Welcome to Spes Unica.
On this blog, I am examining the current Twilight phenomenon in the light of Christian principles and also taking the opportunity to explore other related cultural issues. The hope is to give a voice to the truth about genuine femininity – so beautifully safeguarded by the Catholic Church. I have a bunch of daughters I am trying to raise in a world that has, in many ways, made a point of destroying girls’ innocence. As a professional religious educator I see the impact the culture is having on my students as well. I heard it said recently that the goal of each woman’s life is to strive each day to be less EVE and more AVE. Anyone who can see the value in that will understand why I am writing. It just so happens that the current cultural obsession with the Twilight saga provides a great opportunity to examine these issues.
I update this blog with things I think are relevant to the discussion – sometimes, adding new pieces to already existing posts, other times posting replies to some of the comments received and finally, adding new posts to expand the overall outlook. Twilight isn’t going away any time soon – nor are the issues it raises. The posts build on each other – often times, I simply cannot answer all the questions I receive, so I reply to questions in the form of a new post. If you have a question, you may want to see if it is addressed in another post. Titles are listed on the left side of the page.
One of the most common questions that arises is why bother to worry about books, since fiction is precisely that… My hope is first and foremost to provide a resource to those who may feel alone and under siege in this cultural landscape and secondarily to foster ongoing charitable discussion on these issues.
I get many, many, MANY comments dismissing any critique of the Twilight series because it is “just fantasy”. Please, before you comment here, read subsequent posts dealing with the issue of “fantasy” and comment on the points made in the comment sections there. Once you have read about the effects of fantasy in our lives, please respond to the specific arguments rather than make sweeping statements about topics that I have already addressed thoroughly elsewhere. THANKS!
Here are links to some of the more popular posts (just click):
* IMPORTANT: Do girls need “fantasy”?
* Frightening: to what degree is Twilight being used as a gateway to occult practices?
Look no further than the CHICAGO TWILIGHT CONVENTION that was held FEB. 6,7,8 for evidence.
Click HERE for a detailed account.
* A Response to Deekin Chip – On Jacob’s Lust *****This is a very important post for those who want to see some of the content in the novels. I avoid posting actual quotes because I think they are an occasion of sin, but I have put a little bit here because it is necessary. For those moms who say they read these books aloud with their daughters I ask – who reads these parts? And would you read them aloud with your husband around? Or your Pastor? Why or why not? I’ll add, this is simply interaction between Jacob and Bella. Some scenes with Bella and Edward are worse.
* FOX NEWS reports Joanna Krupa’s claim that John Paul II would approve of her “frequent disrobing”.
She claims the Theology of the Body vindicates pornography. This is false. Click here for the whole story.
*UPDATE* – Krupa is now using her Catholicism to try to defend a PETA ad in which she wears nothing but a large Crucifix to barely cover her private parts. Check out the original post for the continuing story.
* A discussion of SELFISHNESS VS. LOVE
* Solemnity of the Annunciation
WHY is this a special day? Read an account here.
* For all those who defend “Twilight” as a pro-life, pro-chastity, “old-fashioned morals” book… perhaps we should take a vote on the most pro-chastity item here from among this fan-merchandise
Having provided some of the more popular links, we will get into the topic at hand on this opening page.
What IS Twilight saying to young women?
This is an initial reflection written to coincide with the first movie release in November 2008.
The Twilight Saga is an international sensation, but unlike other recent blockbusters (for example, the Harry Potter series), this fan base tilts very, very heavily towards females. (One fan site listed a ratio of 31 registered females for every male, and I would venture to say it may be optimistic about the number of males.)
The series has been carefully marketed as a courtly romance based on old fashioned morals. But if that is the case, why are its readers reacting in a sexualized way? Have a look at what Twilight star Robert Pattinson says about the effect Edward is having on little girls:
“Q: Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you? A: It’s weird that you get 8-year-old girls coming up to you saying, “Can you just bite me? I want you to bite me.” It is really strange how young the girls are, considering the book is based on the virtues of chastity, but I think it has the opposite effect on its readers though. [Laughs]”
See the context here
Why do some think Twilight is about chastity – and if it is, why the dichotomy between what it is and what its effects are on those who read it?
I am going to uncover what is really happening in the Twilight saga, and how its marketing is truly deceptive.
*THE TWILIGHT SAGA IS NOT PRO-CHASTITY *
To claim that the Twilight saga is based on the virtue of chastity is like calling the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition pro-chastity because the girls are clothed. What the promoters are dwelling on is the fact that the couple don’t “go all the way” until after their wedding in the fourth book. While this is no doubt a good thing, promoters of the series do not give enough information for parents to make a genuine assessment of the material. First of all – the couple abstain from intercourse because Edward the vampire has super-human strength which could supposedly kill a human woman. This aspect of the story itself has an unseemly edge to it. Why do romance novels have photos of shirtless men with rippling muscles on the covers? The depiction of strength is meant to draw women in. But Edward is SO strong… well, it is a depiction of strength that is attracting women, and it is specifically erotic in tone. Grown women are wearing t-shirts that say “Edward broke my headboard” – a direct reference to the couple’s wedding night. Such phenomena give a sense of the misappropriation of the word “chastity” when speaking of this series. The abstinence practiced in the novels is based on fear, not on virtue – Edward’s fear, to be precise. Bella wants to risk it. So, it is not an exercise in valuing another person so much that you refuse to treat them as an object of use. Let’s be clear that abstinence is not chastity. Just because intercourse does not take place does not mean a couple is basing their relationship on use. Bella gives detailed first person accounts of her “make out” encounters with Edward – everything from trying to unbutton clothing, to how loud her breathing is and how this or that feels… these detailed first person descriptions are designed to arouse young girls – like a gateway drug to full blown romance novels or vampire lore. How can books in which the author has written detailed first person descriptions of actions leading to arousal help readers to be chaste? The words on the page defy chastity. Anyone who claims that the books promote chastity has to explain how a young girl can read detailed first-person descriptions of “making out” as a tool to preserving her innocence. They also must deny the experience of the star of the movie who claims otherwise. There are pages and pages of text that will show why girls are being corrupted (or, perhaps, being led further down a path of corruption). “Making out” before marriage is not chaste. Common, yes. But an example of the Christian virtue of chastity? No. It is mutual use – intemperate, unjust and uncharitable. Books which describe this in detailed accounts are not chaste and cannot be used to promote chastity. The fact that the books are not as graphic as other teen novels does not mean they are therefore innocent.
*EDWARD IS NOT A VIRTUOUS SUITOR*
Edward is a vampire. He chooses to date Bella even though he has an overwhelming desire to kill her. This is contrary to love. True love will end a relationship before it will put the beloved at risk because it seeks, first and foremost, the good of the beloved. Just take a moment to think about this quote from the movie: Edward tells Bella that she does not fear him because she believes a lie. He tells her “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator… everything invites you in… my voice, my face, my smell… I’m designed to kill… I’ve killed before”. And what is Bella’s emphatic response? “I DON’T CARE!” Is that healthy? Is this evidence that Bella is making a mature decision? It has been suggested by others that this demonstrates Bella’s courage. No – it just shows the disturbing depth of her obsession.
*BELLA IS NOT A STRONG FEMALE ROLE MODEL*
Bella is a girl to feel sorry for – drawn to a bad guy even though lots of good guys like her. She is a child of divorce who thinks marriage is “stupid”, husbands are “dull” and babies are “noisy and covered in goo”. She is attracted to Edward because he is so unconventional – so much greater than mere mortals. It is a very immature attitude. She is obsessed with Edward, spends a great deal of time thinking about/attempting to harm herself when he goes away for a while and happily gives up her soul to become a vampire. That isn’t courageous – it is weak.
The Audience for this book series has now reached SEVENTEEN MILLION and the movie has opened to a $70 MILLION first weekend at the box office. Those in the media are claiming that teen girls will never again be ignored or underestimated as an audience.
What are we setting our girls up for?
“External sins against chastity are any words, actions or gestures consciously performed to arouse or indulge sexual pleasure except between husband and wife in their legitimate marital relations… Internal sins against chastity are sexual thoughts, desires or feelings deliberately aroused or indulged, except by husband and wife in their mutual relationship… Both external and internal sins against chastity are mortal sins, if the sin is fully deliberate”. (Basic Catechism Course based on Fr. Hardon)
There is something deeper here that needs to be examined. Begin by reading the full critique here: http://spesunica.wordpress.com/about/
then, enter the discussion if you dare.