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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Looking at People

The Twilight vampire series is still hot, probably because of the movies that are now coming out about this. I just saw an advertisement for the latest installment. When I read these books, I was struck by Bella's horror of aging and dying, and her great desire to be "immortal" as well as to be with Edward "forever." The gifts that the vampire receives include eternal youth, amazing physical abilities, and often a special sense or psychic talent. The vampire also receives a powerful desire to kill and drink blood. The Cullens deal with this by hunting animals rather than people.

I couldn't help feeling a strong antipathy towards this type of vampire existence, especially because it is portrayed so enticingly and mixed so liberally with powerful (unrealistic) romance. These books are popular with young girls who do not yet understand the negatives that might be inherent within this type of lifestyle. The vampire still operates on a flawed Earth, and is subject to many negative influences including anger and death (of others and potentially themselves). The vampire also has a sense that he or she is "special": he or she has been drawn out of the pool of mortals to live a special, charmed life.

Contrast this with the Christian view of life: all people are immortal. This existence on Earth, now, is a brief preliminary that allows each individual to decide whether he will turn to God or go his own way. This choice is cemented at death. Jesus talked more about hell than anyone else in the Bible, and also more than any other subject. Hell is eternal separation from God who is the source of all good things.

If true (and I believe it is) this means that every person should carefully consider what sort of person he is becoming, and furthermore what sort of person OTHERS are becoming. You should value each person, not act as if they are something disposable or dismissible. I love CS Lewis -- forty-some years after his death, his words still resonate powerfully. Here is something he writes about how to treat others, with these eternal destinies in mind:

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations, It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

from CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory


Kat Heckenbach said...

I love CS Lewis. He's brilliant. His writing has touched me so much!

And I agree--Twilight sends the wrong message. I personally love vampire stories, but I prefer they stay the bad guys.

Andra M. said...

From some who've seen the movies, they were all struck by how many older women were in the audience and equally enthralled by the characters and story. So it's not just young girls who are tempted by such a lifestyle.

As for C.S. Lewis, I really need to read his books. He had quite an insight both into God and human nature.