Friday, November 4, 2011

How Reading a Vampire Book Revealed to Me the Gift of Free Will - The Better Way – A Living Example

(CLICK HERE for previous chapter.)
Part of choosing Edward is choosing his way of life.
In the Twilight Saga world, not only is Edward a vampire, but he is a ‘vegetarian’ vampire, meaning he does not kill humans to slate his vampire bloodlust. He and his family only kill animals for sustenance.
This is not an easy lifestyle for a vampire for many reasons.
The smell of human blood can overwhelm the strongest control and send a vampire into an instinctual frenzy – like Jasper at Bella’s birthday party at the beginning of New Moon. Also, animal blood does not satisfy like human blood would. It’s fine, but not delectable. Animal blood does not strengthen like human blood either, so when preparing for a fight against non-veggie vamps they are at a disadvantage.
However, the Cullens and the few others like them adhere to this Better Way because they value life far above satisfying their own lusts. And not just the lives of their would-be victims, but of each other’s as well. Their choice in following this lifestyle makes building relationships with each other much easier and the relationships end up being stronger, actually based on love and affection instead of relationship-busting power struggles and violence.
Each Cullen is on a different place along the path as far as following this Better Way, and they hold each other accountable with encouragement, fellowship and forgiveness when needs-be.

The founder of this Better Way is Dr. Carlisle Cullen who despised what he had become so much that he was desperate to find redemption. It had not occurred to him that vampires could even survive on the blood of animals. Determined as he was to maintain the integrity of human life, he trained himself for centuries to deny his thirst for human blood. His journey was a lonely one as he fought to conceal from other humans his identity, and he even faced ridicule from other vampires who felt his pro-life efforts would be in vain. Eventually, though, he succeeded, becoming so immune to the alluring aroma of human blood that he was able to become a doctor and apply his skills to save lives instead of giving into his basic nature to take them.

Dr. Cullen perfected living the Better Way to such an extent that he could disciple others. Edward was his first convert, and immediately Dr. Cullen considered him his son. Over the nearly hundred years of their relationship, Edward chose the Better Way for himself (after running away from it for a time) and began deferring to Dr. Cullen, his father, in all his decisions. Dr. Cullen became Edward’s main influencing source.

Dr. Cullen is not only father and mentor, but an evangelist as well. While living the Better Way flawlessly, he also offers it as an alternative to any vampire willing to explore its merits. In Twilight, Dr. Cullen gets to talk to Laurent about the Better Way, convincing him to visit the other veggie-vamps in Alaska to learn more. Unfortunately, Laurent does not commit to the Better Way and meets a grizzly end in New Moon when he threatens Bella’s life. In Eclipse, though, Dr. Cullen offers the Better Way to a willing seeker, Bree, a newborn vampire roped into fighting for Victoria’s army. Carlisle offers her mercy and the promise of a Better Way if she would stop fighting against them, and she accepts. The sad part is the Volturi sweep in with their whitewashed righteousness of their Law and destroy her. How devastated Dr. Cullen must have felt.
Dr. Cullen is an ambassador of mercy. He was the one who negotiated the treaty with Jacob’s werewolf ancestors and continued reaching out to them when Victoria’s presence reignited the werewolf gene in the next generation. Dr. Cullen was the one who invited the werewolves to fight with him against the newborn vampire army, laying the foundation for more cooperation between vampires and werewolves. Dr. Cullen showed great mercy to Jacob as he put him back together and aided in his healing process after the battle. Far into the final novel, Dr. Cullen demonstrates unwavering faithfulness, love, grace, service, and mercy.
On one hand, I see him as God the Father, at least as far as his relationship with Edward goes. But he’s also a prime example, a saint of sorts or more accurately an apostle, of living the Better Way. And in that context he is a strong influence in Bella’s decision-making process. Besides being a good example, he makes himself available to answer Bella’s questions pertaining to Edward, her impending conversion, and the nature of vampires in general. He answers honestly, passionately, but always leaving the way for Bella to draw her own conclusion – to exercise Free Will.
Many of us believe in our Perfect Lover today because we had a Dr. Cullen influence in our lives – someone to observe, question, learn from and respect because of their integrity in living out the Better Way. That Better Way values all life, has compassion for the struggling, sick, lost and weak, and extends mercy where the Law demands payment.
In the case of our Perfect Lover, He paid the price the Law demands for us – death. That’s why choosing Him is choosing the Better Way. Because not only did He die, but He kicked death’s butt so that it no longer has power over Him or anyone choosing Him. He’s made us immortal through His life-giving blood.
But only if we exercise our Free Will and choose Him.
Thank God for the Dr. Cullens in our lives pointing to the Better Way through our Perfect Lover.
Dr. Cullens, however, are not perfect no matter how much it seems so. No, they’re just older, wiser, have seen more, had more time to practice and change. Though a wealth of knowledge, they may be a bit difficult to relate to. And when you’re in your Choosing Fields, aspiring to be a Dr. Cullen seems out of reach.
That’s where testimonies of your peers come in. People closer to your age and attitude following the Better Way sharing their stories.
Bella had the privilege of hearing some testimonies from Edward’s siblings. We’ll explore those next! Hope you stay tuned!

For the next chapter, The Influence of Testimonies, CLICK HERE.