I've never been that convinced that conditioning young impressionable minds to believe out of fear of the fire and brimstone of a medieval eschatology is the way to encourage our children to be part of God's plan of putting the world to rights...I went with a couple of good friends to see the infamous Golden Compass; my inbox still full of warnings from well intentioned people suggesting that it would be a route to atheism. The problem of course being that these people - no doubt never having been to see the film or read the books - fit the bill of Church that quite obviously so appalled Pullman when he wrote his clever allegory. A Church that dictates faith constructs through fear and entrenchment.
The allegory was there to be seen - the abuse of education of children by the church. I've never been convinced that telling our kids 'that they really ought to be friends with Jesus because if they don't they'll go to hell' is the way to introduce them to the beauty of kingdom living. I've never been that convinced that telling our kids 'that if they live by the rules they will have an eternity with God and that they should remember always to say sorry to God just in case they get run over' - is the way to introduce them to what it is to be truly at peace with themselves and with God. I've never been that convinced that conditioning young impressionable minds to believe out of fear of the fire and brimstone of a medieval eschatology is the way to encourage our children to be part of God's plan of putting the world to rights; or to show our children what it is to be fully human; or to show what it is to challenge inequity, to stand for those that have no-one, to love in Jesus' way - but we all know that it happens.
It's a shame that the church through history has given so much material to feed Pullman's allegory.
The dogmatic dictatorship called the Magisterium threatens to dominate the world through refusing thoughts of potential; refusing questioning minds that enquire or think of what could be; conditioning thoughts and opinions to what can be managed. I watched the film wondering how Philip Pullman and Richard Dawkins might teach their children; grand children about faith; how restrained they might be to allow engagement with a narrative that they might find repulsive; how open they might be to openly teach about questions of belief and God.
I watched the film enthralled, intrigued totally oblivious to the drama that was unfolding behind me - two people walked out eventually after much apparent muttering and exasperation - the final straw? A reference to the impending 'battle for freewill' - I guess they couldn't see Pullman's criticism as something that should challenge the church to think deeply at how it is perceived; I guess that they couldn't see fundamentalist atheism is just as bad!