Monday, November 19, 2007

A thought on The Golden Compass

By now you've likely heard or read at least one story about how The Golden Compass is an attempt by an avowed atheist to fool the unsuspecting and sow seeds of doubt among the faithful. You may have also heard or read someone saying that they don't think it's really all that big of a deal, that they've read the book and didn't have their faith shaken. I'm not here to diagnose the veracity of the former statement - Pullman has already done that for himself. I'm here to talk a little bit about the latter. But first a little story.

Back during the drama that was the DaVinci Code I attended the First Communion of the son of a friend of the family. At the celebration afterwards two, shall we say, older ladies were going on and on about DVC and how they had read it and were going to see it (remember, these are all good Catholics - the kind that would be glad to tell you themselves). Suddenly one of them saw me sitting there and decided to ask my input on the matter. My statement that I would not offer the man one red cent for an inferior product that attacks my faith was met with giggles, an mutual elbows to the ribs and an "I told you so". Apparently the fact I actually wore a tie to Mass tipped them off that I'm one of those POD-types. Since we PODs don't really understand our faith, they regaled me for a time with how well-written the book was an how it "didn't shake my faith" and that they believed exactly what they believed before then. Being unable to come up with a polite response that didn't involve reminding them of their unrepentant and manifest public sins (like I said, the Good Catholic(TM) types) I merely smiled at them and waited for the subject to change. I know, what a wimp. But that is not the story.

This morning I was listening to The Catholic Channel as I worked and heard the exact same words being used about The Golden Compass. These are not bad words, they are exactly what one would hope would happen when someone is faced with a challenge to their faith. They are, however, incredibly short-sighted. We are not called to be Catholics, to be Christians - to be witnesses of Christ, His death and His Resurrection only for ourselves. We are called and have a specific duty to those who are weaker in their faith than are we. It is not merely our responsibility to keep spotless our garment - that is not the story of the suffering servant to whom we are called to conform ourselves. If there is something which is a danger to those whose struggle in the faith is more difficult than ours we have a right, an opportunity and a duty to do whatever we are able to help provide the most prudent protection from this danger. The mistake they make at our silence could drag them down.

We must never, ever forget Christ's affirmation that "to whom much is given, of him will much be required" (Lk 12:48). If we're so good, so strong in our faith that a whirlwind of controversy cannot shake it that strength is a gift from God Himself, and gifts are not given to be hidden away and stored up for tomorrow - they are given to be used. We, if you will, do not have the right to waste our strength solely on ourselves. The time will come when that talent is demanded of us, and woe be it to the servant who buried his talent in the ground for fear.