Sunday, November 22, 2009

Two years ago when I was back in Utah visiting my family, my sister recommended a book to me. She was only the latest in an ever growing list of women I love and respect who had recommended the Twilight Saga. "You'll love them!" "They'll remind you of when you were dating your husband!" "You'll fall in love with Edward!" "You'll feel just like you did when you were in love in high school."

Now that last one wasn't really going to sell me on wanting to read the books. I didn't fall in love in high school. I fell into unhealthy obsessions with generally unworthy recipients. Generally speaking, the days of my high school romances are not days that I want to relive. Just thinking about them makes me want to call up some of those former flames and apologize for being a freak and reassure them that I'm not such a hot mess anymore. Of course, the act of placing that phone call would assuredly confirm in their minds that I am definitely still a hot mess, so that's best left alone.

Anyway, I needed reading material for the drive home, so I picked up the first book. Honestly, I wasn't completely enamored of it, but I'm not one to walk away from a series of books, so I purchased the next two and read them as well. When the fourth one was released, I consumed it also. When talking with devotees of the series, I took a neutral position, or perhaps feigned more connection to the books than I actually felt. I kept waiting to feel that connection, to gain my own testimony of Twilight, as it were.

I wondered if maybe the books didn't exactly do it for me because I tend to not like to follow the crowd. There were already 4 Harry Potter books in print before I picked up the first one, but I fell in love immediately with those. I thought maybe I didn't swoon over the Twilight books because, as I mentioned before, I didn't fall in love in high school. It seemed many of the women I knew who loved the books had found their true love at a much younger age than me, so maybe the books resonated more with them because of that. That idea stuck with me for quite a while, and made me feel better about my inability to marry myself to Team Edward or Team Jacob.

A few months later I was working on a group lesson I was teaching the Young Women. I was trying to talk to them about opening themselves up more and being more aware of the other young women around them, of reaching out to those who might not feel included. I couldn't tell you what the search terms I used were (I've been trying for the last hour or so to recreate the search with no success), but one search pulled up an interesting article on Twilight. I went ahead and read it because even though I knew it wasn't appropriate for my lesson, I am always easily distracted.

In reading the article, I finally realized why Twilight just wasn't doing it for me. The author made several points that resonated with me in a way the books never had. For the life of me, I can't find the original article, but basically the author was contending that though the Twilight books were touted as clean and chaste and appropriate for young women to read, they really aren't.

For one thing, though Bella and Edward never have premarital sex, they are continually pushing that boundary as far as they can. It starts with kissing and once Edward feels he can handle that, they try a little more. They are constantly seeing how much they can do without actually having sex. Which is not exactly being chaste. In fact, that's how many human couples get pregnant. It's like the anecdote about the man hiring a driver. He asks each candidate how close they can drive to the edge without falling off. They all get closer and closer to the edge, but the one he hires is the one who vows to stay as far from the edge as possible.

Secondly, Edward and Bella do not have a healthy relationship, and Edward is not the perfect man. Yeah, I said it. Edward is controlling, obsessive and abusive. If you want to read more about that, check out this link. I could delve more into that, but there's another point that sounded to me. As members of the church, families and service are of ultimate importance. The other article I read highlighted how Bella and Edward's relationship isolates them from everyone else and turns them completely inward whereas a good relationship should include service and should make those in it better people. These are things we know and accept as adults, but are harder for young people to recognize.

Finally, I love my husband. Titillating as the books may be, and I acknowledge that they are,

I'm not picking a fight. I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings. I know I'm in a vast minority here. But let it be known, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a Twihard. And I hope none of my daughters are either.

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