November 18th, 2011
05:00 AM ET
My Take: 5 reasons Christians should love 'Twilight'
Editor's Note: Jane Wells is the author of Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga. She blogs (almost) weekly at www.glitterinthesun.com.
By Jane Wells, Special to CNN
(CNN)–The books and movies of the Twilight Saga have launched a firestorm of debate as to whether the vampire-human love story represents eternal love at its finest or glorifies misogynistic and abusive relationships. I am a proud member of the first camp, seeing epic and eternal themes in the books as worthy of discussion and the violence as a part of the fictional world that tells the story.
With Breaking Dawn, part 1, opening nation-wide this weekend, here is my list of the top five spiritual lessons from the first three movies in the Twilight franchise: Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse.
First, some background. Turns out, not all vampires are Bram Stoker monsters concerned only with their own impulses and appetites. Author Stephenie Meyer created the Cullen coven, respectful of human life, living off the blood of carefully culled wild animals. It is one of these “vegetarian” vampires, Edward, which the very human Bella Swan has fallen in love with. There is enough conflict in that one sentence to carry the story through four huge novels, one novella, a partial draft and eventually five movies.
In the first novel and movie, Twilight, Bella moves to her father’s home in Forks, Washington from her mother’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. Soon she meets Edward Cullen, and learns that vampires are not only real, but walk daily among the residents of the small town. Her awareness of them, or previous lack thereof, does not affect the reality of their existence.
In Hebrews we read that we are to entertain strangers because we might be entertaining angels. From Ephesians we also know that our battle is not against a physical foe but against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” An awareness of the unseen is a big piece of walking in faith.
#2. Love results in, and even requires, sacrifice.
In the second book and movie of the series, New Moon, Edward concludes that including Bella in his vampire world is unhealthy. He attempts to save her by breaking up and moving away. It is, he says later, the hardest thing he’s done in 100 years. Although it nearly kills him, he is willing to die if it meant she would live a normal, happy, human life.
It was no less than Jesus himself who said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this – that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
#3. Humans crave divine perfection.
Throughout the series, Bella notes how perfect she finds Edward in every way. The gaping hole Bella feels when Edward leaves (see #2 above) is very much like the one we spend our lives trying to fill with relationships, food, status, or any other of a million different things – but can only be filled by a relationship with God.
No one captures this better than David in Psalm 42, which opens with an image of a deer searching for water – just as David’s soul desperately seeks out God. In this psalm of heartbreak, David cries out to the only perfection that can heal him. Later, in verse seven he says, “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls, all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Our human spirits recognize and respond to the call of the Spirit of God, even if in the weak echo of nature’s beauty.
#4. A drastic change of direction may be exactly what you need.
In the third novel and movie, Eclipse, we learn about Jasper Cullen, Edward’s adopted brother. He was second in command of a vampire army during the American Civil war. However, after several decades of constant conflict, the violence began to weigh heavily on him and he left. Eventually he found peace with the Cullen coven.
Every disciple Jesus called turned his back on one way of life to embrace another, none more drastically than Matthew who had been a tax collector. But the choice is yours, as illustrated by the rich, young man of Matthew 19. Jesus looked on him and loved him, yet he walked away from Jesus’ offer of eternal life because it hurt too much to give up his wealth.
#5. You’ll only really fit in after you accept what it is God has designed you for.
All of her life Bella was a misfit. In Arizona she was a pale geek. In Forks, she is the newcomer. Her mother doesn’t get her, her father is clueless. She is a square peg to everyone’s round hole – until the end of Eclipse where she realizes she’d been fighting to fit into everyone’s expectations which, although well intentioned, were far too small.
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
How about you? Are the expectations placed on you really right for you? Are bits of your soul and psyche rubbed raw by the assumptions you have accepted as your own? Perhaps it’s time to broaden your scope of vision. Because even your biggest dreams pale in comparison to what the God who created every good thing has dreamed up on your behalf.
I can’t wait to see Breaking Dawn. If it follows the books as the previous movies have we will see one of the toughest spiritual lessons of all – when Bella learns that sometimes it is after we’ve made the right choice that things are hardest of all.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jane Wells.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Reasons why everyone should hate these books unless they are used as an example of how NOT to be:
It shows 1) Co-dependency (withdraw from life after a break up), 2) Endangering oneself for the attention of their loved one 3) staying in a relationship where you are in danger (such as dating a guy with a family member vampire that has a difficult time controlling himself) Signs of the "gambler effect" and beaten wives syndrome, making excuses in their head to stay in a bad situation. 5) Superficial (living, breathing, walking diamond... really? speaks volumes of the author) This series is EVERYTHING people should avoid becoming...and more importantly how we should not want our daughters growing up to become
wow, seems to me like a lot of the Christians on this board are full of negativity.. I'm God would just love that!. give the woman a break.
This woman represents everything that is wrong with contemprary Christianity. As an atheist, her faith in God does not offend me....her stupidity does.
I'm an atheist. But if I were Christian, I would probably follow those religions that are similar to the Jehova Witnesses (without their looney ideas of predicting the end of the world). These churches are very limited and have few memebers. If I were to believe in God then these are the people who will be saved. Not the norm Christian who make up their own rules instead of following the bible, watching movies like this that glorify vampires and werewolves. Christians who are pegans with their Santa Claus. I'm smart enough to not believe in tooth faries and Santa Claus or Jesus, but you are one of those idiots who believes in Jesus, can you at least do it right?
your comment is right on. Do other religions consider their members to be sincere if they do not practice what they believe? Are you a Hindu if you do not follow the practices of Hinduism? How about a Buddist, Muslim, or other religion. Only in "Christianity" do people think that you can be a follower without actually do anything or practicing it.
When you say you don't believe in Jesus, what don't you believe? He was an historical figure, and that can be proved with empirical data. So, his divinity? Just what?
If I were to believe in anything, I'd probably chose a pantheon. Maybe the Egyptians. The one-god-fits-all mindset of christianity always sounded a bit impersonal to me and as far as I can tell, one religion is just as good as another.
@breadwild: ”When you say you don't believe in Jesus, what don't you believe? He was an historical figure, and that can be proved with empirical data.” I wait with bated breath to see your “empirical data” though I expect I’m in for a very long wait
For all thsoe commenting on the "how did this make it on to CNN" and how "preachy" this sounds....let me ask you a question since you are all so much smarter than Christians that get attacked...what part of CNNs site is this? Oh that's right its the religion/belief section full of BLOGS. Makes perfect sense that's how it got on CNN. But the better question is, if you don't believe in a God...why are you on this part of the site!?! Probably to persecute. I find it sick the fascination aethiests have with Christians. Get a life and worship your nothingness already.
I do believe in God. But that doesn't mean that the article isn't moronic. Go find something worthwhile to defend blindly.
You are an angry person.
Just doing my best to counter act the poison that is Christianity
It is a friggen movie... only a movie... Vampires exist along with the easter bunny and santa clause. Only those who are insecure in their christianity get riled up about fairy tales. Get a grip, get over it, and move on.
That's a cat woman if there ever was one.... no wonder she's infatuated with a movie.
Stop bad-mouthing cat women. Loving cats doesn't make us bad people.
That said, I totally agree.
First of all, I have been a Christian for over 30 years, and, in that time, God has proven Himself to me over and over again. When I've needed Him, He has always been there–in the good times and the bad. Second, vampires are not real, but demons surely are; Satan is referred to as the "prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the children of disobedience." You just have to look around, read the papers, and watch the news–hatred and rebellion are everywhere–and love and kindness are fast disappearing. We are in a state of grace right now; God's arms are open for everyone to come to Him. Judgment has been set aside (for the present), and His unconditional love and acceptance (thru Christ), is available. God will meet you where you are, and take you to a better place. To those who think this offer is a "fantasy," or a big joke–"To him who believes already, no explanation is necessary; but to him who does not believe, no explanation will suffice."
Debbie - ""To him who believes already, no explanation is necessary; but to him who does not believe, no explanation will suffice."
A real "God" would know what explanation would suffice.
Debbie's not with me.
So what you're saying is that god only reveals himself to a few people and completely ignores others until he pitches them into hell? Nice god you got there.
I are catholic, and I like bikes and snowboards. Must be a god thing, so all Catholics should start riding bikes and snowboarding. I like this level of logic... its simple
Do your cats concur with you Jane?
I cannot believe this makes it onto the CNN website. Stay tuned for my top 5 reasons why Jedis aren't that different from Christians.
Lay off the cats! They are perfectly nice and prefer hockey to stupid vampire movies.
Why don't you get off the Christians' back already.. this is disgusting.
Wow, what an obnoxiously preachy article! Twilight is a mildly entertaining work of fiction with a fair bit of violence. Sounds strikingly similar to a description of the Bible. Yet somehow (despite occasional evidence to the contrary) Twilight is not seen as a religion. Maybe in a couple thousand years it will catch on and people will be praying to the Holy Mother Bella.
I agree that, in fiction, vampires are the closest item to, and are often presented as, 'bodice rippers', that is, in a harlequinn-romance-novel context.
That's fine,as long as one realises that vampires are ficitonal.
Occasionally, however, real people go overboard, as a story from the other day described, where 2 late-teen girls are alleged to have tied up & slashed a guy for 'blood-consumption' purposes.
It's easy to watch 'Bram Stoker's Dracula', a costume drama, and, amid the fine performances by W. Ryder, G. Oldman & A. Hopkins, (among others), loose sight of the fact that a real vampire, (if there were such cratures), and/or, psycotic children & adults, commit acts of violence...
The author is clearly delusional and obsessed with the Twilight series. I wonder what her take on the Lord of the Rings series would be? Or The Matrix?? Perhaps she could write about the Greek tragedies, too.
I think the author is a very lonely person.
I can't believe anyone that insipid could get the chance to write articles.. Christians will love anything that prevents them from thinking for themselves. If they didn't get their weekly dose of "this is what you should do and this is how you should do it" they would be helpless. The only think they are good at is "shove whatever you believe down other people's throats until it takes." It didn't take with me.
After studying a lot of cognitive psychology, I have come to the conclusion that we are all delusional to a degree. Delusion is not always bad. It can be a coping mechanism to help assimilate things and events we "see" happening around us. Aside from the IMO monsterous need to convert everyone to their view, religious people are no different than anyone else. We all live in a fantasy world to one degree or another. Seeing "life lessons" that can be used to improve ourselves is part of the learning process. One of those life lessons could be recognizing that your own fantasy world does now work for everybody else. If only democrats and republican could learn this.
The author of this article is looney tunes.
Amen to that!
While these may be her opinions, I say she needs her head examined, or better yet, she needs to go back to the kitchen.
wow.... casting pearls to the swine.... this has to be the stupidest article ive seen on cnn....... this should be on the onion..... whoever allowed this article to see the web should be reassigned to another postision...... why not post articles on people in the church communities that are helping people..... damn
Because if they did that, there would be no articles.
What does this woman smoke? "The supernatural surrounds us whether we’re aware of it or not." "You’ll only really fit in after you accept what it is God has designed you for."
Belief in the supernatural and that some "being" has "designed" your life? Sounds like a little too much fantasy for you, Jane. That, and you don't have a healthy sense of free will.
God has not designed a damned thing for you or anyone else. If you really believe the Creator of the universe is interested in the minute details of your stupid life you are self-delusioinal. But then aren't all christians?
This gal must have needed some immediate cash to pay her utility bill so she writes this crap.
you asked ... "Vampires and demons; what do they have in common with God?" The answer is too simple. No one ... and I mean NO ONE .. has ever seen a vampire, demon, werewolf, unicorn, leprechaun, or any, ANY, god of any kind throughout human history. None of the afrementioned items have never, and still to this day do not, exist.
“True Christians” will do everything possible to avoid watching movies like this. Is this not a way for the world; governed by Satan, to separate us from God? If many begin to reason that movies like these are harmless then we have fallen in Satan’s trap. “No wonder, for Satan keeps transforming himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan the Devil transforms the wicked things to look innocent. (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8) Vampires and demons; what do they have in common with God? Take note: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Be′li•al (Satan)? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? … Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves, says Jehovah, and quit touching the unclean thing, and I will take you in” (2 Corinthian 6:14-18). True Christians need to separate themselves from reading these types of books and watching these types of movies. We need to help the unbelievers see things in God’s perspective. If we want to read a book then read your Bible daily.
Because Revelation doesn't read like sci-fi?
Whenever someone starts out with declaring what "true Christians" believe, that always means the person's view of Christianity is right and everyone else is wrong. Don't we have enough disagreements over religion in this country?
HAHA.. so let me get this straight people who believe in one crazy supernatural story, will like a movie about crazy supernatural things. gotcha makes sense.