Cue suspenseful music…

By

. . .because I’m about to post about the Twilight Series!

When you are finished gasping please note that no, I haven’t actually read them. No, I probably won’t. And no, I don’t have a hugely literary opinion upon them other than knowing that every person I know who has read them has nothing to say in their defense. My checkout girl at Whole Foods yesterday leaned across the counter and whispered the fact that she was reading them. Couldn’t admit it out loud. I even heard of one guy who put the book down three pages before the end because he just didn’t care. Can you imagine? What I am going to say about these infamous books is that gazillions of girls (and grown women) are a bit gaga over them, and it is this phenomenon upon which I will opine.

I read a Christian review recently that attributed Twilight’s popularity to the fact that all women have a selfish lust for worship, and that Twilight played to this want. Edward, a “god-like” character, and his love or “worship” of Bella, was supposedly what made girls all swoony over this series. I know I’m probably overreacting here, but whoa. Let’s stop right there and talk about this, because that sort of response from the “Christian side” is one I find to be all too familiar. It is a wholesale condemnation, not just of the books, but of the people who read them. At heart, it is simply provocation; the only response it can elicit from a girl who loves those books is defensiveness at best, total antipathy to Christians at worst. Entirely lacking in compassion, that review misses the fact that often, it is gaping, unmet needs of the heart that drive the appetites of a culture.

While I agree that these books manipulate the volatile emotions of teenage girls, I don’t think its lust for worship they exploit (though I’m sure there’s plenty of teenagerly swooning). I think its desire. This could get tricky, but that review convinced me that we God-lovers sometimes have a hard time knowing the difference between a sinful hunger and a sacred one. We are tempted to treat any strong, romantic (or otherwise worldly) desire as bad because we are (rightly) intent on keeping ourselves pure from an all too sinful world.

From what I understand, the Twilight books portray a shallow, self-centered view of love between a man and a woman. Sure, we can debate that view, but if we are quick to attack the girls enamored of it, we will miss a deep insight into their hearts. We are so quick to judge, we miss the point that not all desire is wrong. God made love and romance, beauty and food, laughter and laziness. We humans are made in such a way that we will literally die without community, touch, fellowship, and affection. Our want for these things is in keeping with the soul of our Creator. I believe that if we approach myriads of teenage girls as lustful, despicable sinners because they bear these needs, we’ll drive them straight away from the God who is longing for their hearts.

Thing is, I know, and rather adore, quite a few teenage girls. I remember being one (and have moments when I feel like one still). And I can guarantee you that most aren’t harboring a dark desire to be worshiped by a man. What they do want very much is to be loved. Are the lot of them boy crazy? Pretty much. And I’m sorry, but isn’t that part of how God made us? Sometimes I think we criminalize teenagers for having desires that God gave them so that, good grief, they’d get married and have kids. The problem is not that these girls like a boy.

The trouble is that there are thousands of girls, millions, who don’t have fathers, families, or homes to fill the gaping want in their heart or show them a holy way to have it filled. Fooled by a culture shaped by casual sex, isolation, and divorce, girls look to flirtation, to the swooning moonlight farce of self-centered infatuation portrayed in Twilight instead of the deep, self-giving love that comes with marriage, and the God who created it. They fill a sacred desire with a cheap, confusing satisfaction that will leave them hungrier than ever.

Yet the original desire for love remains a holy thing. I wonder if we underestimate the sacredness of desire, its power to speak to us of a God in whom all things are right and good. After all, every sin, every false desire, is only a degradation of an original good. In his allegory of heaven and hell, C.S. Lewis portrays a man who struggles with lust, and the man’s sin is pictured as a lizard perched ominously on his shoulder. When the man finally defeats his sin and casts the lizard from him, it becomes a snow white stallion that bears him deep into the new heavens and earth. The force of wanting for love in that man had been corrupted by sin. But when it was purified, the desire became what it was meant to be: a force to carry him straight to the heart of God.

I wonder if its the same for most of us, and for the gazillions of girls whose desires are corrupted by a promiscuous culture. Do their desires, do ours, need purging? Of course. We are all tainted by sin, frayed at every edge by need. Are teenage girls inherently selfish? Probably. I know I was. Am. Are they often misled by their emotions? Yes. But the answer is not to beat them over the head with condemnation. It’s to point them, and any seeker, to the God who will fill, heal, and answer their deepest desires with a goodness that will never destroy. A goodness that purges us of sin, enriches us with beauty. Delight yourself in the Lord, says Psalm 37, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

So. I still don’t know about those Twilight books, but I do know what I think about the girls who read them. What they need is a love that will never fail them. I know a Man for them. And I’m ready to make the introductions.

Profile photo of Sarah Clarkson

Sarah Clarkson is the author of several books including the best-selling The Life-giving Home, which she co-authored with her mother, Sally Clarkson. Sarah is currently studying literature at Oxford University where she's not only a brilliant thinker and writer, but is also the president of the C. S. Lewis Society.


44 Comments

  1. Jill

    I agree, completely.
    My friend and I were talking, yesterday, about how we probably wouldn’t let our teenage daughters read the Twilight series simply because it gave a false sense of what a real relationship is like. If a real life boyfriend acted like Edward…. it would be RED FLAG!
    All of that said…
    I still highly recommend the books. They are quick, easy reads. The story is absolutely absurd… and that is what makes them so fun.

    I must admit that i probably got caught up in the craziness of it all. but when it was all said and done, this is what I blogged:
    http://jillbotham.blogspot.com/2009/04/happy-endings.html
    Glad I was able to “bring it back” to my true love!

  2. Loren Eaton

    When you are finished gasping please note that no, I haven’t actually read them. No, I probably won’t.

    I keep looking at this line. I start down the next paragraph, but keep getting pulled back up to it. It bugs me. I wish it didn’t, but there it is. Not to nitpick — okay, to nitpick just a little — doesn’t understanding come prior to evaluation? And doesn’t understanding (at least for a novel) require, you know, actually reading it first? Just saying.

  3. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Loren, she’s not reviewing the novel or passing any judgement on it. Keep reading.

    Incidentally, I did try to read Twilight but I’m falling back on what my Mom taught me: “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything.” (Sorry, Jill.)

  4. MargaretW

    My sister became obsessed with the Twilight Books several years ago. She read them over and over again, spending days and hours neglecting her children to obsess over the story. She is in her early 30’s. I thought there was something very unhealthy about that and said so in as many words. I refused to read them on principle, but she was so insistent and I wanted to understand her behaviour so I eventually gave in. She is my sister and I love her. The writing bugged me. The writer bugged me, but the story was addictive. I couldn’t put the books down. I think they laced the pages with heroin or cocaine or something else equally addictive. I read all 4 books in a two week time span. And I’m still not sure why. However, upon reading Sarah’s entry here, I get it. I believe it is about the woman’s/teenage girl’s desire to be loved. I will say this, the books paint a clear picture of love as obsession–desperate and painfilled. After all, poor Jacob! But I also agree with Sarah’s assessment that they can be used to direct people to Christ and His perfect love. I came away from reading the books empty and unfulfilled, even though I couldn’t put them down. I never come away from Christ feeling that way. Nuff said!

  5. Jeff M

    I’m with Tony and Loren – read the book before you make such sweeping generalizations about what it portrays. This is one of the first posts at the RR that really bugged me. How can you possibly say something like “While I agree that these books manipulate the volatile emotions of teenage girls” when you haven’t read the books? Not to be rude, but that’s the textbook definition of hypocritical!

    Disclaimer – I have never read these books, and I’m certainly not defending them (I’ve at least seen one of the movies, though)…my wife has read these books…she’s older…she really likes them…my 13-year old niece likes them too…and I make fun of both of them for liking them…because it’s fun for me to do ; )

  6. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Seems there are some folks missing the point of this post.

    Sarah’s not writing a review of the books and she’s plain about that from the beginning. She’s merely commenting on the phenomenon and the apparent root of it. I don’t think she’s making sweeping generalizations at all, her impressions of the nature of the book are supported even by its staunchest fans.

  7. Lydia

    I get what you are saying, Pete and can see that in parts of her posts (I did read all the way through it).

    I’ve read the books. I disliked them for many of the reasons stated here and various places around the internet. I think that teenage girls should be reading about strong, decisive female characters (much like Fin in The Fiddler’s Gun!). However, I too have a hard time really identifying with someone speaking decisively about something like this when they haven’t read the books. I have no problem with the commenting on the phenomenon, but how does she know the root aside from taking other people’s words and opinions for it? What makes what this person said over here right and what that person said over there wrong?

    The third and fourth paragraphs here are the ones that made me keep looking up to the first part of this post – because those paragraphs sure look as if the author of this post (if she hadn’t already stated otherwise) has read the books.

  8. Jeff M

    Pete – if someone told you that your book “manipulated the volatile emotions of tennage girls” and hadn’t read the book, would you put any weight on their opinion (regardless of intention)?

  9. Pete Peterson

    I certainly would if my book was an international bestseller discussed and dissected daily by millions of people, some of whom I respect the opinions and insights of, yes. Even more so if said someone was not even discussing my book but was merely using it as a launch point for the discussion of a larger issue.

  10. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Sarah,

    I like what you say about desire. Desires are neutral things that can be turned to good or ill. The obsessive desire for approval that makes a person odious to friends and foes is the same desire that is turned to Christ and finds fulfillment. When it finds that fulfillment, that same obsession turns to Christ as All.

    This is why it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom. Rich, clever, talented, well-liked, popular people are to some degree getting those deep human needs met; the desire to be liked, to be thought well of, for approval and love. They can be fooled much more easily about themselves, at least for a long time until those sand castles start getting washed away by the waves of time.

    That is also why when we pray for a deeper relationship with God our life often gets harder, not easier. Our Father strips us of those false sources of security, worth, meaning, in order to more completely bond us to Himself.

    We are so easily fooled by the shadow of earthly love that we can miss the true substance God is revealing through it. “What we call Love on earth is mostly the craving to be loved.” Until we get that craving met on a continual basis by Christ within us, we are one of P.T. Barnum’s suckers that are born every minute, fools ripe for deception.

  11. Janna

    I read ’em. And I’ve seen the movies. I’ve had fun and I’ve been tempted to obsess, even succumbed to it a few times. Sarah has hit the nail on the head, (even without reading) about desire and the appeal of these books. I’ll go even further to say we bear God’s image in our desire to be loved and adored. Thanks for standing up for the gals, Sarah!

  12. Sarah Clarkson

    Hey everyone,

    Wow, amazing how you can really want to make a point about grace and come off as judgmental. My whole purpose in writing this article was to say that regardless what the books portray, they obviously capture the heart of women, and that is something that should be taken seriously. Basically I want to say, we Christians really need to take the heart needs of people seriously!

    So, Jeff- if my comment about the books manipulating the emotions of girls comes off as hypocritical, I’m sorry. I was honestly repeating what the people who have read the books told me, as well as observing what I have seen in girls and the larger culture around me. I actually thought that was rather agreed upon. And point taken about the opening, I’ll be sure to be clearer about the intent of an article from now on, my goodness!

    But people, please. Try to see to the heart of what I’m saying here about God and desire. I am not giving a literary judgment on the Twilight books as stories, as is stated in the first paragraph. I’m observing the phenomenon of emotion surrounding them. The huge loyalty they garner from girls, and the angry reactions they bring from many Christians.

    Thanks Pete and Janna for getting the heart of it!

    Ron- I loved what you said. A huge part of my coming to love God was the whole C.S. Lewis idea of humans fooling around with pleasure here, when ultimate Beauty was what God offered and my desires just weren’t strong enough.

  13. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Janna: we are created by God to be loved and adored. We’re also created for total sufficiency in Christ – the Creator operating in, through, and as His creation.

    So much art plays on (or sometimes manipulates for sales purposes) these God-created desires in us.

    I get tired, too, of some Christians seeing desire as wrong, as in twisting the desire to be loved and adored into the sinful-evil-godless desire to be worshiped. It is fear-based; since they see themselves to be evil rotten miserable sinners, and see their own desires as wrong, they mirror out that seeing to others.

    No desire is wrong in and of itself. It can be attached to a wrong object. That is the satanic purpose – parasitic, a twisting of desire to wrong ends.

  14. Jeff M

    Don’t mean to start a war here…to be honest, after the one Twilight movie I saw, I couldn’t agree with your post more. I actually said to my wife that I’m glad we have boys ; ) and that I’d love to watch the next movie with my niece to see how she reacts to it (and maybe chat about it afterwards). So – I actually agree with your intended post. For me though, I just have to discount the post a bit due to the fact that you haven’t read at least one of the books and you are using the books to illustrate your intented point. Maybe your argument would have been better framed for me if you had used a different piece of pop culture that you had some first-hand experience with. That’s just me…but it seems a few others were feeling the same way…no worries.

  15. Jeff M

    And Pete – you may not respect my opinion…but I think that you might be inclined to defend your own book if someone came out and made a strong cultural statement about it without reading it. That’s just a guess on my part though.

  16. Jen

    Funny this shows up today… I watched the movies with my sister and a couple of friends on Friday night. (Don’t worry… we’re quite discerning and normally read Rabbit Room approved stuff. It was just fun to tell people the book snobs were having a Twilight Party. :)) And I read the first two books to see what the hype was about. Twilight was stupid but kind of fun escapism while I was stuck in bed with the flu. New Moon was terrible and boring. And — not surprising — I found the same thing true for the movies.

    That said… we discussed the movies afterward and wondered if some of the appeal for girls is that Bella is so ordinary. There’s nothing great about her. She’s not all that pretty or smart or charming, she’s clumsy and socially awkward, and she’s the most annoying protagonist I have ever found in a story. And then this “god-like” character falls in love with her for no apparent reason. Maybe teen girls connect with that, and the story speaks to the longing to be loved, honored, seen as special.

    There’s a lot of selfish, shallow junk (and bad writing) that hides what could have been a beautiful story. I think I didn’t hate Twilight so much as I was disappointed with it… any time I discuss it with someone, it comes back to realizing that it could have been so much better. Sarah, I think you nailed it here: “They fill a sacred desire with a cheap, confusing satisfaction that will leave them hungrier than ever.” They hint at something deep and come back empty.

    By the way… a Twilight movie night is way more fun with sarcastic commentary and air violin moments. And Jeff: If you watch New Moon with your niece, be sure to have some kind of caffeinated beverage handy… it feels like a really long movie where absolutely nothing happens. Just a fair warning. 😉

  17. Tony from Pandora

    Ron said, “No desire is wrong in and of itself.” That reminds of C.S. Lewis’ quote about badness being simply “spoiled goodness”

  18. Pete Peterson

    Jeff, I have absolute respect for your opinion.

    I also have a very high respect for Sarah’s. Some of her impressions of the book are drawn from my reading of it as well as Andy Osenga’s review here at the Rabbit Room. I stepped up in defense because she’s not making wild assertions, she’s leaning on her trust and respect the opinions of others.

    That said, I agree that there’s no place for making judgements on a book that one hasn’t read. That’s one of my prime irritations with Harry Potter opponents. But when the nature and subject of a work is as widely known and discussed as Twilight is, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss the nature of it based on its cultural impact.

    The analogy would be a rail against the criminal nature of real-life piracy framed by my fictional (and rather sympathetic) account. If my book was leading people to believe that actual pirates are generally a good-natured lot with hearts of gold and all the best intentions and then a commentator used that to point out that this inspires a want and dream of adventure in young boys and girls that is possibly unhealthy if not properly directed, I don’t think I’d get defensive about that at all.

    I’ll let you know once The Fiddler’s Gun sells 74 million copies.

  19. Toni Whitney

    Little afraid to dip my toes in here, but I might as well. So much of what is put out today as far as entertainment, whether, books, movies, or other media, can make any of us fall prey to that part of our nature where the Enemy knows he is able to harm us the most. Unfortunately, with young girls and yes, even grown women, the L-word is a major area of destruction, because of what the world’s definition of love is. I understand the point that Sarah is trying to make, aside from having read the books or not. I think that one of the things that plagues my heart is the taking of the whole Vampire thing, which has become the latest craze, and turning it into anything that has to do with love at all. It is a dark thing. Period. (And yes, I grew up watching ‘Dark Shadows). I am at the point in my walk that if I get a check in my heart from the Spirit as to what I am going to feed myself with, then I listen to it. What I pray for anyone out there making those judgments personally, is well…discernment. Young people are always a target of things that are made to seem harmless. I want to always want to point anyone toward the true Love. Nothing else can takes His place.

  20. Shawn

    Thanks so much for the post. I agree that we as Christians are able to write people off as quickly as any non-believer, when what we need to be doing is loving them. Most of us don’t need to be beaten over the head with what we’re doing wrong – but need to have pointed out where the greatness of God shines through us. We have all been created in His image and bear the imprint of the Creator in our lives. Let’s help others see God’s greatness in their own lives through our words and actions.
    My wife and I had the conversation with our kids last night – that you can never be wrong loving others. We don’t have to decide whether they are worthy of our love by their actions or beliefs. We are called to love. Great thoughts – thanks again!

  21. Liz

    I really liked this post. Being in ministry myself, I often tire of the fray amongst Christians who seem to have opinions all about peripheral issues and love to pontificate about them, instead of getting to the root issues and deep heart expressions of the underlying issues.

    I see that young women of all ages are longing for true romance–to be caught up in an epic story of life, where love is given, relationships are cherished, battles are fought, and heroes are made. The bigger picture of our lives is that we are a part of an epic story of Love, loyalty, commitment, battle, redemption and grace. All of these epic movies and stories are followed with ardent passion because women are longing for the true meaning Christ would give to us through love, marriage, having of children, building a righteous generation and fighting for our children’s souls, living for purpose and to bring light to a dark world in and through our life’s work.

    And yet in this culture, most women are offered very little of this epic draw to life. Sarah captured why this movie has so captivated the imagination of thousands. We need to see beyond the book and the movie to the reason people are following it–there is a vast hunger for all of these things–love, romance, adventure, valor,–because we were designed by God to have these desires fulfilled. If we could see these heart felt needs and focus the gospel of God and His ultimate call and design to deeply fulfill us in these great desires, we would more easily win the hearts of people who are truly hungry for Him and for His great call and purposes for our lives.

  22. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jen,

    That “ordinariness” of the protagonist is a consistent theme in movies aimed at teens. “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Transformers,” and a host of other movies with a similar theme: “Geeky, nerdy, scrawny, timid protagonist beats out all the athletic hunks and gets the girl.” It’s a common theme, really, in our modern day. The mostly male versions of it concentrate more on beating out the other males and showing courage and sufficiency (something males are often more concerned with), with getting-the-girl being a by-product of said butt-kicking.

    I’m not knocking or applauding that theme here, just observing. For an earlier example, Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” is a good example of an inauspicious heroine, except she isn’t irritatingly inept; her beauty is within, in her virtue and character. And she doesn’t get a handsome Prince; she gets Rochester, a sarcastic, not-too-attractive rich man with a real heart deep down who loses everything.

    I loved Jane Eyre, but with the essentially “they lived happily ever after and never had any problems” kind of ending I realized Bronte must not have been a married woman at the time of writing. I have often said, “Marriage is designed to kill you.” I’m not knocking the “being in love” thing, because for me and my wife that lasted a long time and it was amazing. But there comes a time where the mere feelings of love and of being loved no longer satisfy, where in fact they actually stimulate a longing for something greater than human love. Many people mistake this as a mid-life crisis and go off and have affairs, or go on in a dull resentment. But marriage is designed to take us from “shadow-picture” to “real love.” “In-love” is a shadow picture; in many ways it is a very unreal, distorted version of real love. Real love involves choice; when our feelings of being loved by someone are highest, we naturally want to do what pleases them. Real choice comes in – and as such, real love – at those times when we don’t feel the “I am loved and accepted” feelings. That is when we are presented with the alternatives: choose to love by faith, or choose not to love through un-faith.

    Lewis talked about this – how in every human endeavor the in-loveness dies, and if you stick it out and go through to the quieter love that follows it will be worth it. Learning to play the banjo, guitar, marriage, and even children – all have had their initially powerful and long “in-love” phase and then moving on into the quieter choice-type of love. Often, when I practice guitar or banjo, I have to choose it; I set the schedule and do it, even if I’d rather do something else at that moment. But fifteen minutes into it I am loving it – the feeling kind of love, real enjoyment.

    Marriage, and children, are both designed not to kill you, but to kill the false self – the “you” that you think you are, the you that thinks it needs this and needs that and won’t compromise here or there and won’t give up this or that and how dare anyone treat me this way and hey I NEED to buy this thing. It’s the “me” that thinks it is needy, that tries to get those needs met in others rather than in Christ. Gollum’s movie line comes to mind: “We be nice to them if they be nice to ussss.”

  23. Shelley

    Thank you SO much for this post and the engaging discussion that ensued. Just a week or so ago, my twin half-sisters asked me to read the Twilight series and then discuss it with them. They are obsessed with Edward and want me to understand the dream boyfriend they are longing for from reading the books. (I’m guessing from ‘meeting’ Edward) Whenever anyone longs for fictionalized love in reality, it causes me concern. Even more so since they are 11. And I know they have heart wounds that no 11 year old girl should have, and are perhaps filling that innate desire to be worth everything by somebody vicariously through Bella. So Sarah, after reading this, I may need to break my reading creed (so-to-speak) and read the series to engage my dear sisters through discussion. Perhaps their hearts are longing in the wrong direction and it can be a door to share with them the crazy, radical love that Jesus has for them, and that He alone can fulfill ALL their desires and needs.

    Oh, my loosly defined reading creed is based on a quote from Franz Kafka “If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?…a book must be like an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.

  24. Toni Whitney

    I did just that, Dan. Well said, Andy O. The things that we glamorize I just don’t get sometimes. Actually, most of the time.

  25. JacobT

    This was a good example of looking deeply into popular culture and trying to identify the underlying themes and even needs. Thanks for the redeeming thoughts.

    Here is an entertaining video on Why Twilight is Popular. It touches on many of the same themes brought up here in its own way.

  26. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    I think the readers who are being sticklers about Sarah having read the books are missing that this post isn’t a review of the book – it’s a review of a review of the book, a review which she did read and comments on it here.

    I get what you’re saying, but this really another misadventure in missing the point (sorry to be so blunt and undiplomatic). The heart of what Sarah is saying here is beautiful and being missed almost entirely if we focus on this issue that really has nothing to do with where she wants to lead us.

    Sarah reads a review, the Holy Spirit whispers a beautiful truth about the Kingdom of Grace that looks at what our desires are really telling us, and the opportunity that is presented to us for sharing that grace, and she decides to faithfully share it.

    I for one am glad that she didn’t take the time to read the book before sharing this with us – it might have colored what the Holy Spirit originally spoke to her heart and we might never have gotten this post.

    I get what you’re saying about the one statement she made, which reads to me like a short hand way of expressing the gist of popular opinion so she can get to the heart of the matter. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and as I read further I found that I was amply rewarding for doing so – there are riches here!

    Thanks Sarah for the beautiful reminder of that amazing scene in “The Great Divorce” – it revealed some desires in my own heart that are in need of purifying and wanting to carry me “further up and further in…”

  27. Loren Eaton

    Okay, I put aside my bibliophile fundamentalism and read through to the finish (which I should’ve done before posting, shame on me). Good points on desire here, Sarah.

    By the way, if anyone wants a surprisingly biblical (yet still pretty bloody) take on the vampire genre, you could do a lot worse than The Addiction.

  28. Canaan Bound

    Sarah,

    Just a few questions and comments:

    1) Who are you, and where have you been? I suppose I don’t always pay attention to the people who post the rabbitroom blogs…but I am amazed at this one and wish to see (read) more of you!!!!
    2) You really hit the nail on the head. I, myself, have not read the books, but many of my girlfriends have. And as all of them (yes, every single one) has become obsessed, several discussed that they felt the emptiness after finishing a book. One actually told me she felt emotionally violated, in the sense that she felt intentionally drawn into a hightly emotional story–which she recognizes did not fill her God-given desire for a husband.
    3) I echo all that you said about desire. When you quoted Psalm 37, it reminded me of my freshman year of college, when I actually believed that verse to mean that if I were just happier to know God, then He would give me what I really wanted–a man. Wow. Sad but true. I can remember how dumbfounded I was when a mentor gently rebuked me, showing me that the verse states that God will GIVE us the desires of our hearts. When we delight in the Lord, He replaces our sinful desires (desires of the flesh) with the desire for His good and perfect will to be fulfilled. He GIVES us right desires to preplace the unright ones.
    4) You also reminded me of the fact that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He cleverly deceives us by feeding us lies, and we all know that the best lies are part true. God gave all women a desire to be loved, nurtured, and cared for. He created women with a desire to be wives and mothers. And God created all of these to be fulfilled in right ways–through marriage and through an intimate relationship with Him. But Satan perverted those perfect desires, and Eve and all future women were cursed in the garden when God said, “Your desire will be for your husband.”

    Again, Sarah…Thank you for this post. Terrific stuff.

    Liz,

    Loved your comment, especially this part:

    “The bigger picture of our lives is that we are a part of an epic story of Love, loyalty, commitment, battle, redemption and grace.”

    Thanks, all!

  29. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I commented on your original post, Sarah, but I agree that the criminalization of girls who love these books or also the perpetuated idea that they are pathetic adolescents or desperate unfulfilled women bugs me.

    I also weary of hearing Twilight be blamed for all manner of things like, girls feel like they need a man to fulfill them. I think books reveal culture they rarely create culture, and so that one bugs me, too. (in other words we need to be taking a hard look at all of the messages and ideas we’re sending and not just these books!)

    And finally (and this is totally off the point) I’m sad that anyone has to feel ashamed over what they read. (Please note this refers to the Whole Foods incident and not anything anyone here said) I kind of resent the idea that only one kind of book and one kind of art must be sufficient for all kinds of people. We shouldn’t make people be ashamed of what they read by imposing all sorts of stereotypes over the people who enjoy certain kinds of books. But that’s just me….I enjoy many kinds of books–young adult paranormal books, books about girls named Fin, books called chick lit, classics, and literary fiction. I find myself surprisingly touched, instructed, reminded of other’s humanity, and filled with wonder in books of all different classifications.

  30. Jen

    Ron: Hey, Jane Eyre is one of my favorite literary heroines, for all the reasons you mentioned! But never thought to put the two together. Thanks for bringing her up… now I better understand better why Bella annoys me so much.

    Shelley: I like your reading creed. =) But really, if that’s the case for your sisters, then perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to read at least the first one so you can engage with them on this. I do think it’s wonderful that they want you to read and discuss the books they love and their hopes for future love with them! I have a feeling once you “meet” their “dream boyfriend” you’ll find plenty of worthwhile things to talk about.

  31. Dan Foster

    Twilight = Pornography

    Think about it, just about every guy who looks at porn is enthralled by it and addicted to it and (if he has the Holy Spirit) feels empty and awful afterwards. Woman just don’t see the attraction in the piece of trash.

    The exact opposite of the above has already been stated concerning Twilight.

    But more directly, both prey on the good natural God-given desires which are meant to be directed towards marriage (or other true relationships) and replace them with something artificial and addicting that causes us to give our time and our hearts and our money, and in return to have unrealistic expectations of true relationship.

    I think we’d do best to avoid both.

  32. Jesse D

    I tried Twilight, couldn’t get past the second chapter. The writing really bothered me, and Bella did seem more like an object rather than a subject, which, for a main character in a series, seems problematic. And from what I’ve heard, the story arc is not one which involves Bella moving from object to subject, but rather perpetually being acted upon rather than acting. This is enough to keep me away. I may at some point indulge in the movies out of sheer curiosity, but then again, I may just stick to things I know are worth my time.

    Spike and Angel are the only vampires for me.

  33. whipple

    Sarah, thanks. Didn’t read the books, with the exception of a page – literally. I saw a few scenes from the first movie and found them melodramatic, but I’m picky about films regardless. The girls I work with (all 20+ years of age) are lavishly obsessed with the books/characters/films. Thanks for a glimpse of empathetic insight.

    I have picked up this much, however. To lay it bare, Edward is more powerful than Bella but is reluctant to use his particular power on her. Your comments on the draw of the series definitely bespeak a longing for such as that. Our God is infinitely more powerful, and yet does not overpower us, but woos us to himself. No, I probably won’t read the books or see the films, but I do see where you’re coming from. And again, thanks.

  34. whipple

    Furthermore, I think it interesting that an author whose work inspires such a departure from Biblical love could come up with said emotional situation. Pascal’s God-shaped hole? It is certainly in us all.

  35. Brit

    Sarah, thank you for such a beautiful and challenging assessment of our inherent desire to be loved and pursued and how we will turn to a variety of means to seek that out. I am an avid Twilight fan, I’ve read the series through more than once….and it’s true that in reading, no – escaping, into the series the desire to be adored is roused. For me, it reminds me to take that desire and surrender it to my Lord and seek His fulfillment. But for many girls – and women – the desire is going unmet…in fiction, fantasy, entertainment etc. Anyway, I think your understanding of the culture is right on and you don’t need to read those books to know that.

  36. Joshua Nieuwsma

    I highly recommend Pastor Douglas Wilson’s commentary about the first book. He’s been going through it chapter by chapter, and it is excellent stuff. Find it over at this link:

    http://www.credenda.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=101:reviews&Itemid=122

    One particularly enlightening post about one of the chapters, here:

    http://www.credenda.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=181:twilight-14&catid=101:reviews&Itemid=122

    I think the book is dangerous for young women in spades, especially when they think that the vampire dude is somehow what they should want in a man.

  37. josh

    Great thoughts on Twilight Sarah… You articulated the exact same ideas i’ve been tossing around about this subject for a while now. Thanks for that.

  38. Kimberly

    I realize that my comment may go unread by many as most of you have already commented and moved on to recent posts. I read this post a few days ago and actually had to take some time to ponder it.

    First, I would like to say that you pretty much hit the nail on the head when you said “it is gaping, unmet needs of the heart that drive the appetites of a culture.” It would have been offensive to me if you took the view that girls want to be worshiped. Whoever said that doesn’t have a clue about women. We don’t want to be worshiped, we want to be experienced. We want someone to really know who we are. That’s why women need best friends who know everything about them and long for a relationship with a man who just wants to be near them.

    My second thought is that I believe that you really should read the book. Not because it might change your mind about the book. You will probably still believe that it is a shallow love story. I think you should read the book because I would love to hear your comments after reading it. It would deepen your position that the book is about longings. Twilight in reality is a fairy tale for teenagers. People who get hung up on the fact that Edward and his family are vampires have lost sight of the real story or have not read it at all. If C.S. Lewis had written the book and used talking animals instead everyone that frequented this page would rave about it. (For the record I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan, I am simply making a point.) The danger in the book, if any, would be creating unmet expectations in the minds and hearts of young girls unless they find those expectations met in the person of Jesus Christ.

  39. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Thanks for the great comments, Kimberly.

    For the record, the vampires don’t bother me, the debatably shallow nature of the book doesn’t bother me, the whole dreamy teen thing doesn’t bother me. What did bother me, as a writer, was that I thought it was bad writing, pure and simple, and by extension bad storytelling. In fact I still keep the book around and read from it often because I find it instructive to examine exactly why it’s so bad so that I can try to avoid falling into the same traps.

    So if you ever hear me talking about the book in a bad light, it’s not because of the content, it’s because of the shoddy way in which it’s written. And although I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge fan of Lewis’s writing style in the Narnia books, it was certainly never bad (if anything it’s often too clever for its own good, I think), so yes, I’m sure I’d have preferred a Lewis version of Twilight.

  40. Jill

    Pete and others….
    I understand that many of you think that Twilight was written poorly. And comparing it to the intellectual stuff that you guys usually review, I would agree.
    I am far from scholarly and I’m honestly not really a reader.
    But I have become more of a reader, thanks to the Twilight series. The books were easy to follow, quick reads.
    I think that any 700 page book, that can be read within 3 days (while also managing and caring for a family), can’t be totally horrible.
    Doesn’t readability count for something??

    (side note: I’m currently reading “Little Bee” and I think it’s great)

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