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« Tyra Goes Transgender | Main | Beware the ’Bunny’ »

August 22, 2008

Open book thread

Open_book_2 My review of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series is now up at NRO. As you'll see (again), I'm definitely not recommending that you or your kids add the series to your reading list.

You're welcome to share your own opinion of the books below, as well as to tell us what else you're reading (or avoiding) these days.

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Comments

lz

Gina, I have read these books and I'm glad I have. I'm not one of those moms who is drooling over this couple, just the opposite. I read them along with my 12-yo and have been glad to have very frank discusions with her about true love (at 17!) I have always told my girls that they should not marry anyone they meet in HS unless they move away and come back together. There is none of that here, no growing into adulthood, no becoming her own person, no independnece, just the willingness to delve into Eward's dark world and family. She recently told me that all of her friends hate the Jacob Black character who opposes the "beautiful relationship". I told her that he was my hero in the book -- the only one who was looking out for her safety and future. I'm glad there's someone out there who can put all this into much better words to get this message out. thanks.

Kate

Hey Gina,

Its FICTION and a GREAT read. I have 3 teenage sons and we all thoroughly enjoyed the series. We didn't read it to get any life lessons but purely for the joy of reading a great story.

We were all thoroughly entertained and really enjoyed sharing our thoughts about the story.

Don't take it so seriously-we certainly didn't.

Regards,

Kate, Kyle, Zachary & Nick

LeeQuod

Recently I saw a barista in my favorite coffee shop reading one of the Twilight books. Since I know she's an undergrad psychology major and unafraid of intellectual texts, I'm re-reading "Monsters From the Id: The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film" by E. Michael Jones so I'm ready to discuss it before lending it to her.

The chapter on the connection between vampirism (as fiction) and STDs (as fact, turned into fiction by horror authors who were themselves infected and yet still sexually active) should be a very interesting postscript to the Twilight book. The persistent theme in horror of women as disposable sex objects should be interesting for her, too.

Gina, with respect to vampires sparkling with luminescence and appearing godlike, I was a bit surprised that your NRO article didn't explicitly reference 2 Cor. 11:14. Was that because your focus was on the social impact only? No worries, and no intended criticism; it just seemed like a natural point to make. It's one I hope to make with the barista, once I know more about her feelings toward Christianity.

Gina Dalfonzo

Good recommendation, Lee. I don't know if you knew that Roberto has written some excellent pieces about that book. Here are two of them for those who are interested:

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/40/story_4032_1.html
http://www.boundless.org/2000/departments/atplay/a0000291.html

The answer to your question is that my references to Meyer's "godlike" vampires were made with more than a touch of sarcasm. :-) She tries hard to make them godlike (and glorious, perfect, etc.), but I don't think she comes anywhere near succeeding. So it didn't occur to me personally to REALLY think of Edward as being anything like an angel of light, or as anything more than a figure of fun -- apart from the serious implications of his abusive nature -- and thus it didn't occur to me to cite that verse.

I mean, it's very hard for me to take seriously a character who actually says things like "Do I dazzle you?" and "You're intoxicated by my very presence" and "You are exactly my brand of heroin."

Kate, you raise a point that I hope to address in another blog post tomorrow, if I have time. I hope you won't feel put on the spot or anything -- that's not my intention. I've actually heard quite a few people say much the same thing that you did, and I think it represents a school of thought that's worth discussing. So thanks for weighing in. And thank you too, lz!

abby

This is fiction! Lighten up! The books were a great read. Bella had choices, she chose what she wanted and that was Edward. She was a strong character and that was mentioned over and over again, maybe not physically strong in the first 3 books but mentally. She could not be swayed. So she chose to be vampire - again it's fiction! It is a story about love for eternity. As for the bruises in the honeymoon scene, it really did not bother me. It wasn't done out of violence - it was not abusive. I was more upset with Jacob violently kissing her against her will - but no one seems upset about that! I really do not understand all the negativity with this book. It got me reading and I haven't read in ages!

LeeQuod

Gina wrote: "I don't know if you knew that Roberto has written some excellent pieces about that book."

Actually, Gina, you didn't need to include the word "excellent" there; for me at least, the fact that Roberto wrote it means that *of course* it will be excellent. (I feel that time invested in reading the writings of any of The Point's bloggers is time that will always have an excellent return.)

I felt that Roberto could have nailed "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" a bit more firmly, but perhaps that's because I have daughters. :-) It seems to me that Buffy is about the desire on the one hand to sleep around as all of your girlfriends are doing, and on the other hand to kick the slats out of any guy who would treat you and your friends like Kleenex where they blow their nose into it and then discard it into the trash. After all (as Roberto does excellently point out), the violation of the moral order is something to fight about, and the drama comes from the ambivalence.

Gina also wrote: "So it didn't occur to me personally to REALLY think of Edward as being anything like an angel of light,"

I was reacting to the surprise of many readers that vampires could be illuminescent. In my own mind I translate the first clause of 2 Cor. 11:14 as "Well, DUH!" (Paul *was* writing in koine Greek, after all. :-) ) So no one but the Biblically illiterate should be surprised by this depiction.

And to Kate and abby: sure, the books are fiction. So are the Frankenstein and Dracula books, and so is the movie Alien. But we find some books entertaining because we can relate to them (and other books are dull because we can't). What is it in these Twilight books that you can find in your own life? Why are they so sufficiently popular that a busy person like Gina takes time to review them?

Gina's thought, and mine, is that if you repeatedly tell a group of people they're a Kleenex, to be used and discarded (like a Chinese athlete or a Playboy bunny), many of them may come to accept that as their role in life. Others may violently rebel against it. I remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stressing *non-violent* protest against the way African Americans were treated as less than full human beings. And I remember when some groups ignored him, and burned Watts and other locations. (Other groups simply gave up protesting, and accepted with frustration their supposed second-class status.) Horror fiction has as its base the idea that women are merely objects for the sexual gratification of men - or worse, women are what ruins the sexual enjoyment of men, by carrying disease. The Twilight series takes the point of view of one of these "disposable people" as she comes to terms with her reality. If a whole generation of women believe this about themselves, what kind of riots can we expect, and what kind of misery will other women silently endure?

I've had to rescue one daughter from being treated as disposable, and watched another conduct a continuous verbal fight, almost Buffy-like, to avoid falling into the same fate. I could care less about the entertainment value of the books. I'm really interested in what this form of entertainment says about us.

Steve (SBK)

I agree with LeeQuod.
To say: "This is fiction! Lighten up!" ignores the point of discussion.

Fiction, especially good fiction, is not read in a void. What does it say about us AND how does it affect us?

It's like saying: "This is slander! Lighten up!".

Blessed with a mind, manipulation of the truth before your mind perceives it will hurt you. Fiction and Non-Fiction both present truth. The danger of fiction is believing that because aspects of it are made up it can't influence you or get you to believe lies.

(I am in NO WAY advocating the removal of fiction from our [personal] libraries... merely pointing out that it's not some mindless experience we partake in, and thus not something that can be lightly dismissed as mere 'entertainment').

(Also, non-fiction can easily manipulate truth, it's just that people are usually more discerning when they approach it).

Gina Dalfonzo

It's odd that "Buffy" came up just now. Look what I just came across:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,410581,00.html

(I may possibly do a more in-depth post on that story later.)

Becky

While I understand the discussion centered around the Pre-marital sex issue and the abuse and low self esteem issues in these books, does it not bother anyone (primarily Christian parents)that the whole theme of these books deal with vampires/the undead; which, by the way, goes against everything the Bible teaches us about death and what happens to our souls after death.
If you look at the statistics, young people (raised in church or in "christian homes") are walking away from their "faith" in alarming numbers after they leave home - why? I am not naive enough to think that reading one fiction series is the whole cause of this, but could it be related to the fact that we go to church on Sundays with our kids and profess a belief in a Savior who has conquered death and offers us eternal life and then the rest of the week read books or watch movies or do whatever that is directly contrary to what the Bible teaches?
Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.

LeeQuod

Becky, I agree that you have a point. However, if isolating ourselves from the world were the answer, then the Amish would never have any of their teenagers leave - but they do.

Note that the Apostle Paul was familiar with Greek mythology, sufficient enough to use it in his preaching from Mars Hill.

So I think it may be better to understand what vampires and the undead are saying - as Gina has tried to do here and elsewhere. That is different from enjoying them as entertainment. It's interesting, for example, that vampires seem to not enjoy their state of "undeadness", in spite of avoiding stakes through the heart. So their superior strength and other powers do not bring peace and happiness - why not? Why isn't Bella's eventual choice to become like Edward the easiest decision in her life? Seems to me there's some good theology in here, relevant to the readers of those books.

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