Writebrainit

November 2, 2007

Censorship

It seems that I have not gotten into a good enough habit for blogging. I have about 6 posts that I have notes for wanting to write on and I have not completed any. This last month was just and overwhelmingly busy month for me and I look at my calendar and I see, okay, I am not just whining. I was busy. Then on top of it, I look at the mileage I had to use for work in October – my average mileage every month is 250 miles, for October 2007 it was about 650 miles. It will make for nice mileage check, but boy has my money been tight this month. Anyhow, onto the subject that has me really thinking this week.

Earlier this week my brother sent out the following email:

“The Golden Compass
—–
I have heard of this movie although I did not know what it was about.
Please check out the link. It is scary stuff.

You may already know about this, but I just learned about a kid’s movie coming out in December starring Nicole Kidman. It’s called The Golden Compass, and while it will be a watered down version, it is based on a series of children’s books about killing God (It is the anti-Narnia). Please follow this link, and then pass it on. From what I understand, the hope is to get a lot of kids to see the movie – which won’t seem too bad – and then get the parents to buy the books for their kids for Christmas. The quotes from the author sum it all up. I’m going to tell everyone about this movie.
http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

So I did my checking it out and sure enough it is true – I love that Snopes site, and find it so helpful. But on top of it I contacted my friend the nun, Sr. Suzanne. Sister seems to always have a good idea of these kinds of things – she loves controversy and Sr. Suzanne and I are much alike in the fact that we tend to want to know why we are being told no. When we learned that they were making The Last Temptation of Christ into a movie, we read the book (I actually think that Sr. had read the book much earlier – she is the youngest of 7 and always seemed to know more about what we weren’t allowed to do than I did, the oldest of 9. I point this out because it is another point of interest for those who are curious about the oldest vs. youngest in thinking, learning and personalities). When we learned Hail Mary was coming out on video and Blockbuster was going to carry it, we couldn’t wait to watch it to see why the Catholic Church was forbidding us to. (I do realize we are very child-like in needing to do it anyway to understand rather than just hearing ‘because I said so.’) Now Hail Mary was a horrible ordeal for us, and I think besides the fact that we were both physically ill after watching it, we were emotionally traumatized by it as well as ashamed and wishing that we had simply gone with the because ‘I told you so’ that the Church was saying.

But the concepts are brilliant and we are allowed to question – we are allowed to wonder and as a writer I love the idea of stepping outside of what is expected and looking at the possibilities. In The Last Temptation of Christ – it very clearly identifies that it is a book of fiction and goes on the simple premise (I am sure I am making it much more simple that it is, but you will see my point) – here we have Jesus Christ on the cross, suffering for our sins and this book explores the idea that since He was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, couldn’t He have simply climbed down from the cross and said, ‘you know what, this isn’t going the way I thought it would – I’m not going to do it.’ He then goes on to marry Mary M. and have a family. I love that thought, that idea, the concept of the possibility. For me as a Christian – a Catholic, nonetheless, I was raised to believe that He could do anything, so what if He had made a different choice? I don’t believe there is anything wrong with looking at the ‘what-ifs’. Hail Mary was supposedly a story with a premise of ‘What if there was a virgin birth in our times that welcomed the Son of God into our presence?’ Premise-wise it is brilliant and you know you have thought it. I have, during my own struggle to own my faith, I remember often asking myself – if Jesus Christ were a physical being right now, and approached me, would I have the strength to: 1. believe that He was the Son of God and 2. to drop everything and follow Him if I was invited. Now unfortunately, I don’t believe that this movie pulled it off – the basis that I believe we watched was a child/woman whom had ‘never had sex’ masturbating on her bed throughout the movie. There was none, and I do remember none, of the concept we had been led to believe was actually present in the movie. I often think that maybe now I need to re-watch, so I can further identify why I think that movie failed, why I hated that movie as much as I did, but I get the same ‘sick to my stomach’ feeling that I remember having when it was over. So I just can’t make myself do it.

Back to the email though – Sr. Suzanne basically said that ‘yes, it is true.’ She had read them all and while she enjoyed the first two, here’s what she had to say about the third: “It wasn’t til the end of the third book that God is killed but angels continue. It is rather subtle in some points but then is an all out murder – God is referred to as Metatron (I think) or something like that. Anyway I liked the books but as an adult was able to separate that out.

Now my sister-in-law asked me what I thought as she had planned on reading it with her daughter and taking her to see it. Here is how I responded to her (of course, I did adjust and correct some of the grammer.) ‘I am huge (advocate)against censorship as a general rule, but as for parents censoring what their children read – I believe that is sometimes responsible parenting. I never try to tell a parent whether they should or shouldn’t allow their children to see or read something (okay maybe that is not true when it comes to movies – sometimes I might just say – I wouldn’t let your kids see that). This is one of those movies that I think it’s your own parental judgment has to comes into play and it’s definitely your decision. If you are asking me, would I be taking my child to it, from what I have learned in the last two days about it, no I wouldn’t. While I am anti-censorship, I also don’t like it when writer’s sneak and manipulate and I feel that is what this writer is doing. As far as the movie goes – I don’t know that just the movie could be that ‘dangerous‘ but like one of the speculators on the snopes site said, the idea is to draw them in to want to read the books. If you decide not to take her to it or read it with her, I wouldn’t make it a big deal, just kind of ‘there’s some messages I don’t really like in it,’ let’s see this one instead (because you know we are often more drawn to that which we are told we can’t have, lol).

For myself, if I were a parent the way I would look at it is there are so many options that are out there for books to read and movies to see, that I would go with one of those. You know this writer can’t stand C.S. Lewis – and the new movie is coming out in the spring Prince Caspian – the fourth in the series. If you want to read some good books with her, those are books I would highly suggest. I recently loved the movie Stardust, and I loved it so much that I had to read the book (okay listen to the book on tape) and it is so different from the movie, but I loved them both, I can’t wait until that movie comes out on dvd so I can watch it whenever I want.’

I have a couple of big issues with this book The Golden Compass and the other books in the series (and I admit that I have never met it). I don’t like the manipulation that is involved in how they are written, if it is true that this guy wrote these to specifically oppose and challenge children’s beliefs with regards to religion – there is something very disturbing to me about that. I also don’t like the whole publicity thing that this guy will get out of this – the movie will probably have a huge draw because of it. Because of people like me, who want to challenge and see if there is any truth to it and if they agree with the concern. I just don’t like it when it is children who are being manipulated. Again though, this book brings up an interesting concept in my mind – what if God could be killed, but my own Catholic guilt, will probably never allow me to explore this question on my own – I am trying to lesson my years in purgatory, not add to them.

On top of this all – in the newsgroup that I belong to for my writing group, there was concern shared about a book that one of the school systems is having some of their children read and it spurred a very heated discussion of allowing children to develop their own thought and censorship and what is approved and what isn’t. The book is called; Godless by Pete Hautman and one person listed a page where the writer shares some thoughts on the book (Godless by Pete Hautman) and what it was trying to accomplish. I have to admit that he sold it, to me. I am very interested in reading this book and again love the concept – what if we were suddenly ‘Godless’?

I love the concept and the questions that we are allowed to ask. I believe that is why Wicked is such a success – how cool is it that someone enjoy the story of Dorothy and Oz but had the foresight to think, ‘you know there are at least two sides to every story – what if the witch wasn’t the wicked witch that she is presented as, what was her story?’

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