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 CNS Story:

GUEST COMMENTARY Nov-28-2007 (640 words) xxxa

A not so stealthy campaign against the church

Catholic News Service

Editors: Responding to editors' requests for a regular sampling of current commentary from around the Catholic press, here is an editorial titled "A not so stealthy campaign against the church," from the Nov. 8 issue of The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J. It was written by Paula Glover, editor.

It has been said that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice. How true this is, and it is subtle. Even when it is not so subtle, we hesitate to complain.

In the case of the upcoming movie "The Golden Compass," the anti-Catholicism that the books are based on is there for all to see. And we shouldn't hesitate to complain -- boycott the movie and don't buy the books.

My son likes books of this genre -- having read J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, not to mention the Harry Potter series -- and he checked out of the library the books by Philip Pullman on which the movie is based. This was a few years ago, when as part of the bedtime family routine I'd read to him, although he'd been reading for many years.

As we read through the first book of the trilogy, "The Golden Compass," I gradually became uneasy with the imagery and with the terms used. For example, the evil ones are "the magisterium" and priests are all evil. Children are being snatched up by the General Oblation Board -- so they would become "oblates" to this evil magisterium.

It also includes a scenario whereby the authorities are trying to sever the souls of the children from them, making them zombies. That was actually pretty creepy.

We made it through the first book and began the second, but my increasing unease with the language made me stop. I told him we just could not continue reading the books.

Years later, we received the booklet from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked" and he read it and declared he would never finish the series. This booklet is available online from the Catholic League at www.catholicleague.org, or by calling (212) 371-3191. With 95 footnotes in a 24-page booklet, it is well-researched and right to the point about Pullman's agenda to inculcate atheism into children.

You simply cannot hide the anti-Catholic nature of the books, with terms like inquisition, magisterium, and mention of a Vatican council. He tries to make it look like it is an amalgam of Catholicism and Protestantism, with a Pope John Calvin, but that is probably because he wants to implicate all of Christianity.

I'll include one quote from the hero, Lord Asirel, speaking of his plans: "This will mean then the end of the church, Marisa, the end of the magisterium, the end of all those centuries of darkness!"

Could he be more clear?

While we were fussing over Harry Potter -- books in which at least the hero triumphs through loyalty, bravery and kindness -- the "His Dark Materials" trilogy has been winning awards and outselling Harry Potter in England, and migrating to the movies.

When we don't understand our faith, fully embracing the teachings of the church and living our faith to its fullest, we are vulnerable to works like "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass," which make up the "His Dark Materials" trilogy.

Nicole Kidman, a Catholic and a star in the movie, has said she doesn't believe the movie is anti-Catholic; but one can reasonably ask if she knows her faith enough to even spot anti-Catholicism? One has to know the meaning of the term magisterium before being offended by its misuse.

So, let's arm ourselves with knowledge and use our economic power. And take this as a warning: It is easy to be deceived.

END


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