Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Book Review: The Twilight Gospel

About the book: The blockbuster Twilight Saga is being read by teenager and adult alike. These powerful novels are gaining even more popularity as the movies hit theaters. But what should a Christian response be? And is there a helpful way to approach a teenager or young adult captivated with the books without alienating her?

Dave Roberts read The Twilight Saga and while he appreciated the literary qualities, there were also parts that troubled him. As he considered the books as a whole and spoke to teenagers who read them, he saw the need for a resource. In The Twilight Gospel Dave brings to bear a Biblical lens showing that while there are important moral and spiritual lessons to be learned, there is also a promotion of a non-Christian worldview. He addresses such topics as the cult of beauty, the appeal of the self-disciplined vampire Edward, life after death, the use of myths and legends, sexuality, personal spiritual power, and the lure of materialism.

Crisply written and with a gracious spirit, The Twilight Gospel will help teens, their parents, and their pastors discern what is good from what is unhealthy in the novels and equip them to be biblically literate readers. Read an excerpt here.

My Thoughts
I really appreciated Dave Roberts' balanced approach to this book. He doesn't just focus on the negative aspects, he praises the positive as well, all through the lens of a Christian worldview.

I have not read the Twilight series, which perhaps made this a little less interesting (to me) than it would've otherwise been. However, I think that being able to discuss movies and books with your children that they have seen and read is an excellent way to help them learn discernment, to help them pick out the good and bad in what they see and read, to help them learn how to view entertainment with a critical eye, and to realize how we are affected by what we put into our brains. This book would be a fabulous discussion springboard between you and your teens.

Of course, you don't necessarily need to read a book critique like this one in order to have such a discussion, but if you haven't seen the movie yourself, or want to benefit from someone else's research, then this would be a great book to pick up.

A quote I liked from the book....

Fiction, obviously has power. But how much? Those who say that stories such as the Twilight Saga 'make' people undertake explorations of sexuality or the occult are overstating the case. Stories do not 'make' anybody do anything. They introduce the possibility and excite the imagination; that is all. By the same token, those who would say that these are merely stories and that people will not internalize the value systmes they find in the saga may also be suffering from a form of cultural myopia. Some people will take up the possibilities that they find in the story and act them out in their own lives. Stories bring ideas to life. (pg 19, 20)

Some of the positives in the story - women who unconditionally love, a man dedicated to peace, people willing to forgive and to sacrifice for others, those willing to work to control their destructive impulses, and a family who nurtures wisdom.

Some of the negatives in the story...
At the heart of the book we find the idols of beauty, occult power, consumerism and undisciplined eroticism paraded with a degree of naivety in some cases and with unthinking relish in others. (pg 155)

The author encourages the reader to read critically (as we always should, to do otherwise is dangerous), with caution and thought. The saying "don't believe everything you read" applies to fiction just as much as newspapers. So, enjoy the read - but don't mindlessly believe.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.


Mrs.Oz said...

Christian liberty is a shakey subject for sure. I've heard Christians totally condemn Twilight and Harry Potter and in the next breath say what a fan of "the Office" they are. All things from the world will have elements we have the freedom to enjoy with both physical and mental self-control. When we are weak in an area and the liberty makes us fall, we need to address it. Different people are weak in different areas too so drawing legalistic black and white lines is not to be taken lightly. I appreciate all discussion about Twilight, but one has to realize it's cotton candy reading. We all have our type and we all know we would not be healthy if we lived on that alone.
If you would like to read my Twilgight Soap Box you can go here: http://whatsupwithusnow.blogspot.com/2009/11/my-twilight-soap-box.html

I have read them, my husband has and enjoyed them. I am not a fan of Vampire literature either but that's just been a matter of taste.
What I don't like is when people draw lines that can't carry over all the way to other things. In this area (liberties)there are lines that are biblical and apply accross the board to us all, and there are lines that are individually drawn according to conscience, culture, personal interest, and tendancy to idolize.
Well, you should read the rest at my blog if you want so you don't have to hear me rave on your own. :)

Mrs.Oz said...

...i wanted to add that I happen to like The Office too. I brought it up as an example of the different type of worldy things that have to be filtered out in our entertainment and how it's odd to say one is okay due to preferance when there are objectionable things in both. There are many things in entertainment that one can find funny, fascinating, romantic, or otherwise but you would not actually do them, say them, exemplify them, or act on them. Quite honestly, some of the comedy in The Office that I and my husband find hilarious we would be quiet and offended in the real work place. That is the extreme and intensity of fiction.
Whe it get's too intense, or to extreme, we shun it. Some citcoms are (well, most) that way for us. The more offence, the more one can call it trash. Where we draw that line is always going to be different.

TammyIsBlessed said...

I agree :)

Kristi Lea said...

I have not watched or read any of the Twilight series. I have always found vampires and the like, to be from Satan, and would not ever allow it in my home or into my children's minds. I find Christians who are infatuated with it, to be a dissapointment, and I don't understand. But, it is a matter of opinion and taste, and conviction. If you have not been shown from the Gospel, the wrong in those ideals, it's hard to be convicted about it, isn't it? We are all on differnent sections in our spritual journey. Some of us are strong in our walk in the Spirit and others are not. I think it's wonderful that someone wrote a book to try and help Christians to descern what is right and wrong in this series that has swept the nation, so to speak. If God had His way, none of us would partake in most of the shows and movies in our modern culture, but we have to be reaslistic, and know that most will. Only a few are disciplined and enlightened enough to obstain from all evil. It is my prayer that the Lord would show us through His Gospel, and through fellow believers, how corrupt ALL these things are, and how they bring NOTHING of value to our homes and families. I love the Office too, and I don't find it as offensive as the Twilight Series, but I have to ask myself "does this glorify the Lord...does it bring edification to myself and my family...is there any spiritual value in bringing this into my home?" It's tough for me...I pray for God's strength!

Claire said...

Sounds like an interesting book!


Mrs.Oz said...

"Only a few are disciplined and enlightened enough to obstain from all evil."

there is just so much wrong with that statement I won't even waste my time.

Mrs.Oz said...

No, I will say this: when the law shows you what a wretch you are, when it lays you bare and convinces you of what a great deprived sinner you are, it is doing what it's meant to do. When it makes you legalistic and puffs up your spiritual pride to convince you you are more enlightened, stronger, more disciplined than other believers, it is an idol and you are being deceived by the enemy. Watch out for what the law does to you because it will show your true understanding of Christ work. The law came to lay us low, not to puff us up.
Remember too what Paul says about all things being permissable but not all things being benificial. That applies to many Christian freedom areas.
You could easily tell an overweight person they are a Christian dissapointment because they did not have the physical discipline to take in all that was heathly for them. That's not how it works though. We struggle to balance all things but we do it with humble dependance on God and not prideful legalism. A thin Christian is not more holy that a chubby one. This is just an anology.
We should all take heed, lest we fall. I have so much to learn in the Lord....so much. I cringe to think of a day when I would boast that I'm enlightened. Legalism is just as blinding as feeding the flesh, in fact, it is a form of feeding the flesh. Well, this is where I drop off.
May we all seek Him humbly and praise God heaven frees us from these things as a body of believers! We have to love out of love for Christ for eachother! That will be as easy as breathing someday on the new earth. Right now I'm looking forward to that because I'm struggling.

Amy B said...

I started to read the books but it was after I watched the first movie (which I loved) and for some reason couldn't get into it? Maybe I'll have to try again this summer... at the beach! Cotton candy, it is for sure! I love the positive and negative reviews of the book - sounds like it's right out of a psychology today mag!! (-: And great discussion after... There are Christians who work in Hollywood, are they not placed there so the Light can be in the dark? Or for that matter, would Jesus be in the bars today as He called Tax collectors and the like to Himself?!? It's not the healthy who need the doctor but the sick... Anyway, Christians can be anywhere and everywhere and having impact on INDIVIDUALS whereever they are, maybe not the industry yet, but individuals... What if you read the book, saw the movie and was able to use it to start a conversation with a teen or mom... relationships start this way, do they not?!?!?


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