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Thursday, December 03, 2009

John Granger on Twilight

I'm happy to report that John Granger, who opened my eyes to the Christian symbolism of Harry Potter, has written a review of the Twilight series at Touchstone. It's a long article, so I don't feel bad sharing a couple paragraphs towards the end of his essay. I disagre with him about the quality of the stories. He calls her "a wonderful storyteller, if no champion stylist." I agee she is no stylist and I'm not sure her storytelling is wonderful. But kudos to John for reading through all the books and starting his article with compliments. As he did with Potter and reading into Rowling's background to see her use of symbols, he does likewise with Meyer and her LDS background. I'd actually like to pull several paragraphs from this essay, but then you would have no incentive to read the entire thing. Please visit his essay at Touchstone

This brings us back to the Garden of Eden. As mentioned above, Twilight is a romantic retelling of the story of Man’s Fall presented in the engaging and exciting wrappers of a romance and an international thriller. This may sound like a stretch, but consider the first book’s cover—a woman’s arms holding out an apple—and its opening epigraph—“But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not taste of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17).

This isn’t, however, the story as Moses told it or as Christian saints and sages have understood it. As a Mormon, Mrs. Meyer departs from the traditional Christian understanding of that event, and the nature of her departure appeals to rather than repels her readers.

Christians understand Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, their “original sin,” or Fall, as the beginning of man’s distance from God, a distance that man could not restore on his own, but that required the incarnation and sacrifice of a divine, sinless Savior to accomplish.

Mormons reject this interpretation. Not only do they hold the Pelagian view that human conscience and free will are sufficient for salvation, but they go a step further, asserting that, not only was the Fall not a bad thing, it was actually a good, even necessary thing for human salvation.

In some streams of Mormon tradition, Adam is, in fact, the finite God of earth (or the Archangel Michael), and Eve is his celestial wife from another planet. The Fall and expulsion from Paradise, according to this view, were necessary in order for Adam and Eve to marry and reproduce. “Celestial marriage” is a core ordinance for Mormon exaltation (salvation), and without the “Fall,” man could not take this important step in his progression from mortality to post-mortal life as a god in the Celestial Kingdom.

This is a remarkable departure from orthodox, creedal Christianity with respect to sexuality and understanding how human beings relate to God. In traditional Christianity, sexual continence is adopted by those who aspire to devote themselves more deeply to the things of God, while in Mormonism, sex within marriage is itself an edifying, even salvific, spiritual exercise. A “single Mormon” is something like a “square circle,” and monastic vocation a sacrilege.

Joseph Smith, Jr.’s doctrines of Eternal Progression and the sufficiency of human will and conscience also break with Christian tradition. Instead of man working in synergy with God to receive and be transformed by his grace, Mormonism advocates a can-do spirit of works, which, if performed in conformity with God’s teachings in the LDS church, will result in one’s drawing ever nearer to God in this life and in the next.

The Plan of Salvation, as illustrated by some ...Image via Wikipedia
Here is a representation of the mormon "plan of salvation." I've heard this from the boys on their bikes.


But orthodox theology is much simpler. We are sinful and deserve spiritual consequences four our sinfulness, hell, the 2nd death. But God let his Son, Jesus Christ pay our penalty. All we need to do is turn from our sin and turn to Christ, in effect, consent to be loved.

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