There has been a firestorm of controversy surrounding the recent film, The Golden Compass. Previously a more blatant and aggressive form of the film's message surfaced in a book by the same name and its two sequels. However, with the exception of the Harry Potter series, the audience for a book generally pales in comparison to the audience for the corresponding movie (which rarely does the book any justice, due to the nature of the medium). While the idea behind the movie has been in circulation for years via the book, it is only now reaching the vast majority of the public.
Controversy has ensued because of the story's blatant and intentional (according to author Philip Pullman) atheistic message and anti-authoritarianism which logically follows. I have heard Christians who range in response from advocating a full-blown boycott of the film and its supporters to simply not exposing themselves to the story. I propose a third option: exposure to and engagement in the surrounding dialogue.
First and foremost, I firmly believe that this material is not suitable for children, despite its intended market. Second, I believe that this book/movie combination, much like the DaVinci Code, is a "golden" opportunity (to use a pitiful pun) to speak truth. The release of the film and consequent mass circulation of the message should be seen as a challenge to educate ourselves and respond accordingly. As C.S. Lewis so poignantly stated, "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered." The Golden Compass certainly promotes a "bad philosophy", that is one which is inherently flawed.
Even if Christians (or, for that matter, Theists) do not have the time or the inclination to read the book(s) or watch the movie, I believe that we should still become familiar with what the story entails (in a nutshell, atheism) in order to engage in informed dialogue. That may or may not mean reading the book or watching the movie, but it certainly includes educating oneself about the arguments and counterarguments of atheism and the problems with an authority-deprived world.
Campaigning for a universal boycott of the movie and the books is at best futile and at worst counterproductive. What some will likely assume is that Christians are afraid of an opposing philosophy and are retreating due to lack of a response. If you don't want to see it, then don't see it; I, for one, am not inclined to pay to sit through that movie. It is still vital, however, to be prepared to give an "answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess", as 1st Peter 3:15 (NET) mandates.
While The Golden Compass will fade away and Truth will persist, we nevertheless find ourselves presented with an opportunity for dialogue in order to speak Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).