My earlier column about the controversy swirling around The Golden Compass generated a lot of thought-provoking comments, and I thought that, with the film's opening date coming up on December 7, this might be a good time to address one of the questions underlying a lot of the comments we've had on the subject: Is a story, in this case, just a story? Or is it a tool with which to push or indoctrinate a set of beliefs?

One of our commenters, Rodway, included a link to this post titled "Sympathy for the Devil" over on Plugged Online, a movie blog arm of Focus on the Family. The site's "About Us" section says about its mission:

"Plugged In is a Focus on the Family publication designed to help equip parents, youth leaders, ministers and teens with the essential tools that will enable them to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which they live. Entertainment is a potent influence on our culture for both good and evil. Through our reviews and discussions of that entertainment, we hope to spark intellectual thought, family discussion, spiritual growth and a strong desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8. "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

So you can probably figure out going in which side of the debate this post is going to weigh in on. Nonetheless, the piece does offer a fairly reasoned argument to its target market for why Christian parents should keep their kids away from The Golden Compass, both in its (likely to be) watered-down film form, and its even "more dangerous" written form to which your children (so implies the author) will surely be led if they watch the film.