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The Golden Compass Brings Nietzsche to Narnia: The Philosophical Underpinnings of His Dark Materials
Catholic Exchange ^ | December 4, 2007 | Marc T. Newman, Ph.D.

Posted on 12/04/2007 8:49:42 AM PST by NYer

When parents look at the beautiful covers adorning the gift-boxed sets of Philip Pullman's fantasy series, His Dark Materials, they might be forgiven for believing that these books follow in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, the publishers are counting on it. The display tables have arrived just in time for Christmas and the release of the screen adaptation of the first volume: The Golden Compass.

What Pullman's promoters desperately hope is that parents will not get beyond the colorful covers, which appear to depict nothing more than an action/fantasy series filled with talking animals, exciting battles, and a child protagonist. What they desperately fear is that parents will discover the dark and sinister philosophy that unfolds within the pages of Pullman's work — a philosophy that condones the killing of children to advance knowledge; disparages virtue and glorifies cunning; and which poses the idea that the solution to humanity's problems is the killing of God. In short, the philosophy that underlies much of Pullman's fiction is Friedrich Nietzsche's — a German philosopher whose work was influential with the Third Reich.

Nietzsche's major philosophical ideas include the Will to Power, the Superman, and the myth of the Eternal Return. While the third idea is hinted at in the last book in the series, it is the first two ideas that fill the pages of His Dark Materials. It is important for pastors and parents to understand these concepts so that they can be prepared to talk about their impact. Briefly, then, I will sketch these ideas, then show how they appear in The Golden Compass and throughout His Dark Materials, and finally demonstrate how these books — aimed at children — attempt to inculcate Nietzsche's worldview.

Nietzsche's View of the Way the World Works

The Will to Power

The main theme running throughout the writings of Nietzsche, gaining full force in his work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, is that life is a demonstration of a will to power. Nietzsche rejected external authority, arguing that since all morality is subjective — a mere expression of the will of others — there is no reason why any one morality should be preferred. What marks humanity, Nietzsche argued, is a desire to assert one's own will, or, in other words, to do that which is right in one's own eyes.

Dana Villa, the Packey J. Dee Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame, explains that Nietzsche's belief in the lack of absolute values — a lack of an objectively "true world" — leads to the destruction of "shared appearances" (291). As a result, to the extent that there are any values in the world, they ultimately find their grounding only in the perspective of the person doing the valuing, and in no other. Nietzsche advocated absolute moral autonomy. To illustrate, Nietzsche, in The Antichrist, defines "the good" as:

 All that enhances the feeling of power, the Will to Power, and power itself in man...Not contentment, but more power; not peace at any price, but war; not virtue, but efficiency...The weak and the botched shall perish: first principle of our humanity. And they ought even to be helped to perish. (128)

Nietzsche scholar George Allen Morgan identifies four key "sins" — lust, thirst for mastery, self-seeking, and cruelty — that, under Nietzsche, are revalued as "goods:" lust is the good which draws toward the future; thirst for mastery drives the powerful to exercise their power over lower people; self-seeking is the source of discriminating taste and causes refinement; and cruelty leads to a lusty vitality (180-181). The masterful types will exert their will to power over lower types, and the extent of their mastery will be measured in their ability to do so. Morgan declares for Nietzsche that "True advance is measured by the mass of humanity sacrificed to 'the growth of a single stronger species of man'"(81). Ultimately, this planned evolution is designed to breed the superman.

The Superman

In order for Nietzsche's ultimate expression of the will to power to arise — the superman — it is first necessary to kill God. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche portrays the murder of God at the hands of The Ugliest Man, who chokes God to death on His own pity.

Theologian Norbert Schiffers explains Nietzsche's position:

With his own instinct for the good, man is strong enough to be ashamed of his belief in the God who alone is good. Even before The Will to Power Nietzsche makes his man with the instinct for the good, his Zarathustra, say that to his eyes and ears God goes against his taste. It is in the power of this instinct and with this taste that Nietzsche says in full awareness: the God of metaphysics, the God of the Moralists, the God, too, of a Christian philosophy — they are dead. (71)

The superman is the embodiment of the will to power and makes up an aristocratic class that rules over Nietzsche's other two types of people: the higher men and the herd classes (Fowler 157). According to University of Warwick philosopher Keith Ansell-Pearson, such a person, freed from any cultural or theological moral restraints, "is master of a free will, and which gives him mastery over himself, over nature, over less fortunate creatures who have not succeeded in achieving sovereignty" (278-279).

With the "repressive" moral power of the dead god removed, the superman is free to express and develop his will to power. The superman stands atop the hierarchy of humanity. To those not yet among his peers, even to those of the "higher men" he would be a being fearful to behold. "Since man must become 'better and worse,' a superman will possess the 'evil' urges to maximum intensity; his kindness would be terrible; the best of us would call him a devil" (Morgan 175). It is Nietzsche's supermen — filled with will to power — that seek the death of God in His Dark Materials.

Bringing Nietzsche to Narnia

His Dark Materials are fantasy novels aimed at the youth market. They tell the story of Lyra and Will, two twelve-year-old children who are major actors in a titanic struggle between God and humanity. The first book, The Golden Compass, seems to deliberately borrow from C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. In both books, the action begins when a little girl hides in a wardrobe. Both books contain magic and talking animals. When we are introduced to Lyra, she is living at Oxford University — where Lewis went to school and, later, taught Medieval Literature while composing the bulk of his books. It is also the university from which Pullman received his bachelor's degree. Lucy, in The Lion The Witch, and the Wardrobe, rides on the back of Aslan, the Great Lion. Lyra, in The Golden Compass, rides on the back of Iorek, a great armored bear.

But when it comes to morality and redemption, the worlds created by Lewis and Pullman could not be farther apart. Lewis' world is infused with Christian imagery. Within The Chronicles of Narnia, a reader would encounter everything from Creation and Fall, to the death, burial and resurrection of Aslan (the Christ figure), to discipleship, and even The Second Coming and the End of the World. The central idea of Narnia is that there the children can learn to know and love Aslan, so that later, when they have grown up, they might more easily recognize Him (as Jesus) here.

In His Dark Materials, Pullman has crafted a world in which the most natural thing would be to desire the death of God. Pullman stated, in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, that "My books are about killing God." Like Nietzsche, Pullman needs God to be dead in order to liberate humanity from what Pullman deems a repressive, absolutist morality so that people will be free to be themselves — by which he means to follow their human nature, to be what nature intended them to be without supernatural interference or restraint.

The human embodiment of this oppression is The Church. Pullman cleverly constructs his ecclesiastical universe so that Catholicism and Protestantism can be derided together. He accomplishes this by having John Calvin, in this alternative universe, elected Pope (GC 30). Calvin moves the papacy to Geneva, and then the office is dissolved upon his death, though the institutional structures — such as the Magisterium and the General Oblation Board — are maintained.

The Church is filled with power-hungy zealots. Its leaders are greedy abusers of the poor. As an institution, it is to be feared. The archbishop is described as a "hateful old snob" (GC 84). The Church operates the General Oblation Board which lures children from the streets, and then spirits them away to a place where they become the subjects of a frightening blend of medical and theological experimentation in which their externalized souls are separated from their bodies. Pullman's world is populated by Christians who are inquisitors and witch burners. When the reader reaches the third book, The Amber Spyglass, Pullman introduces a priest, Semyon Borisovitch, who is described as fat, with dirty fingernails, a soiled cassock, and a long, unkempt beard. He is a drunk, his place reeks of tobacco. Pullman stops just shy of revealing Semyon as a pedophile when twelve-year-old Will comes knocking at his door: "The priest kept leaning forward to look closely at him, and felt his hands to see whether he was cold, and stroked his knee" (AS 98). Later, after plying the boy with vodka, the priest hugs Will "tightly" while apparently praying for him. The scene is written to appear creepy, and to build mistrust. And if there is any lingering doubt, Pullman has Mary, an attractive character, tell the children that "The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all" (AS 441). If these are God's representatives, then God must be a fraud, unworthy of our allegiance.

Will to Power and the Supermen

The Nietzschean heroes of His Dark Materials who are tasked with toppling God include Lyra and Will, and by the end of the series, even Lyra's parent, Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel shed what at first appears to be "bad guy" status to become the first martyrs in the battle to destroy the Kingdom of Heaven to replace it with the Republic of Heaven. Other heroes include Iorek Byrnison — an armored bear whose kingdom has been usurped, and Serafina Pekkala, the queen of a clan of witches. As Pullman draws out each character, it is clear what he finds compelling about them: their rejection of God and the absolute morality God represents, and their will to power. Here is a brief sketch:

Lyra, as her name suggests, is a notorious liar — and she benefits by it. Ma Costas, a Gyptian boat wife, tells Lyra that it is a compliment in their culture to be considered effectively deceptive (GC 112). Lyra maneuvers through the adult world, getting what she wants by manipulation, pretense, and cunning. She occasionally speaks frankly about killing her enemies, or making others do the killing for her (SK 163). She is an apple that has not fallen far from the tree.

Will does not appear until the second book in the series: The Subtle Knife. He is aptly named. Will gets what he wants by determination or force. Will kills people, and threatens to kill Lyra if she gets in his way (SK 61). To get the titular knife, Will must fight the current possessor for it. To the victor goes the spoils or, in other words, might makes right. Learning to use the knife to cut a hole between worlds is Will's epiphany. Lyra describes the scene as seeing an authority descend upon Will — but that it is Will's authority; he is creating it. In a confrontation with angels (who turn out to be weaker than humans), Will says, "If I'm stronger, you have to obey me. Besides, I have the knife. So I can command you: help me find Lyra" (AS 11).

Mrs. Coulter, Lyra's mother, does not ascend to superman status (though she is very close), but from her introduction in The Golden Compass she fits into Nietzsche's "higher man" category. She runs the General Oblation Board for the Church, uses her charm to snatch children, mercilessly experiments on them, uses sex as a weapon, brutally tortures prisoners, and treats others in the Church as inferiors. She is admired by Lyra for her style, grace, power and passion. Readers are encouraged to applaud Mrs. Coulter's defection from the Church, and are expected to overlook her many atrocities (Mrs. Coulter never repents of them) once her love for Lyra is revealed.

Lord Asriel, Lyra's father, is described as an explorer, easily angered and passionate, with "a hatred of priors and monks and nuns" (GC 123). He is a man who is not to be defied. He murders Lyra's friend, Roger, to pull energy from him as part of a successful experiment to build a bridge to another world. Despite that, his raw power excites in Lyra grudging admiration. By the final book, Lord Asriel has assembled a large army that he intends to lead into battle to defeat God — an army favorably compared to the one commanded by Lucifer when there was a war in heaven, eons past. One character notes Lord Asriel's limitless ambition, "He dares to do what other men and women don't even dare to think" (SK 47). Loved and feared, Lord Asriel is a Superman.

Iorek and Serafina represent states of nature. Each wants to be left alone to live life as nature intended. The Church has polluted bear culture; the new king of the bears wants to be baptized as a Christian, and wishes to model his kingdom after the humans. Iorek rejects this move with disgust, ultimately fighting and defeating the weaker bear king. Serafina chronicles centuries of abuse by the Church. She explains that Christianity has always suppressed nature and has been against every good feeling. She declares that if a war breaks out, the witches only need to align themselves against the Church and they will be on the right side.

These are Role Models?

All of these characters embody, to varying degrees, Nietzsche's idea of Will to Power. They reject any morality as having authority over them. They are people of command. Whether the issue is sexual license, lying, torture, or killing — they all feel justified in doing as they will to obtain their desired results. They serve themselves, and they revel in power. These are the role models that Pullman has served up to impressionable children looking for vacation reading. They don't even know it yet, but once Pullman hooks them with the sanitized version represented by the screen adaptation of The Golden Compass — a move that will likely lull many parents into complacency about the books — then he will have the freedom to use his fantasy series to pour into their hearts Nietzsche's terrible lessons.

There is, however, a potential silver lining. Christians can explain that the desire to transcend our own humanity is not, in itself, evil. Nietzsche tried to accomplish that transcendence from below — a weak creature willing itself to power. God, however, can provide it from above. God promises to everyone who comes to Him in faith not some bland sameness, as if we were nothing more than members of the herd, but real true individuality. As Bernhard Welte points out, the Lord has promised to inscribe His name on our foreheads (Rev. 22:4). Welte explains the significance of that promise for believers:

That means that God's name, that is, the superhuman and divine radiance is inscribed on the human forehead as, therefore, the radiance of man himself. It indicates the authentic superhumanity of man. It does not arise from the self-intensification of the finite will, but much more as a pure gift from above, in the setting of the City of which it is written that it descends from heaven, from God, and therefore cannot be constructed from below (57).

[Watch for the Next Article The Golden Compass: Sexualizing Children in the World of His Dark Materials]

Works Cited:

Ansell-Pearson, Keith. “Nietzsche on Autonomy and Morality: The Challenge to Political

Theory.” Political Studies 39.2 (1991): 270-286.

Fowler, Mark. “Nietzschean Perspectivism: ‘How Could Such a Philosophy Dominate?’"

Social Theory and Practice 16.2 (1990): 119-162.

Meacham, Steve. “The Shed where God Died.” Sydney Morning Herald, December 13,

2003, online:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/12/1071125644900.html?from=storyrhs.

Morgan, George Allen, Jr. What Nietzsche Means. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1975.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Antichrist. vol.16. The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche. ed. Oscar Levy. New York: Russell and Russell, 1964.

---. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None. trans. Walter Kaufman. New

York: Modern Library, 1995.

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1995.

---. The Subtle Knife. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1997.

---. The Amber Spyglass. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2000.

Schiffers, Norbert. “Analyzing Nietzsche’s ‘God is Dead.’” trans. Robert Nowell.

Nietzsche and Christianity. eds. Claude Geffre and Jean-Pierre Jossua. New York:

The Seabury Press, 1981. 65-77.

Villa, Dana R. “Beyond Good and Evil: Arendt, Nietzsche, and the Aestheticization of

Political Action” Political Theory 20.2 (1992): 274-308.

Welte, Bernhard. “The Ambiguity of Nietzsche’s Superman.” trans. John Cumming.

Nietzsche and Christianity. eds. Claude Geffre and Jean-Pierre Jossua. New York:

The Seabury Press, 1981. 53-57.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: atheism; evangelicalatheists; goldencompass; incrementalism; misotheism; moviereview; narnia; nietzche; nietzsche; pullman; slowlyboiledfrogs; trojanhorse
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Dr. Marc Newman is president of MovieMinistry.com, a company dedicated to providing pastors, lay leaders, and ordinary Christians with the tools necessary to use movies as a way of reaching out to others with the Gospel of Christ.
1 posted on 12/04/2007 8:49:45 AM PST by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


2 posted on 12/04/2007 8:50:24 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

I just taught a class on this movie....... Pullman seems to be a very hate-filled man.......


3 posted on 12/04/2007 8:51:43 AM PST by fishtank (Fenced BORDERS, English LANGUAGE, Patriotic CULTURE: A good plan.)
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To: NYer

This movie does not appeal to me at all.......


4 posted on 12/04/2007 8:54:26 AM PST by tioga (Dear Santa..........I can explain....)
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To: NYer

Pullman is an evil man and a vicious anti-Catholic bigot, and no Christian should give that man a dime.


5 posted on 12/04/2007 8:58:18 AM PST by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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To: NYer

Thanks for posting this. It made me realize some of the roots of Herbert’s “Dune” as well.


6 posted on 12/04/2007 8:58:48 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: NYer

There are definite parallels between Nietzsche’s work and these books, but some of the points in this article are a stretch.


7 posted on 12/04/2007 9:01:00 AM PST by snowrip (Liberal? YOU ARE A SOCIALIST WITH NO RATIONAL ARGUMENT.)
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To: NYer

Until I read the mainstream reviews, I was considering taking my little kids to see this movie. Then I learned of the author’s militant atheism. I waffled. Then I read the reviews that say most of the anti-religious tone was not very readily apparent, because the movie was poorly done and disjointed. So I figured, the kids might still like the CGI animals, etc, the “Narnianess” of it. Then I read about some of the brutal fight scenes in it. So that did it, I probably will NOT take the kids to this movie, even if I think the atheism would go over their heads, I think the suckage of the movie, plus at least one graphically violent scene at the end, makes it a no-go.


8 posted on 12/04/2007 9:01:41 AM PST by Paradox (Politics: The art of convincing the populace that your delusions are superior to others.)
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To: NYer

Interesting.

I read the first in the series, which most have agreed is well written. Parts of even it bothered me, though.

Couldn’t get more than a few dozen pages into the second book, as the subtext became increasingly more obvious.

What I find most intriguing is the fact that the lust for power to dominate others, presented by Pullman (at least according to this reviewer) as the ultimate good, is portrayed by Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings as the ultimate evil from which all others spring. The Ring itself is the embodiment of coercion and domination. In LOTR the good guys don’t force others to follow them even when it looks like doing so might be necessary to defeat absolute evil.


9 posted on 12/04/2007 9:02:06 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: snowrip

“You know, Nietzsche tells us that out of chaos comes order.” - Howard Johnson
“Blow it out your ass Howard.” - Olsen Johnson


10 posted on 12/04/2007 9:03:12 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Greg F
To the folks who have checked in on the other threads, here is a factual debunking of the series, with details. Do you still hold that it is necessary for me to "go see the movie first" to determine if in fact, it is a watered-down prelude to open attacks on my faith, or can I now just assume that?

As I have said, if there is a skull and crossbones on the package of rat poison, do I really need to eat it to know it is bad for me?

11 posted on 12/04/2007 9:04:59 AM PST by 50sDad (Liberals: Never Happy, Never Grateful, Never Right.)
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To: massgopguy

Nietzsche: “God is dead.”

God: “Nietzsche is dead.”


12 posted on 12/04/2007 9:05:15 AM PST by snowrip (Liberal? YOU ARE A SOCIALIST WITH NO RATIONAL ARGUMENT.)
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To: Greg F

There’s a lot if islamic subtext in the “Dune” nooks. Not subtle at all.


13 posted on 12/04/2007 9:05:36 AM PST by Malacoda (A day without a pi$$ed-off muslim is like a day without sunshine.)
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To: massgopguy

“Howard Johnson is right!”


14 posted on 12/04/2007 9:08:31 AM PST by 50sDad (Liberals: Never Happy, Never Grateful, Never Right.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Darth Vader had a lust for power, as well. In the beginning, it was to use that power for the greater good. Given time, that power became all that mattered, until it controlled him. A parable for our times, surely.


15 posted on 12/04/2007 9:10:21 AM PST by 50sDad (Liberals: Never Happy, Never Grateful, Never Right.)
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To: snowrip

Nietzsche: “God is dead.”

God: “Nietzsche is dead.”
___________

All I want for Christmas is for one person who posts the above to actually know the context in which Nietzsche first wrote “God is dead”.

Hint: It was an observation.


16 posted on 12/04/2007 9:11:10 AM PST by dmz
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To: NYer

Does might make right - or does right make might?


17 posted on 12/04/2007 9:12:12 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: 50sDad

I think you have me confused with someone else! I wouldn’t give a dime to my enemy and to the enemy of what I hold dear.


18 posted on 12/04/2007 9:12:29 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: NYer

reference for the forum...about the article’s author:

Mark T. Newman
http://www.movieministry.com/about.php

Newman terms himself a “film interpreter” (not a critic).
Looks to me like he’s trying to fill a slightly different niche than
Ted Baehr (sp?) who comments on film a lot from a Christian worldview.
But Newman seems to be going a bit further in a deeper examination of
film themes and concepts.


19 posted on 12/04/2007 9:13:44 AM PST by VOA
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To: dmz

As I understand it, Nietsche was commenting on the fact that Europeans no longer modified their conduct from fear of God.

IOW, while belief was still publicly pronounced, people behaved as if God was dead.

I believe he was right in this observation. Of course, since then in Europe even the public proclamation of belief has disappeared. In America, we may now be somewhere around where Europe was when Nietzsche wrote.


20 posted on 12/04/2007 9:15:38 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Malacoda

True, however it should be remembered that Islam was viewed very differently in the West when the Dune nooks were written. Kind of a cute religion or primitive peoples. No kind of a threat. Their religion has also incorporated Buddhist and other elements.


21 posted on 12/04/2007 9:17:48 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Froufrou

ping


22 posted on 12/04/2007 9:18:22 AM PST by JamesP81 ("I am against "zero tolerance" policies. It is a crutch for idiots." --FReeper Tenacious 1)
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To: 2banana
Does might make right - or does right make might?

Neither view is supported by history.

23 posted on 12/04/2007 9:19:04 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: dmz

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

– Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr.

“The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory. Or, to speak more strictly, the insane explanation, if not conclusive, is at least unanswerable; this may be observed specially in the two or three commonest kinds of madness. If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours. Or if a man says that he is the rightful King of England, it is no complete answer to say that the existing authorities call him mad; for if he were King of England that might be the wisest thing for the existing authorities to do. Or if a man says that he is Jesus Christ, it is no answer to tell him that the world denies his divinity; for the world denied Christ’s.

Nevertheless he is wrong. But if we attempt to trace his error in exact terms, we shall not find it quite so easy as we had supposed. Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this: that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large. In the same way the insane explanation is quite as complete as the sane one, but it is not so large. A bullet is quite as round as the world, but it is not the world. There is such a thing as a narrow universality; there is such a thing as a small and cramped eternity; you may see it in many modern religions.

...

Or suppose it were the second case of madness, that of a man who claims the crown, your impulse would be to answer, “All right! Perhaps you know that you are the King of England; but why do you care? Make one magnificent effort and you will be a human being and look down on all the kings of the earth.” Or it might be the third case, of the madman who called himself Christ. If we said what we felt, we should say, “So you are the Creator and Redeemer of the world: but what a small world it must be! What a little heaven you must inhabit, with angels no bigger than butterflies! How sad it must be to be God; and an inadequate God! Is there really no life fuller and no love more marvellous than yours; and is it really in your small and painful pity that all flesh must put its faith? How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!”

- G.K. Chesteron, “Orthodoxy”


24 posted on 12/04/2007 9:20:20 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: Paradox
Then I learned of the author’s militant atheism. I waffled.
Then I read the reviews that say most of the anti-religious tone
was not very readily apparent, because the movie was poorly done
and disjointed.


If the anti-religious tone is not readily apparent...
that's likely done ON PURPOSE.
So the general public (at least in the USA) will think it's
"This Holiday Season's 'Narnia'"
If "The Golden Compass" wasn't an stealth advance guard for evangelical atheism,
mainstream film critics would be dismissing it with a sniff and
mutttering "how derivative" as they gave it Two Thumbs Down.

"The Golden Compass" is a Trojan Horse, or more readily,
a "Cash Cow" that MUST succeed in order to get the $$$$$ from
boxoffice, thus allowing the Hollywood "greenlighting" of the
second film in the series.
Thus the clear atheistic themes in the source book by Pullman
HAD to go into hiding...at least to get $$$$$ to continue into
a series of films.

Pullman, the film-makers, actors/crew and the publishing houses
really need this to succeed financially.
25 posted on 12/04/2007 9:23:01 AM PST by VOA
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To: NYer
When parents look at the beautiful covers adorning the gift-boxed sets of Philip Pullman's fantasy series, His Dark Materials, they might be forgiven for believing that these books follow in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, the publishers are counting on it. The display tables have arrived just in time for Christmas and the release of the screen adaptation of the first volume: The Golden Compass.

Don't parents look up information about books before giving them to their kids? Our daughter got these from the library, but I did read about them, and discussed them with her. She was a teenager at the time, and reading them didn't harm her religious beliefs, but again, that could be because we discussed the stories as she read them, and compared them directly to the Narnia series, which she'd read earlier.

26 posted on 12/04/2007 9:23:37 AM PST by SuziQ
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To: VOA; Paradox

And . . . the sales of the books will go up because of the movie (essentially cross-marketing no ironic pun intended). That’s a big chunk of the evil of this even if the film is less aggressive in its athiesm and its attacks on Christ.


27 posted on 12/04/2007 9:26:50 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
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To: Greg F; Paradox
That’s a big chunk of the evil of this even if the film is less aggressive
in its athiesm and its attacks on Christ.


I think the strategy underway now is "Incrementalism".

Better known to the average Joe/Josephine as "boiling the frog
alive by slowing increasing the heat".
28 posted on 12/04/2007 9:29:43 AM PST by VOA
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To: NYer
Dune and The Golden Compass deal with many complex and differing views about morality and social order. I enjoy them because they make us think. Although, I have no particular use for anything that is openly anti-theist or anti-Christian, Dune actually displays how a man aspiring and arising to messiah status is a disaster.

My priest encouraged us to read all of the philosophers, Nietzsche wouldn't be excluded. He’d sit down and explain it to you. Let’s just say Father Hart and Bishop Sullivan had no fear of any earthly writings and stories of men. It just really grinds me wrong when Catholics start to find themselves amongst the ‘book burning’, ‘snake handling’, ‘witchcraft’ paranoid types. One thing I treasure about the Catholic faith is the open-mindedness of free-inquiry, yet maintence of moral objectivity.

BTW, I recommend the trailer. The movie simply looks abysmal. I think it’ll flop.

29 posted on 12/04/2007 9:30:39 AM PST by zencat (The universe is not what it appears, nor is it something else.)
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To: NYer
Nitzsche was a looney. I mean a nutcase. Literally. The greatest atheist philosopher was crazy.

How's that for irony.

30 posted on 12/04/2007 9:32:25 AM PST by Tribune7 (Dems want to rob from the poor to give to the rich)
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To: NYer
disparages virtue and glorifies cunning

Sounds like the mid 1990s...

31 posted on 12/04/2007 9:36:23 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: Sherman Logan; Malacoda

In the Dune books, Herbert drew on a number of themes from Islam, Judaism and Zen Buddism. The term “Kwisatz Haderach” to describe a messiah figure is a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase. The history of the Fremen in the books seems to mirror the ancient Hebrews/Israelites somewhat. Although their religion is rather Islam-like with some Zen elements. They do use the term “Jihad” a lot, but the books were written well before the term took on the more threatening context of recent times.


32 posted on 12/04/2007 9:36:57 AM PST by Fish_Keeper
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To: zencat

The Church abandoned the Index of Prohibited Books because it was seen to be counterproductive.

The problem is not well informed readers who read Nietzsche, or Pullman, to discover what their arguments are first hand. the problem is innocents who are drawn in and abused.

His Dark Materials is deliberately written in a subtle and incremental way, so kids will be drawn in first and only exposed to the vile message after they are hooked.

Note that the next installment of this analysis of the books will treat the sexualization of children. That is a major part of Pullman’s purpose. Basically, the lesson children get from the books is that God is an interfering busybody who must be rejected and killed, so they can have good sex with each other. Yet I’m sure Hollywood will give it a PG rating. And it will pretend to be Narnia by opening in the Christmas holidays.


33 posted on 12/04/2007 9:43:15 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Paradox
I haven't read any reviews, but my wife likes these fantasy fiction type movies.

I have rules on what movies I will see. It has to have 2 of my 3 requirements. Nudity, adult language, and violence.

Does it meet my requirements?

34 posted on 12/04/2007 9:45:59 AM PST by Phantom Lord (Fall on to your knees for the Phantom Lord)
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To: Paradox

You need to also look longer down the road. If your kids are readers, they will likely be intrigued by this movie and want to look into Pullman’s books. By the time they get to the third book in the series, where God is killed, the parents have lost the ability to but the genie back into the bottle. Frankly, most parents will be clueless, because parents rarely read children’s novels.

Many parents will just be thrilled their children are reading. But children shouldn’t read just anything for the sake of reading. No decent parent would allow their child to read pornographic novels, but they let their kids read atheism or paganism disguised as fantasy. Some ideas endanger children’s souls.

This is exactly like Satan works. He tempts with something beautiful and delightful, and then draws you gradually into deep evil. The Bible tells us Satan was created a beautiful magnificent angel. He’s a master at making things seem appealing and innocent.


35 posted on 12/04/2007 9:48:26 AM PST by keats5 (tolerance of intolerant people is cultural suicide)
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To: VOA
If "The Golden Compass" wasn't an stealth advance guard for evangelical atheism, mainstream film critics would be dismissing it with a sniff and mutttering "how derivative" as they gave it Two Thumbs Down.

I disagree. The LOTR was heardled by critics in all three films. The story is from, Tolkien, a known devout Catholic, that converted C.S. Lewis to Christianity. The story is about the pure destruction caused of evil. About absolutes, (the ring WILL corrupt you).

The third film in the series was nominated for as many Academy awards as any movie ever, and won best picture.

My bet is that the Golden Compass won't even be nominated. And I don't think it will even be a financial success. I mean watch the trailer, it's just simply awful. And that's supposedly the best parts to entice you to go see it.
36 posted on 12/04/2007 9:51:57 AM PST by zencat (The universe is not what it appears, nor is it something else.)
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To: Greg F

Sorry, splash damage. Not meant to you, per se, more a general posting.


37 posted on 12/04/2007 9:53:28 AM PST by 50sDad (Liberals: Never Happy, Never Grateful, Never Right.)
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To: NYer

Here’s another review of this moive, from the “Focus on the Family” people.

http://www.pluggedinonline.com/thisweekonly/a0003516.cfm


38 posted on 12/04/2007 9:55:18 AM PST by keats5 (tolerance of intolerant people is cultural suicide)
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To: Tribune7
Nitzsche was a looney. I mean a nutcase. Literally. The greatest atheist philosopher was crazy. How's that for irony.

I find this not the least bit ironic. Atheism is a mental illness, so it's not surprising at all that it's most forward proponent was a raving loony-tune.

39 posted on 12/04/2007 10:01:34 AM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (Conservatives - Freedom WITH responsibility; Libertarians - Freedom FROM responsibility)
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To: zencat
I disagree. The LOTR was heardled by critics in all three films.

That's OK.
I've a limited sample size, but even at the conservative Christian
college I attended in the mid 1970s, there were LOTR fans.
And, despite the "no drugs, no alcohol" policy of the place,
I'd say about 1/2 of the LOTR fans were doing a fine job of
violating the policy (and avoiding detection, so they were no dummies).

When mainstream critics lauded LOTR, my guess was that most of
them were the friendly dopers I knew in the 1970s...only now
it's decades later and they have film-critic jobs.
And/Or they were smart enough to see a film-series-tsunami and
decided to get out of the way and just join the applauding public.

Yeah, that's no statistical analysis...just an impression from
"back in the day".
40 posted on 12/04/2007 10:04:12 AM PST by VOA
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To: zencat
As of this posting, this film has only 36% positive review rating on RottenTomatos.com. (Granted this is only counting 11 reviewers so far.) http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/his_dark_materials_the_golden_compass/
41 posted on 12/04/2007 10:07:37 AM PST by Fish_Keeper
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To: NYer

Pullman in his own words...

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1934542/posts


42 posted on 12/04/2007 10:09:05 AM PST by VOA
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To: Cicero
>>>>>>>Note that the next installment of this analysis of the books will treat the sexualization of children. That is a major part of Pullman’s purpose. Basically, the lesson children get from the books is that God is an interfering busybody who must be rejected and killed, so they can have good sex with each other. Yet I’m sure Hollywood will give it a PG rating. And it will pretend to be Narnia by opening in the Christmas holidays.

An excellent analysis.

43 posted on 12/04/2007 10:25:03 AM PST by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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To: VOA

The sad thing is that if these “books take root” in 20 years or so we WILL have a VERY Evil and murderous society, according to reviews (from a theological viewpoint)!


44 posted on 12/04/2007 10:25:39 AM PST by JSDude1 (When a liberal represents the Presidential Nominee for the Republicans; THEY'RE TOAST)
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To: JSDude1
The sad thing is that if these “books take root” in 20 years or so we
WILL have a VERY Evil and murderous society, according to reviews
(from a theological viewpoint)!


We are surely on the path.
IIRC, in a "Breakpoint" commentary AT LEAST 5 years ago, Charles
Coulson told about a donor that gave a BIG donation to an Ivy League
business school to fund classes in "business ethics".

IIRC, after REALLY looking at what was involved, the university
returned the gift. (and didn't offer ethics classes).
(that's some years back...I invite correction from any posters
knowing/recalling the story better than I have.)
45 posted on 12/04/2007 10:35:58 AM PST by VOA
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To: Sherman Logan
The thing that boggled my mind about GC was that when we first meet Lord Azriel, he is clearly a bad guy: he tells Lyra "I'll break your arm" and "I'll hurt you so badly you'll wish you were dead," and says if she's caught in the waredrobe "You're on your own: I won't life a finger to save you."

Then later you find out he's Lyra's father, who in fact abandoned her at Jordan College and had no hand in providing for her, educating her, or raising her.

Yet despite all this, Lyra wants to accompany him to the North and even to give him the Aleithiometer (a most powerful tool) --- why? Why would she want to be with someone who treats her cruelly and abandons her? And even after he coldly murders her best friend Roger (her main reason of wanting to go to the North, after all, was to rescue Roger), she seems more attracted by his power than revulsed by his evil.

I mean, if Pullman were interested in liberating human beings from oppression, it's truly strange that he makes his youthful heroine a little girl who abjectly loves an evil, abusive man.

It's so twisted. Even the twists are twisted.

46 posted on 12/04/2007 10:44:03 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (On my honor.)
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To: fishtank

If I read any such books as described when I was a kid I would have been repelled utterly. I didn’t know from “Oblation Boards” but I sure knew of bullies.


47 posted on 12/04/2007 11:01:53 AM PST by sinanju
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To: Fish_Keeper
Thanks for the link.

Yeah, 36%, and even some of the positive reviews are guarded or with qualifications.

My 13 1/2 year old son (neither of us had read the books) was excited to see it when he heard it was coming out. After viewing the trailer we couldn’t care less about it.

48 posted on 12/04/2007 11:03:31 AM PST by zencat (The universe is not what it appears, nor is it something else.)
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To: Greg F

The world of “Dune” always repelled me as well. I did not like to think of a future humanity that had regressed to ugly feudalism.

I certainly do not think Frank Herbert was trying to glorify the coldbloodedness and ruthlessness depicted. I always saw it as a warning against thinking that democracy and freedom was somehow guaranteed in the future.


49 posted on 12/04/2007 11:05:44 AM PST by sinanju
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To: NYer
Question: these people are described as "atheist"

But isn't a "atheist" someone that believes there is no God

While these people talk about killing god, hating god... seem to be they must believe there is a God... this is more Satin like, wanting to murder your way to the top to be "god"

50 posted on 12/04/2007 11:08:12 AM PST by tophat9000 (You need to have standards to fail and be a hypocrite, Dem's therefor are never hypocrites)
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