This is a reblog of an earlier post. I’m going to see “New Moon” in the theater this weekend, Stephenie Meyer was on Oprah, authors are screaming about how unfair her success is, and vampire books, movies, and television shows are springing up like dandelions. What’s the fuss? Without getting too religious about the moral value of the vampire myth, let’s just look at a possible reason for its broad appeal. Something is drawing people to the Twilight Saga… could it be a driving inner thirst, not for human blood, but for love? For a Savior willing to sacrifice Himself for us?
I confess, I’m a closet Twilight fan. With no movie theater in town, no kids in public school, and a personal distaste for all things vampire in nature, Twilight never even blipped on my radar screen. I saw the books by Stephenie Meyer at Wal-Mart, but wrote them off as “young adult” novels. And then my daughter and her fiance brought the movie version home on DVD.
My teenage boys were appalled, horrified, even disgusted, that we would consider watching such a smarmy excuse for a film. I asked them if they knew anything about it. With sarcasm and matching sneers, they rattled off a litany of reasons why Twilight was stupid. Their reasons revolved around the Beatle-esque devotion given to the movie by the girls in their social sphere. The mere fact that they were so adamant prompted me to watch the movie, with reservations of my own.
I suffered from night terrors as a child. From the time I was around six or seven, those nightmares involved a Dracula-type figure. The terror was enough to generate full-fledged panic attacks – the kind where other people can tell there’s something wrong with you – at school, at home, even at a Halloween party my parents hosted for my class in my own home. The way you avoid bees if you’re allergic, I avoided vampire books, movies, and television programs.
When my daughter pushed “play,” I was prepared to make a fast getaway, if necessary. But after the first five minutes, I was hooked.
It’s a well-worn plot: Likable girl is drawn to mysterious loner. Everyone, him included, warns her to stay away, for reasons no one wants to explain. He’s afraid he’ll hurt her, yet compelled to protect her. They become each others’ irresistible forbidden fruit, in spite of the risk their relationship creates for them and their loved ones.
It’s not a new plot, and vampire lore has been passed down for centuries, so why are teen girls flocking to Twilight, and teen boys hurling insults? I think it’s because Twilight feeds the female craving for romance, with vampire hero Edward Cullen as the knight in slightly dented (albeit sparkling) armor. He’s not your classic hero. He’s pasty pale, a little odd-looking, and ridiculously moody. But by the end of the movie I was drawn to this character, fangs and all! If it’s not his looks, what’s appealing about him?
Edward’s appeal is his willingness to lay down his life and deny his own desires for the sake of the woman he loves. What woman doesn’t want to be loved and desired so deeply, so intensely, that the man she loves is willing to risk himself – not just physically – but emotionally, socially, and mentally as he reveals the deepest secrets of his heart and exposes his true identity, to her?
There’s a Bible lesson hiding in here, believe it or not. Meyer’s books are filled with Biblical symbols and allegories much like those found in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Edward, the hero of Twilight who denies himself for the sake of the one he loves, is just following the pattern of the ultimate hero. Jesus, the supernatural son of the living God, came to earth and revealed his true identity to all mankind. Through his life, he exposed his love, his passion, his humanity, and his desire to bless and not curse, to save and not destroy. And then, because we were tainted by sin, he opted to pay for that sin with his own life, then battle his way back from death so he can spend all eternity with us. Not just for a lifetime, but forever, if we’ll just say “yes” to his love. If you can’t see the romance in that, it’s time for a heart check-up!
Check out this recent post from Robin Lee Hatcher with reviews of two new Christian books, one non-fiction and one fiction, about vampires: Faith & Fangs