Friday, 14 December 2007
Lots of Christians have found much to admire in the fantasy series that begins with The Golden Compass. One excellent example is Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials by Donna Freitas and Jason King. These authors find a genuinely prophetic voice in Pullman's prose.
Never a denomination to bother overmuch with subtlety (unless it involves performing intellectual gymnastics with 16th century confessional documents) the Missouri Lutherans have, in contrast, come out in full shrieking mode via their publishing house, Concordia. (You can download the free discussion guide.)
At the beginning it all sounds semi-reasonable, but the fanaticism builds gradually from a murmur to a crescendo.
Rejoice that your names are, by God’s grace, written in the book of life. Stand firm on the God’s promises applied to you at your baptism and do not fear the lies of the world, the devil, and our flesh.
You can be sure the various WCG splinters won't be far behind in joining the chorus.
Concordia's Paul McCain opines:
My take on it? Don't bother with the movie or the books. No point in putting money in the pockets of people who are clearly intent on attacking and destroying the Christian faith.
Frankly, I'd credit the Missouri Synod with much greater impact in destroying Christianity than Pullman. These are the guys who, holding hands with Seventh-day Adventists, were the original promoters of "flood geology" and 6-literal-day creationism (1). How dumb was that? In the seventies they threw out their own scholars when they wouldn't kow-tow to the papal pretensions of arch-literalist leader Jacob Preus, AKA "Chairman J.A.O." (2).
Now comes the predictable reaction to Pullman: a judgment based on dogma and ideology. Who'd have thought the Christian Science Monitor could teach Missouri Lutherans how to suck eggs? - yet it does. If you're checking out the Monitor piece, why not click on the short audio interview with Jenny Sawyer that accompanies the article.
Cheap polemics shouldn't deter anyone from seeing (or reading) The Golden Compass... or anything else.
(1) See The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, (Harvard University Press, 2006) by Ronald Numbers.
(2) The events are documented in Memoirs of Exile (Fortress Press, 1990) by John Tietjen, former president of Concordia Seminary, St Louis.