Friday, 14 December 2007

Concordia Copout


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.

Yeah, yeah.

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.

28 comments:

DennisDiehl said...

Any book or movie worth banning is a book or movie worth seeing...

Corky said...

Took the words right out of my mouth there, Dennis.

I couldn't wait to read those books and literature that the Armstrongs had forbidden us to read . . . so I didn't.

Tom said...

Corky said...

>>>I couldn't wait to read those books and literature that the Armstrongs had forbidden us to read.<<<

It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA.

Anonymous said...

Tom said:

"It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA."


Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!!!!

Anonymous said...

Tom, It certainly wasn't God in those church services standing at the podium that ordered; don't see this, read that, or do such and such. It was the pompous ignoramus wearing the suit.

Stupidly, I obeyed their proclamations for far too long regarding 'Dissident' literature.

What on earth were they afraid of? Oh yeah, that's right, the truth.

Anonymous said...

"It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA"

Really? So exactly how did God make known to HWA that WCG members were forbidden to read material like Ernest Martin's essay on tithing? Was it in a dream? Did he appear in HWA's office? Angelic messenger?


Paul

Anonymous said...

Uncle Tom writes:

>>>It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA.<<<

HWA, GTA, Lord MerryDeath, Packatolla and Six-Pack Flurry are/were some of the biggest fiction writers in this country today! There is NOTHING truthful about their rants. There is no leader of any of the 500+ splinter cults of Armstrongism that teaches anything close to the 'truth'.

Neotherm said...

Fiction is something that should be understood for what it is: It's something that someone made up.

Moreover, as humans we may impart meaning to events. So someone can read into fiction what they will.

I was assured by a fundamentalist evangelical that J.R.R. Tolkien's works were a cookbook for witchcraft. Most in the Christian Movement would disagree with this.

Something I learned in high school English class is that heavily symbolic works turn into a Rorschach Test.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

"It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA."

Most of what Armstrong wrote was fictional nonsense, Tom. Even GTA said words to the effect his father's so called autobiography was FULL of it.

The same thing can be said of most of the fake "scholarship" approved by AC - the doctored compendium, true history of the true church, plain truth about child rearing, and various papers done for money and rank by lesser luminaries to stroke HWA's bloated ego.

DennisDiehl said...

Tom said:
It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA.

This would not be true else would large sections of the Bible be off limits.

Russell Miller said...

I'm not sure I am watching the movie. I've heard it's really bad. But you can bet your patootie I'm buying the books.

Anything that gets these religious idiots up in arms like this is worth every penny.

Jordan Potter said...

Any book or movie worth banning is a book or movie worth seeing...

Does that include snuff films and videos of children being sexually destroyed by perverts?

DennisDiehl said...

Jordan quipped:

Any book or movie worth banning is a book or movie worth seeing...

"Does that include snuff films and videos of children being sexually destroyed by perverts?"

Sure Jordan, that's exactly the kind of thing I had in mind. You know exactly what I mean and it's not videos and snuff films. Dork.

Most open minded people would understand the context of such a statement as being related to the pursuitand repression of truths not the display of violence.

Banned books, in the context, imply that the INFORMATION contained in the book might be important to those who are not easily led astray or merely satisfied with the party or demoninational spin.

The banning of books implies the coverup of thoughts, information, ideas or truths that one suspects others are wishing not to be known.

By your own observation perhaps the Bible itself with it's child abuse, sexual perversion, violence, death, murder, abuse of women and general mahem in the name of God should at lest qualify for an R rating unsutable for children, young adults or the compassionate of heart.

Anonymous said...

"Banned books, in the context, imply that the INFORMATION contained in the book might be important to those who are not easily led astray or merely satisfied with the party or demoninational spin.

The banning of books implies the coverup of thoughts, information, ideas or truths that one suspects others are wishing not to be known."

Or they are just full of trash and will bring no positive fruits to any who read them. Your call, I guess.

Byker Bob said...

Okay. So, how does one learn to think intuitively, abstractly, or creatively? Any Christian worth his intellectual salt is going to have to admit that God has an incredible imagination! I've heard that we're supposed to be created in His image! While this has led others to question whether God has a penis, to me it simply means that man, like God, is able to conceptualize, and exercise dominion. Part of conceptualizing involves creating fictional scenarios.

Certainly, there is good fiction, and there is embarrassing or obscene fiction. Anyone who has taken a course in creative writing realizes how brain wracking it can be to come up with characters, keep their personalities consistent, and put them through life-challenging experiences.

Banning all fiction, in all of its genres, is part and parcel of the controlling Armstrongist legalistic philosophy: "Oh, please, give me another law, so that I can keep it perfectly, and qualify for my salvation!"

Oh, and Tom, regarding God banning the reading of fiction? Scripture please!

BB

DennisDiehl said...

"Or they are just full of trash and will bring no positive fruits to any who read them. Your call, I guess."

Ah yes..but I have the choice AFTER I read something as to it's worth. If I never read it, or even choose not to read, I will never know.

Without liberals who are willing to look outside the boxes provided by the "Magisterium" to keep in the spirt of this posting, there would be no progress in the world.

If left to the church or churches, your call, we would still be in the dark ages fearing to believe new truths and perspectives that replaces the old myths and ignorance.

Science and intellectual pursuit has yet to seek forgiveness from the Church. The Church, while often waiting hundreds of years, has often had to swallow hard and admit to it's ignorance as it was exposed.

One man's trash is another man's treasure, I believe the saying goes. You have a right to not read what you think is trash. We all have the right to search for treasure amongst the trash.

It's no blessing to own a clean barn as it might indicate you have no cattle. Fish will die in a tank that is too clean. Human beings thrive where there are choices to be made. When others make your choices for you, well....you end up controlled for the benefit of others and loose your soul.

Just got in from seeing the Golden Compass..not a good time to tell us all we have no right to make our own decisions and pursue our own information outside of that approved by the "magisterium," whoever or whatever that might be for you.

Kscribe said...

Tom Says>>>
It is God who forbids the reading of fictional nonsense, not HWA.

So does the Catholic Church which it seems, you are a member!

Anonymous said...

"So does the Catholic Church which it seems, you are a member!"

Tom, are you an android? I ask because you tend to use the same sentence structure over and over:

blah blah blah, you may be surprised to learn!

blah blah which it seems, you are a member!

Paul

Tom said...

All

Fictional writing is the product of the human imagination, which is under the control and influence of the devil. That is why the imagination is always incorrect and invariably evil. For example, have you ever imagined anything that turn out to be exactly what you had in your mind, or even nearly so? No! That is because the devil uses the imagination to delude his unsuspecting victims.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the positive use of the imagination any where in Scripture. On the contrary, we find that the flood, during the time of Noah, was brought in to punish man for the evil of his imagination. The narrative runs as follows: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every IMAGINATION of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"(Gen.6:5).

Sadly, history tends to repeat itself! For today, the book stores of our villages, towns and cities are full of fictional books about murder, perverted sex, horror, lust for power or some form of intrigue, not to mention the film industry, with its emphasis on violence and sex.

No wonder that Jesus compared and contrasted the time of Noah with the end of the world. But this time, the wicked, whose minds have been poisoned by reading the products of twisted, perverted imaginations, will be destroyed by fire.

Bamboo_bends said...

I think the movie reviewers of the Golden Compass must have all been devoted Catholics. Its not a half bad movie.

It was a much better movie than I expected from the reviews I read. The little girl in the main role was a brilliant actress. My daughter loved the movie.

The acting by the children was leagues better than Harry Potter (which I also enjoyed).

They really pulled their punches in relation to Catholicism, for all you'd know the Magisterium was an Jiffy Oil Lube franchise. I'll have to go read the books now.

Essentially its a parallel world to Earth were souls are not inside people but exist outside human bodies in the form of an animal (which they call a demon - but don't faint - they mean soul).

As humans mature, they become subject to "dust" (if they have a demon - aka life spirit). The Magisterium is trying to protect children from "dust" by separating children from their "demon" in secret North Pole experiments. Is this a subtle stab at lying to children about Saint Nick and Christmas? Lots of things to think about.

Separation prevents children from being corrupted by "dust" (which I take to mean "lust" - but I've yet to read the books). When a child is separated from their "demon" they become lifeless zombies.

Its an interesting literary device, because cutting the children off from their "soul" is much easier to portray when its outside the body rather than a nebulous thing you can't see or define.

In that sense, the Magisterium must as well be a synonym for public schooling in general with its dumbing down of children to a common demoralized denominator.

Its a thought provoking movie with some amazing set designs. I really liked the buildings and the art-deco airships.

Nicole Kidman is at her creepiest. Move over Servius Snape!

I want an altheiometer! A compass that points at truth. Imagine sitting in a xCG service with one of those! I bet it would just spin during services!

Bamboo_bends said...

Tom said...
Interestingly, there is no mention of the positive use of the imagination any where in Scripture.



That's a rather harsh condemnation of your Savior's fondness for parabolic story telling as a means of pointing people to greater truths.

Byker Bob said...

It appears that Tom is even more of a legalist than HWA. At least HWA taught that human nature was a mixture of good and evil. HWA also used to enjoy watching Western movies on the sabbath, according to reports from some of the staff members who worked in his home.

Human imagination is a very valuable process. It is not mala in se. Good or bad is determined by how it is used. It can lift up, or tear down.

BB

Anonymous said...

Tom said, "That is why the imagination is always incorrect and invariably evil."

Didn't God himself survey his creation and declare that it was very good? And isn't the human capacity for thought and imagination part of that which God created?

Without human imagination, Tom would not have a website or be posting on this blog.

ned said...

I never encountered the teaching that fiction was off limits in the church. Only a moron in a hurry could imagine (oops!) that fiction was a bad thing or, even worse, that the imagination had to be drained out of our humanity. No wonder so many hard-line Armstrongists are so mind-numbingly literal... they're intellectual eunuchs. Thank God I was at least spared that.

Anonymous said...

Thus saith Tom:
"Interestingly, there is no mention of the positive use of the imagination any where in Scripture. On the contrary, we find that the flood, during the time of Noah, was brought in to punish man for the evil of his imagination. The narrative runs as follows: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every IMAGINATION of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"(Gen.6:5)."

Tom, you conveniently left out the context of your bible fable quote.
Verses 2 through 5 describe gods sons taking and raping as many of the daughters of men as they saw fit... with the side effect of giants being born.

The evil the men must have imagined was various ways to stop gods sons from taking their daughters and raping them and making a race of giants through them. They probably wanted their daughters to have only human husbands, and traditional human families. Lets just hope that gods son Jesus wasn't in on that act!!!

So yeah, they probably imagined a few violent ways to end the plague of gods divine sons harming their daughters. I would react the same way too.

But guess what Tom! The whole story was a fable imagined by some priests as a way to concoct their make believe stories into a special history of themselves.

There was no worldwide flood. No proof exists, sorry! No ark Resting on a mountaintop. There were no rapist sons of god who begat giants, mighty men of old. Sorry, no evidence other than the say so and imagination of the author ... who was definitely not Moses.

I guess you must practice what you preach and never imagine anything! What a pitiful and boring life!

Wife asks: Honey, what would you like me to make for you for supper?
You: I don't know hun, can't imagine anything that I would like you to make for supper!

Wife: Slap!!! Fine, make something yourself then!!!

I could fill pages with the absurdity of a life without imagination. If your God hates imagination, then I am glad that I could never again imagine worshipping it!!!

Thomas Munson

Jordan Potter said...

Sure Jordan, that's exactly the kind of thing I had in mind. You know exactly what I mean and it's not videos and snuff films. Dork.

Which is to say, not every book or movie worth banning is a book or movie worth seeing.

Not that anybody in this country is actually trying to ban "The Golden Compass," of course.

Jordan Potter said...

Fictional writing is the product of the human imagination, which is under the control and influence of the devil. That is why the imagination is always incorrect and invariably evil.

Sometimes it's difficult to tell when someone is serious and when someone is just doing satire. Tom's postings here are so extreme that they sometimes sound made up, like an almost convincing imitation of a follower of a radical-fringe end-times fundamentalist sect. It's kind of depressing to think that anyone might seriously believe the things Tom says about the human imagination. But Tom is probably "for real."

Jordan Potter said...

Tom, you conveniently left out the context of your bible fable quote.
Verses 2 through 5 describe gods sons taking and raping as many of the daughters of men as they saw fit... with the side effect of giants being born.


So, we have a Tom and a Thomas, neither of whom know what Gen. 6 says. Tom finds in it a condemnation of human creativity and artistic gifts, while Thomas finds "gods sons" (sic) raping daughters of men. In both cases the reading to which the text is subjected is tendentious, unserious, and not supported by the text in any way. But at least Thomas sees the insanity of Tom's beliefs.