The conversion of traditional archetypes of evil into morally good ones makes a quantum leap in a film based on a novel by British author Philip Pullman. It is titled The Golden Compass, which is also the North American title of the first volume of Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. According to interviews with Pullman, the author’s stated intention is to reverse the traditional Biblical account of the war between heaven and hell. In his introduction, Pullman says that he “is of the Devil’s party and does know it” (a line adapted from a poem by William Blake).
Many of you will recall the controversy that arose in the world’s media a few years ago over the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels for young readers. Numerous articles appeared in the press praising the books as a breakthrough to a more literate form of culture for young people. They exalted its dramatic qualities, imaginative story-telling, humor, and promotion of “values.” Little serious reflection was given to the fact that the foundational element of the series is witchcraft and sorcery, which is glamorized and offered to the reader as normal, even a saving path. The central character, Harry, is a sorcerer in training. This is not the place to restate the arguments, pro and con; I have done this in previous articles, which are posted on this website. However, I would like to emphasize again that few if any cultural works in the history of mankind have spread so far and so quickly as the Potter series.
Not only have God and His angels passed beyond recognition in these books, the Kingdom of Heaven has become something against which man should wage war. The Vatican document, Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, cautions that in the New Age Movement, humanity exalts itself at the expense of God. What is called the “Kingdom of Heaven” in this trilogy shares nothing in common with the Kingdom of Heaven known to Christians to be already among us (Lk 11: 20) and even within us (Lk 17: 21), but only reaching its complete fulfillment at the end of the world (Mt 25: 31-46; 1 Cor 15: 22-28). The trilogy portrays the Kingdom of Heaven as a tyrannical regime and attacks the Church, in truth given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven by Christ (Mt 16: 19, 18: 18), as an oppressive force. God Himself, Who alone makes Heaven Heaven and Who alone can satisfy the human person, is presented as the enemy of mankind.