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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

This morning, after hanging up my Adidas Star Wars Stormtrooper Superskates on my bedroom wall, while slipping into and admiring my laser-etched Jordan V’s and glancing over at my Olympic-colorway Jordan VI’s, Space Jam “Hare” Jordan I’s, exclusive-colorway Kobe IV’s…I realized that I’m NOT a “sneakerhead” — even after scanning through all the ridiculous prices for each shoe on ebay. (I, of course, bought them for much cheaper…mostly at the store.)

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Golden Compass I was reading through some Xanga.com blogs and I came across an entry by Nathon, titled “Tarnished Compass,” about the new movie, The Golden Compass. If you don’t know already, the movie is based on the first of a series of books by an atheist author, Philip Pullman, who has expressly stated that at least one of the motives for him writing his books is to discredit, and turn people away from, Christianity. Nathon (the Xanga blogger) is a Christian and his charge to other fellow Christians is to boycott the movie, not to “protect” against its “harmful message,” but “solely for the principle of standing up for what you believe in.” I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t think I’m going to actively boycott the movie. At most, I may end up involuntarily boycotting simply because I don’t watch many movies in the theaters as it is.

Okay, let’s go back, wayyy back….to the basic foundations of the story as described by Philip Pullman himself. In the novels, “Dust” is like the ever-present, spirit-like force of Light and Good, while “The Authority” is the evil-God, on which the theocratic society is based on. The origin of life and creation story in his novel series is summarized thusly :

[…] the notion is that there never was a Creator, instead there was matter, and this matter gradually became conscious of itself and developed Dust. Dust sort of precedes from matter as a way of understanding itself. The Authority was the first figure that condensed, as it were, in this way and from then on he was the oldest, the most powerful, the most authoritative. And all the other angels at first believed he was the Creator and then some angels decided that he wasn’t, and so we had the temptation and the Fall etc – all that sort of stuff came from that. (The Telegraph, 2004)

In Pullman’s world, the Authority basically tricked everyone into believing he was an all-powerful God — the Judeo-Christian God, in fact. He even birthed a Jesus through a virgin named Mary and created a dove-like Holy Spirit; and together, as a “Trinity,” they ruled the world through their various churches and organizations, the most powerful of which is “The Magisterium.” The foundation of the story is influenced by ancient mythology and clearly draws heavily from the modern interpretation of Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Fast forward a number of millenniums and we arrive at the beginning of the series. The story is about a girl named Lyra who lives in a world ruled and governed by the “Magisterium.” In the Catholic Church in our world, the magisterium is actually the “teaching body of the church.” (Note: This pattern continues throughout as the bad guys are referred to and labeled with very Christian or church-like terminology, while the good guys are labeled and described with vocabulary that has been traditionally looked down on by the Church — e.g. witches, gyptians [like “gypsies”], and “daemons,” which are, ironically, essentially the soul of a person.) This “Magisterium” has strict rules and guidelines for the people to live by and operates under the authority of…well, “The Authority.” (Were you running a little dry on the creative juices there, Phil?) The narrative follows Lyra on her adventures that lead her to discover the Magisterium is evil and the Authority (aka God) is not really an all-powerful, benevolent god, and both of them are working together to stay in power and prevent people from connecting with Dust, which is the Good that will free everyone…and undermine the Trinity’s power. The last book in the still-continuing series ultimately ends with Lyra, some other kids, and all the other good guys, finding and destroying the God figure, “The Authority,” and being connected with Dust, which leads them to truth, and true self-knowledge. There are giant, talking polar-bears, magical hot air balloons, cool nymph-like witches, maybe some midgets/dwarves, and umm…I don’t know…a lot of magical stuff, along the way. Oh yeah, there’s also a special, golden compass. (It tells you the answer to any question…sort of like one of those psychic cube toys, except it’s 100% accurate.)

I guess one could see how it could be a little controversial. I guess. It seems pretty damn creative to me.

I’m not really that fervent in my “evangelical” beliefs. I’m actually more on the fence about faith, God, and religion than ever right now — which is probably why all this controversy surrounding the movie has so firmly caught my interest. And I can’t help but find all the hype and dialogue about the movie somewhat peculiar. I don’t understand why the author is so outspoken and bitter in his statements and views. Before this huge mountain of controversy over the film adaptation, Pullman was met with a small amount of controversy (relative to what’s going on now) a few years ago when his trilogy of books, His Dark Materials (the first book from the series is the basis for the film), began growing in popularity and acclaim/criticism. Back then, he said some stuff which I’ll quote now:

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