Monday, October 29, 2007

An Open Letter From GP Taylor Re: the movie "The Golden Compass."

In 2004 / 2005, Shadowmancer became a worldwide best seller, topping the New York Times list and the British book charts for 15 weeks. The reason why I wrote the book and all the others in the series was because of one man and the damage that his books were likely to do to the Christian Church.

Almost two years earlier I’d been at home in the vicarage, reading a copy of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I’d heard a great deal about the book. Newspapers and literary critics praised it. Christian groups wanted to burn it. I wanted to know what all the commotion was about.

Fifty pages into this award-winning, best-selling book for children twelve and up, here’s what I’d learned: God is a liar. God is senile. God is the enemy of humanity. I started to get mad.

Pullman’s book reworks Milton’s Paradise Lost so that Satan’s side are the heroes. Early on in the book, two rebel angels spill God’s great “secret”:

'The Authority, God the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adoni, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were the names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are … He told all who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie.' - (so Pullman said - notice he doesn't give God any other name such as Allah or Shiva - I wonder why?)

That’s just the beginning. Later the Authority is revealed as a senile, decrepit creature, the figurehead leader of Pullman’s Kingdom of Heaven. Pullman describes the Authority this way: “he was so old, and he was terrified, crying like a baby and cowering.” And, “The old one was uttering a wordless groaning whimper that went on and on, and grinding his teeth, and compulsively plucking at himself with his free hand.”

I became so angry while reading The Golden Compass that I had to put it down. What does it do to a child, I wondered, to be told that God is a senile, decrepit old man who is better off dead.

As dangerous theologically as I thought Pullman’s book was, I believed I had to do something about it. The disturbing thoughts about the effects of such a bestseller kept running through my mind that night, and for many nights afterwards. I realised the power his words would have on so many young people. I realise that God is powerful enough to defend Himself, but I became distressed at how these well written books would change people's viewpoint on God.

My fears were being realized. During the summer of 2000, the Pagan Federation in the United Kingdom announced that they had hired a youth officer to deal with all the inquiries they were getting from teenagers who wanted to become witches. The federation was “swamped” with calls, Andy Norfolk, the federation’s media officer, told the BBC. The reason Norfolk gave was the overwhelming popularity of television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the Harry Potter books. He also said that the Christian church had failed to offer spirituality that appealed to teenagers, and pagans were now filling the gap because they offered “direct communication with the divine.”

From looking at the children’s bestseller lists, I could see that kids wanted to read about the supernatural. Book’s with supernatural themes – Harry Potter, Darren Shan’s vampire stories, The Golden Compass to name a few – sell in the millions. Most of them deal with questions of good and evil, death and immortality. But aside from CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which both date to the 1950s, few books or films for children show a positive view of God.

I sat down and wrote Shadowmancer, a book that answers everything Pullman tries to destroy. A book that offers children hope in a God who is powerful and loving and able to intervene in the human life. The book was littered with pieces of scripture - hidden gems to bring life - God's word doesn't return void. Very soon after publication I was getting letters from young people. One said 'before I read your book I didn't believe in God - now I know I do...'

The battle had begun. Soon, Wormwood - Tersias - The Curse of Salamander Street, hit the book shelves, all dealing with the issues raised in Pullman's books. The Daily Telegraph in England said 'GP Taylor is a refreshing antidote to the piously preachy Mr. Pullman.'

Each of my books deals with the spiritual dimensions attacked by Pullman, giving a Christian alternative to his viewpoint. One character in Wormwood - Thaddeus Bracegirdle was even thought to be based on Pullman himself - though I would always deny it! They are written for a secular market - for the people who read Pullman books. They have earned me the title of 'The new CS Lewis.'

We are living in an age when so many things will come and try and destroy the Christian heritage of the American nation. We will have to fight to preserve it. The Golden Compass is yet another salvo against us. We must never forget that God is supreme and when the works of Pullman - like that of Voltaire are forgotten books, the Word will be still alive. I only hope that in writing Shadowmancer - Wormwood - Tersias and my other books that children and young people will get an alternative view of a great God.

I would urge you to see the film and judge for yourself, what we must not do is fall into the trap of book burning and blockading movie theaters. As Christians it is our duty to be people of integrity and interact boldly with that which could affront our faith.

With all my Blessings.
GP Taylor.


Sharon Lynne said...

Good for him. I know what it feels like to have a passion burning within to do something to stop the enemy. I'm glad he was obedient to God's call to serve in this area...with his skill of writing.

dolphin said...

What an excellent post. I started reading and settled in for another tiresome screed against "The Golden Compass" but was pleasantly surprised to find that there are still others out there who realizing banning things isn't the answer but rather providing alternatives and letting others decide for themselves what works best for them.


The Gatekeeper said...

Dolphin: Plus I really like the alternatives here (Shadowmancer etc.)which are very well written.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Having not read this book I am going on the quotes.

There will always be assaults on scripture and God (aka Jesus). That has always been a part of the package. God, while being ultimately in control, does NOT control things on planet earth.

But then again, neither does satan. He and his minions while trying to influence the battle for the hearts and minds of our youth (and any one else for that matter), do not control the final outcomes.

THAT is reserved for God's people the Christians.

But just as Jesus while in with his own, and came to a place where he could do no mighty works because of unbelief... The 'Christian' churches have just about watered down scripture and faith enough, it is surprising if there is evemn an alter call to get saved anymore.

In a previous time, miracles were commonplace but now we have left faith and in our vain attempts to make some kind of intellectual sense of scripture, have also left the benefits of God's word and design for fellowship with mankind.

So we are caught in our own misery. And in the process, we fulfill scripture which states that in the last days, there shall be a falling away before Jesus returns in Power and Glory.

I no longer pray against the falling away, but actually pray it will come on all the faster to fulfill scripture and hasten Jesus' return.

But in the short term, if we want to keep our kids from thinking that God is a loser and satan is bigger and badder, then we must abandon head knowledge and return to faith. Expecting God to show up and have inflence in our lives as He once did.

A tall order I would think.

Mike Summers

The Gatekeeper said...

Ah, my dear Lord Summers. You are wise, brutally honest as usual, and a joy to have around. We hope to hear more from you. :)

Jan Parrish said...

Excellent post. I have posted a warning on my blog and I will link you as well. Thanks for sharing.

Sign my guest book and enter to win The Penny by Joyce Meyer.

The Gatekeeper said...

Thanks, Jan and you're welcome.