From the Urban Dictionary:
Twihard –A serious/obsessive reader of the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, one leap above Twilighters. The difference between being a Twilighter and being a Twihard, is that Twihards have embraced a new Twiligion… er…. I mean, religion based on Twilight. They live and breath Twilight. Most Twihards are for Edward and Bella. Therefore, those Twihards are all for true love & love at first sight. Point out one thing to a Twihard, and they can relate it to Twilight instantly. Savage and wild, they need every single thing to be perfect in the upcoming Twilight movie.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed something very wrong in the above category. And that’s because it’s all too real. Twilight is a new religion. And there’s good reason to be concerned about that.
I read Twilight late last year. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the book and I knew a lot of teen girls were reading it. I’m obviously not the target audience for the book, being a 29 year old male. I thought it was okay, but nothing special. There were definite areas for improvement, but nothing to make me say “don’t read this book” to the teenage girls at Church. I felt it was relatively harmless. There were issues about desiring the “bad boy” and honouring parents that I would address, but nothing too major. At the end of the day, it’s just like Grease without the music and John Travolta is a vampire. No big deal.
But I don’t want to talk about the book. I don’t want to talk about the movie. I don’t even want to talk about vampires (though seriously, Twilight is just a shorter and less gay version of Interview With The Vampire). I want to talk about obsession. You can apply what I’m about to say about a lot of things, but Twilight is taking it to the extreme.
Since reading Twilight, I’ve been listening to teens speak about the book. I’ve been watching the stores fill with merchandise. And I’ve been talking to other youth leaders across Sydney (if you’re a youth leader, especially in another country, I’d love to hear what you have to add to this). For some, Twilight has become an unhealthy obsession.
I’m going to be really careful about giving examples here. I don’t want young folks I know reading this and think I’m having a go at them. I’m not. But the words I’m hearing said, and the things I’m seeing done are not glorifying Christ.
There have been many reports of Twilight related violence. Twilight fans attacking non-Twilight fans. Fans taking their obsession out in unhealthy ways. Now that’s in the secular world. You would expect a group of people that belong to Christ to be acting differently, don’t you? But I’m hearing of and witnessing relationships between Christians torn apart because one girl thinks Bella should be with Edward and another thinks she should be with Jacob. They’re fighting over fictional characters. And it’s breaking fellowship.
I’m hearing of people (I don’t want to just say girls because I know there are male Twilight fans out there) who are spending more time with their copies of Stephanie Meyer’s books than with their Bible. That their every thinking moment is completely devoted to Bella and not Christ. They’re lusting after a relationship with Edward (or any of the other characters). It’s no wonder that marketers are investing in this new stunt. Who wouldn’t want to gaze passionately into the eyes of a soulful vampire and be encouraged to purchase the DVD on April 2nd? They’re shouting out their allegiance to Twilight through their clothes, their books, the way they decorate they rooms/folders. And the sheer volume of this is louder than they give to Jesus. Twilight receives their life, Jesus gets an hour and a half at youth group.
Twilight is a piece of fiction. I’m often reminded of this when the topic of conversation comes up. It’s usually mentioned by someone who wants to dismiss that Twilight is doing anything harmful. But when something becomes an obsession, when it’s treated like a religion by it’s followers, then we have a problem. As Christians, we do not belong to this world. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a) When we allow ourselves to obsessed by things of this world, we are allowing our minds to be conformed by this world. We are rejecting the transformative work of Christ. Even worse, we are worshipping a false God. Our God is a jealous God – “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” When we arrange our life around anything but Christ, when we decided what we wear, what we read, who we associate with, based on anything other than our position as the called children of God, then we are worshipping a god that is not God. We are worshipping, literally, a fiction instead of the truth.
I don’t think we can continue to ignore that this is a problem. Should we ban Twilight? Certainly not? Should we discuss this issue with our teenagers, showing them the dangers of such obsession? I think that’s the wiser way to proceed. Open up the lines of discussion early. Help them to see that becoming obsessed with fiction is no truth at all.