NOTE: Some "spoilers" are revealed in this post. If you would like to read the Twilight Saga and be surprised by the plot twists, I advise you not to read this post.
Yesterday on Facebook I responded to someone who posted in frustration about all of the people reading the Twilight Saga by citing Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
I did reply -- I probably shouldn't have, but I tend to get defensive about my Twilight, especially since we just discussed it in our church's literary group last month.
First of all, I have read each of the books a minimum of four times in book form (some 5-6 times), and I have listened to the audiobooks at least once each (again, some more than once). I have watched the first movie at least half a dozen times, more or less to keep my daughter company as she adores the books and the movies. It was at her behest that I read the books in the first place.
In fact, I watched the Twilight movie long before I read the books. I was quite sure that I wouldn't care much for the books, but within the first three or four chapters, I knew I had a book series at hand that could rival Harry Potter; I devoured all four books in less than two weeks and have been rereading the books ever since.
Why have I loved these books? First of all, the true love of Bella and Edward is the stuff of literary giants, a parallel that Stephenie Meyer makes quite clear in the books. The first book has subtle hints of Pride and Prejudice; the second possesses a non-subtle connection with Romeo and Juliet, and the third a strong parallel with Wuthering Heights. I think that Bella and Edward truly rank with the literary world's great lovers -- their unselfish, sacrificial love coupled with great adventures as good battles evil everywhere around them is truly the stuff of epic romance.
Yet the romance is not the main reason for enjoying the Twilight Saga. It's the same reason I adore the Harry Potter books: the epic battle between good and evil that asks the characters to choose good over evil in every decision they make. Edward and Bella are both truly good people asked to face evil situations and make moral choices, unselfish choices, again and again in order to conquer evil and cling to what is good (to paraphrase another Bible verse).
Not only have I read the four published Twilight Saga books, but I have also read the section of Midnight Sun that Meyer has posted on her website -- about a third of the material covered in Twilight but from Edward's first person point of view rather than Bella's. It shows how truly good Bella is, just as Twilight demonstrates Edward's goodness through Bella's eyes.
In addition to good vs. evil, other Christian themes are quite obvious in the four (and one-third) books that tell Edward's, Bella's, and Jacob's stories: self-sacrifice (Edward leaving Bella to save her soul); laying down your life for family/friends (Bella does so several times, as does Edward as does Jacob); Edward and Bella wait until after they are married before having physical relations; plus, in the fourth book there is an extremely strong pro-life message.
Many Christians hear the word "vampire" and immediately cringe away, thinking that vampires = evil, which often they do. But as we understand that Edward and the Cullen family are indeed vampires, we also discover that the Cullens are "vegetarians": they hunt and drink the blood of animals rather than that of humans. Led by Carlisle who "created" Edward, Esme, Rosalie, and Emmet when all of them were at the point of death. Carlisle's motivation: to "save" life, not lose it. Because they value life to much to take it, the Cullens exercise self-control in order to live righteous, useful lives. Carlisle has controlled his need for human blood so thoroughly that he works as a doctor, using his extended strength and senses to help save lives. He explains that his father was an Anglican priest in seventeenth-century London, and Carlisle believes that the Cullens at least have a chance of a place in heaven because of their choices.
Edward does not want Bella to become a vampire because he fears for her soul. He delays her every chance he can from becoming a vampire, but when she finally does become a vampire, Edward does so to save her life after the emergency C-section birth of their half-vampire/half-human daughter. The Cullens need to battle the "evil" vampires in order to preserve their lives and the lives of the innocent humans who live in the communities surrounding them.
Beside all the content of the saga, I have to admire Meyer's superb plotting and character development. Not that the Twilight Saga is the best-written book of all time, but it's masterfully planned and beautifully executed. If only I could infuse my novel with a shot of Meyer's magical writing style. It's really incredibly well-plotted, with characters we can't help but become attached to, both major and minor characters.
So, for these reasons, I think that Christians should indeed read The Twilight Saga and not judge others (especially other Christians) without reading it -- same thing with the Harry Potter books as well.