Monday, November 7, 2011

How Reading a Vampire Book Revealed to Me the Gift of Free Will – The Influence of Testimonies

(CLICK HERE for previous chapter.)
The testimonies of Bella’s would-be in-laws, Alice, Rosalie and Jasper, all give Bella perspectives to consider with looks at their pasts, their conversion experience, and their lives since becoming vampires and living the Better Way as a Cullen.
Rosalie offers her story first. She’s not been subtle in her dislike of Bella, so Bella is sufficiently frightened when Rosalie takes the opportunity on a night when Edward is out hunting to speak her mind. But from Rosalie’s perspective, her intentions are one hundred percent honorable.

Rosalie Hale grew up the princess of her little southern household, set to marry town catch Royce King. However, one night close to the wedding, an intoxicated Royce and his friends attacked, assaulted and beat Rosalie leaving her in the street to bleed to death. Carlisle found her, and after assessing her vitals, determined she would die if he did not change her into a vampire. He did and brought her home to his then only companion Edward. Rosalie unwillingly endured the pain of transformation, accepted what Carlisle had made her, then accepted his Better Way… but only after she went on a revenge binge, killing everyone who had hurt her that night. Though beautiful and not dead, Rosalie mourned the loss of her humanity and held on to the bitterness stemming from the events that led to her vampire existence. Even with a strong and loving relationship with Emmett, she still yearns for the past. She believes, based on her experience, that Bella is making the wrong choice in wanting to become a vampire just for the sake of being with Edward.
The next testimony Bella hears is Jasper’s after a training session the Cullens and the werewolves have learning to fight newborn vampires. Bella asks how Jasper knows so much about it. He tells her how he came to be a Cullen.
Jasper Whitlock was in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Young and responsible, he demonstrated admirable leadership skills. A trio of lady-vamps found him one night along a deserted road and purposely attacked and changed him so that he could train the newborn vamps they were making into an army as in that time there were vicious territorial wars among vampire covens. So Jasper sparred with a lot of newborns, received hundreds of scars, and hunted humans all as a part of his job. Doing his job well was the only thing that kept him from being destroyed as well. What made it worse was Jasper’s special power, that he can control the moods of people as well as feel other people’s moods as if they were his own. This added stress to his brutal employment since he took on all the fear of his victims. Many of his victims were newborns who had no more use to Jasper’s boss. Without meaning to, Jasper had befriended one of them, Peter. When he was told to destroy his friend, Jasper couldn’t do it and let him go. Years later, Peter came back for Jasper and helped him escape. But Peter was not a veggie-vamp, and Jasper’s continued human hunting got him more and more depressed. He began wandering alone, lost and unsure of his options. But that’s when he found Alice, waiting for him in a Philadelphia diner. Since Alice sees future events, she saw Jasper coming, like she’d seen the Cullens and their Better Way. So they went and joined the Cullen family at once.

Alice’s testimony is as short as her future-sight is long. She couldn’t remember anything from her human life. As far as she was concerned, she’d only always been a vamp. Seeing the future helped her find the Cullens and the Better Way, so she did not suffer long as a lone vamp and she never had to taste human blood.
Bella had lots of information to process as she absorbed these histories from three different perspectives. They each had a different motivation in telling their stories – Rosalie aimed to deter, Jasper to inform, and Alice always aimed to invite. The only two things these testimonies had in common were first that the transformation itself was the most painful thing imaginable, and second that the Cullens were safe, kind, noble.
Every Christian has a story of how they came to an eternal, committed relationship with Jesus the Perfect Lover. The way we live those stories and speak about those stories impact people still in the Choosing Fields. Testimonies can deter, inform and invite depending on what part of that Better Way path we’re standing on.
Believers like Rosalie may not intend to deter others from choosing our Perfect Lover, but baggage from their past can weigh them down with bitterness and regret to extent that their testimony paints a sad picture.
Others more like Jasper have a horrible story of pain and immorality and sin. Finding the Better Way saved his existence. Though committed, he still falters because of the potency of his past. But surrounded by a loving family keeping him accountable, he can walk in the Better Way forgiven, growing, improving and free.
Some people are like Alice. They don’t remember anything different and are glad for it.
I’m sure we’ve all encountered Rosalies, Jaspers and Alices along our own journeys. Question is, which one are you?
While our fictional friends did not choose to become vampires, they did have the choice to follow Dr. Cullen’s Better Way. In Bella’s case, she has the opportunity to exercise her Free Will from the very beginning and choose a lifestyle based on her relationship with the Perfect Lover. The testimonies from the Cullen siblings paint a picture of her future and affect her thought process as she lingers in the Choosing Fields. But the tug of the past seems to hold her back more because she’s worried sick about what her parents will think.
That’s next on Dry Ground! Hope you join me!
To go to the next chapter, Leave and Cleave, CLICK HERE.