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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Golden Compass author Philip Pullman calls critics "nitwits"

    I've been noticing an ongoing stream of headlines relating to the Golden Compass in recent weeks (it opens Dec. 7th), and also to the Catholic League's initiative to boycott the film because it is based on Philip Pullman's anti-Catholic series, His Dark Materials.

    I blogged about this story back in August ("The Golden Compass is pointing towards anti-Catholicism") and composed a short summary of what you need to know about the film back in October ("The word is getting out about The Golden Compass").

    Now, with the movie's release imminent, and the fate of films two and three hanging on how this first one performs (New Line Cinema has more riding on this series, it has been reported, than it did on Lord of the Rings), series author Philip Pullman has broken his silence, saying "it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world". The nitwits in question are those who are calling for a boycott of the film.

    To give the Catholic League credit, their reasons for the boycott seem reasonable to me:

    The author of this children's fantasy is Philip Pullman, a noted English atheist. It is his objective to bash Catholicism and promote atheism. To kids. "The Golden Compass" is a film version of the book by that name, and it is being toned down so that Catholics, as well as Protestants, are not enraged.

    The second book of the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, is more overt in its hatred of Catholicism than the first book, and the third entry, The Amber Spyglass, is even more blatant. Because "The Golden Compass" is based on the least offensive of the three books, and because it is being further watered down for the big screen, some might wonder why a boycott is warranted.

    The Catholic League wants Christians to boycott this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books: unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books.

    Friends of mine have read part or all of this series, and tell me that the books are both well written, and very dark (torture, etc.) Certainly not suitable for younger children, they said (noting sensualism, etc.). And they confirm the CL's claim that the books' anti-Catholicism becomes more blatant with each succeeding volume.

    The anti-Catholic message of His Dark Materials, and Pullman's intention to compose atheistic propaganda are, from my reading, really beyond any dispute. One need only look at the Ignatius title "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantast" or read through Carl Olson's many and excellent posts on the topic to admit this point. Alternately, Chris Blosser wrote a megapost on Pullman vs. C.S. Lewis in June at Against the Grain. Finally, prominent secularists are actually criticizing New Line Cinema for not including Pullman's full anti-religious venom in the movie! Honestly, he has no defense. And it makes his protestations all the more hypocritical.
    Donohue responded thusly to Pullman's protestations recently:
    "In the current Newsweek, Pullman lashes out at me saying, [How could Donohue know that I'm a militant atheist, and that my intention is to convert people?] That’s easy—I just quote him: ‘I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.’"
    Let's take a look at what Pullman exactly said, so we can bask in his excellent use of English prosody:

    "To regard it as this Donohue man has said - that I'm a militant atheist, and my intention is to convert people - how the hell does he know that?" - UK Times

    I agree with Pullman - how the hell isn't he a good influence on kids?

    Update: Rebecca Davies of the UK Telegraph movie blog royally doesn't get the point:

    It is blatant attempts such as these to control personal choice and shirk scrutiny that have led to criticism of the Catholic [sic] in the first place.

    And they’re only lucky that some independent filmmaker didn’t come along and take them to the cleaners with a full-blown anti-Catholic Golden Compass, complete with Pope Benedict lookalike.

    In terms of crossing the line, I think that was a pole-vault. So let me get this straight: Pullman's writing of a subversive novel to "control" the "personal choice" of kids - that's okay. But Catholics' decrying of Pullman's attempt to control the personal choice of kids - that's wrong?

    To paraphrase Davies in my own words: "It is blatant examples such as this to apply a double-standard to anti-Catholic activists that has led to my recurring criticism of the mainstream media in the first place."

    "And she's rather unlucky that the AmP, an independant blogger, decided to come along and take her to the cleaners with a full-blown anti-double-standard stance, complete with direct quotations."

    There, I think that works nicely.

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