Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

I’m a New Conspirator!

I knew it wouldn’t be long after I started my new job that I would reach international fame and renown, so it’s no surprise that I’m enjoying it now. The main thing I was concerned about was them getting a good shot of my massive guns. Cha-ching!

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Sacred Space

Books and Books

-At the bookstore Books & Books, in the Miami area (photo from here)

Vote Nietzsche in 08!

And you thought presidential election politics were nasty!

Thanks, Daniel!

Golden Compass, Redux, Redux

I’ve made a few edits to my previous post. By far, it’s mostly the same, and I would usually let something stand that’s already been published, but I had hoped to communicate a slightly more conciliatory tone when I wrote it. I failed. Moreover, the changes, I think, communicate more of my original intentions. Most of its directness, contentwise, is still intact, and I still stand by it. But if I offended any fellow Christians – my brothers and sisters in Christ – with the words in either of the two previous posts, I apologize. Your intentions are good and sincere. I was rash and impetuous, and I hope you will forgive me.

The Golden Compass, Redux

I feel compelled to clarify a few things about my post lampooning some of the Christian responses to The Golden Compass and Philip Pullman. I feel this way firstly because I read this in the Chicago Tribune today:

[Pullman] has called [C. S.] Lewis’ fiction “morally loathsome” for its sexism and offhand killing of main characters, among other things.

By contrast, the morally complex “His Dark Materials” follows strong-willed orphan Lyra. . . .

Oh, give me a break. I’m willing to let Pullman insult Lewis as a legitimate way of distancing himself from him, but if the newspaper is, without explanation, going to jump on board and insinuate that Pullman contains “moral complexity” while Lewis does not, I must put all irony aside and firmly and unequivocally declare my loyalties. Which are with C. S. Lewis and all Christians. And ultimately, if it comes to drawing lines, I throw in my lot with fundamentalist Christians, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

The second reason is due mostly to the, um . . . ahem, mode of expression I was employing in my diatribe. In other words, I did indeed demonstrate a complete lack of prudence and nuance, which I guess goes with the territory. So while perhaps I should have developed a substantiated argument, that would have compromised my intent. Moreover, an argument can only be extrapolated negatively from the content of my diatribe. For example, if the satire exhorts, “Do not think! Live in ignorance!” then the author must think that to avoid the books and to intentionally not read them is, ipso facto, not thinking. While it would be perfectly natural to infer that from my remarks, I would now like to argue not against the wholesale avoidance of the books or the movie but against the intentional provocation of political hysteria. When I wrote the post, I had heard one too many conspiracy theories about producers “tricking” us into buying the books, and I had come across one too many messages trying to get me to educate others by forwarding an email to all my friends and family. This, to me, is willful ignorance and sloppy thinking. Consider this excerpt from a boycott-plea email:

Promoters hope that unsuspecting parents will take their children to see the movie, that they will enjoy the movie, and that the children will want the books for Christmas. Please boycott the movie and the books. Also, pass this information along to everyone you know. This will help to educate parents, so that they will know the agenda of the movie. The Golden Compass–A movie to avoid. We need to get the word out about this movie–it is coming out in December–an atheist produced it. it is marketed for children and in the end they kill God. I checked this out at snopes.com; unfortunately, it’s true.

Almost every producer in Hollywood is, if not an atheist, completely ambivalent about Christianity. Promoters are not hoping that unsuspecting parents will be duped into buying the books, they are hoping to make as much money as possible. They could, literally, not give a damn about the message of the book. They have proven just that thing by dulling down Pullman’s anti-ecclesiastical propaganda (with which Pullman has expressed his dismay). We Christians have proven that we are capable of shelling out large amounts of dough for epic fantasy films about good and evil and are thus a prime market demographic – one in fact producers ignore at their peril. They figured that if they kept the notions of “good” and “evil” vague enough, they could keep from offending Christians who would otherwise not spend their money to see it.

So enough with conspiracy theories. Alarmist political maneuvering seems more like a way to preserve the cultural capital of Christian values rather than actually dealing with anti-Christian ideas. When Nietzsche invoked the death of God, he not only expressed a desire for a world in which God was dead (like Pullman), but he excitedly and tragically described an already extant trend in Western culture. Boycotting an anti-Christian novel/film implies we still have Christian cultural capital to work with instead of the sex-crazed, celebrity-fetishizing, warmongering country we still somehow manage to call Christian. We’re living in Nietzsche’s world whether we like it or not.

So should everybody read it and engage it? Would I let my eleven-year-old son read it? Let’s first be clear that what we’re reading not only contains potentially subversive ideas to Christian beliefs and narratives but is also a manifestation of present cultural realities. Let’s be clear that deciding to reject it wholesale does not mean going on a crusade to spread alarm and encourage knee-jerk reactions. Then we can calmly and prudently evaluate whether allowing our children to read it – or even reading it ourselves – would be a good idea. Christianity is not threatened by atheism; Jesus Christ, according to Paul, has already disarmed the principalities and powers of this world, unmasking them as so much empty nihilism. Rejecting it wholesale may be the best course of action on a given occasion, but this is no cause for alarm. Moreover, one may reject it because it is, well, not worth the time. When I wrote the first post, I didn’t foresee so many people whose opinions I value and trust just giving it a kind of yawn. If time determines that Pullman turns out to be nothing more than a blowhard who is a decent storyteller, then so be it. There are better things to do. Like read Dostoevsky, which I’m going to go do now.

While We’re At It…

While we’re on the subject of children’s fantasy novels being turned into movies, there is now a trailer for Prince Caspian here.

Boycott The Golden Compass!!!!

Atheists have made a movie! In the movie there are people who are not Christians! The atheists who made the movie made it from a book that was also made by atheists!

But the atheists who made the movie don’t want you to know that there are atheists in Hollywood, so they made the movie only kind of about atheism in the hope that you and your children would not notice and go read the atheist’s books and be exposed to ideas that are not Christian! Their motives were not to get the biggest possible slice of the financial pie by watering down potentially profit-harming ideas! Their motives were to subvert your values!

What must I do to protect myself from these harmful ideas, you ask! Here is what you must do! Live in ignorance! Do not think! Vilify all those who disagree with you! Live in fear! Do not attempt to see things from more than one perspective! Do not read thoughtful Christian engagements with the atheists’ books or movies here, here, here or here! I repeat! Do not read these! The people who wrote them are not Christians but are atheists in disguise trying to subvert your children’s values! Nothing is complex! Everything is black and white! Live in a foggy, obtuse stupor! Be afraid! And again, over all, do not think!