Stephanie Myers novels already enjoy cult status. Reading some fan-sites its scary to see the testimonials of how Twilight has changed my life – what amounts to idolatry. There are people who live, breath and think about Twilight endlessly, so one fan says. The mania that these books and movies have inspired is a clue that there is something deeper here than what first meets the eye, and though I am not trained in the literary arts, I have been reflecting as I have watched the films and now reading the books about possible messages in Twilight and New Moon.
There’s no question that Vampires are “in” at the moment. But what is it about Vampires that strikes the chord and resonates so well with audiences today? What is it about them that inspires such intrigue and fascination? Traditionally, a Vampire is the archetype of a person who lacks all self-restraint, who cannot control their impulse to indulge in the wickedest of evil (Drinking blood – greed, Mind-control – indulgence, Illicit Sex, Murder), who is condemned to live a half-life forever without growing weary, and is never satiated. A Vampire is a picture of the sinful nature. They can be weakened by starving them of food (putting to death the sinful nature by righteous living). They can be killed by a wooden stake (crosses are made of wood) through the heart, or by letting them burn in the light of sun (exposing sin in God’s light of truth). They cannot enter churches or stand against sacred things. With seduction and violence they can capture your soul and turn the innocent evil.
Of course no model is perfect. And Stephanie Myers’ incarnation of them breaks the traditional mould somewhat. But is there anything profound here? or is just literary-candy? I’m guessing the former, rather than the latter.
The Bella / Edward relationship is to me very interesting. Recall two snippets from the films. (1) Near the end of Twilight, at the dance where Bella asks to Edwards to make her a Vampire also. For a second it looks as if he will, but then he says, “Isn’t it enough to live a long life with me.” (2) In New Moon, during the trial Edward is asked how he can stand being with Bella, whose scent is intoxicating – to Edward her blood is like the heroine to an addict. He replies “With difficulty.”
From these we see a Vampire (one who lacks all restraint, the sinful nature) with tremendous self-restraint. Whose love is so strong he cannot stand the idea of hurting her, of taking her soul and condemning her to live a cursed life, but who is constantly, powerfully tempted to do what his nature tells him to do anyway. He hates who and what he is, and lives a frustratingly moral life. Is this a picture of a man by nature depraved but who longs for redemption?
Vampires, we discover, are also endowed with special gifts that are both frightening and menacing, but Bella is mysteriously unaffected by them. But – and this is key – the only power that effects Bella is the power of self-control by Edward and his family – the power that prevents her becoming like them – a power she is increasingly frustrated with. The message, it seems to me, is that true power is not measured by what one can do, but by what one can restrain from doing.
I think then of the problem of evil, and what this insight means when applied to the suffering we see in the world. God, who is all-powerful and therefore capable of ending all pain, and all-loving and therefore desiring to do the same – indeed longing for all pain to cease and evil to be gone, restrains himself for a grand purpose that only he can see and only he currently truly appreciates. This is the mark of a power that is true and righteous. Psalms 78:38 tells us God is restrained “time and time again.” Though we might plead for a reprieve from suffering, God displays his power by restraining his intervention, for he knows that this present suffering will produce a glory that is not worth comparing to our present struggles.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.