of the most common museum exhibits. I don’t have it but I am think about getting it. Obviously, there not Lutheran so I’ll have to study it myself first.

    Evolution was a huge stumbling block for me growing up. I began to create my own theology so I could make the two of them fit together. It ended up leading to me becoming a Christian in name only during my high school and college years. I had no one giving me any reason to reject evolution. No one was watching what information I was taking in and discussing it with me.

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    Seeing where this thread is heading, am I alone in the readership of wishing more of us could take a page or two from Francis Collins?

  • http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ Will

    Seeing where this thread is heading, am I alone in the readership of wishing more of us could take a page or two from Francis Collins?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding the movie, I would dare suggest that this is great news. I’m aware of no significant efforts to boycott it, and yet the world is aware that the movie stinks. Go figure that an agenda-driven polemic just might not be worth watching.

    (but then again, one of ‘em got an Oscar despite being in total contradiction to the evidence….but that’s another subject)

    My condolences that you had to suffer through the book and watch the movie, Bror. :^)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding the movie, I would dare suggest that this is great news. I’m aware of no significant efforts to boycott it, and yet the world is aware that the movie stinks. Go figure that an agenda-driven polemic just might not be worth watching.

    (but then again, one of ‘em got an Oscar despite being in total contradiction to the evidence….but that’s another subject)

    My condolences that you had to suffer through the book and watch the movie, Bror. :^)

  • Kyralessa

    In the interview at Third Way linked to in the Luther at the Movies review, Pullman once again cites his deep disgust for the Narnia books.

    The trouble is that when someone with a competing product goes to such lengths to disparage his highly successful predecessor, it begins to look a lot like jealousy.

  • Kyralessa

    In the interview at Third Way linked to in the Luther at the Movies review, Pullman once again cites his deep disgust for the Narnia books.

    The trouble is that when someone with a competing product goes to such lengths to disparage his highly successful predecessor, it begins to look a lot like jealousy.

  • Spada717

    Mr. Veith: You has misspelled the writer’s name. It is “Sacramone.”

  • Spada717

    Mr. Veith: You has misspelled the writer’s name. It is “Sacramone.”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Thanks, Spada, with apologies to the great man. I fixed it.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Thanks, Spada, with apologies to the great man. I fixed it.

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