When ‘Twilight’ Eclipses Faith

Josh Larsen

Attending a “Twilight” movie is something like going to a charismatic church service.

Screenings of these films – including a recent premiere I attended for last week’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” – are exuberant affairs. There is a gathering of the faithful, audible declarations of devotion, even speaking in tongues (though some would identify that as squealing). The mood of the crowd – mostly young women enthralled with this love triangle between a teen girl, a vampire and a werewolf - is nothing short of rapturous.

I make the comparison with my tongue in cheek, of course, but it also raises a question: At what point does movie love cross over to religious devotion?

You could ask this of many film franchises: “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Sex and the City,” “Harry Potter.” (It’s interesting that these are all fantasies of one kind or another.) Does this sort of obsessive commitment verge on worship, or is it no more harmless than a Chicago Cubs fan living and dying with each of the team’s games?

I suppose it’s a matter of balance. The adage “everything in moderation” applies to our hobbies, too, whether those diversions are golfing, playing video games or watching the three “Lord of the Rings” films back-to-back-to-back. When any of these become our top priority – over our families, say, or our faith – we’re on dangerous ground.

Yet something like the “Twilight” phenomenon – and the “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” ones before it - goes beyond being a hobby. It’s also a matter of how we identify ourselves. Consider the online names we use. In this day and age, as we meet many of our new acquaintances in the digital arena, our user names reveal who we consider ourselves to be. When we’re introduced to someone who goes by the name twilighter207 or potterphile, we immediately know where their allegiances lie. Can we reach a point when we identify ourselves as a member of Team Jacob first (that would be those who favor the werewolf) and as a Christian second?

How has this played out in your own life? Do your pop-culture interests – be it “Twilight” or something else – threaten to take on more importance than your spiritual life? In general, do you find difficult to achieve a balance between your hobbies and your faith?

(Note: In 2008 I wrote about the “Twilight” series being curiously adopted by the pro-abstinence crowd. You can read that post here.)

Topics: Movies, Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Entertainment