Sunday, November 04, 2007

Christian Censorship: The Golden Compass - Part 3, a rant

I can't abide Christian censorship. Censorship bugs me, but Christian censorship really, really bugs me.

Let me state my position. I am a Christian. I think I am fairly conservative, but then I run into people who call themselves conservative, and find that I am not so conservative as I thought. I am homeschooling mother who would fight for my kids safety, but at the same time hope that I would have the courage to let them explore things that make me uncomfortable, rather than keep them huddled away in a sterile environment. And I am a member of the Board of Trustees of the Waterville Public Library. I value our right to read what we want to read as one of the most precious rights in this country.

So when Christians begin practicing censorship, I am angry and embarrassed.

Censorship is thought control by those who believe that their way is higher and better. It is an act of arrogance and fear.

There are certainly things that I am not going to expose myself to. I rarely watch a rated R movie... that is a thresh-hold that God and I worked out for me. Not something that my pastor told to abide by (in fact, my pastor - also my husband, has an incredible knack for watching rated R movies with discernment and wisdom - and delight). There are things I won't read, and I won't look at. There are places I will not visit. But by and large I will make those decisions on my own with the Holy Spirit as my guide. There are only a few people who have permission to say 'do not read (taste, touch, look)' to me(and they know who they are).

When Christian censors start their campaigns, several things stir up in me. First of all, I believe that all truth is God's truth. I believe that excellence reflects the Creator. I believe that God is not intimidated by the irreverence of authors (artists, readers) on a journey (I guess that that means that I also believe that artists of any sort are journey-people, how else could you participate in creativity if you aren't journeying).

When Christian censors start their campaigns, I wonder what they hope to accomplish. Nobody is forcing us to read things we don't want to. If we start a book or a movie, we aren't obligated to finish. If we find ourselves being challenged, we can leave, or stay and use our minds. God has given us wonderful minds, and the Holy Spirit, to guide us, instruct us, grow us. Christian censorship isolates, insulates, and alienates us from the very people Jesus challenged us to love and reach out to.... those Samaritans and Greeks.

If we allow censorship to prosper in our Christian circles, then I am afraid of all that we will miss, and how impotent we will become. There are some amazing ideas and thoughts that evangelistic atheists have that we need to consider and be challenged by. There are scientists that are pushing our comfortable understanding of our universe being flat, that can greatly enhance our awe of how great is our Creator God.

My most recent tangle with Christian censorship involved The Golden Compass, a movie coming out in December, based on a book by Philip Pullman. I read the book. There is comment on the church, on original sin, and science attempting to explain our fallenness in the book. But it wasn't threatening at all to my faith. Nor can I see how it would be.

One thing that particularly frustrates me about Christian censorship is that people pass on the censors 'opinions' without thinking for themselves. We are so quick to pass on emails (I hate forwards... ) or anything we hear or read from Christianity Today or Focus on the Family (for instance.... and which I also hold in low regard) without doing a little research. Even if I hadn't taken the time to read the book, I could have at least looked for more information. At there are three sources of rebuttal to the Snopes review of the email that is being circulated. And I could have read the book and totally agreed with Snopes, but at least then I would have done my thinking for myself.

Finally, when it comes to what me and my family read, I would much rather read excellent work by an atheist than poor to mediocre work by a Christian.

For a list of banned books and authors go to


Queen In My House of Blue said...

AMEN GIRL!!!!!!!!

Celticpiping said...

well done EM.
some good & rational thoughts here.

I met with the same sort of censorship mentality while talking with some friends, and how they wouldn't want to watch anything (especially fantasy) if it weren't "Christian-based"..I almost tossed my newly ate supper...

But God bless em, they mean well.
Just kills me how "we" are alienating folks with mentalities like this...
And in some cases, alienating churched folks who have a more..broad view..



Renee said...

Preach it Sista'

Anonymous said...

While i do not agree with everything you say, you do make a great point. Parents need to teach there children to be able to make there own decision for Christ. Parents should be there to guide and explain, not to keep them from knowing the truth of the world we live in. My mother gave me a wonderful gift growing up. She never banned movies (unless it was all nudity)or books, but care enough to preview them or to watch the movies with me. This always lead to a chance to discuss the material and for her to listen to what I thoght and for me to learn why she believed what she did about the material. Thank you for these artical, it's been hard to find any objective views on this book. I will say though that God has put a warning in my heart to be careful with these books and that I would pass on.

shmabadab said...

This is probably a little late in the game, seeing as you posted this series last year. But I wanted to say it anyway: THANK YOU! It's always nice to hear a Christian opinion that isn't lopsided :) I had been struggling on whether or not I should rent the movie when it comes out on video this week - I havent read the books yet either. I had heard a lot of really nasty things, but I had ONLY heard nasty things. I was so appreciative to see the other side of the coin. And, just so you know, I'm renting the movie and will probably start reading the series. There aren't enough good epic reads like Harry Potter and Narnia out there - here's another to add to the list!

ST said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm reading Golden Compass for my Children's Literature class, and I don't see its ideas as a challenge to my Christian faith because it's fantasy - when I enter a world of fantasy I suspend many assumptions and truths from our world for the sake of a different world (unless it has excessive things like language, violence, etc, depending).

When it comes to censorship on this book in particular (or with any fantasy/sci-fi that can be deemed "controversial"), people are taking the content WAY too seriously and need to remember it's a DIFFERENT world from ours, and it doesn't matter what the author was trying to say; it's up to the reader to interpret the text.

Anyway, thanks again, I'll get off my rant now lol