‘Twilight’ has ruined vampires

I believe that Christians need good vampire stories. Actually, I’ll take this a step further and suggest that the whole world needs good vampire stories because they are so importantly Christian. That’s why the massively popular "Twilight" movies - the latest of which, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I," opens next week - are so frustrating.

"Twilight" is a problem because it messes with the quintessential essence of vampires, softening them with teen romantic tripe and bending the rules reinforced by centuries of vampire myth. We’ve seen the effects of postmodernism in our politics, philosophy, theology and even our architecture, and many have protested. But now that this insidious relativism has so blatantly tarnished a mythology that was once so purely binary, I must protest. Postmodern vampires just don’t suck enough.

Though the particulars of the genre ebb and flow, there are several immutable laws of vampirism that "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer shows either complete disdain for or ignorance of:

  • Vampires are damned and dead. There is no hope for redemption.
  • Vampires are bad.
  • True love is selfless.
  • Vampires don’t shimmer in the light, they fry.
  • Splitting hairs? I don’t think so. Meyer blurs good and bad and ignores the eternal nature of death in sin. She offers a sentimental attraction that is completely opposed to true love. She also completely misses the point of vampire symbolism. Instead of recoiling in pain and dying an excruciating death when exposed to light (which is what happens to sin), Edward, the romantic vampire hero of the series, glimmers like Bowie in 1972. This matters, people. There are rules to life as a vampire and they all connect directly to Biblical truth:

    Vampires cannot tolerate the light. (“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” John 3:19)

    Vampires cannot tolerate Christian symbols – especially if they convey actual faith (crosses, holy water, etc.) because they are subjected to the law of God.

    Vampires feed on the blood of others. Their hunger is never fully satisfied.

    Some sources quote Meyer, a professing Mormon, as saying she hadn’t read a single vampire story before creating "Twilight." That one I believe. It reminds me of too many well-intentioned Christians who decided to “use” rock and roll music to “reach people for Jesus” without first developing any awareness of or proficiency with the genre.

    Human society has created myths to help them understand the more ethereal aspects of life since the very beginning. Good and bad, temptation, love, courage, sacrifice … these are mysteries to us. Story helps us process our desires and dreams, as well as our temptations and weaknesses. Myths add building blocks to our imaginations, which is where we practice our behaviors. I’m not saying that a vampire story ever saved anyone’s eternal soul, but in that they reinforce Biblical truths and provide imaginary playgrounds in which we can practice saying “no” to temptation, they are important.

    This world is full enough of compromised morality, romanticized villains and other mind pollution. Leave the vampires bad. If we can’t imagine how we would answer if given the chance to trade our soul for earthly "immortality," what will happen when an opportunity like that comes our way?

    “JJT” has been chasing the thread dangling between eternal truths and temporal creative experiences for nearly three decades. He is a writer, a businessman, a father, an artist and a seeker. Read more about him at JohnJThompson.com.

    (Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.)

    Comments (22)

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    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? 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. * 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) 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."  * Vampires don’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. 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?) 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 at  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.

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