John J. Thompson
November 8, 2011
There is so much I could say on this topic but to start I just want to look at your 4 assumptions:* Vampires are damned and dead. There is no hope for redemption.Vampires become vampires not by choice but by being the victim of some other creature. Does Christian theology support damnation by proxy? Does Christian theology therefore support the idea that a rape victim is damned for the sin of adultery for example?Â Vampires started out human with human souls. Why should their hope for redemption be suddenly gone?* Vampires are bad.Why? You later sight they drink blood but don't mention killing people. I think maybe killing people would be the stronger argument for someone who partakes of communion.Â * True love is selfless.I would argue that True Love cannot exist without an awareness of self-identity which I think is explored in Meyer's books. (The movies-Not so much)Â My favourite quote from a tile I picked up on my honeymoon: "Love looks not one to the other, rather Love is looking together in the same direction." Â * Vampires donâ€™t shimmer in the light, they fry.If you are saying that exposing sin to the light makes it burst into flames and disappear... Sin can stand at the front of the church and baptize babies in holy water and everyone including Stephanie Meyer knows it. Sin is just as seductive and shiny as diamonds. We wish exposing it to the truth would make it go away but that isn't so.Â I tried to stay on topic. I could go into the fascinating naming usage, but alas, word limits :). BTW If you are bored find the Risen Jesus Visual metaphor in Movie one of Twilight... Fascinating.
This matters, people? It's fiction, people. This is the same Harry Potter argument all over again. Twilight (which has plenty of bad vampires, didn't you see you Eclipse?)Â helps some of us process our desires (beauty, goodness, protection, family, and love) and dreams (strong, eternal bodies and eternal riches), as well as our temptations (greed, lust, selfishness) and weaknesses (imperfection, physical weakness, limited time). Don't bash Twilight just because it's not black and white.
I always thought that the blatantly abusive relationship Bella and Edward have was more important than Meyer clearly not knowing what she's talking about when it comes to vampires, but, you do have some good points.
I think this absolutely DOES matter. Take a look at what devotees of these books say they get from them, and you'll see that. Teenage girls and women, the primary audience for the books and the movies, love them because of the "romance" of the forbidden love, the violence of Edward's attraction to Belle, etc., all of which is not good. Thousands of female readers are learning to equate violence with love and romance. That's not my opinion; it's what they themselves say. That's rotten fruit, and everyone, not just Christians, should turn away.
Yes it is fiction, but there are many people that can't figure that out. Almost as though anything written is true - just look at how many actually believe the tabloids. And if it is on television it is real - like the Trekkies who asked if the actors had to take sea sickness medicine when watching the stars go by the windows. There will always be those that are unable or unwilling to recognize true and believe what makes them happy or sad.
Well i sure do not give satan any victory... how ever when i'm watching the twilight sagas i look atÂ them because i like the plots and for the most part i love the love story.. i do like drama and love story so i must say that i fell in love with the charter and their parts...Not only that i like the action good performents...I guess i'm saying that when i'm watching it i do not look as if i'm believe satan's dream and i do not think of it as it is the devil so i guess christian can look at the movie and say it is not of god or just simply look at this as a good love story... But we know that everyone will never see this story the same way as we all have our own opinion and veiws about these movies like for instant harry potter i do not watch his movie because it is totally base on witch craft which is of the devil... but like i said everybody have their different opinion of this movie to it may sound a little off for me too say that but that truly how i feel but the reality is all of it is satantic...An i shall also say that we have watch a lot of movies that not of god but i believe that a lot of christian want tell cause what ever they watch in the privacy of ther own home is none of our bussiness any how that is between them and god. Be bless in Jesus name amen.
Am I supposed to believe that vampires are a Christian creation? (even though reanimated corpses that consume the living have been feared by nearly every culture in recorded history) Or that Stephenie Meyer was the first author to come up with a "vegetarian" vampire who can withstand sunlight? -- though, in Twilight the light still reveals them for what they really are, pretty and initially appealing but incredibly dangerous (like sin? nah, there couldn't possibly be more than one metaphor for sin) --- I would point out more of the article's flaws, but i have gotten bored. Personally, I think the biggest threat from these books is not the violation of some imagined integrity of the vampire mythology, but the abusive relationship and suicide metaphors. (a scar on her wrist that looks like it was made by a blade? is it still a metaphor when it's that obvious?)
Some really good points, Mara. One thing I would say is that, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of vampire myths clearly outline that in order to become a vampire the victim has to agree to it. Getting bitten by a vampire kills a person. So, based on what I understand about the classic story no one became a vampire other than through choice. At least Meyer seems consistent on that point. Seems to me the "good" doctor - if he was truly good - should have let those people die during the flu outbreak instead of "saving their lives." But the real deal-killer to me is that if Edward truly loved Bella he would never, ever, have allowed her to turn. It would be much better for her to die, than to be damned. I wish I had more space - this version of the original piece I wrote is greatly edited - because I think this is an interesting discussion. You make some good points.
Yeah, it's just fiction, but yes, it matters. The two aren't mutually exclusive. I realize that it is easy to lump this critique in with the knee-jerk fear that many Christians had over Potter, but I respectfully disagree that this is the same argument all over again. I love the Harry Potter books and actually feel they are a sound, meaningful examination of the meaning of friendship, courage and character. Those stories are well told. Twilight, to me, is not.
Really good point. I tried to reference that in the bullet point about what LOVE really is, but word-count wouldn't let me elaborate.
The reason why Twilight's vampires don't follow the rules is simple: Stephanie Meyer's "vampires" are not really vampires. You could go into the text and make very few changes to make them be just about any "other." (For instance, they could be aliens.) Like countless fictional works, Meyer then uses her "other" to create a Romeo and Juliet tension and a dreamy "forbidden love" factor.These "vampires" are really nothing more than a group of superhumans who can either view their abilities as a "gift" or "curse" (depending on the view) and choose to either help or hurt humans with it. They could have had the Force and chose to either be Jedi or Sith. They could have been superheroes and either joined the Justice League or the Legion of Doom. Or they could have been mutants and either joined The X-Men or Magneto's bad dudes. It's all story device and semantics. So, John is right: these in-name-only "vampires" misrepresent traditional vampires. Because they are not. The traditional vampire were basically what we'd call demons. They were unredeemable predators who oppose the hero so he/she could grow, overcome, find redemption, etc. In many ways, vampires WERE what zombies ARE now in pop culture: The evil, unchanging, opposing force that serves as the backdrop for a hero's journey.(If you want to read a good short story where vampires are well-used in this way, read "I am Legend." But don't confuse it with the Will Smith movie. They are nothing alike.)It is my opinion that it is because Meyer's vampires are not really vampires that they break John's rules and thus "ruin vampires for Christians." However, I also believe that vampires do not always have to be one-note unredemptive and damned figures like the brain-dead zombie. What if they knew they were damned? What if they had no morals but recognized that deficiency?That was the beauty of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These vampires did follow the rules (sunlight, crosses, etc.). And most of them were simply the one-note "baddie" but 2 vampire characters were given twists to do excellent exploration of morality, redemption and temptation. One vampire was--by a curse--given a soul so that he FELT every beastly act. Another was a brutal killer who was physically inhibited by technology from killing. This was a great way for vampires to be true to vampire mythology but also allow for dynamic, complex characters who were not just "bad."
John: You are right about a victim needing to choose to be a vampire. Otherwise, you just die. It is not like a zombie bite.
When we start saying "this" or "that" doesn't matter, we are in trouble. It all matters.
I would love to see your research because I did a lot of work in Gothic Lit during my University years and the rise of Vampire Lit was fuelled by Opium addiction and bloodletting and the proliferation of typesetting and "In vogue" German/Black forest Tales.Â If you count "has to agree to it" as having been seduced and drugged then you are probably in good company with many Victorian/Romantic Period individuals for whom Stoker's Dracula and Polidori's Vampire were written.The one thing Meyer gets right is that when you are dying and you feel God has abandoned you, you will do anything to stay alive.We live in a new age and I would hope Christianity does not need to support your antiquated view of victimology. If it does then I want nothing to do with it.**Your point about the Good doctor is admitted by the Good Doctor in the book but he admits that he was lonely and eventually caved to his loneliness after not finding someone who shared his ethic.**Edward tries to keep Bella human over and over and over but eventually it is her baby that kills her and there are a number of rather poignant discussions about hope and redemption. I think it is the idea of soul mates and Edward not being able to live without Bella and not wanting to raise a child that killed it's mother alone. He almost lets her go but in the end is selfish. He is only immortal after all. He is a fallen creature like the humans.**Dr. Cullen's DNA tests are an interesting twist. Perhaps Damned is too harsh a word. Maybe this is all a retroviral mutation and bad press after all?
Back that up with something solid.
Good challenge, Mara. I was too general and hasty in that comment. I feel like in modern pop culture, the creation of vampires has generally become more and more of one of choice. But historically, you are right. Originally, becoming a vampire was feared to be caused by a great deal of things beyond one's control. You could become a vampire by all sorts of means including not getting a wound cleaned or a cat jumping over your dead body.
We can agree to disagree. In this instance of fiction, your argumentabout vampires doesnâ€™t matter (it isnâ€™t significant) to me - and I donâ€™t thinkthis is getting me into trouble. I think itâ€™s ignorant to completely dismiss any positive aspects of a fictionalpiece because of a technicality â€“ i.e. what may or may not be a traditionalvampire. Furthermore if itâ€™s acceptable to enjoy a series of books involving darkmagic, sorcery, and witchcraft, then I would argue that itâ€™s also acceptable enjoyseries of books involving non-traditional vampires.
I probably owe John an apology. I should have been more diplomatic in the post above.
I think it's fine that Stephanie Meyers didn't adhere to the rules about what makes a vampire a vampire. This is fiction, and one of the rules of fiction is that you can take a common myth (like vampires) and recreate it to fit your own story, purposes or imagination. I think what does matter is how her current creation affects the people who read it. For better or worse, she has changed or diversified the vampire myth. As Tolkien put it: "I wish [this vampire myth] had never happened." "So do all who live to see such [myths], but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the [vampire myth] that is given to us." Or something like that. :P
I agree with your distain of Meyer's vampires (as well as her VERY problematic portrayals of relationships, love and marriage in the series). The vampires with in this series are so neutered to be of no use at all nor bear little connection to actual vampires. I would agree with the comment that Joss Wheton does very create and powerful things with the idea of redemption and the cost of redemption in regard to vampires and still holds to the mythology. From a Christian perspective Wheton's vampire series (Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel) offer much for Christian's to wrestle with in regard to evil, the battle against evil and redemption.
I think this is a reasonable article, but is a bit narrow, in that there are many more fiction series (that haven't been made into films) that also have different takes on vampires. What they seem to have in common is that vampires are just the same as 'us'-there are 'good' vampires and 'bad' vampires, though the 'good' ones can still be very violent.
I have actually written a short story about a Christian lady in the late 1890's who started dating someone who despised Christianity. He ended up being a vampire and turned her into one as well. 150 years after the incident she is reminded of who she was before she met him and she sought after God and was redeemed. She didn't choose the evil placed upon her. It was forced. God heard her spirit crying out to Him even though her soul was in darkness. He reached out and pulled her out of that darkness.
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