Writer-director Chris Weitz, a self-described “lapsed-Catholic crypto-Buddhist,” said in one interview that the film will not refer to “the church.” But the movie’s official website indicates that the cruel scientist Mrs. Coulter works for a villainous “dogma”-enforcing entity known as “the Magisterium,” a Latin term that, in the real world, signifies the Catholic church’s teaching authority.

Nicole Kidman, who plays Mrs. Coulter, told Entertainment Weekly the film “has been watered down a little,” adding, “I was raised Catholic [and] I wouldn’t be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic.”

And then…

Pullman says he avoids words like spirit and spirituality‚Äîand even feels “a slight revulsion” when he hears them‚Äîbecause, at best, they don’t seem to correspond to anything “real,” and at worst, they signify people who are seeing visions or undergoing other experiences he regards as “delusional.”

“So the word spiritual, for me, has overtones that are entirely negative,” Pullman says. “And when I hear it, or see it in print, my reaction is one of immediate skepticism.”

While Pullman acknowledges the influence of his Anglican upbringing—his grandfather was a parish priest—he also rejects the idea that the values communicated in his books, such as love and self-sacrifice, are particularly Christian or indicative of any latent Christianity on his part.

These excerpts are from The Chronicles of Atheism, published at Christianity Today.

Elsewhere, CT Movies editor Mark Moring raised questions in a recent edition of the CTMovies Newsletter. He asked why Christians are responding differently to The Golden Compass than they did to The Da Vinci Code. And he’s been buried in email as a result. You can read a good sampling of it here.