You would have to be living under a rock not to notice all the television and internet buzz this past month about the recently released movie, the “Golden Compass”. The fears about this movie are wrapped up in the authors’ atheism (Phillip Pullman) and his desire to attack, undermine and destroy the Christian faith. Of course attempting to do all of that under the guise of using a children’s story.
Because of this, there are many well-meaning people of faith who are urging us all to boycott the film. (I belong to a Facebook group that challenges that notion – click here to view many helpful resources to properly engage the film). There may be other reasons not to see the film (the reviews of the movie have been less than stellar), but the movie’s “ideas” should not be one of those reasons. For every Golden Compass movie, that reveals it’s naked ambition to insult and attack our faith, there are THOUSANDS of movies, t.v. shows and songs that assault our faith everyday. The problem is that they go unnoticed. They are too clever to reveal their agenda. They fly right under our radar screen.
Movies and other media that are more subtle than the Golden Compass do more damage. Since they fly under our radar, our guard is down and therefore we don’t critically engage what we see and listen to.
If you are my age, you most likely remember the movie “Footloose”. Footloose was a movie released in 1984 and it was an instant hit. Here is an excerpt from the New York Magazine piece about Footloose and it’s inclusion on the the ten most anti-Christian Movies of all time. –
“Despite its canonical status as an eighties classic, we’re willing to bet that if an original script like Footloose — in which fun-loving teen Kevin Bacon arrives in a small town where preacher John Lithgow has banned rock music and dancing — landed on a Hollywood exec’s desk today, they’d be too afraid to produce it, lest it offend some key demographic. It’s Lithgow’s villain who really makes the movie: Soft-spoken and patronizing when he’s not spitting out the fire and brimstone (“He’s testing us!!”), his performance is a bone-chilling portrait of smug self-righteousness and could easily blend in among any number of Sunday-morning-TV preachers. The only thing missing is a bad hairpiece.”
Movies such as Footloose and the other’s mentioned on the list slip right past us. No one is organizing a boycott. No one is warning others against those films. We just go and get entertained. We tap our foot with the music and we sing along. And yet, a movie like Footloose propagates the idea that our faith in Christ is bound up and enslaved by rules (legalism). Footloose also reinforces all the worst in negative stereotypes and it strips clean any notion of grace, love or virtue from our faith. Therefore I believe (uncritically) inviting a movie like Footloose into our affections does potentially more harm than a hundred Golden Compass movies combined.
Boycotts against the Golden Compass, and the next Golden Compass that comes along, allow us to miss the point. Cherry picking movies to boycott allows us to believe that we can be protected from the world and it’s schemes by just ignoring a couple of blatantly offensive movies. No. We are constantly inundated with media and pop-culture. And unless you live in a cave, it is important that we critically engage the culture with a well informed Biblical worldview rather than merely close ourselves up from it.
Actually if we, as Christians, are true to our Kingdom mandate, we would not merely respond to culture, but rather we would SHAPE it….but I leave that idea for another blog post.