Thursday, November 06, 2008

Book Banning at the Book Fair!!!

This past Monday The Wife volunteered me to work the Book Fair (sponsored by Scholastic) at The Boy's school ... I reported to the Woman In Charge of it around 8am and asked what I could do ... she told me to restock and straighten out the books on all the shelves around the room ... I was busy restocking books from cardboard boxes of books under the tables ... I came upon the book "The Golden Compass - The Story of the Movie" in one of the boxes ... I scanned the shelves and could not find where its spot was ... I asked the Woman In Charge where this book was on the shelve so I could see if I needed to put more out ... she said, "I decided not to put that book out" ... I asked, "Why aren't you putting it out???" ... "she said, "I'm not putting it out for personal reasons" ... I glanced at what was hanging around her neck ... a cross ... I was in the presence of a christian BOOK BANNER!!!

I remembered the controversy over the movie "The Golden Compass" when it came out ... this is what's posted on Wikipedia about the controversy:

Several key themes of the novels, such as the rejection of religion and the abuse of power in a fictionalised version of the Catholic Church, were diluted in the adaptation. Director Weitz said "in the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic Church gone wildly astray from its roots", but that the organization portrayed in his film would not directly match that of Pullman's books. Instead, the Magisterium represents all dogmatic organizations. Weitz said that New Line Cinema had feared the story's anti-religious themes would make the film financially unviable in the U.S., and so religion and God ("the Authority" in the books) would not be referenced directly.

Attempting to reassure fans of the novels, Weitz said that religion would instead appear in euphemistic terms, yet the decision was criticised by some fans, anti-censorship groups, and the National Secular Society (of which Pullman is an honorary associate), which said "they are taking the heart out of it, losing the point of it, castrating it..." and "this is part of a long-term problem over freedom of speech." The Atlantic Monthly said also "With $180 million at stake, the studio opted to kidnap the book’s body and leave behind its soul." The changes from the novel have been present since Tom Stoppard's rejected version of the script, and Pullman expected the film to be "faithful" although he also said "They do know where to put the theology and that’s off the film." A Christianity Today review of the film noted that "'magisterium' does refer, in the real world, to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church, and the film [is] peppered with religiously significant words like 'oblation' and 'heresy'", adding that when one character smashes through the wall of a Magisterium building, the damaged exterior is "decorated with [Christian] Byzantine icons."

On October 7, 2007 the Catholic League called for a boycott of the film. League president William A. Donohue said he would not ordinarily object to the film, but that while the religious elements are diluted from the source material, the film will encourage children to read the novels, which he says denigrate Christianity and promote atheism for kids. He cited Pullman telling the Washington Post in 2001 that he is trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief. The League hoped that "the film [would fail] to meet box office expectations and that [Pullman's] books attract few buyers," declaring the boycott campaign a success after a North American opening weekend which was lower than anticipated. One week after the film's release, Roger Ebert said of the campaign, "any bad buzz on a family film can be mortal, and that seems to have been the case this time."

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, agreed that the broad appeal of the film was a dangerous lure to the novels, which he criticized for carrying a clear agenda to expose what [Pullman] believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith" and for "[providing] a liberating mythology for a new secular age." The Rev. Denny Wayman of the Free Methodist Church made the assertion that The Golden Compass is a "film trying to preach an atheistic message." Other evangelical groups, such as The Christian Film and Television Commission, adopted a "wait-and-see" approach to the film before deciding upon any action,[42] as did the Roman Catholic Church in Britain. Some religious scholars have challenged the view that the story carries atheistic themes while in November 2007, a review of the film by the director and staff reviewer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting appeared on the website of the Catholic News Service and in Catholic newspapers across the country. The review suggested that instead of a boycott, it may be appropriate for Catholic parents to "talk through any thorny philosophical issues" with their children. However, on December 10, 2007 the review was removed from the website at the USCCB's request. On December 19, 2007, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an editorial in which it denounced the film as godless.

Pullman said of Donohue's call for a boycott, "Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers? Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world." In a discussion with Donohue on CBS's Early Show, Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, said that rather than promote atheism, the film would encourage children to question authority, saying that would not be a bad thing for children to learn. Director Weitz says that he believes His Dark Materials is "not an atheistic work, but a highly spiritual and reverent piece of writing", and Nicole Kidman defended her decision to star in the film, saying that "I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic". Some commentators indicated that they believed both sides' criticism would prove ultimately impotent and that the negative publicity would prove a boon for the film's box office.

After she said she wasn't putting that book out for personal reasons I didn't even want to be in the same room with her ... my already aching tennis elbow was bothering me so I told her I had to go home and take some painkillers ... I went to vote for Obama after that and then headed home ... all the while the fact that she didn't put this book out bothered me ... I had already planned to take The Kids to the Book Fair after school to pick out a book ... after they picked out what they wanted I yelled across the room to the Woman In Charge, "Hey (her name), where's that book about The Golden Compass???" ... she got a weird look on her face and pointed under the table and said, "It's in one of those boxes" ... I found it and bought it along with what The Kids picked out.

The Woman In Charge had no problem putting out two books about someone in the Hitler Youth.

I was going to make a BIG STINK about this but I don't want The Boy to be embarrassed ... or demonized by others at the school.

BUT, book banning is WRONG!!!

Now I have to move "The Golden Compass" to the top of my Netflix queue.


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