Several weeks ago my mother and I decided to spend a leisurely afternoon at Chapters looking for some good summer books. While we were sitting at the Starbucks-conveniently located beside the Young Adult Section-sipping our lattes my eyes strayed to the adjacent row of bookshelves. With my brow furrowed, I turned to my mother and asked her if she noticed anything interesting about that whole row of books. She gave me a curious look, but, humoring me, she glanced at the section and after several moments she exclaimed “Oh my!” Every single book in that entire row had vampires, werewolves, or witches on the cover.
If I utter the word “Twilight” everyone and their grandmother would know what I was referring to. This series of books (which requires no description) has incited a vampire and werewolf craze the supersedes the glory days of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (and I watched my fair share of Buffy in high school). Women of all ages are swooning in book aisles over copy-cat vampire series, lusting after storylines of forbidden and passionate love.
Several years ago during my last semester of university I took a Literature for Young Adults course, which was aimed at teaching teachers how to engage young adult readers and to get them interested in books of all genres. As a teenager I missed out on the young adult book genre so many of the books were new discoveries for me. When my professor told us that part of our reading list was the Twilight Saga I just stared at him incredulously as if he had just sprouted fangs. In my head I was thinking over my dead body will I teach that garbage in my classroom.
I reluctantly purchased and read all four books and, I must confess, was entertained by them. Did I fantasize about the characters, Google the actors in the movies, or buy memorabilia? No. I thought the storyline was engaging and could identify interesting themes and elements for classical literature, but I didn’t become a hardcore fan. Nor did I think that the writing was particularly great, but not all good storytellers are great writers.
When I returned to class to discuss these books, I marveled at the infatuated adult women gushing about how much they loved the male characters of the books and associated movies. During one group discussion, one of my colleagues described her obsession with the novels: “It’s the romanticism of having someone so perfect love you unconditionally.” With that statement she broke my heart because I occurred to me that none of these women were aware that they already had the great and unconditional love of someone who defines perfection and can give them real eternal life-Jesus.
Recently I came across a YouTube clip that got me to thinking:
Like with any form of entertainment that we consume we have to be discerning. We also need to teach our children how to differentiate between fantasy and reality. I can get consumed and lost in a storyline just as quickly as the next book lover, but at the end of the day I realize it was just a story. I think that is the greater fear-that the people reading these books appropriate the storyline as part of their reality and destiny.
There are many teachers arguing in favour of using the Twilight Saga in the classroom for several reasons:
- Students are reading because they are interested and engaged
- It gives a case study for feminism
- It will improve their grammar and vocabulary
- It can be used as a springboard for classic literature (Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, The Merchant of Venice)
I admit that I am torn between how I feel about Twilight Saga and how I should feel about it as a Christian. It excites me to see students passionately reading and discussing books at such a critical level, but many Christians (as evidenced in the video above) would argue that what they are reading is inherently dangerous. I do believe that many secular series that are capitalizing on the Twilight craze have Satanic elements and disturbing content that I would forbid my children from reading. Interestingly, there have been books released or announced in the Christian market that integrate vampires and werewolves into their storylines.
I wanted to show both sides of the argument because I am very much interested in what your thoughts are, may it be specifically about Twilight or about the developments in the Christian market. As I said before, I cannot personally speak for any other series or books because Twilight was my one and only encounter with this kind of storyline, but I would love to hear your thoughts.