Happy New Year! (Update)
I was discussing my previous blog entry (Happy New Year!, January 1, 2008) with some friends the other night. As the discussion progressed, we found ourselves discussing other movies that had some sort of religious controversy. When the discussion got around to Narnia, I mentioned that I had made the decision not to let my children see the film. My friend made a comment that, indirectly, asked whether I was being hypocritical when I claimed that I believed that people should make up their own minds (rather than letting others make decisions for them) while I made the decision not to let my children see the film.
The question caused me to stop and think for a moment. Was my position hypothetical? After reflecting for a few moments, I realized that my position was entirely consistent. I had heard that Narnia was a Christian allegory that could be viewed in some respects as antisemitic. Yet, rather than simply following what others said, I went to see the film with an open mind. (For my brief review of the film, please see my movie review website.) It was only after actually seeing the film and thinking about its content that I decided that it was not appropriate for my kids (at least at the time; as my kids have gotten older and started asking intelligent questions about religion, I'm more inclined to let them see Narnia and discuss some of the issues).
So why is my decision not to let my children see the film not inconsistent with my observation that people should not rely upon others to tell them what they should or should not see? Simple: Because I am a parent and I am making a decision for my children. By definition, children are not old enough to make certain decisions for themselves; that, in part, is the parent's role. Now, were I to have made the decision without having seen the film first, then I would have had no basis upon which to make my decision, and that would have been wrong. In other words, adults should not rely upon others to tell them which films to see or not to see (at least on the basis of content; of course there's nothing wrong with letting a critic offer suggestions as to whether a movie is good or worth seeing), but adults must make those decisions for their children. But, in order to make their decisions, parents should not simply rely upon what someone else tells them.
Which of course brings me right back to the original theme. It is up to each and every one of us to exercise his or her own ability to think independently and make appropriate decisions on the basis of that independent thought. Perhaps that idea is naive and some people simply can't exercise that degree of self-judgment, but if I'm naive in that way, then I guess that makes me an optimist for the power of the human mind.