Friday, December 12, 2008

Have you heard all the press for the new movie Twilight? Do you have a teenager fascinated by vampires?

Stephenie Meyer's books about the secret world of teenage vampires have been very successful, and now have a following of at least 12 million worldwide--and that's before the movie's release (she gained this fan base in three short years). Meyer has just been chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of their Entertainers of the Year. I've read all of her books and this is my assessment:

1. They differ from the historical vampire genre in that Meyer's main characters have renounced humans as "prey". They are not vegetarians, though. They hunt large animals. This is good as far as the monster aspect of vampirism goes, but a vampire is still a vampire.

2. There is some violence, although it occurs only a few times in books of
500+ pages. The last book, however, is quite graphic.

3. There is no sexual content in the first three books, other than innuendo (which is mild by today's standards). The fourth book does include quite a bit of sexual content, although the protagonists are married (and the young girl is now 18). This content is far less graphic than the average historical romance novel.

4. There are no occult tools, ceremonies or spells other than Meyer's somewhat torturous explanations as to how the supernatural power of shape-shifting can be passed down through generations. When Meyer starts getting into the werewolf theme, she loses focus and wanders into some Native American mysticism (although this is limited in scope and detail).

Meyer also bestows various supernatural powers on her vampires that read more like something from Superman than anything occult-related (although they could be construed as Psi powers).

This series is unique in its lack of emphasis on the occult, which leads me to wonder about the author's beliefs--she graduated from Brigham Young University. However, it is still based upon what has historically been an evil, soulless creature, and Meyer does not explain what makes her vampires any different in this regard. In fact, Edward, the main character, talks occasionally about not having a soul and uses this as an argument to persuade Bella (the other main character) not to become a vampire. What Meyer never addresses is how her vampires can be kind and compassionate--valuing human life--and yet have no souls. The teenage Bella also dismisses eternal damnation like she would dismiss a visit to the dentist (not a good precedent).

Interest in Vampirism is taking off once again, and unfortunately, this movie will probably add to its popularity. So far, it has been wildly successful. Look for a sequel in the not too distant future.


Blogger JohnD said...

You really put the bite on that movie!

2:39 PM  
Blogger John W. Morehead said...

My well wishes to you on the recent loss of your father in law.

Thanks for sharing your views on Twilight. Readers might appreciate contrasting this with my recent review at Sacred Tribes Journal (, where there is also an article by another author on the vampire subculture.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Jill Martin Rische said...

Thank you, John. :) (popular name)

For those who don't know, John(Morehead) and I have philosophical differences on the defense of the faith. He supported the Mormon/Christian worship event in Salt Lake City (2004) and I did not.

Our differences go much deeper than just worshiping with "New Religous Movements" (John's term), but in the spirit of debate, I will post this link. Will you do the same sometime, John?

Just a couple of things . . . . I'm still reading your review so I can't comment on that yet. As to the article, from what I've read so far, there are some questionable statements made that are not supported by citations. From an historical perspective, I disagree with these statements and don't believe the authors would be able to successfully defend their position.

I would be happy to discuss this with you on the phone if you're open to that (and once I finish reading the entire article). :)

I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas,


7:51 PM  
Blogger Jill Martin Rische said...


Very funny. :)

Merry Christmas!


7:52 PM  
Blogger John W. Morehead said...

Jill, thanks for publishing my remarks. If you ever care to comment on some of my blog posts respectfully as I did with my last comment then of course I'd approve and post your comment, not in the spirit of debate, but in one of informed discussion.

It's interesting that you use the occasion of my comment to throw in your disagreements with my views in two areas totally unrelated to my review of Twilight. For the benefit of readers, I found benefit in the Ravi Zacharias event in Salt Lake City several years ago, and I use the term "new religious movement" or "minority religion" that the academic community uses rather than the term "cult" used by evangelicals because I find little benefit in using terminology that those I am trying to engage and persuade find offensive and pejorative.

I'd be happy to discuss my review with you. The statements are accurate, historically and otherwise. The sources I interacted with and cite come from recognized academic sources on vampire mythology and film studies. But I'll be interested in hearing your comments.

I hope your family has a great Christmas as well.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Jill Martin Rische said...


I commented on our different positions to clarify the fundamental and important differences in our positions for my readers. This was meant to be informative and not judgmental. Since I rarely post links in my blog, I wanted to be clear on the who and why.

There seems to be a misunderstanding here--as I said--I haven't finished reading your review yet. My comments were about the other article you have posted on your site.

As to the "academic community" preferring the terms you listed--sorry, but as an academic I don't agree with you. The terms "cult" and "occult" are used frequently by historians and not in a pejorative manner.

As to those involved taking "offense"--John, please. This is purely subjective. Some people will be offended and some will not. All the ex-Mormons I've talked to lately have never mentioned they were "offended" by the use of the word "cult". In fact, it had the opposite effect--it caused them to start thinking that perhaps something might be wrong with the beliefs of the Mormon Church.

Take care,


9:17 PM  
Blogger Excellence in media said...

Hey Jill,

I've gotten into a discussion about your Dad at my blog:

Some guy (Aaron) has posted some regrettable things about Walter. I suggested that he contact you if Walter's "behavior" is really a stumbling block for him, although in reality this Aaron has self confessed doctrinal issues which I hope to illuminate with the sword of the spirit as the days progress, if this Aaron is willing.

I've done my best to defend Walter's legacy within the linked thread above. In light of all the negative "rumors" about your Dad, I know that bad fruit does not come from a good tree and although I never met your Dad, I trust him as a believer and the information he researched.

Bless you and your ministry!

Jim Richardson

10:29 AM  
Blogger JohnD said...

So we are just doing the sub thread now?


That out of State move I mentioned some time back, Jill, loading day is tomorrow and boy am I willing to go!!!!

You may recall how unwilling I was...

It's no shame to have egg on one's face with regards to God because only God does not have egg on his face. I am in good and vast company.

I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.
I was wrong not to trust God's judgment.

Doing sentences in school should have been so easy when I was a kid... now 47 going on 48... {sigh}

It's the exhaustion from the move... :)

6:26 PM  
Blogger Jill Martin Rische said...


Thank you for defending my father. There are many false accusations out there, and I have tried to explain the truth (see our site under Questions). If there is something I haven't covered, let me know and I will be happy to answer your questions.

God bless,


10:01 PM  
Blogger Jill Martin Rische said...

Lol John! I'm so happy to hear you are happy. I will be praying for you and your family!

10:03 PM  
Blogger JohnD said...

Thanks! We need lots of prayer and

8:56 AM  

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