Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden

It is likely you’ve at least heard of the Twilight series of novels (and movies), even if you have no clue what they are about. If you were wondering, they are vampire young adult romance novels that are all the rage with teenage girls. (My family had the misfortune of being at the mall one night when one of the novels was being released–it was teenybopper mayhem.) As some of my friends who have read the books have noted, they are filled with religious-ish images and symbols (which I would note is common to vampire stories). But now we know why these particular vampire stories use the particular images they do.

John Granger has written a brilliant review of the Twilight novels for the latest edition of Touchstone titled “Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden.” The article is available online. If you are even remotely interested in how even the most outrageous religious and philosophical ideas are communicated through popular media, I would highly encourage you to read the article.

HT: The beautiful Leah Finn, who first read about it at Denny Burk

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  5Comments

  1. John   •  

    OK…

    I’ve read the books (several times), now I’ve read the article. I’ve also seen the movies.

    In my opinion, the author of this article has entirely too much time on his hands.

    What happened to simply reading a book for the story instead of dissecting it for every possible angle of disagreement? You may think you know a lot more about the dissected object after you disassemble it, but you’ve also killed it.

    I saw other, more positive aspects inMeyer’s books. I saw the side where Edward steadfastly refuses to engage in premarital sex with Bella, even when she presses the issue. I saw the return of what many lament as no longer present in American society: A man (vampire?) who sees a woman for more than a sex object and who refuses to treat her as one. I saw courtesy and (gasp!) chivalry. I saw a girl who could treat a boy as a friend (Bella and Jacob) without either of them thinking sex was the next logical step in the relationship.

    I also saw that Meyer didn’t portray the Cullens as Mormons. The “father” of the family, Carlisle, actually is Anglican. The argument between Carlisle and Edward over the existence of the soul points more to orthodox Christianity than to Mormonism.

    I briefly heard an editorial on NPR last year that referred to the Twilight series. The commentator said, in paraphrase, that she wonders what will happen when girls who read Twilight – with Edward’s emphasis on sexual abstinence until marriage – encounter teenage boys who believe the secular entertainment lie about sex as the ultimate pleasure. I foresee interesting times for our youth.

  2. Jettboy   •  

    “The argument between Carlisle and Edward over the existence of the soul points more to orthodox Christianity than to Mormonism.”

    Unless your conception of Mormonism is wrong and Mormons are more orthodox than you think. This sentence makes the same mistake that Granger does; that you know more about what Mormons think and believe than Mormons do.

  3. Jonathan Homesley   •  

    The reason that Granger has so much “time on his hands” is because his main interests are classic languages and literature. He is a literary critic. I have read his books on the Harry Potter Series and enjoyed them. I only read the first part of the article because I have not finished the Twilight series yet.

    Now, I have no problem with reading a book for pure enjoyment; without dissection and reflection. But I think that we miss the point of high art when we fail to go beyond the image in search of the message. What makes high art vital to culture is its ability to embody transcendent values. “Worldview” always comes through, and it is of great importance to train our eyes to recognize its presence. The only thing more foolish than ignoring high art, is to be completely influenced by it without knowing why.

    I have picked up on the themes that Granger points out, and hope to compare my findings with his after I finish the series. Thanks for the post Dr Finn, glad to see Granger is writing on this newest cultural fad. Merry Christmas

  4. Tracy Hall Jr   •  

    I find Granger’s “Mormon Vampires” sadly lacking. If it’s a preview of his book “Spotlight: A close-up look at the artistry and meaning of Stepenie Meyer’s Twighlight Saga,” I certainly won’t bother with the book.

    With respect to Mormonism, Granger is a religious illiterate. If he sought insights into the religious motivations of Meyers, why did he use so many non-Mormon and even anti-Mormon sources? They are not going to give him any insights into the mind of a faithful Latter-day Saint like Meyers.

    1.The Mountain Meadows massacre incident and the Adam-God theory are important only to anti-Mormons.

    2. Granger is mistaken to imagine that Latter-day Saints feel threatened by the flawed “science” of the apostate Murphy: he has obviously not read responsible LDS scientists on this topic.

    3. He’s wrong about supposed Mormon hostility towards Catholicism; Mormons have traditionally more tended to view Catholics in America as fellow victims of persecution.

    4. He accepts the anti-Mormon dogma that Mormons deny grace and teach salvation by works alone, betraying that he obviously has not read the Book of Mormon.

    In short, Granger’s “insights” fail because he refuses to take seriously what faithful Mormons say about their own beliefs.

    I recommend a much more responsible study of possible religious influences in Meyer’s works: a Master’s thesis by a student who takes religious literacy seriously:
    Edwin B. Arnaudin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “Mormon Vampires: The Twilight Saga and Religious Literacy.” A Master’s Paper for the M.S. in L.S degree. April, 2008. 102 pages.
    http://tinyurl.com/Arnaudin-Mormon-Vampires

    hthalljr’gmail’com

  5. john   •  

    I’m not Mormon but I did grow up in the west with LDS relatives. I recently saw great chunks of the Twilight movies on cable, and honestly, my reaction was “how Mormon was that?”. Maybe the theology is off, but the Vampire family seemed amazingly Mormon to me. I mean, vampires who play baseball. Obviously, they can’t play in a Stake basketball league, so baseball it is.

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