Thursday, April 8, 2010

How Does Virtue Apply to Me Personally?

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

OK, I know I risk offending some people...but here goes. It all started a few years ago. I read about Stephanie Meyer's book, Twilight, in the BYU Alumni Magazine, which we get since both my husband and I are alums. Read it here: magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=1972 Hmmm, sounds interesting, I thought. That's cool that she was "just a housewife" and has written a book and hit it big. I didn't give it much more thought. Then awhile later I noticed girlfriends in my ward talking about her book. Hmmm, do I want to read it now? No, I thought, it seems like brain candy and there are too many classics, aka, nourishing food for the mind, that I want to digest. I will pass the cotton candy in order to have organically grown steak from grass-fed cows.

Then, I visited with my girlfriend who is the editor of my book which I, promise, will come out this year. We had a blessingway for her third baby the night that one of Meyers' new volumes in the Twilight series came out. Despite being 39 weeks pregnant, this friend I will call Sara was off to Barnes and Noble, at midnight, after our bash was over, to get the latest copy. She confessed that the writing isn't that great, but the books are so addictive, she said. (So that is why she took so long to edit my book...I was competing with Twilight, not just her pregnancy. What does that say about my writing? Ouch!) Sara even called it "LDS pornography." Wow, strong words. I think I will stay away. This wasn't just cotton candy, it's being compared to poison. Hmmm.... My husband created quite a stir at a Cub Scout family camp in Idaho a few weeks later when he reported my conversation around the campfire amidst some Twilight fans.

Two months later, at a parents' training meeting for the commonwealth school I belong to, I started talking to Aneladee, the co-founder of the Commonwealth School philosophy. She said she was going to California soon to a TJED youth conference and would speak about "siren vs. beacon, vampire vs. knight." I quickly figured out what that meant. Sirens are females who draw others, especially, males, to evil. Beacons are females who draw others, especially males, to goodness. Vampires suck virtue from females, and knights defend virtue. Wow, what a great concept! I immediately wanted to hear more.

That dream is coming true! I found out however, that Aneladee got the concept from a mutual friend, Stephanie, and Stephanie has been working on a book about it. She has read the whole Twilight series and has studied the proper forms of the family. She feels it is her mission to teach these family roles, which are based on the proper roles of males and females as knights and beacons. She has a friend engrossed with Edward, the vampire in Twilight. She said she went to a birthday party for Edward with her friend and was disturbed to hear these women complaining about why their husbands aren't like Edward. This is so sad! A figment of a young mom's imagiination versus real flesh and blood men who are willing to die for their wives. This disturbs me too! I want to learn more! Stephanie and Aneladee will present this concept this coming Sunday at a special fireside that I have organized for youth ages 12 and up and their parents. it will be 7 PM, April 11, 2010, at the home of our friends, the Fabers, in Bountiful, Utah. Please email me (celestia_shumway@yahoo.com) for the address if you want to come.

This is the first in my series of firesides for parents and youth to focus on virtue. Our LDS Church Leaders are asking us to 1. return to virtue, and 2. learn as parents and children, from each other, in the home. That will happen in my family as we converse about what we learn from these talks from Sister Elaine Dalton about virtue and the recent General Conference and this fireside.

My goal is to get parents and youth to think, "How does virtue apply to me personally? If I am virtuous does that mean I should avoid reading certain books, even though they are tremendously popular? Does being virtuous affect what I wear, what I watch, listen to, and how I spend my time each day, especially with the glut of entertainment choices I have?" Let's get virtue out of the ethereal and get personal about it. This might be painful, I know, but it will be good for us.

8 comments:

  1. I know that you don't know me, but a friend of mine pointed me to your blog and I found it interesting. I happen to be a Twilight fan and while I do not take offense to what you have written, I think it a bit strange that you have formed such strong opinions of the book without having read it. I am a fan of the classics as well, however I don't expect every book I read to be of that calibur and can find enjoyment in reading other things. Just because something is popular it doesn't automatically mean that it is bad. As with anything, you can probably find good or bad in it, if that's what you're looking for.

    However, having said those things, I find the concept of "siren vs. beacon, vampire vs. knight" very intriguing. I am all for seeking virtue in a less than virtuous world!

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  2. I have not read the books either, and I don't plan to. My wise bishop said, "Anything that doesn't lead you to Jesus draws you to Satan." Read the scriptures, a talk from our leaders about virtue, and spend some time on your knees and then TRY to read a chapter in Twilight. I bet you can't do it. The spirit you felt while reading God's word can't stay when you read Twilight. How can I know this when I haven't read it? Easy! I've watched how ladies and young girls react to and talk about these books/movies. It makes me so sad. The scriptures tell us to learn from the "best books." What can we really learn from Twilight? I think Sister Meyer should be ashamed of herself!

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  3. Celestia, this is great! I really wish I could come (the thousands of miles trip will be stopping me, however). I have found that the roles of men and women are so important to righteous living and happiness, not to mention understanding truth. I'm glad to hear you sharing this message in this way. I know there will be some who benefit from them.

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  4. Perhaps I will read these sometime, if directed to by the Spirit because they would be part of "research" related to my mission, as they were for my friend Stephanie (she didn't want to read them) but for now, the Lord is directing me to other books that relate to my mission. I will trust Tara and Stephanie's judgment of them. I know they would be fun but sometimes fun things should be avoided.

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  5. I was not looking to open up a Twilight debate here - everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. It does bother me a bit that some people seem to question others' ability to perceive the Spirit based on the books that they read, though. Perhaps the Holy Ghost can speak to us through unexpected ways, even works of fiction that others find fault in.
    I think it is wonderful that we all have different taste in books, music, etc., and the Spirit can speak to us individually through many means. I had a wonderful Stake President that often reminded us that "we are in the mercy business - not the judgment business." No one should be condemning Sister Meyer, especially if they don't even know what it is she has written. She is not responsible for people comparing their husbands to Edward, or any extreme behaviors people exhibit after reading her books. I am not looking to attack anyone or their opinion nor to be under attack, just to share some thoughts. I am sure you sisters are doing what you feel is right for you and your family and I commend you for that, but ask that no one judges me for feeling differently.

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  6. I'm sorry to be offensive Julie, it wasn't my intention. Twilight gets my blood boiling simply because of the way I have seen women and girls react. Two friends who have read the books told me today that book three is basically all about the girl thinking of/ dreaming of the sex she wants to have with Edward. Would you disagree? PLEASE tell me they are wrong! Please! Another friend told me that she watched the movie and was sexually "turned on." She is married with 9 kids! Of course we are in the "judgment business." That's what life is all about. We don't judge people, but we must make judgement calls about what people do and say. Is what they do and say true and godly? Is Sister Meyer leading souls to Christ with her writing? I have to make a judgement call here! She IS responsible to a certain degree for actions people take as a result of reading her books. If a man watches a porno and then acts out the things he's seeing would you say that it was in no way the fault of the porno film-maker? What if it was your husband? We HAVE to be in the "judgement business!"

    Julie, I am sure you are great! I am not judging you AT ALL! I am just making a judgement call based on all the things I have heard and seen about these books.

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  7. Tara, I appreciate your remarks and I am certainly not saying we don't make judgment calls - that IS what life is about. What my stake president was referring to is judging people. We do need to exercise discernment when it comes to good and bad behaviors as well as what books we read, movies we watch, etc. However, when we think badly of people because they exhibit behaviors we have determined to be improper, that is where we are out of line.
    I think it is sad some people attack Stephenie Meyer personally - that is judging HER not her behavior and it is not our place to do that. Unlike the porn film-maker in your example I really don't think it was her intention to make a pornographic work, just to write a romantic story that people would enjoy. Again, I believe some people will take good things out of her books, and others will take bad. I think the same could be said for a lot of the classics (NOT that I am ranking this series with those!).
    Anyway, I don't want to take up a bunch more space on Celestia's blog with a Twilight debate, but if you have further thoughts to share with me you are welcome to email me privately at marstonj@msu.edu. Of course if I agreed with your friend's thinking about the third book I wouldn't have read it ;)

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  8. Celestia-

    I don't think you're missing out on a whole lot of fun by not reading these books. They aren't particularly well written, but I think it is going too far to call it poison.

    I think that the women and girls who are attracted to Edward are attracted to his "knight" behaviors--he's not a typical vampire. He is extremely protective (maybe even over-protective in a creepy way) of the protagonist's virtue and physical safety. He refuses to kill people for his own enjoyment and sustenance. In many ways the series glorifies the nobility of self-denial. There are, however, some disturbing elements. I think it is kind of a sick relationship--the vampire who loves the girl he would love to eat. Yuck. Maybe it would be worth reading the first one for research, but there's no hurry, because you are definitely right about the nourishment it provides. Put this one in the cotton candy column.

    Tara- I think it's quite possible Stephanie Meyer may be a beacon for many people to investigate the church (or at least be more sympathetic to it) because of her books. So maybe she IS leading people to Christ.

    Julie- I like you.

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