IMPORTANT: Do girls need “fantasy”?

The most common objection I face when critiquing the Twilight Saga is “it’s only fantasy!”  In other words, any of the disturbing questions raised about the series are irrelevant and need not be addressed because the genre  of “fantasy” makes them intrinsically harmless.

Is this true?  Let’s look more closely at “fantasy”. 

“fantasy” – 

  1. The creative imagination; unrestrained fancy. 
  2. An imagined event or sequence of mental images, such as a daydream, usually fulfilling a wish or psychological need.

If we look at the uses of the word “fantasy” given above, how would we apply them to The Twilight Saga?  Well, it seems #1 could be applied to Meyer herself – the experience of writing the series.  I would say that #2 is what fans often engage in when reading or thinking about the series.  (For those who enjoy the series, I would ask if you think #2 applies.)

Now, have a look at this assessment 
by Steven Earll, MA, MS. LPC, LAC in his article Signs of Trouble: Five Criteria for Addiction Assessment :

Fantasy

All addictions and compulsions involve fantasy. If an addiction or a compulsion does not divert a person’s mind from reality, it’s not worth doing. For the addicted person—or the person starting down addiction’s path—life’s stresses often feel overwhelming or unbearable. Fantasy is a method of survival that allows mental escape from pressures.
Fantasy creates excitement and anticipation, which, in turn, often triggers an addiction episode. James 1:13-15 is an excellent description of addiction. 
When tempted, no one should say “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire (fantasy), he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
People are enticed by their own desires, or fantasies, which stimulate the need to act out the addictive behavior. When fantasy is nurtured, it takes on a life of its own. The fantasy about engaging in the addictive act and the emotional rewards resulting from the addiction behavior become a preoccupation. This preoccupation is so strong that many times it triggers physiological responses in the brain and body.
In other words, what people think about, their bodies treat as real. The addict begins to physically respond to the addiction when they fantasize about the physical act involved. A sex addict will experience excitement and arousal by thinking about a sexual encounter or anticipating looking at pornography. A drug addict can begin to feel the warmth and euphoria of intoxication by anticipating the drug use. Preoccupation about food can turn off the physical hunger response of an anorexic. The hardest part of recovery from an addiction is taming the mind and controlling the fantasy process. The power of fantasy is the enduring power of addiction.”

Fantasy is not intrinsically harmless.   But The Twilight Saga – please – how bad can this be?  Let’s recall our attention to comments by Robert Pattinson, star of the movie version of Twilight, regarding the reaction he is receiving:
“How is the Twilight fandom is different from the Harry Potter movies? I think you’ve mentioned that the sound of the screams is even different.
It’s different because I think it’s almost solely females of a certain age group, and they have a very specific tone. It’s much more to do with the sort of sexuality aspect of it. So many girls made this guy [their ideal], so when they see you it’s like all of their energy is projected onto you. It’s a really strange experience. I’ve never been in an experience where people just want to touch you — it’s like being in a boy band.

Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you?
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] “

 

Is this really something to laugh about?  
Well, we have this article by Rob Jackson, MS, LPC, LMHC, NCC which suggests not:

“Many of the men I talk to who are addicted to pornography had childhood experiences which “sexualized” them sooner than they might normally have experienced. Did you have any sexualizing events early in your life? 
Anonymous: Yes, several different types, in fact. First of all, my family did not practice much modesty or personal boundaries. I regularly was exposed to my Mom completely undressed and my Dad wearing only his underwear. I remember in third grade even drawing a picture of my Mom naked and getting in trouble at school. I was asked to bring toilet paper to my Dad as he used the bathroom quite often, and used the sink and mirror as he showered behind a translucent shower door. There were many other instances like this, which aroused a great deal of curiosity in me about the human body.
RJ: Did your parents give you any teaching about sexuality?
Anonymous: None at all. The subject was “taboo” and made them very nervous. I learned quickly that you didn’t ask questions about sex at our house. This lack of information coupled with my curiosity seemed to fuel in me a compulsive search for sexual information.
RJ: Where did you find information about sex?
Anonymous: At first I would look up the words “sex” or “reproduction” in every dictionary and encyclopedia I could get my hands on. Then, I discovered a stash of explicit romance novels at my grandmother’s house. Whenever I would spend the night over there, I’d stay up all night just overwhelmed at the feeling I got when I read those passages.
RJ: How old were you at the time you were reading the novels?
Anonymous: About nine or ten, I guess. Some of it I didn’t understand, but there was enough I did understand that I could kind of put the rest together in context. I had grown up seeing my parents and one grandmother watch soap operas religiously every day—I remember the days before I started school, our day’s schedule revolved around it—so the dramatic, romantic stories in the books already had a familiar appeal to me. I was an advanced reader, so I just took to them like a fish to water.
RJ: Did this material cause you to seek pornography in other forms or places?
Anonymous: By the time I was eleven or so, I started babysitting. Every single house I went into, I would search to see if there was any explicit material. Whether it was a medical dictionary at a doctor’s house or more romance novels, I would find them.
…RJ: Did you ever try to act out the things you were seeing?
Anonymous: When I was about eleven, I was approached by an older teenager in my youth group who was kind of a misfit and happened to be overweight and adopted like me. I realize now, as an adult, he was also addicted to pornography. He started telling me how beautiful I was and would offer to “teach” me about sex. I wanted more than anything to be adored like those women in the novels, and, even though I fought off his advances because I knew it was “wrong,” I kept wanting to be with him because I wanted to feel loved. 
After several weeks, he forced himself on me even though I was crying and telling him to stop. Even then I continued to see him because I thought being loved was worth performing sexual acts for him. Of course some of the sexual behavior created pleasurable responses in me, so I almost felt betrayed by my own body because I didn’t want him to do these things to me, but I liked them.”

…And this is where “fantasy” becomes reality.  Harmless?
For more worthwhile discussion in these issues see http://www.pureintimacy.org 

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Luke 12:34

“What a pity to be killing time when time is a treasure from God!”  – St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge #706

Why Meyer’s claim to be “anti-human” is anti-Christian – the Incarnation

As we approach Christmas, there are some beautiful readings on the Incarnation which give us a real insight into human dignity. Reflecting on them gives us added reason to question the compatibility of the work of Stephenie Meyer with the truths of the Christian Faith.

What exactly does Meyer say about human beings?  It wasn’t until I had read In Love with Death – The Twilight of American fiction By Gina R. Dalfonzo in National Review online (here) that I realized that Meyer claimed to be “anti-human” on her own website.  The relevant quote from the Dalfonzo article here:

“Meyer once retorted to critics who accused her of misogyny, “I am not anti-female; I am anti-human.” Whether she was aware of it or not, this was far more than just a flippant remark. Just like the allegedly positive messages about romance and sexuality, any value that Meyer and her characters place on human life is only on the surface.” 

You see the evidence of this worldview in the books, especially after Bella is “turned” into a vampire.  For example, see Breaking Dawn p.469 when she contrasts her prior “hideous human” face with her new “glorious immortal” vampire face.

Why is such language anti-Christian?

Look at the contrast with the lofty understanding of the human person, especially in light of the Incarnation – when the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word through Whom all things were made, took our human nature in the God-man Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin:

The mystery of our reconciliation with God
“To speak of our Lord, the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he is descended from the line of ancestors set out in the Gospel.
Matthew’s gospel begins by setting out the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother’s husband, Joseph. On the other hand, Luke traces his parentage backward step by step to the actual father of mankind, to show that both the first and the last Adam share the same nature.
No doubt the Son of God in his omnipotence could have taught and sanctified men by appearing to them in a semblance of human form as he did to the patriarchs and prophets, when for instance he engaged in a wrestling contest or entered into conversation with them, or when he accepted their hospitality and even ate the food they set before him. But these appearances were only types, signs that mysteriously foretold the coming of one who would take a true human nature from the stock of the patriarchs who had gone before him. No mere figure, then, fulfilled the mystery of our reconciliation with God, ordained from all eternity. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh. The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst.
For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror’s victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”   

(This is from today’s –  Dec.17 – Office of Readings – A letter of Pope St. Gregory the Great)

 We are born of God.  Created by Him and then re-created through salvation won by the God-man, Jesus Christ.  Christ has bestowed an unparalleled dignity upon us, that we might be called “children of God” – for so we are.  (1 John 3: 1-2).  No human face is hideous.  No Christian can be anti-human. 

Feast of St. Lucy – Virgin and Martyr

Young girls today should remember that it is still possible, with the help of God’s grace, to be an innocent, virtuous and dignified young woman.  

First, lets define our terms.  

Here, we speak of  “innocent” meaning “uncorrupted by evil, malice, or wrongdoing”.  Who would want to say that they or their daughter, sister, etc. WAS corrupted by evil, malice or wrongdoing?  We should strive for innocence.  

“Virtuous”?  “Conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright.”  Morality is a positive thing.  We speak of moral “excellence”.  No such thing can be said of immorality.  There is no “immoral excellence”.

“Dignified”?  “Having or expressing dignity” – “dignity” meaning  “the quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.”  Are we worthy of esteem and respect?  Yes.  Why? Because we are created in the image and likeness of God.  To be dignified is to act in a manner consistent with the dignity of our status as a child of God.

Living a true Christian femininity (or masculinity, for that matter) requires the same courage today as it did in the days of the early Christian martyrs.  Here is one example, celebrated today:

 

 

Saint Lucy (d. 304) (detail) 

by Paolo Veranesa (1528-1588)

SAINT LUCY (SANTA LUCIA)

Tradition tells us that Saint Lucy was born of noble, wealthy, Christian parents in Syracuse, Italy. Lucy had few memories of her father, for he died when Lucy was an infant. As a young girl, Lucy took a secret vow to consecrate her virginity to Christ. Thus her mother was quite dismayed when Lucy, as a teen, refused marriage to a young pagan. When Lucy’s mother developed a hemorrhage, Lucy persuaded her to visit the tomb of St. Agatha to pray for healing. When her mother was healed, Lucy revealed her vow of virginity and asked permission to bestow her fortune on the poor. Joyful at her cure, Lucy’s mother agreed, but Lucy’s pagan suitor was incensed. With the persecution of the emperor Diocletian at its height, the jilted young man accused Lucy, before a judge, of being a Christian. When Lucy refused to relinquish her faith, the judge ordered her to a brothel. However, guards who attempted to drag her to the house of sin were unable to budge her. Similarly an attempt to burn Lucy to death failed so she was dispatched by thrusting a sword into her throat. The date of Lucy’s martyrdom was December 13, 304.

(Text from The Confraternity of Penitents – http://www.penitents.org)

Interview with “Edward” – Robert Pattinson

For those of you who keep arguing that this is just “harmless” and don’t know what the big deal is – WAKE UP!  Here is some (unintentional) proof that something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

 

“How is the Twilight fandom is different from the Harry Potter movies? I think you’ve mentioned that the sound of the screams is even different.
It’s different because I think it’s almost solely females of a certain age group, and they have a very specific tone. It’s much more to do with the sort of sexuality aspect of it. So many girls made this guy [their ideal], so when they see you it’s like all of their energy is projected onto you. It’s a really strange experience. I’ve never been in an experience where people just want to touch you — it’s like being in a boy band.

Is it weird to have girls that are so young have this incredibly sexualized thing around you?
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]

Do you think that’s part of it, though? One of the things that seems to make Edward so attractive to younger girls is that you can have it both ways. He’s the ultimate bad boy, and someone that you shouldn’t want, who would never harm you.

That’s exactly what it is. It’s a certain type of girl. I don’t know what it is — when you look at fan sites [you can tell] — but there’s definitely a very large fleet of people, it’s actually Americans, that want those type of guys…”

(This is from an interview with Rolling Stone -www.rollingstone.com)
FOLKS – this is not a book about chastity!  Chaste books don’t do this to little girls.  THAT is why it is having the effect that it is having. 

NEW POST 12/27: IMPORTANT: Do girls need “fantasy”?

Another quote from Michael O’Brien to help keep us sane…

IMPORTANT UPDATE – there is a new article by Michael O’Brien, written specifically on the Twilight Saga 12/19/09.
I have some excerpts
here but I encourage you to read his entire article here.

Reading Michael O’Brien is like drinking coffee.  Suddenly, you wake up!

Here is a quote for today:

We must ask ourselves why evil concepts, if they are wrapped in the aura of “culture”, now enjoy a special exemption from the normal rules of discernment. Why do we presume that a sensually powerful series of children’s books will not affect a young reader’s interests and activities? Why have we come to assume that the experience of plunging the imagination into that alternative, and ultimately false world, will remain sealed in an airtight compartment of the mind? We must ask ourselves how we arrived at a position where we allow our children to absorb for hours on end, in the form of powerful fiction, activities that we would never permit them to observe or to practice in real life.

Books and films which three generations ago would have been instantly recognized as unhealthy for our children, are now considered acceptable, and those who oppose them alarmist or “hysterical.” Why is this so? Why are threats (recognized for thousands of years as real threats) to our children’s well-being now being interpreted as harmless? To what degree have our judgments been influenced by the pagan worldview — possibly affected to the core? To what degree have we mistaken the assimilation by paganism for legitimate inculturation? What, precisely, is a legitimate adaptation of non-Christian culture? Can we really “baptize” the symbols and activities of the realm of darkness without negative effects? These are particularly urgent questions, because we are no longer the early Christians cleansing a classical pagan temple and consecrating it as a church. We are “Late Western Man,” to use C. S. Lewis’s term, and we are in the midst of a social revolution that is assaulting the truly sacred and degrading it at every turn.

See full text here:

http://studiobrien.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=69

Just Fantasy? Think again: “The War for Our Children’s Souls”

(Jae Stellari – this post is in line with your earlier comment.  Many make the claim “it is JUST fantasy/fiction/a book/ a story”)

IMPORTANT: Do girls need “fantasy”?

The finest contemporary writer on the topic of fantasy literature, etc. is Michael O’Brien.  Please visit his excellent website: http://www.studiobrien.com

UPDATE 12/19/09 – O’Brien has just written on the Twilight Saga: “Twilight of the West”.  Please read this very important article HERE – if you want a quick few excerpts, I have posted some here.

The following  excerpts are taken from his article “The War for Our Children’s Souls”, written at the time of the Harry Potter craze.  If you read carefully – especially the third paragraph – I think you will notice an incredible similarity between what he is saying about the Potter series and the comments I wrote about Twilight in the post “Is Twilight Anti-Christian? Yes.”

“…The power of symbols, specifically their transmission through children’s literature, has been examined in depth by scholars as varied as the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, the theologian-ethicist Vigen Guroian, and the philologist-fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien, all of whom emphasize the remarkable beneficial effects of the right use of symbols. They refer to classic fairy tales as an exemplary literary genre that helps form in a child a genuine sense of virtue. This is so, they believe, because such traditional stories reinforce the “moral order of the universe”, regardless of how fantastic the scenes and plots may be. ..

the symbols in our minds exercise a certain power over us (often subconsciously), and this is especially so in the minds of the young. Symbols are keystones in the architecture of thought, indeed in our perceptions of the structure, if you will, of reality itself. If we lose symbolism, we lose your way of knowing things. If we destroy symbols, we destroy concepts. If we corrupt symbols, concepts are corrupted, and then we lose the ability to understand things as they are, rendering us vulnerable to deformation of our perceptions and our actions

There is of course some courage and love in the Harry Potter series, but it is the mixing of these admirable qualities with loathsome behavior that makes it so deceptive. It must be remembered that courage and love can be found in all peoples, even those involved in the worst forms of paganism. The presence of such virtues does not automatically justify an error-filled work of fiction. In Potter-world the characters are engaged in activities which in real life corrupt anyone who practices them, weakening the will, darkening the mind, and pulling him down into spiritual bondage. Rowling’s characters go deeper and deeper into that world without displaying any negative side effects, only an increase in “character.” This is a lie. Moreover, it is the Satanic lie which deceived us in Eden: You can have knowledge of good and evil (youwill decide what is good and what is evil), you can have enhanced life, you can have God-like powers. (EDITOR’S NOTE: SOUND FAMILIAR?  READ STEPHENIE MEYER’S QUOTE AT THE BEGINNING OF “THE TWILIGHT SAGA – A CRITIQUE” EXPLAINING THE APPLE ON THE COVER OF TWILIGHT.) In Potter-world the message is, such powers are a birthright, a natural faculty that needs only to be awakened and informed in order to be used properly.”

Let us pray for the grace to discern wisely.

A Young Man of Heroic Virtue

smiling-frassati

If we take the time to investigate, it is not difficult to find models for the youth of today – for example, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.  He lived a joyful, pure and authentic Christian manhood.  His brief life was one of self-giving.  Young men, be inspired.  Young women, be hopeful.

St. Irenaeus, one of the Church Fathers, once said “The glory of God is manfully alive”.  To be “fully alive” is to be alive in Christ and radiant with love – not to be an “undead” bad boy!  (Did you ever notice that “Cullen” rhymes with “sullen”?)  When we are filled with love, we are driven outside of the realm of selfishness.  Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati exemplified this truth.  His life was so good, his love was so pure and his generosity so sincere that today, more than 80 years after his death, his body remains incorrupt.  Many Saints’ bodies have been found incorrupt years after their death. This is a miracle- a gift from God who has power over life, death and decay.  Jesus said in the Gospel of John: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10) 

Here is an introduction to his life:

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world, and especially for the young people of our time. Born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, his time on earth was short-only 24 years-but he filled it passionately with holy living. Pier Giorgio was a model of virtue, a “man of the beatitudes,” as Pope John Paul II called him at the saint’s beatification ceremony in Rome on May 20, 1990. He was described by friends as “an explosion of joy.” As Pier Giorgio’s sister, Luciana, says of her brother in her biography of him, “He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful.”

To our modern world which is often burdened by cynicism and angst, Pier Giorgio’s life offers a brilliant contrast, a life rich in meaning, purpose, and peace derived from faith in God. From the earliest age, and despite two unreligious parents who misunderstood and disapproved of his piety and intense interest in Catholicism, Pier Giorgio placed Christ first in all that he did. These parental misunderstandings, which were very painful to him, persisted until the day of his sudden death of polio. However, he bore this treatment patiently, silently, and with great love.

Pier Giorgio prayed daily, offering, among other prayers, a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. Often his agnostic father would find him asleep in this position. “He gave his whole self, both in prayer and in action, in service to Christ,” Luciana Frassati writes. After Pier Giorgio began to attend Jesuit school as a boy, he received a rare permission in those days to take communion daily. “Sometimes he passed whole nights in Eucharistic adoration.” For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer. Therefore, all of his action was oriented toward Christ and began first in contemplation of Him…

Read more of this biography here
: http://www.3op.org/frassati.php 
And for further information on Blessed Pier Giorgio and the young people inspired by him, click here:

http://www.frassatiusa.org/

Fascinating information on incorruptables can be read here:

http://www.overcomeproblems.com/incorruptables.htm