Although I’m a fan of the Potter series, I didn’t feel highly compelled to read Stephenie Meyer’s books. I don’t prefer vampire stories. In fact, the subject of one of my lectures in a college speechmaking class was Bram Stoker’s Dracula and why my fellow Wheaton students should choose to not patronize the 1992 film.
There’s much debate in the Christian community about whether believers should be reading Twilight and its subsequent sequels. Vampire mythology has always been rooted in death, darkness and occultist practices. Just this month I read in Home Life magazine, “[we] encourage readers to think about why so many Christian women are drawn to the Twilight series when the plots and characters depicted are obviously contrary to biblical principles.” (April 2010)
As a reviewer for Litfuse Publicity, I was pleased to receive Dave Roberts’ book, The Twilight Gospel. I wanted to get his perspective on this topic, especially as a Christian writer, speaker and minister. Dave is the author of the best-selling The Toronto Blessing and Red Moon Rising. He is a former editor of Christianity magazine and won awards for his work on Renewal magazine. He is a church pastor and conference director for three major annual conferences on worship, children's ministry, and women's ministry.
In order to prepare for Roberts’ book, I thought it would be appropriate to at least read Twilight, the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s series. This would give me at least a working knowledge of Roberts’ topic, if not a completely informed one. Because this book has been reviewed dozens of times over the years, I don’t feel the need to post a full critique. I will say that I found Twilight entertaining, not as sinister as some have made it out to be, yet not for children or young teens.
After reading Twilight I dove into Roberts’ The Twilight Gospel. He begins with short plot synopses of all the books in the series, plus the unpublished draft of Midnight Sun, available on Stephenie Meyer’s website. Roberts then goes on to explain his motivations and goals for the book, showing that he has no desire to turn his back on popular culture. Unlike many who criticize popular culture, he doesn’t write from a place of fear, but “from a place of wisdom”, wanting “to help people understand and respond and make good choices.” (p.22)
Chapter 2 is centered mostly on the history behind vampires and other “undead.” I found this to be very helpful in understanding the bigger picture, as I’d either forgotten these themes or had never explored them. The mythology behind these characters and stories has a long tradition, with varying degrees of darkness and occultism. Fortunately for the readers of Twilight, there are no coffin-shaped beds, sinister gothic clothes or repellent crosses.
The rest of the book explores several themes that are of interest to Mr. Roberts. He addresses the seemingly heavy emphasis on materialism and physical beauty seen in the lives of the vampires. We see how sexuality and occultist issues are handled, the “theology” of Meyer’s vampires, free will and pacifism. He concludes with a few personal words of wisdom, and a few book recommendations of his own.
My thoughts: At 155 pages, The Twilight Gospel was a quick read and held my attention well. I felt a little out of sorts at times, as Roberts refers to plot elements in books 2-4, which I haven’t read. If you want to avoid plot spoilers, read this book after you’ve finished the series. However, if this isn’t a concern because you’re reading this to be an informed parent or reader, do read The Twilight Gospel first.
While I don’t disagree with Mr. Roberts’ assertion that materialism and beauty are given a lot of emphasis in the Twilight series, these elements didn’t concern me. Those factors are a part of the fantastical tale—to complain about them would be like complaining about Snow White being the “Fairest of Them All” or Cinderella having the most beautiful gown at the ball. However, if you are easily influenced by these issues, then he has some good points to consider.
Although the sexual tension in Twilight was much chaster than I’ve seen in other romantic stories, Roberts tells us that it takes a more predominant role in the subsequent books. I admired Meyer’s choice to have abstinence to be the rule rather than the exception in Twilight, but Roberts writes that things become spicier as the series goes on.
Overall I enjoyed The Twilight Gospel. I didn’t feel the urgency that Roberts feels in some of his topics, but I can understand where he’s coming from. I wouldn’t call this the definitive Christian response to Twilight, but it certainly raises some interesting ideas, ones that are worth considering as these stories continue in popularity, both in print and on screen. I’m glad that he was able to show us how good, admirable themes are found in Meyer’s books. He also presented some negative aspects that should be considered. I agree with him: “Enjoy, but do not believe.”
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For our readers, a double contest!
CONTEST #1: If you'd like to win one of two copies of The Twilight Gospel, here's what to do:
- Leave a comment below; this counts as your entry.
- Entries accepted until 11:59pm on Saturday, April 24th
- Open to U.S. addresses only.
- Make sure at least one posted comment includes your email address. If you'd rather not have your email posted here, you may contact me directly to give me that information after you've entered here.
- Two copies will be available to win. Winner #1 will get a new copy directly from Litfuse, and Winner #2 will receive my review copy.
- I will compile the entries and the winners will be chosen by Random.org, so even one entry can make you a winner!
- Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 25th for your mailing information. Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message! (CalicoCritic@gmail.com) You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
- If you're Winner #1, I will forward your mailing information on to Amy at Litfuse, and she will be responsible for mailing the book to you.
- If you're Winner #2, I will be responsible for mailing my review copy to you.
- More information on the giveaway policies can be found on the Contact / Policies page.
Please make note of all your bonus entries in your comment(s). You may post separate comments or a single large comment. Here are your bonus entry options:
- Comment on this: What is your experience with the Twilight saga? Have you read all the books, seen all the movies or consider yourself a "Twihard"? Or are you more like me, new to the books or just considering the series?
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- Tweet about this book's giveaway on Twitter.com; be sure to use an URL linking back to this blog posting in your tweet. You may do this as frequently as every 8 hours between now and April 24th at 11:59pm EST. For each tweet, please come back and post the direct URL link to that specific tweet, not just your @Username. These tweets are separate from the ones for Contest #2 below.
That's it for Contest #1! Good luck to all the entrants!
CONTEST #2: $50 Amazon.com gift card from Litfuse!
Want another contest? Litfuse is giving away a $50 Amazon.com gift card. Here are the instructions:
Twitter members, TWEET this to be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Amazon.com:
Understand cultural and Biblical insights surrounding The Twilight Saga by reading #TheTwilightGospel. Please RT! http://ow.ly/1vjc6
You must use the hashtag #thetwilightgospel to be entered. These tweets are separate from any tweeting done for Contest #1. You do not have to return here and offer the URL of your tweet, as Litfuse will be tracking them with the hashtag. Of course, sharing that you tweeted for Contest #2 will make me smile! ;)
Good luck to all, and thanks for stopping by!
Coming Soon: Book review and giveaway of Sandra Gravett's From Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious Themes in the Twilight Saga (Chalice Press)
FTC Disclaimer: All books have been provided to me free of charge to review, with no other expectations, obligations or other compensation.