How “The Golden Compass” ruined my life

It was a Monday, I think. I was minding my own business, doing my best to be a good and faithful disciple when – WHAM! The entire foundation of my faith came crumbling to the ground.

The culprit was a sinister series of children’s novels known as “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman. An admitted atheist, Pullman’s books tugged at the very seams of my beliefs. I watched in despair as everything I thought was right and true in the world fell apart.

Of course, I didn’t actually read the novels. Heaven knows what would have become of me if I’d actually cracked the cover of these propaganda-soaked diatribes. Rather, I simply walked by a display of the books at a local store and a consuming shadow enveloped my soul.

Now the Enemy has upped the stakes. New Line Cinema is adapting the first of the three books into a film to be released during – of all times – the holiday season. Have they no shame? No doubt, people will pour forth from the theaters, desperate to dunk themselves in the nearest supply of holy water before their WWJD charm bracelets burn a permanent ring around their ever-faithful wrists.

One might wonder how I came to become such an authority both about a series of books I’ve never read, as well as a film that I, nor anyone else, has seen yet.

Naturally, I got my information right from the only proper source: the Internet. There were a few paragraphs on Snopes, what some might call an urban myth verification-debunking site. The commentary talked about the film and the diabolical tomes that preceded it, confirming that Pullman in fact was an atheist, and he was hell-bent on “killing God.”

If Snopes said it, that’s good enough for me.

As if this wasn’t enough of a mountain of evidence, I got a forward from a friend, who had gotten it from a neighbor’s nephew, who in turn had received a warning about the upcoming movie from a guy named Walter in Fargo, N.D. Certainly, the very fact that so many people are sending this e-mail message along is proof positive that the film is aimed at destroying organized religion as we know it, right?

This isn’t the first time that popular media has been successful in ruining my otherwise perfect understanding of the divine. Only a couple of years ago, Dan Brown prevailed with his minions from the Dark Side in convincing me, if only for a moment, that Jesus may or may not have had some experiences other than those recorded in the Bible.

Yeah, as if.

Just as I had purged myself of these misconceptions; they hit me again with the film. That adorable Ron Howard, forever associated with the pure and lovable Opie character he played on “The Andy Griffith Show,” showed the horns that really lay beneath that thinning swatch of fire-red hair. I might have withstood the blasphemy had it not been for Tom Hanks joining in the God-bashing parade.

Hanks is just so darn likable, how can I not believe everything he says, even as a character in a film about a novel? I was doomed, once again.

Then there’s that J.K. Rowling, pitching her witchly wares to the innocent children of the world, filling their minds with warlocks, spells and magic. I’ll admit I did go to the first movie, but the popcorn gave me heartburn, which I’m sure was God punishing me.

I’m writing this from within a stack of Bibles – King James version, naturally – at least waist-high on all sides to keep all of the bad mojo out. My only hope is that I can help chalk a point or two up for the good guys by getting this warning out in time.

Don’t be fooled. Hollywood doesn’t want your money; they won’t be satisfied until they own your soul. But there’s still hope. Between prayers, break out your copy of the “Left Behind” movie with that talented young man from “Family Ties” in it, and trust your eternal salvation to someone who clearly has it all figured out.

Christian Piatt is the author of “MySpace to Sacred Space” and “Lost: A Search for Meaning.” For more information, visit

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