Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I Just Think It's Better To Have Ideas -- I Mean, You Can Change An Idea; Changing A Belief Is Trickier

Warning: Some of the links here will offend everybody on my side of the aisle. But they give a glimmer of what the opposition is saying and thinking.


Well, it's a rotten day for lovers of epic fantasy, and a great day for the twitchy protectors of an all-too-vulnerable God:

The director and screenwriter of the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is to remove references to God and the church in the movie.

Chris Weitz, director of About a Boy, said the changes were being made after film studio New Line expressed concern.

The books tell of a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God.

"They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity," Weitz told a His Dark Materials fans' website.

Pullman's trilogy has been attacked by some Christian teachers and by the Catholic press as blasphemy.


The award-winning trilogy - Northern Lights [U.S. title The Golden Compass], The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - tell the story of Oxford school child Lyra Belacqua.

She is drawn into an epic struggle against the Church, which has been carrying out experiments on children in an attempt to remove original sin.
So, basically, what this does is it negates most of the plotlines and characters of the books.

It's not just that I love this series, and was afraid that whoever did it would try another Peter Jackson and end up with a Wachowski Bros. It's that they are stripping -- hell, shredding -- the story and the characters to avoid offending the minions of God.

To which I say: Minions, shut the fuck up.

You do seem to have an awfully weak and flimsy god, don't you?

I mean, really. This guy's in danger from everything. Same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose to not get pregnant, public education, evolutionary theory, exposed breasts and towel-dropping on television, activist judges (except the ones who want big stone tablets on the lawn)... now some fantasy books. (Well, not "now" some fantasy books. you didn't like The Lord Of The Rings because you thought it was religious, especially The SIlmarillion. You didn't like the Harry Potter series because it said magic existed -- or, more likely, that it was very popular and said magic existed. [Don't look into HP slash -- trust me on this.])

Perhaps you're bothered that some of the characters in these particular fantasy books are being used in a different manner than the Official Version. Why, then, that makes this a copyright battle -- or, it would, if those characters' names and likenesses weren't in the Public Domain.

Y'know what this comes back to for me? Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan. Wilde said, "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Behan said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." See, I never understood "taking the Lord's name in vain", e.g., saying "Jesus" or "God damn it" in a time of excitement or stress. I didn't consciously think of it as proof I was indoctrinated, or even that I thought I was taking the Lord's name rather successfully; but it did dimly register that God couldn't just spend all day damning things on my say-so.

Least of all me. Or I'd have been zotted to Hell decades ago.

I went to two churches when I was a kid, one Lutheran, one Methodist. (My lame joke about it is that now I worship ways to kill Superman.) I was disenchanted with religion at the age of nine, when I tried to get my Sunday School teacher to help me make sense of all those dinosaurs that weren't mentioned in the Bible. The only thing I found out was that Sunday School teachers aren't equipped to handle little kids who know about carbon-14 dating. (Not coincidentally, neither were the keepers of the Shroud of Turin.)

I haven't completely ruled out the existence of God. I still cling to that little agnostic whiff that says "If God or something close enough to God showed up on my doorstep, I'd likely believe".

But there sure hasn't been much proof, has there?

We've had a lot of crazies -- and I definitely count Falwell and Robetson in that bunch. It is because of their proseletyzing, their peddling the mental wares of some three-thousand-year-old goat herders, that an online casino paid $28,000 on eBay for a ten-year-old cheese sandwich that some said had the image of the Virgin Mary on it. (This week, you can bid on a tortilla.) Not that the casino owners believe, I bet. They say they're going to take the cheese sandwich on tour, because "We believe that everyone should be able to see it and learn of its mystical powers for themselves". Eeyup, for all your healing-by-moldy-cheese-sandwich needs, go to

Just last week, some archaeologist announced that a cave with some pictures of a guy in a camel hair robe (and how do you tell the texture of fabric depicted in a cave painting?) was indeed the cave of John the Baptist. He is taken with the utmost seriousness by everyone except... other archaeologists, who say he's reaching too far in his conclusions. (Interestingly, those archaeologists were mentioned, but not quoted or given a specific reference. Stay tuned.)

Just today comes the report that church leaders are outraged by a nativity scene using wax figures resembling David Beckham, his wife Victoria (Posh Spice), and several other famous likenesses (including George W. Bush as one of the Wise Men, wtf).

Oh, and there's that little problem with keeping your God damned trousers zipped.

Look, if Christians or anybody else want to worship a Big Invisible Superhero in the Sky, that's fine for them. Go for it. It's when their worship starts affecting my life and the lives of my friends, or when it starts hurting people -- especially kids -- that I get all pissy. And disemboweling a superb series of stories for the sake of protecting the ego and image of your all-powerful god... suggests that, maybe, even you don't think he's that all-powerful.

Re: HP slash -- I can't understand how people can write Harry/Draco. There was never a point at which Harry didn't detest everything Draco stood for (starting from their first meeting in Diagon Alley), and I don't think he's yet demonstrated the maturity to be able to get over that, even if Draco did have a big revelation and come over to the light side.

And yes, I'm really ticked off that they're gutting those books too. I didn't like them as much as some, but that's still no excuse....
I think what we have here is not the faithful or believers but the want-to-be-faithful and the want-to-believes. ANYTHING that doesn't go with their worldview reminds them of their own possibility for error, it reminds them others think different, it reminds them they could be wrong.

They can't tolerate this.

They're not even up to believing in a God - they don't even believe in themselves. They can't take questions, they can't take different ideas. They're the ones that are weak and vulnerable.

So they lash out.
Christians in the Hand of an Angry God ( Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Five)
is a series of articles by LJ user bradhicks about why Christianity in America (and I suspect over here too) is the way it is and who did it. Just in case anyone here hasn't seen it. I don't have a link to part four, but they're just LJ posts so you could simply navigate to it.

Definitely worth reading.

Going to be a fucking short movie, isn't it?
Brilliant book series - if they are going to slash it so badly - why bother making it? Read the full series within a week - I like Harry Potter too - I think that Harry went with gut instinct and saw what a vicious s.o.b that Draco was and therefore didn't want naught to do with him - as had that at home with the muggles already!!!

Good post. Especially love the title; just got the Dogma 2-disk set the other day.

Here's something for ya:
Deity Satisfaction Survey(Don't fill it out; nothing happens.)

Also, this'll make you puke. Oldest daughter is honestly having trouble determining if this site is a send-up or not: OBJECTIVE: Christian Ministries. Lots of it is laughable, but the 4Kidz section is particularly execrable.

OT: my beloved editrix is demanding a news-roundup column for the ONE page we have left in an upcoming rag. arrgh... I asked if it could be political, she said yeah, I mentioned I knew someone who'd created "Mandate, My Ass" schwag -- she loved it but said the suits might be put off by the word "ass." They have this history of being afraid to offend anybody. I concluded that, yes, ass might be insulting to donkeys. I may still push for it, though.
Well, my gimmick on this is to use movie quotes for all my subject lines. It's having the desired effect -- for awhile there, I wasn't looking at my vast and wonderful DVD collection; too busy with other stuff. Rediscovering movies is terrific.

And regarding "ass": Berke Breathed said it best. Offensensitivity. "My gosh -- LIFE is offensive!" These are the same people who say "God dammit" while watching football, "asshole" when someone cuts them off in traffic, and "shit" when they drop something on their foot. And they will never, ever see it.

That said, if you want to tell 'em "ass" refers to the Democratic donkey in a clever play of words, go for it. :)
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