Has anyone slogged through Philip Pullman’s "The Golden Compass," part of his bestselling trilogy, known as "His Dark Materials"? An excellent article in The Atlantic, called "How Hollywood Saved God" shows how the book’s frankly anti-Catholic plotline was successfully watered down for a new holiday film, out of a rightful fear of offending Catholics. (The book’s collective villains are called "The Magisterium.") Christians, as Hanna Rosin points out in her piece, were also offended by the book, in which one of the main plot points concerned the elimination of God. The upcoming movie, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, will dramatically play down these associations, which is probably good business around Christmastime. Still, it’s not surprising that Bill Donohue and the Catholic League would be on guard. See the movie, buy the book, is his fear. For his part, Pullman has called the Catholic protesters "nitwits". In this case, I agree with Donohue: Rosin’s article seems to warn that when parents buy their kids something they expect to mirror "The Chronicles of Narnia," they might be surprised (or appalled) when they learn that it’s less like C.S. Lewis than Christopher Hitchens. Readers who have actually read the book (and seen the movie) are welcome to weigh in. James Martin, S.J.
"The Golden Compass" and Catholic "nitwits"