Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Perfect Lover: How Reading a Vampire Book Brought Me Closer to Jesus - Extras

Several aspects of the Twilight Saga story sparkle with other Biblical parallels outside that of Edward reflecting the love of Jesus. Here are a few of the gems I’ve escavated. I could write chapters about every point, but for now, I’ll have to sum up. Please, employ your imaginations with me!

#1 - Bella’s time without Edward in New Moon was her personal wilderness. She’s faced with a heartbreaking tragedy. Without the light in her life, she grasps for coping mechanisms. She hibernates for a while as she grieves. She lashes out recklessly without concern for herself. She clings to the knowledge of his existence (NM, pg. 116) and his voice in her head left over from their close relationship. She befriends Jacob in a way she never meant to, using him to fill the void in her life (NM, pg. 218). That results in complications later. And yet, the experience strengthens her (NM, pg. 118), equips her to face and conquer future clashes with the Volturi, revenge-bent Victoria, and other dangerous situations. Her strength not only benefits her, but saves others. She also finds out that Edward never stopped loving her, something she discovers that she knew all along (NM, pg. 527).

We all experience a wilderness in our lifetime. We face heartbreaking tragedies. We go through the grieving process, which includes hibernating and rebelling. We cling to the last scrap of hope we have, which is God exists. We may not feel His presence, He may seem silent, but at least He exists. Still, in our loneliness, we often seek to fill the void with offers from the world, using it to cope, but putting ourselves in bondage. And yet, by the grace of our Perfect Lover, the experience strengthens us, equips us to handle other hardships life tosses at us. It also helps us help others. We find out that God never stopped loving us during those dark times, He never forsook us. (see Footprints poem) And unlike Edward, God never actually leaves. He's promised that He never will. (Duet. 31:8)

#2 - The Volturi represent the Pharisees. We are introduced to the vampire ruling class in chapter 22 of New Moon. In the traditional Italian town in which they dwell, they are revered and respected because the humans who live there remain unaware of their true nature. Everything about them is disguised – white washed (NM, pg. 485). Yet Bella just experienced the harrowing presence of powerful vampire princes with a healthy bloodlust and the authority to destroy her. They have few rules, but those are enforced with the utmost precision and most lethal of punishments. Exposing them meant death, no questions asked, no second chances. Bella, a human, knowing about them, equaled exposure in their eyes. Alice assures them Bella is set to become a vampire herself, vying for delay of sentencing. They agree, but one of them says, “Were I you, I would not delay too long. We do not offer second chances.” (NM, pg. 481) Later, in Breaking Dawn, the Volturi threaten more judgment for similar circumstances. The Cullens have trouble building a defense because all potential witnesses are either afraid of or deceived by the Volturi’s authority and laws. The witnesses must be persuaded that Carlisle’s life of compassion and grace can overcome the Volturi’s law.

Jesus had similar issues with the Pharisees. They had become powerful authorities claiming to represent God. They governed by the Law alone, allowing no second chances. Judgment was often lethal… as in Jesus’ case. Jesus’ ministry delivered the New Covenant of His grace to those who believed and became witnesses.

#3 - Dr. Cullen is the picture of compassion and service. I love the conversation Bella and Carlisle have as he patches up her arm after the birthday party incident in chapter 2 of New Moon. Carlisle says, “Hmmm… What I enjoy the most is when my… enhanced abilities let me save someone who would otherwise have been lost. It’s pleasant knowing that, thanks to what I can do, some people’s lives are better because I exist. Even the sense of smell is a useful diagnostic tool at times.” (NM, pg. 34) Remember, the odor of blood pains him, yet he uses that ability to prevent others from being lost. Compassion in action. Boy, I’d love to expound on that! Suffice it to suggest, read that section keeping in mind how Christians should serve each other and those in need. It’s such an apt challenge.

#4 - The issue of spiritual gifts runs throughout the saga, each vampire possessing a special skill or ability available to use for good or evil. That gift is born into them as humans but enhances with the supernatural nature of their transformations into immortals.

We are born with God-given talents and skills, giftings we can use to help others or serve ourselves. When we decide to follow Jesus and receive His gift of eternal life, the Holy Spirit enhances our natural gifts and gives us abilities to carry out His will.

#5 – Here’s the sticky one for all you Team Jacob members out there. Jacob represents the world – darkness. His name is Jacob Black. He’s always referred to as darkness, in Bella’s dreams and in Alice’s visions. Jacob’s story is entitled New Moon, which is the absence of the moon, the darkest a night can get. Becoming friends with the world inhibits a sold-out commitment to the Perfect Lover. Bella struggles to commit herself solely to the love of her life because of her ties to Jacob. She clings to the things in the darkness that she believes helped her through the wilderness. She wants both, but being friends with the world is to be enemies with God. (James 4:4) Jacob's actions start off innocent enough, but decline as things don't go his way. To win her for himself, Jacob immaturely persuades Bella to remember all the times Edward (seemingly) failed her, but Edward waits with incredible patience (although it does pain him) for her to make a final decision. (Eclipse, pg. 266) Jacob acts selfishly when it comes to Bella, and in an uncomely manner when it comes to Edward. He also retaliates to wounds she inflicts, like when he gets her in trouble with Charlie about the motorcycles. (NM, pg. 553) Jacob appeals to her physically. He knows it and flaunts it. (E, pg. 215) The world will do anything to get you to notice it, to distract you from true love.

Just like Edward is not a complete analogy of Christ, Jacob is not a complete analogy of the world. He has good qualities. He does good things for Bella. In Breaking Dawn, Jacob steps into his calling when he defies Sam’s Alpha authority and accepts his birthright. (BD, pg. 209) That is a powerful scene in and of itself, not having anything to do with the Jacob=world analogy.

#6 - When Bella finally becomes a vampire, her transformation is an intense, grisly, beautiful, and powerful picture of a soul’s metamorphosis. It’s like the Refiner’s Fire, the suffering and cost that goes into becoming that porcelain vessel refined in a kiln’s flames. (BD, pgs. 348-406) This may be my favorite passage in the entire series. After you read it, read Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, Feb. 6th. (click to read). The comparisons give me goose bumps!

Other aspects of the saga I appreciate…

The romance is pro-marriage. (T, pg. 311; E, pg. 276, 453-56; BD, pg. 16, 50, 83, 93, 478)

The themes are pro-life. (T, pg. 187, 306-07, 343; NM, pg. 428; E, pg. 317; BD, pg. 1-2, 127, 130-38, 189-90, 234, 325-327)

The characters face challenging circumstances that cause them to suffer, yet they overcome instead of retreat into an “everything in life should be easy” point of view.

Each of the Cullens is at a different place on the “vegetarian” lifestyle path. They hold each other accountable. They forgive if one of them slips. They rely on relationships.

I could go on and on… and yet, I know that at some point I should stop. J

I read an interview with the three main actors of the movie, New Moon, Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob). They were discussing the fan attention Rob gets when he’s recognized in public. Kristen spoke up, saying, “You’re not just any famous person. Edward Cullen is such an icon. When you see people on the street, it’s not just that they feel like they know you. It’s like they need you. You can complete a very personal aspect of their lives.” (Entertainment Weekly, 11-20-09, pg. 32)

Unknowingly, she hit the nail on the head.

Let’s take every opportunity to share with all those fans who think they need Edward Cullen that the real One and Only who can complete that personal aspect of their lives is the Perfect Lover, Jesus Christ.

Friday, I’ll share my thoughts on watching New Moon, arriving in theatres that day. Sold out midnight show… should be an experience! See you then!

(click for next chapter: New Moon movie review)


Susanne Dietze said...

Awesome, Lori! Interesting perspective of Jacob Black, a character whom I like more each time I read the book. (I'll have to give that some thought!) Very cool, as always!

I'm seeing the movie Friday, too, and I'll be anxious to compare notes.

KM Wilsher said...

Great thoughs :0) I thought Edwards voice was - bear with me and reach - kind of like the voice of the Holy Spirit. Guiding, helping.

Love this series. I do not hold Edward dear, but I can relate these devotions to that I do hold dear.

Thank you!

Lori Lundquist said...

Susie - I'm trying to get a reading of NM in one more time before I see the movie tonight too, AND I'm finding I like Jacob more this... I think it's the 4th :-)... time around, too! Seeing other analogies to draw... Enjoy the movie... we'll definitely discuss!

KM - YES, I've thought about Edward's voice that way too! I even searched for evidence that it wasn't her imagination but that he was somehow close by watching over her, but didn't find any. Still, the things her imagined voice said were things he would say, things left over from her time with him and knowing him so intimately. My "reach" for the representation of the Holy Spirit is in Breaking Dawn... Edward's venom. I'll tell you about it if you want. I don't know how far you've read... :-)

Thanks for your support, ladies! Have a blessed day!