And so it begins.
The first review of New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass, which is based on the first book in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, has been published in The Daily Telegraph.
Telegraph reviewer John Hiscock says:
… an early screening of The Golden Compass in Los Angeles reveals that the investors who put up the $90 million cost of the film can rest easy – though it lacks the impact or charm of The Chronicles of Narnia, the special effects are extraordinary and the film is sure to be a success with young audiences.
Weitz, whose biggest success to date has been American Pie, a comedy featuring a teenage boy having sex with a pastry, proves he is up to the task of handling the massive CGI demands of Pullman’s fantastical tale, though the book’s devotees may quibble at some of the cuts he has been forced to make.
He has changed the story’s rejection of organised religion, in particular the Roman Catholic Church, in favour of a more general attack on an unspecified dogmatic authority that seeks to rid the world of “free thinkers and heresy”.
As I’ve been on a tour of radio talk shows introducing people to my new novel Auralia’s Colors, I’ve been asked a long list of questions about The Golden Compass. As you probably know, the author has admitted that he wrote these stories because he wanted to give children a vision of a world without God, as an alternate fantasy to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. His story about a little girl named Lyra ends up with her on the side of people who are trying to kill God… not just any God, but Yahweh himself, and Christianity as a religion… and they succeed.
Since folks have been asking where on my website they can find the things I’ve been saying on the radio, I decided to write some of them down.
(This post will probably be revised in the coming days, as I’m writing in a bit of a hurry here.)
Should Christians be afraid of The Golden Compass?
“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,” said Philip Pullman, describing his fantasy trilogy to The Washington Post in 2001.
But mercy, no. Let’s not be afraid. Discerning, yes. But not afraid.
Remember all of that hysteria about the movie version of The Da Vinci Code? Christians got all worked up about it… and it turned out to be the most boring movie of the year. In retrospect, our “concern” probably helped the movie become a financial success in spite of how lame it was.
But no, don’t be afraid. God is not threatened by Phillip Pullman. And people who stop to think through Pullman’s story, and how it is that he “refutes” Christianity, will see what a feeble “attack” against Christian belief it really is.
Pullman has painted a picture of the church — represented by “The Magisterium” in his stories — that basically reflects only those ways in which the church has abused power. And he has used that selective reflection as an excuse to write off Christianity as a whole. (That’s sort of like condemning the entire produce section in a grocery store because because a few of the apples were bad.)
(“Magisterium” is not, by the way, something Pullman just made up. It’s a very real word referring to the teachings of the church. So he’s not trying to cloak his intentions here.)
It’s interesting to note that Pullman’s dismissal of Christianity skips over one little detail… Jesus. Pullman’s story never makes any attempt to explore or refute the claims and ministry and person of Christ. He has, in effect, set up a “straw God” rather than a “straw man,” and his fans are congratulating him for knocking down Pullman’s flawed perception of God rather than the God of Christianity. He’s not really undermining Christian belief as he thinks he is; he is undermining the abuse of authority, something altogether contrary to the gospel.
No, don’t be afraid. The gospel will survive the publishing phenomenon of Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, without so much as a scratch. It’s not worth getting all worked up about it.
If Pullman’s work shakes up people’s faith, then their faith was poorly developed to begin with. He points to bad people as a way of saying that the faith is wrong, which is like pointing to a mean-spirited mathematics teacher as a way of dismissing mathematics. For examples of religious folk, he illustrates people who abuse power. That’s not God. And Christ would frown on the persecution carried out by the Magisterium. In the history of the church, followers have Christ have been persecuted and oppressed by others far more than the other way around (although many tyrants have claimed that they come in Christ’s name… grossly misrepresenting the gospel).
So when one of Pullman’s heroic characters, the ex-nun physicist Mary Malone, tells our heroes (in the third and concluding volume) that “The Christian religion is a powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all,” well… she’s not talking about Christianity at all. She’s talking about Pullman’s misrepresentation of the church.
But here’s a question worth considering. Why does Pullman have this wrongful impression of the church in the first place. Could it be that he’s encountered arrogant, judgmental Christians? Could it be… to some degree… our fault?
Do Pullman’s stories pose a threat to children?
To that I would say “Yes… if….” And that is a very big “If.”
Pullman’s trilogy poses a threat if our children are reading these books without any kind of discussion about the claims made by the characters in the story, without any parental guidance.
The stories pose a threat if their parents and teachers are not reading the books too, and participating in the experience, talking about what the storyteller is doing.
They also pose a threat if parents forbid these stories in such a way that the child becomes fascinated by the forbidden book. In elementary school, I discovered that adults had crossed out certain words from storybooks like Huckleberry Finn. This became the most interesting aspect of the book for me: I held the pages up to the light, fascinated by what had been crossed out. If we make these books seem more powerful and dangerous than they are, and outlaw them, we have just thrown fuel on the fires of curiosity. Better to teach our kids discernment, so that if they do read the books, they can see Pullman’s deception for themselves.
(And this raises the question: How many adults are discerning enough to read these books “with eyes to see”?)
PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying “Rush out and buy this book for your kids,” or “Heck, take the whole family to the movie!” If you get that impression, please go back and read my answer again. I wouldn’t buy these books for my kids, but… they’re already bestsellers, a cultural phenomenon. It’s too late to keep our kids from encountering talk about His Dark Materials, unless you lock them in a cell somewhere. Talk about these stories is spreading everywhere. Our responses will move between two extremes: hysterical condemnation, and total embrace. Both extremes are recipes for disaster. Whatever we decide, we should strive for a response characterized by grace, and by a love for truth. Our response should show care for impressionable children, but also respect for our neighbors. And yes, our response should even show care and love for the author, whose impressions of Jesus and his church continue to be shaped even now by the way Christ’s followers behave.
Teachers who encourage children to accept Pullman’s naive definition of Christianity are encouraging religious illiteracy, and exposing their own. In extreme cases, they’re glorifying religious bigotry. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, when the author himself has said, “If there is a God, and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against.” For a man who likes to talk about the value of “tolerance,” that’s a pretty striking show of the opposite.
In a time when the slightest question about Islam sets off a wave of anger about political incorrectness, it’s amazing how Pullman is celebrated for openly, aggressively, and ignorantly slandering Christianity. In a time when you can get in trouble for praying in school, or for showing religious intolerance, isn’t it interesting that no one has questioned the presence of these books in school libraries since Pullman started saying these things back in 1995?
I’ve read The Golden Compass.
I didn’t come across anything offensive to Christianity.
What is all the fuss about?
For this conversation to be useful, we need to stop making The Golden Compass our subject. That’s like making The Fellowship of the Ring our subject instead of The Lord of the Rings.
We’re really here to talk about His Dark Materials, the trilogy written by Phillip Pullman. The Golden Compass is just the first chapter, the first book in the trilogy. (And, complicating matters, it was originally published in the UK with the title Northern Lights.) This book lays the foundation for all that will come after it, and it is in parts two (The Subtle Knife) and especially three (The Amber Spyglass) that we get into the material that is most controversial. We won’t see those movies for a while.
Is Pullman overrated? Or is he a good storyteller?
How does he compare to Tolkien and Lewis?
Pullman is an amazing storyteller, with one of the most formidable imaginations since J.R.R. Tolkien himself. It would be foolish to argue that. I was enthralled by The Golden Compass when I first read it.
But here’s what pulled me in: Colorful characters, fanciful creatures, a strong sense of mystery, and a compelling story about young and vulnerable characters being oppressed and abused by adults. In the second and third book, when those cold-hearted and abusive adults turn out to be somewhat sympathetic (earlier I said “the good guys,” but I suppose that was a bit of an exaggeration) as they exploit children in their quest to destroy God, suddenly my feelings about the story began to change. And then, my favorite characters began to lose their personality and color, as Pullman’s agenda became more important than characterization. (On top of that, his storytelling gets rather out of control. He’s still introducing whole new species of characters as we near the culmination of the series, and it becomes rather daunting to keep up with the story.)
Yes, Pullman clearly has a formidable imagination. But we must take into account that there is a dagger concealed within this extravagant overcoat, and the intentions of the fellow preparing to use that dagger.
It’s interesting that such a man of such extraordinary imagination would have so little regard for the storytellers whose work his style resembles. Pullman scoffs at the stories of Tolkien and Lewis. He says, “The Lord of the Rings is just not interesting psychologically; there’s nothing about people in it.”
And his scorn for Lewis’s Narnia books has been widely documented. “I loathe the ‘Narnia’ books,” Pullman has said in 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.” He has called the series “one of the most ugly and poisonous things” he’s ever read.
(Interestingly enough, his scorn for classic children’s fantasy reaches beyond the Inklings too. He’s called Peter Pan “dreadful rubbish.”)
But let’s face it: Pullman is following in the footsteps of the Inklings. He’s a man who has created alternate worlds of fantasy that vividly manifest his own particular worldview and his perspective on spiritual matters. He’s “world-building” just as they did. Tolkien and Lewis established the foundation of modern fantasy storytelling, adding to what George MacDonald imagined before them. Pullman is contributing one of the most substantial installments to the fantasy genre since Frank Herbert’s Dune (which is more fantasy than science fiction, in my opinion) and Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
And Pullman writes beautifully, especially in the first book, The Golden Compass.
It’s also worth noting that his characters are interested in truth, freedom, friendship, justice, and love. People are drawn to His Dark Materials for the powerful writing, but also because it is yet another story about an oppressed minority rising up and striking back at an Arrogant, Cruel Authority figure… just like the heroes of Narnia rise up against the wicked White Witch, and just like Tolkien’s Fellowship seeks to escape enslavement to Sauron and to destroy his tyrannical power. The big difference is that Pullman has cast history’s greatest champion of the oppressed, their redeemer, as the enemy. He would rather leave us to our own fractured will, which is certain to doom us very quickly.
What does Pullman say about his own beliefs?
What does Pullman consider himelf to be? An athiest, or an agnostic? He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “If we’re talking on the scale of human life and the things we see around us, I’m an atheist. There’s no God here. There never was. But if you go out into the vastness of space, well, I’m not so sure. On that level, I’m an agnostic.”
On the one hand he says, “What I am against is organised religion of the sort which persecutes people who don’t believe. I’m against religious intolerance.” But then elsewhere he says, “[I]f if there is a God and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against.”
For Pullman, embracing the questions of science, mathematics, art, and literature is a rejection of religion for truth. He seems ignorant of the fact that much of modern science was discovered and established by very religious people, and that mathematics inspires many to faith, and that art is one of the primary avenues for religious discovery and expression.His opinions have taken quite a turn recently, perhaps to make the movie seem more appealing. Now, he’s saying things like this (in a Today interview):
As for the atheism, it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort. What I do care about is whether people are cruel or whether they’re kind, whether they act for democracy or for tyranny, whether they believe in open-minded enquiry or in shutting the freedom of thought and expression. Good things have been done in the name of religion, and so have bad things; and both good things and bad things have been done with no religion at all. What I care about is the good, wherever it comes from.
Quite an astonishing change of tone there from “My books are about killing God.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the atheist advocacy group the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and a co-host on Air America’s Freethought Radio: “Philip Pullman and I would say it is religion that poisons everything. … What this book is about is casting off Church authority. I think it’s very, very positive. There should be something for freethinking children. It’s a very good yarn.”
Why is New Line conspiring against Christians?
Answer: They’re not.
Why, just last year they produced The Nativity Story. Not that it was any kind of masterpiece, but still…
New Line is a film studio, not a conspiracy of blashphemers. New Line is a business… the same business that brought us The Lord of the Rings films. They’re here to make money, and so, to follow up their extraordinary success with Tolkien’s stories, they went to the obvious follow-up. Harry Potter and Narnia were taken. So they reached for the saga that has become an international bestselling sensation.
That kind of money, those resources… they’re almost certain to create a movie that is impressive and praiseworthy on some levels. Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, Derek Jacobi… that’s a strong cast. And after a lot of flip-flopping on the director (apparently this material was too controversial and tricky for some), Chris Weitz, who directed American Pie and About a Boy, took the helm.
No doubt about it, there will be things worth applauding in the film.
Why are so many people, including many Christians,
drawn to this story of people who fight against the church?
People are drawn to stories about brave souls who stand up against oppressors.
And, for a lot of people, whether we like it or not, the church represents fear, power, and condemnation.
The best way to make Phillip Pullman’s stories look like gospel truth is to respond by acting like the villainous Christians in his stories.
The best way to expose Pullman’s lie is to respond like Christ himself: With grace and truth, not hysteria and condemnation.
If we respond with wrath, condemnation, and protest, we play right into Pullman’s naive caricature of Christianity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t point out where he is wrong. His story is deeply flawed, and his religious bigotry is shameful. We should not ignore that. But we also should not ignore the excellence of his artistry. And should speak the truth in love, as Christ commands us. We should respond with truth and grace.
We should encourage people to compare the church of Pullman’s universe with the church in the real world, and how it is growing and ministering to so many needs — here, in Europe, in Africa, and around the world. We should remind people of the church that serves, and that Christ would not have wanted an oppressive church.
Yes, but isn’t Pullman attacking all religions?
He calls the “God” character in the series “Yahweh.” And his characters specifically condemn Christianity as “a powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.”
Allah, on the other hand, isn’t mentioned.
And again, he has publically declared that he wrote these stories “to undermine Christian belief” … quite a different claim than undermining religion in general.
Draw your own conclusions.
The characters come to the firm belief that Yahweh… the Almighty… is *not* the creator of the universe. In fact, he’s just a big liar. And later in the series, when the Almighty shows up, he’s a feeble, senile joke. And they kill him.
Pullman says he was particularly drawn to the first and second books of Paradise Lost, where the arrogant angels have been exiled and cast into hell, where they plot to rebel against God and poison his creation. He doesn’t say much about the rest of it, where God’s authority triumphs in glory and grace.
Religious folks are trying to keep you ignorant, in Pullman’s world. They want to wipe out the power of “Dust,” which represents “the totality of human wisdom and experience.” That sounds like the behavior of fearful religious extremists, but not Christ, and certainly not the champions of Christian faith who have contributed to much to human wisdom and experience.
Isn’t this just the Harry Potter controversy all over again?
No. This time, there really is a serious problem.
Nevertheless, God forbid that we respond to Pullman the way we’ve responded to J.K. Rowling.
We’ve just been through a decade in which fearful, judgmental people have burned Harry Potter books, called J.K. Rowling a witch, and warned us that children who read her books will become warlocks. (This reminds me of those folks who told me, when I was ten, that if I saw The Empire Strikes Back I might be lured into Buddhism.) What we missed was the power of fairy tales, which use magic — metaphorically and symbolically — to help us understand mysterious concepts and appreciate the marvelous, otherworldly reality of grace.
And we encouraged a generation of children to believe that you can’t be a Christian and also value fairy tales… which is a devastating deception. As Lewis and Tolkien have discussed and proposed, fairy tales reflect the truth of the gospel in a unique and timeless way. In fact, Lewis became a Christian through discussions with Tolkien about fairy tales.
Many Christians also overlooked the fact that, in damning the Potter series, we were persecuting a Christian woman who has admitted that the process of telling those stories was a journey of sorting out her own faith and persistent doubts. We missed that there were Bible verses woven through the stories and glimmering with truth. (Well, some of us missed them. Others, who weren’t afraid of her stories, saw very clearly what she was up to, and savored what wisdom the stories did reveal.)
Pullman, though, is a different storyteller. He says, “I’ve been surprised by how little criticism I’ve got. Harry Potter’s been taking all the flak. I’m a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people – mainly from America’s Bible Belt – who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”
Christians always point back to Lewis and Tolkien as exemplary storytellers.
Why hasn’t anyone come along to step into their shoes?
One of the reasons that Pullman’s books are dangerous is that they stand so far above most contemporary fantasy in the quality and majesty of their writing and imagination.
The reason we’re having this controversy and conversation is, in part, due to this truth: Christians have become so suspicious of fairy tales, fantasy, and imagination that we have created an environment in which it is very unlikely that we will see another imagination like Tolkien and Lewis emerge.
We have focused our attentions on cultivating “Christian art” that evangelizes, rather than cultivating “imaginative writing.” In evangelical zeal, we’ve created a sub-genre, a whole industry, in which storytelling preaches to the choir with obvious lessons and somewhat shoddy craftsmanship. In our hurry to dot every “i” and cross every “t” and provide all of the answers, we’ve eliminated the mysteries of God from our art… and people are much more powerfully drawn to mystery than they are to sales pitches. Audiences know the difference between literary works of great imagination and nicely decorated propaganda.
The kind of art crafted by Lewis and Tolkien invites us on an imaginative journey and allows us to discover meaning in an encounter with mystery. We are left to interpret the stories for ourselves.
Tolkien and Lewis wandered into stories and discovered truth. That kind of storytelling is often deemed too dangerous. Many believe we should be able to sum up what the story means ahead of time, and explain how that is going to convince people to accept Jesus, or it’s useless. I prefer the wisdom of Madeleine L’Engle:
“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
We have become a church of marketers, not artists. And the artists, feeling distrusted, lacking support and resources, are leaving the church to find the freedom and ability to explore imagination and answer God’s call. Thus, most of the great, lasting religious art of our day is on exhibit in the secular square, largely overlooked… and sometimes even condemned… by people of faith.
Don’t you find it interesting that there has hardly been a whisper about these books amongst Christians in the last decade, but as soon as the movie starts getting promoted, suddenly there’s a panic? Kids have been reading these books since 1995, and Christian protesters are acting like they’ve only just arrived. What does this show us about the state of Christian engagement with the arts? Pullman’s trilogy has been making the news and winning prestigious literary awards for quite a while. And some folks who engage with contemporary literature have been publishing warnings for years and years (including Amy Wellborn, whose posts I linked to several years ago). But this just goes to show you that the general audience of Christians in America is tuned in to what is playing at the multiplex, but not to what is happening in the world of storytelling.
I doubt that I’ll ever be a master storyteller like Lewis or Tolkien. But their example inspired me so powerfully when I was a kid, that I decided at seven years old to start writing fairy tales of my own. I doubt anybody will come along to fill their shoes, but I would like to at least shine their shoes. It is a privilege to have had the opportunity to offer Auralia’s Colors as some small measure of thanks to — those two writers, and to Madeleine L’Engle, by writing — fantasy stories of my own. Thanks to their inspiring example, I’ve avoided writing allegory. I’ve gone forward in the hope that I could tell a good story, and that the story would reflect some measure of the truth on its own. Stories work best when they are not driven by some agenda to persuade.
So Auralia’s Colors, which was just published by Random House’s WaterBrook Press, is not an allegory by any stretch of the imagination. Some are finding “Christian meaning” in it. Fine. I think truth is God’s territory wherever it is found. (I found “Christian meaning” in Pan’s Labyrinth, a film made by a director who specifically claimed to be avoiding Christian storytelling.) I just wrote a fairy tale. I wrote the story to find out what would happen to the characters, not to create some kind of metaphor about God. And I’m still investigating. When someone announces that one of my characters is a stand-in for God or Jesus, well, that’s news to me. I haven’t seen enough evidence yet. But as I follow the characters, I am learning things. If I decided what the story meant ahead of time, I would be very bored by the process of writing the story.
(One reviewer referred to the creature called the Keeper as “God.” Perhaps the Keeper reminded him of God. That’s fine with me… I can see the resemblance. But the Keeper is not God. The Keeper is a mysterious mythological creature who lurks in the background of my story, and to me, it’s still a mysterious animal. I’m still learning about it. I imagine that folks who are eager to define him or equate him with something from the Bible will eventually be frustrated. But that’s just a hunch.)
If we allowed artists to explore their imaginations and pursue their visions with excellence, without making them self-conscious about the evangelical potential (or lack of it) in their work, we might end up with great art within the church again. Artists might have the courage and freedom to discover new visions rather than merely producing work that is derivative of good ideas that have come before.
Okay, so we shouldn’t start boycotts and complain.
But what should Christians do?
These recommendations come from my humble opinion, and you’re welcome to disagree.
- Educate yourselves. And equip your kids with questions… lenses, so to speak… that¬†will expose the problems in these stories.
- Respond with grace and love. And truth.
- Worried about putting money in Pullman’s pockets by investigating the books? Fair enough. Here’s a little secret I’ve discovered: The Public Library!
- Admit that, yes, Christians have committed grave sins in the name of Christ, and that those shameful misrepresentations of the gospel have made many people fearful of, and even repulsed by, the church. But Christians have been called to serve the oppressed, proclaim freedom for the captives, bring healing to the sick, to seek justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly, and to bring good news of “great joy.” And by God’s grace, many are living out that calling. They paint quite a different picture than what Pullman has painted.
- Encourage the artists and storytellers in your church. If you see talent and imagination, provide resources and opportunities for those artists. We don’t want visionaries abandoning the church because they are tired of being misunderstood or having their talents exploited for the sake of evangelism.
- Do not get hysterical, mount massive boycotts, or behave in ways that the Magisterium in Pullman’s books would behave. You’ll just make Pullman’s stories more persuasive, and you’ll confirm for the culture around us that Christians only really get excited when they’re condemning something.
- Equip yourself and your kids with sharp questions that expose the lies of this story. Here are a few examples:If we cast off all “Authority” and set up “free will” as the ultimate source of guidance, where will that get us? Has the world shown us that the human heart is a trustworthy “compass”? Does free will lead us always to the right choice?If the heroes accept the “truth” of the aletheometer (the compass itself), aren’t they letting themselves be guided by just another source of truth… another “Authority”? But wait a minute… the movie told us that “Authority” is bad and we should only follow our own hearts, didn’t it? If there are “many truths,” then aren’t these heroes being as self-righteous and wicked as the oppressors by demanding that their version of the truth is better than others?
What is so inspiring about the battle between the bears? Hasn’t this story led us to a place where it’s just “survival of the fittest” all over again? Should we really hope that the world falls into the hands of the strongest fighter, rather than into the hands of love?
- Finally… pray for Philip Pullman. Pray about the influence of his work. And pray for humility and wisdom in your own response.Pullman is just a man who, somewhere along the way, got a very bad impression of the church.I also cannot help but note a detail from biographies published online: Pullman’s father died in a plane crash in the 1950s, when Pullman was only seven years old. I don’t know if that had anything to do with his view of God… but I do know that many of the men I know who have struggled with the idea of a loving, caring, benevolent god are those whose fathers abandoned them or died while they were young. Boys without fathers often grow up with deep resentment, and having no focus for that pain, they target God.I want to be careful here: I am not explaining Pullman to you, because I don’t know him. But that detail made me stop and think about how little I know about his experiences and motivations. Shouldn’t I be praying for him instead of condemning him? Shouldn’t I be looking for ways to show love and respect to the man, even as I look for ways to expose the flaws in his work? Pullman’s not likely to reconsider his notions about God if those who believe in God organize a full-scale assault against him and his work.
If you have other questions about The Golden Compass you’d like me to address, send me an email, or leave a comment here.
Today, I saw the movie. And I’m not going to change a word of what I’ve written as a result. If the filmmakers tried to “tone down” the anti-religious content, they pretty much failed. “The Magisterium” is not a term invented by Philip Pullman. It’s a reference to the Catholic church, or at least to the truth that shines through scripture and the history of the church. And it isn’t hard to see that in the film.
But, by professional film-critic standards, I cannot publish a movie review until the day the film opens. (That doesn’t mean that scores of critics won’t break the rules and post their own in order to win readers. But I’ve agreed to play by the rules.) So you’ll hear from me about the movie when it opens.
If you want to read more about Christian discernment at the movies, I’ve written a memoir of sorts. I call it “a travelogue of dangerous moviegoing.” In it, I share some of the things that I’ve learned from movies, filmmakers, and moviegoers. And I offer some suggestions on how to interpret movies through a Christian perspective. Hopefully, though, you’ll be introduced to a lot of great movies in these pages. The book is called Through a Screen Darkly, published by Regal Books. It’s been picked up as a guide for students at Seattle Pacific University, Fuller Seminary, and other Christian schools across the country, which has been a very nice surprise, and as a result I’m enjoying some challenging conversations with students and instructors. I hope you enjoy it.