Monday, December 10, 2007

Strange work schedule, boring union meeting, Golden Compass criticism, school ending, and so on

I got off work at 7 today, the last of the three days this week I worked in a row. Lately I have been given a very strange work schedule -- this last week I got Tuesday and Thursday off as usual and then also Monday and Wednesday, giving me four days off in a row. And for this coming week they gave me the same thing, except next weekend I work 7-4 for three days. It works out cause last week I had a big essay due for Lit that I was able to devote nearly an entire day to doing the rough draft for last Monday, and this week I have finals (in fact, I should be working on my scholarship project right now, cause it's due Tuesday and I don't really want to do it the day before, but my body is saying no -- my back aches and I am dead tired, neither of which would improve my concentration).

On Tuesday of this week I had to go down to the San Diego area to go to a union meeting about the new insurance plan. It was rather boring and one part of it was all about Platinum Plus members, which I'm not, so I should've left when they started that, but it seemed rude to do so. So for a while, I just sat there and followed along with the PowerPoint slide printout, under the premise that I might need this information down the road, but since you need to have been working for 5+ years to get to that level, I don't think I'll need it since it is highly unlikely I'll still be at Stater's 5 years from now. After following along got boring, I started taking notes from this book I bought for my scholarship assignment research called Free $ For College for Dummies, which I had brought with me to take notes from in case I had downtime before or after the meeting. Fortunately, I was sitting near the back so I was fairly inconspicuous, not that they check to see if you're paying attention anyways. The good thing is I finished the notes while waiting for Papa to pick me up after the meeting, so those are done.

Tikkie from work informed me in a somewhat roundabout fashion last night that some churches are telling people not to go see the movie The Golden Compass, something my mom mentioned too. So I was thinking about that today. I have been wanting to see Golden Compass since they first starting showing trailers for it, mainly cause it was a fantasy movie and I usually like fantasy in any format. I started reading the book trilogy Golden Compass comes from (it's a trilogy called His Dark Materials, of which The Golden Compass--Northern Lights in the UK--is the first. The other two are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) because Melissa Anelli was pushing it on PotterCast as being an awesome series (apparently some people think it's similar to Harry Potter -- I disagree; it's so much more complex than HP and in my opinion is more of the "high fantasy" genre, like Lord of the Rings). I really liked it, strange portrayal of Christianity aside.

Actually I was just reading that secular groups have been criticizing the movie too because the moviemakers were planning to cut as much of the religious material as was possible to do and not mess up the main story. So churches boycotting it is slightly ironic.

Anyway, it is difficult for me to explain the very complex religious viewpoint portrayal in the trilogy. I just checked a site and it does say Pullman (the author of the book) is an atheist; but then, I knew it was not a Christian book going into it. He does however quote Paradise Lost at the beginning, and it is from Book 3 of said poem that the title of the series comes:
Into this wilde Abyss, [ 910 ]
The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain [ 915 ]
His dark materials to create more Worlds... (emphasis mine)
The title is somewhat appropriate since much of the His Dark Materials trilogy revolves around parallel worlds.

The view of God did strike me very much as a nihilist "God is dead" sort of philosophy, since God seems very distant if he is in fact present at all, in heaven or anywhere, for that matter; also the angels were far from perfect, much like the angels of Cruxis in Tales of Symphonia (who were in fact evolved half-elves, not created angels). The angel Metatron, hailed as the "Regent of Heaven," is equated with the Biblical Enoch, but much of what is said about this Enoch (that he had lots of wives for example) does not fit any description of Enoch, canonical or apocryphal, in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam (all of which have some Enoch story). There is an angel named Metatron in Jewish tradition though (according to what I just looked up), and apparently he is considered to be the same as Enoch by some early Kabbalah followers. But then Kabbalah, though taken very seriously by some Jews, is above all a mystic tradition and thus is liable to present somewhat far-out beliefs.

So when Pullman was trying to portray the religion of Lyra's world (and presumably others too), he obviously based it on mystical traditions, perhaps apocryphal too, and maybe some nihilism and some of his own atheism.

In the book in which he finally appears (The Amber Spyglass), Metatron is seeking to take God's place through battle, much like Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost. Mainly he seeks to supplant "The Authority," who is really the first angel created and not God, though he claims to be God.

So where is the real God exactly? Who created everything -- the angels, the worlds, etc. -- if not The Authority?

Good question. I don't know. The answer is probably that there isn't a God in that universe. That's what the atheistic Pullman would probably say. As for who the creator is, well anyone who knows about atheistic views knows the answer: there is none. Evolution is what created everything.

Now that I research stuff and get it into writing, one thought is coming up in my mind quite clearly: THE THEOLOGY IN THESE BOOKS IS WHACKED! It's not theology from any one religion, combining traditions from Judaism, Christianity probably too, maybe nihilism, and certainly secular humanism (and maybe deism too, which suggests a God who set the world in motion but now stays out of human affairs).

Now does that mean I won't go see the movie? No. That would be like not going to see Harry Potter cause it has witchcraft in it. If anything, I will get to see Daniel Craig in something other than a Bond movie, and two other actors I like -- Nicole Kidman (as Marisa Coulter) and Ian McKellen (as the voice of Iorek Byrnison). Come to think of it, this movie is a bit of a reunion for Craig too, as his Casino Royale co-star Eva Green (who played Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale) is also in Golden Compass (playing witch queen Serafina Pekkala, although I think she looks too young; Serafina is young-looking, as are most witches in His Dark Materials, but I always pictured her as older-looking than Eva Green looks in the part in the trailers). They also have Freddie Highmore doing the voice of Pantalaimon, Lyra's daemon (the physical manifestation of her soul; everyone has one in His Dark Materials; they are only externally seen in Lyra's world), who I enjoyed in Finding Neverland (where he played one of Kate Winslet's kids; Johnny Depp starred as Peter Pan author James Barrie) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (in which he starred as the title character Charlie Bucket, co-starring--again--alongside Johnny Depp, who played Willy Wonka). All of those are reasons to see it, I guess.

Oh and the
Alethiometer (the "compass" of the title) reminded me somewhat of a Ouija board, in that you ask the alethiometer a question and a needle swings of its own accord to the answer, much the same way that a Ouija board does. Only the alethiometer seems to be able to answer more than just "yes" and "no" questions.

Anyway moving on, since it's getting late (fortunately, I'm off tomorrow so I can sleep in)...

School is ending; we have finals this week. I think I can enroll for spring semester starting on the 12th of December; I have to check. At any rate, I won't start spring semester till January 22.

All right I am going to start getting ready for bed after I post this. Good night.

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