The recent movie, The Golden Compass, is little more than a reinterpretation of Sony films’ blasphemous The Da Vinci Code, reengineered for children.
Many writers have rightly criticized the film from its multiple censurable aspects, and who could blame them? After all, there are myriad angles from which it should be condemned. It portrays the Catholic Church as an evil institution called the “Magisterium,” led by men who live in buildings resembling cathedrals, dress like bishops and strive to control men’s minds. Furthermore, author Philip Pullman is an avowed atheist who has affirmed: “I am trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief”1 and “My books are about killing God.”2
Despite a favorable review published on the United States’ Conference of Catholic Bishops (a review that was later removed at the insistence of several American bishops), anyone who researches the movie is drawn to the same conclusion as Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, who said: “No matter how one looks at it, The Golden Compass is a bad film. There’s just no nicer way to say it.”3
However, few, if any, have made the link between The Golden Compass and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, a link that demonstrates agreement in purpose and message. Both are part of an increasingly open persecution against the Catholic Church that hopes to replace Her with age-old pagan Gnosticism, as described in the introduction of the TFP book Rejecting the Da Vinci Code:
[the last two decades’] unrelenting wave of blasphemy aims to destroy Christianity itself…this goal must include a replacement of Christianity… with age-old paganism and its religion par excellence, Gnosticism.4
Since a description of Gnosis and subsequent proof for its reoccurrence in Mr. Pullman’s work would be subject matter for a book and not a simple commentary, this article will merely show similarities between The Golden Compass and The Da Vinci Code, that suffice to link the authors’ beliefs and agendas.
Secret Knowledge supposedly Suppressed by the Church
The first striking similarity between these works is that both portray the Catholic Church as an evil institution bent on hiding knowledge to control the minds of men.
This theme was evident in The Da Vinci Code’s plot that revolved around a professor who obtained a device that would decode secret messages contained in Renaissance artwork. These messages proved the Church’s suppression of the “true story” of Our Lord’s life, according to which Christ never died on the cross and was married to Saint Mary Magdalen, whom he left in charge of the Church.
Dan Brown maintains that Our Lord’s true doctrine was built upon ancient pagan religions that worshiped goddesses and the sacred feminine. These beliefs were common among first century Gnostics who retold the story of man’s fall, affirming that through Eve’s disobedience, mankind gained the knowledge of good and evil, which the serpent promised. Thus, man’s resulting disorderly passions and Original Sin are a source of human knowledge and reveal life’s meaning.
Almost identically, the plot of The Golden Compass centers on a 12 year-old girl named Lyra, who is given a device invented in the sixteenth century that contains the truth of all things past, present and future.
Meanwhile, an evil institution named the “Magisterium” strives to recover the device, in order to maintain its control over the minds of mankind. As stated above, this institution is a clear mockery of the Catholic Church. This “Magisterium” is also bent on suppressing scientific knowledge and killing the souls of children, called daemons, in order to enslave them.
Lyra’s device, called an alethiometer, is a barely cloaked image of Eve’s apple that would grant the “knowledge of good and evil.” Furthermore, many assert that Original Sin is portrayed in the movie as a type of dust that is the source of all life and meaning in the universe.
Moreover, Lyra represents Eve. During the storyline, she is dealing with all the issues adolescence brings with it. In Pullman’s words, she is traveling from “innocence to experience.” The journey is glorified even in matters of sexuality. In the books, the 12 year-old is even encouraged by an apostate “nun” to experience her sexuality in a more or less consummate manner – depending on the reader’s interpretation.
Thus, both films’ plots portray the Church striving to suppress a knowledge that would free the minds of men.
Paganism and the Sacred Feminine
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code also supports the Gnostic belief in the sacred feminine and goddess worship. He portrays Our Lord as a mere man, while St. Mary Magdalene is identified as the goddess Sophia.5 He claims that Constantine and his successors ended the early Church’s worship of goddesses and denounced the sacred feminine as evil.6
These beliefs are strongly echoed in The Golden Compass. In fact, the face of the alethiometer is covered with symbols, whose interpretations support Dan Brown’s feminist beliefs. Thus, the symbol of a man is called the “wild man,” and it represents “the masculine, wild man and lust,” whereas the symbol of the woman, called Madonna, represents “the feminine, motherhood and worship.”
However, some feminist theologians read much more into Pullman’s story. Spirituality Professor Donna Freitas “claims the books are a ‘Christian classic’ because they replace the ‘medieval’ old-man-in-the-sky concept of God with what she considers a more mystical, ‘panentheistic’ view of the divine.”7 She even co-authored a book on the subject, titled: Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman’s Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials.
In a Newsweek article, she affirmed:
Intentionally or not, Pullman has given the world a theological masterpiece that is anything but anti-Christian. Its telos or “end purpose,” highlights a vision of the Christian God and God’s relationship to this world—one that has long lingered in the rhetoric of Christian feminist and liberation theologians.8
She also sees the dust, mentioned above, as a “feminine” Holy Ghost:
Rather than read the Trinity through the classic channels of the Father or the Son, [the feminist theologian] Johnson runs her vision of the divine through the third person of the trilogy—the Holy Spirit, Wisdom-Sophia, who is feminine in scripture. Implicitly, Pullman makes the same arguments. His Dust is Wisdom, Spirit, and most definitely a She.9
Much to the chagrin of Pullman’s fans, some of the more explicit references to Catholicism have been “toned down” in the film. That is why some Catholics only weakly oppose the movie, merely expressing hope that it will not lead to increased popularity for the author’s more radical works.
However, such a position is superficial. It neglects the fact that The Golden Compass’ Gnostic message remains perfectly intact. The film is a mere remake of the blasphemous The Da Vinci Code, reformulated for children. As such, it is anti-Catholic and must be opposed, regardless of whether or not it contains explicit references to the Church.
- TFP Committee on American Issues, Rejecting The Da Vinci Code (Spring Grove, Penn.: The American TFP, 2005), p. 2. Also available at: https://tfp.org/davincicode/protest_resources/RDVC.pdf.
- Ibid. Chapter 3, p. 19-21.
- Ibid. p. 23.