The Twilight Gospel: The Spiritual Roots of Stephenie Meyer's Vampire Saga
One of the most successful writing franchises in recent history is the `Twilight' series by Stephenie Meyer. And one of the most controversial writing franchises in recent history is the `Twilight' series by Stephenie Meyer... Many parents have kept their children from reading these books because of their supernatural content.
`The Twilight Gospel: The Spiritual Roots of Stephenie Meyer's Vampire Saga,' by Dave Roberts, takes a look at the spiritual implications of these books.
According to the back cover of the book:
With these powerful novels getting even more popular as the movies hit the cinemas, the call for a Christian response is strong. What values and ideas do Meyer's novels promote? What is good about them, and what deserves closer inspection?
The spirituality and worldview of the Twilight Saga are fascinating, but they do not sit easily with orthodox Christianity. This book carefully and graciously assesses what is praiseworthy and what is less so...
The central point of the book is to help teens (and their adults) discern what is excellent from what is unhealthy, helping to create robust, shrewd, and literate young adults.
I must admit that I have neither read any of the books nor seen any of the movies in this series. I am aware of the Team Edward versus Team Jacob debate (I would argue for the Team Edward side!), and I know there are vampires and werewolves involved. I also know that a lot of mothers are equally (or more) fanatical about these books and movies than their teens and preteens, but that's the extent of my knowledge. So I am a perfect candidate to read a book about this series; I am looking for additional information as to whether or not to pursue this entertainment.
Mr. Roberts describes the books this way:
They reflect on material aspiration, prejudice and stereotyping, family breakdown, self-control and human dignity. They invoke the Bible and one of the characters speaks of the perspective of the Creator. They explore ancient myths and mystical practices that are entering the mainstream culture of the West. (p. 13)
He proceeds to summarize each book in the series - `Twilight,' `New Moon,' `Eclipse,' `Breaking Dawn,' and `Midnight Sun' (currently unpublished).
Our author explains that he is not operating from a perspective of fear of popular culture, but instead from this place:
I want to write from a place of wisdom - not my own, but rather the wisdom I find throughout the Hebrew/Christian scriptures. In critiquing other worldviews, I desire to help people understand and respond and make good choices. I don't want to tell them what to believe about contemporary vampire culture! I do want to hold up the ideas in the Twilight Saga to scrutiny, and to help the reader to ask good, penetrating questions about those ideas. (p. 22)
Sounds logical and reasonable to me!
Mr. Roberts explores the history of the vampire in folklore, history, and entertainment; it was fascinating! He explains:
Creatures who escape from the grave and attack the living in order to satisfy their need for blood can be traced to the folklore of nations on all five continents. (p. 26)
With regard to the subject of sex in this series, Roberts states:
As you would expect from a Mormon writer, who made it clear in several interviews that sex scenes with explicit descriptions would not be part of the Twilight project, the books frown on the promotion of sexual activity outside the boundaries of a genuine relationship. (p. 91)
One of the most controversial aspects of the `Twilight Saga' is the occult element. I found that chapter (Chapter 6 - The Occult Sting in the Tale) to be fairly weak in not strongly stating the danger of dabbling in the occult as warned about in scripture.
In terms of a Christian worldview, Roberts states:
The books explore ideas of forgiveness, moral restraint and the personal goodness of several characters, while ignoring any idea that Jesus' life, death and resurrection might have a bearing on our relationship with God.... The God that we see in the Twilight Saga feels like the God of the Deists, who created the world, gave us moral frameworks and now leave us largely in peace to work out how we must live until he intervenes in history again. (p. 122)
Roberts summarizes the series this way:
Yet the Twilight Saga has much to admire. Apart from anything else, the books are an excellent read, and there is much in them that is wholesome and good. But the flaws are serious, and the series should be read with caution and thought.... Enjoy, but do not believe. (p. 155)
My verdict? I think I would read the books and watch the movies; I have enough spiritual discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff. God has given us a brain; we should use it! However, I would make sure to instruct young people to read and watch with care and caution, and watch the movies and read the books with them. I think far too many Christians run away from popular culture in fear instead of assessing it using Godly wisdom. They forbid their children from the content. Guess what happens when they finally get the freedom or opportunity to read or see them? They will consume them - perhaps with an uncritical, ungodly eye/viewpoint. I think this book is a valuable tool to help people consume these media critically, and I commend it to anyone who wants to assess this series with a Christian mindset.
Dave Roberts ([...]) is a professional journalist, editor and speaker.
You can read an excerpt from this book here ([...]).
This book was provided by Monarch Book. I am proud to be part of the LitFuse Publicity Group's blog tour.
Reviewed by Andrea Schultz - Ponderings by Andrea - [...]