Let me get in my Golden Compass post. My general take is that it might be best to rope-a-dope on this one; from what I have read of the commentary, the movie waters down the anti-church aspects of the book so that the Magesterium is more generic authoritarian than anything. The real lather would come if the second or third books, which are more anti-Church and anti-god and throw in some "adult situations" for the teenage heroine, but it's probably best to politely ignore this one rather than go in to full-jihad boycott mode.
Two recent posts make excellent points on this front. Richard over at Bandits No More has a good post that provides this great passage
The description of the god at which Pullman aims does not fit the God of Christianity (though it does, unfortunately, fit the god some Christians have claimed over the centuries). The god of the books is closest to the god of medieval Christianity at its worst. The only attribute of Pullman’s god is omnipotence - and that omnipotence is pretty shoddy, reduced in reality to a mere exercise of authority.
The real God is omnipotent - but that omnipotence is always expressed in, through and around other characteristics, including holy love. It’s for this reason that Pullman’s picture of god and ‘Christianity’ has no place for Jesus. Jesus is not only the opposite of Pullman’s atheism but also of Pullman’s god.
It’s good to remember that one of the things for which the early Christians were persecuted was atheism - they didn’t believe in the right gods. (That’s why when you converse with someone who says, “I don’t believe in god,” it’s always a good idea to figure out which god they don’t believe in. There are more gods that I don’t believe in than that I do.)
It reminds me of the old joke, used at least once in one of the Pink Panther movies. Clouseau walks up to a man and a dog; he asks the man "Does your dog bite?" (with that bad French accent which I won't try to emulate in print). The man says "No." The dog proceeds to take off a chunk of Clouseau's hand.
"I thought you said your dog didn't bite."
"That's not my dog."
Pullman describes a mean, viscous church and a meaner, more viscous god. However, that's not our God and not our Church. He may borrow a phrase from Catholic polity to name his bad guys, but it's isn't the church or the Church.
This video below has made the rounds (my old Free Methodist church in Midland and Victory Baptist here in Lexington has played it), that describes our God, that doesn't bite like Pullman's god.
That's our God. It isn't Pullman's, but Pullman's straw-man god is a figment of his imagination.
My personal view of The Golden Compass is, I didn't see anything objectionable to me. It's set in an alternative universe where a group of evil people called The Magisterium have really taken over the church, and they use kidnapping, assassination, torture and other methods to hold onto their power. The good people in this world are opposed to The Magisterium, and I would guess that good people in our world would be opposed to a group like this as well. So, if there had not been a second or third book, I don't think we'd be having this discussion now . . . There will be a point later where this evil church will become more prominent, and people might say, 'Well, isn't that anti-Christian?' Well, Pullman may be anti-church, and the church he's against is a church we should all be against . . .
"Does our God bite?" No, but that's not our God. It may be the straw-man called upon from certain folks in order to justify a bohemian paradigm, but it isn't the true God.
It's easy to be against Pullman's Magersterium, for it's not the real Church, nor does it represent a real god. We need to spend time spreading the Gospel of the real, living, eternal God and not spend too much time shooting down some cheap and nasty alien knock-off who makes Baal look good.