November 25, 2009 by Stacy McDonald

Abstaining from the Madness

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Jasmine Baucham has written an excellent review of Twilight, the book, turned movie…turned obsession, for some. The following excerpt gives you a taste, but please don’t forget to read the whole article over at Jasmine’s blog:

“Never mind the supernatural aspects of the book, like the vampires, werewolves, and other folklore. Let’s, perhaps, even forget about the disconnected parents, their withdrawn daughter, or her superficial friends. Let’s focus on the fact that in this fictional world, these two characters have given themselves wholly to one another; one is a vampire who’s got nothing to lose –the other is a young woman with her whole life ahead of her, whose decided to invest it in a path that leads to damnation (literally) for the love of a beautiful man.”

“One of the “hallmarks” that has been spouted by ardent supporters of Twilight is that it teaches a lesson of abstinence. But, even though Edward and Bella do abstain in the most basic sense of the word, their relationship is filled with hands-on passion: lengthy embraces; breathless kisses; violent declarations of devotion. They are obsessed with one another. “Abstinent” they may be –pure they are not.”

“I don’t care! You can have my soul! I don’t want it without you -it’s yours!” Bella

Read the whole article HERE


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13 Responses to “Abstaining from the Madness”

  1. Heidi says:

    I love a good book. Even fantasy, although I certainly limit what I will allow my children to read and anything they do read is heavily discussed with me or Daddy right away. I am willing to look to themes underneath the fantasy instead of assume that all fantasy with folklore characters is automatically wrong and aimed at presenting a negative message.

    I was actually excited to read Twighlight. I'd heard so much about what a great book it was and how it would be "the best book I've ever read".

    Afterwards, however, I have to say it was a terrible book. It wasn't even well written in my opinion. I didn't find the descriptions overly emotion provoking (good or bad) or interesting. Nothing to capture my imagination. Basically a story of a screwed up teenager without any redeeming elements.

    I will not be reading the rest of the series or seeing the movies and when my children are older I will definitely be discouraging these books.

    Totally not worth it.

  2. Miss Carey @----'---------- says:

    I relished both Jasmine's article and the Botkin Sister's article she linked to. So much to ponder…

    I am extremely grateful my parents nourished in my siblings and I love of true, worthwhile, well-written literature.

    On another note, I found this article on many women's preference for "girly-men" very interesting. Perhaps you will, too.

    http://www.canada.com/health/Birth+control+pill+could+women+macho/2086425/story.html

  3. Step says:

    Great article! I have only the most basic knowledge of the Twilight phenomenon, but considering how everyone from grown, married women to elementary school-aged girls seem be obsessed with this series, I know enough to realize that it's dangerous and something that I want no part of. This is nothing more than the romanticism of vampires and evil. Millions of teens will identify with this story without really understanding or considering what it means to damn their souls forever.

    Thankfully, my children have zero interest in Twilight and we intend to keep it that way.

  4. Jennifer says:

    That's a shame, I don't like that soul talk at all. The indication I alwaya got, though, was that Edward would cease to act as a vampire (in the preying sense) for Bella. I don't have a problem at all with Edward and Bella expressing their love for each other and intend to read and enjoy the books, but I hope the talk of "soul" stuff dies down. I hear that Bella changes a great deal throughout the series and I hope this sort of thing is part of her naivete; as yet, she's engulfed in her love of Edward and knows precious little about his world.

  5. Jennifer says:

    That's another thing I don't understand or agree with: the Botkin's implication that Edward Cullen is girly. How? He's constantly rescuing Bella. The Botkins also mentioned the problem of some women liking "perfect" or unrealistically nice men and listed Mr. Darcy, Noah from "Notebook", and Edward himself. When were these men ever perfect?? Edward's a vampire, Darcy was a snob for a long time, and Noah was perfectly realistic in the novel (though annoying in the film version); what's unrealistic about a sweet man being devoted to his wife like Noah was? I don't know if the Botkins support "Fireproof" like many of the Vision Forum folks, but if they do, I find the idea of a man taking unlimited loads of nasty attitude from his wife (like Fireproof hero Caleb did) far more unrealistic and unhealthy for young women to watch than a loving man who simply sticks by her side.

  6. Jennifer says:

    "This is nothing more than the romanticism of vampires and evil"

    I would recommend reading it before concluding this. As for the problem of those juvenile women falling for fantasy-man Edward, I think the root of it lies within those women's hearts, not the books themselves. There are thousands of children who read Harry Potter and not one has ever told the author they wish they were a witch; they know it's fantasy. If adult women can't tell the difference, they have an unimaginable amount of maturing to do.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Just as an aside, I love the Fireproof film; I just disliked the snitty way the wife acted sometimes.

  8. Step says:

    "If adult women can't tell the difference, they have an unimaginable amount of maturing to do."

    Yes, I agree completely, yet I have had more than one of my peers go on and on to me about Twilight. Do these wives and mothers know the difference between fantasy and reality?…absolutely. Twilight has become more of an escape for them much like a romance novel. Handsome characters, forbidden love, more than a bit of danger thrown in and reading/watching this series soon becomes a guilty pleasure. If one is not careful, the guilty pleasure can creep into your everyday life. For me, I am choosing not to read or see Twilight. I have heard enough about them already.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Excellent points, Step. It just alarms me how deeply some women will allow themselves to sink, deeper than your peers, no doubt. The Botkins gave quotes from women saying they actually forgot Edward Cullen wasn't their husband!! That, to me, is downright delusion, not just escapism, and it's terrifying in both its power and its ultimate devastation. Fantasy has always enriched my life, not made me yearn for a different one.

  10. wyethfan says:

    I have never commented before and I know this is going to cause a stir, but I can't let this one go by.

    I see two main problems with books such as Twilight (and Harry Potter for that matter). First of all, they are not well written and they will not stand the "test of time" which is the criteria for good literature–yes, there is room to argue that there are books that have stood the test of time and are terrible, but that debate is for another day.

    Fantasy as a genre is relatively new, and because it is more contemporary we are innundated with terrible pop fantasy which will make a splash for a while and then as soon as the next pop fad comes along will fall by the wayside. Twilight and Harry Potter are good examples of this. And it makes me cringe when the reading public can't distinguish between good (Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings)and lousy fantasy.

    Vocabulary; writing style; plot complexity; written from a Christian worldview (this doesn't necessarily mean the authors themselves are/were Christians, but their worldview is basically Christian); does the story illicit emotions that are honorable, noble, pure–in other words, what is the book's intent or "moral"; conflict with good always winning (as Christians we know that good always triumphs in the end); and I could go on and on–These are some of the things that should be considered when evaluating a book. Neither of these book series can even begin to meet these requirements.

    Secondly, although there are some who claim they can read these books without being affected emotionally, the obvious intent of the book is to create feelings of dissatisfaction with the life we have and to stir up desires that should only be felt for our husbands. Flirting with these emotions is not harmless.

    Perhaps some can read these without being emotionally drawn into the books–but not everyone is the same and it doesn't necessarily have to do with maturity. We were created as emotional beings and all of us still have fallen natures. If a book causes us to be dissatisfied with our lives as they are or elicits emotions or desires in us that are improper we shouldn't be reading them (even if they are written by "Christian" authors). It is a sign of maturity to recognize that we can't handle temptation and to flee it.

    As a literature teacher who became a homeschooling mom, I encourage all of you to read the classics. I have been homeschooling for 25+ years and have two guys out of school and two still homeschooling and like most homeschoolers we have limited free time. Reading good classic literature together (or reading apart and discussing it) has created some of our most precious memories. The Scott, Stevenson, Dumas, Dickens, Verne, Tokein, and Lewis novels we have read are what my children still talk about. We can spend a lifetime reading and never read all the good literature out there. We don't have time for bad literature.

  11. Jennifer says:

    "The obvious intent of the book is to create feelings of dissatisfaction with the life we have and to stir up desires that should only be felt for our husbands"

    That's quite a loaded accusation, wyeth. It's one thing to claim these books have unhealthy affects, but quite another to accuse the authors of deliberately trying to cause domestic disquiet; that's a bit much, don't you think? And no, I don't see how a grown woman desiring a vampire rather than her husband isn't a serious maturity issue. Unless she's already discontent with her marriage, this side effect shouldn't even be a blip on the radar.

    I couldn't agree less with you about how well-written the HP books are. They are some of the most vital, empathetic, and hilarious books I've ever read; lacking the heavy prose of Tolkien and Lewis fantasy doesn't equate bad writing in my mind. Oh well.

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    Jennifer,

    I don't think Wyethfan was trying to say the author's goal was to "cause domestic disquiet." I think she meant that each book has a purpose.

    Many movies and books today are filled with adultery and fornication. That doesn't mean the writers are purposely trying to cause divorce, disease, or other consequences that come with these sins. It simply means that stirring lust is the clear and obvious "intent (or direction) of the book" or storyline.

    "And no, I don't see how a grown woman desiring a vampire rather than her husband isn't a serious maturity issue. Unless she's already discontent with her marriage, this side effect shouldn't even be a blip on the radar."

    It's not quite that simple, Jennifer. I doubt any Christian woman watching this show will say to herself, "Wow, I wish I had a vampire like him, instead of my boring old human husband." LOL It's a little more complicated than that, as are the emotions (and sinful desires) of woman. Seduction is more subtle and sneaky. Even seduction of the mind.

    You are very young. It could be that older married women are able to see the snares and dangers a little better than single young ladies. I had this same conversation with one of my daughters recently. Don't underestimate the power of sin.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the thoughts Stacy, I hope that's what Wyeth meant. I'm young, but I've been reading for many years and I would think one of my age would be more susceptible, not less, to such temptations, but my mind has never been seduced to that extent.

    "It simply means that stirring lust is the clear and obvious "intent (or direction) of the book" or storyline."

    I don't know if it's causing lust in the reader so much as expressing the lust of the characters; the latter I think is the book's intent. As far as how simple or complicated it is for women to fall into traps, all I know is that at least one woman has said it was hard for her to "wake up" and recall that Edward wasn't her husband; that screams a lack of maturity to me. She was actively wishing or imagining he was her husband, undead fangs and all. It may not be a matter of age, but I think it is one of maturity. I would not have believed grown women could fall so heavily if someone else hadn't quoted it themselves.

    I think the key is to recognize our own weaknesses and what temptations we'd be susceptible to; I recognize where certain TV shows and reading would fuel my anger or depression needlessly, for example. Some people don't seem to handle fictional romances very well; I think more women have been snagged by Mr. Darcy than Edward Cullen (so whether it's a question of bad writing seems obvious, at least). In my years of reading, my tastes of romance have luckily been honed and narrowed; I avoid more than I read.

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