Are you a Twilight fan? Are you for Team Edward or Team Jacob?
Honestly, I have no idea what that means. I haven’t read the books. I have seen parts of the first movie, but I haven’t seen the second one. As I look at what today’s youth is reading and watching, more and more of it has something to do with vampires. Today’s news touches on that.
There’s Power in the Blood
by Elrena Evans
Vampires are hot stuff right now. The preternatural creatures leer seductively from the covers of books and lust dramatically after their prey in television shows and movies. A glance at recommended reading lists for those who enjoyed Twilight, Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular vampire-romance series, yields hundreds of vampire entries, the majority published in the past three years.
This isn’t the first time the undead have become a cultural obsession. Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton traces the word vampire to the Slavic “upyr,” first recorded in 1047. Folkloric tales of night-walking monsters that drink blood to gain immortality surface in the chronicles of ancient Mesopotamia, Africa, and Europe. But the vampire’s most recent resurrection owes more to two 19th-century tales, John Polidori’s The Vampyre and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Both authors transformed the vampire from a bloated, red-faced, flabby creature into a monster with sex appeal—sleek and suave, epitomized by Twilight’s hero, Edward Cullen—shifting from the purely scary to the intriguing and tempting.
Anne Rice, whose Interview with the Vampire (1976) and subsequent Vampire Chronicles have established her as the premier vampire-centric storyteller of this generation, believes the creatures continue to fascinate because we see something of ourselves in them.
“The vampire is a monster who preys on his brothers and sisters, but loves them and needs them emotionally as well as physically,” she told Christianity Today. “There are times when almost anyone might confess to feeling like a vampire—for using or abusing someone else, for taking rather than giving, for being in pain yet wanting to hang on to life no matter how difficult it gets.”
Rice believes the current craze is most likely author-driven, following Twilight’s success. “Certain authors develop the mythology, and their work catches on,” she says. “The public appetite is potentially insatiable because the potential of the idea is so great.”
Beth Felker Jones, a theology professor at Wheaton College and author most recently of Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga,
believes Meyer’s series is so popular because its romance resonates with readers’ desire for radical love.
“There’s nothing halfway about Bella’s love for Edward,” Jones says, “or her belief that she has found complete meaning and fulfillment in him.” And that’s what Jones finds disturbing about the series: Bella “doesn’t have any hopes, interests, or desires outside of Edward. She’s even willing to sacrifice her soul for his sake.” And the vampire motif only raises the stakes: “Readers wait to see who will get bitten and who might have to die in the quest for love.”
Shawna Ferrell, owner of the Christian review website Teen Lit Review, wrote cautiously about Twilight in 2008, concluding that she couldn’t recommend it for teens.
“Teens today are bombarded with all kinds of shows about paranormal activity, witches, and vampires that are specifically designed to appeal to their generation,” Ferrell says. To an adolescent girl who may feel undesirable, “the idea of a superbly handsome young man who is desperately in love with her is very appealing.” Because vampires are both “cool and sexy,” they possess “everything our media-worshiping society says it takes to be beautiful and thus accepted.”
While Meyer and the authors following her lead borrow heavily from Romeo and Juliet and other archetypal romances, traditional vampire folklore found much source material in Christian theology. The idea of achieving immortality through blood is central to both traditions—the Christian, through the life-giving blood of Christ, and the vampire, through drinking the blood of victims. Vampire legends are rich with Christian symbols, most notably the crucifix (believed to protect mortals) and the consecrated bread and wine of Communion.
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* Original article found here.
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