Why I Won’t Waste My Time with Twilight…

books.I can remember back to my sophomore year in high school, and Mrs. Miller’s English class.  I sat in the second-to-last row next to Jon McIntyre.  It was that year that we read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which is a great book though I didn’t think so at the time.  I remember the weight I felt when Mrs. Miller would assign us 20 pages of reading as homework for the night.  20 PAGES!!! I thought my life was going to end…do you know how long it was going to take for me to read 20 PAGES?! Probably about 25 minutes at the most…  But that’s not the point.  The point is, at that stage of my life, I hated to read.  The last thing I wanted to do was sit still somewhere, and read some “dumb” novel for high school English class.  All the while thinking to myself, “What on earth does this have to do with me?”  And, “I wonder if they have CliffsNotes at Barnes & Noble?  That way I can read a 20 page summary of the whole book, and save myself some valuable time that could be wasted on something worthwhile.”

I’m sure that I am not the only one who thought like this in high school…

As I grew up, went to college, and then graduate school, I longed for the days in Mrs. Miller’s English class when the reading assignment was 20 pages.  I soon found out in the world of “higher education” that the reading requirement would be greatly increased.  A common reading assignment, with all classes combined, now steadily grew into the hundreds of pages.  However, the quantitative increase actually fostered in me a love for reading.  Who would have thought?  I actually began to like, even love, books and reading.  The more I read, whether required or for pleasure, I realized there are some amazing books that have been written.  I also realized how much I could learn.  Conversely, I found out that for every good book written, there exists roughly 3x’s as much literary crap…

Now, I spend my days as a teacher handing out similar reading assignments.  However, though there are some great literary works of both fiction and non-fiction (both sacred and secular), as a Bible teacher I have the pleasure of pointing my students to some incredible, Bible-saturated books!  The challenge exists, though, in trying to convince my Jr. and Sr. high students that reading isn’t a punishment…as I once thought it was.  And, I know that they don’t hate to read because, for some ridiculous reason (that I can’t muster the irrationality to understand), they spend little time on my assignments, and instead read teenage vampire romance novels.  Then after doing poorly on the reading pop quiz, they ask me if I have ever read, or am going to read, the Twilight series.  I kindly and definitively let them know there are thousands of books that I must read, and would be better for me, before I ever pick up anything by Stephenie Meyer.

As a Christian, it is my desire to think like one.  After all, as Christians we are commanded to love the Lord with our entire mind.  As well, I believe that right thinking, embraced and employed, leads to right living.  One of the ways that I refine my thoughts about God and the Christian life, other than time spent in God’s Word, is to read the work of those who have had great thoughts about God and the Christian life (this is not to say that there isn’t literature outside the theological realm that is worth my time).  From Athanasius and Augustine, to the Reformers and the Puritans, and on into the more modern day works of C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, and J.I. Packer (only to name a few…), the affect that these works (when tested against the Scriptures) can have on growing the Christian mind is staggering.

C.H. Spurgeon said of Paul’s desire for books in 2 Timothy 4:13:

He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”—join in the cry.

Oh that God would form in us the desire to read Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated books, and the discernment to avoid those that would be a waste of time!

Great books that I would recommend to you…

On the Incarnation, by St. Athanasius

The Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin

The Glory of Christ, by John Owen

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

The Knowledge of the Holy or The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer

Knowing God, by J.I. Packer

Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper

The Reason for God, by Tim Keller

…these are, of course, only a few (some easier to read than others)…

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10 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Waste My Time with Twilight…

  1. kevin, the twilight books are a huge rage here at BFA and i have had countless conversations with girls about why they’re a waste of time (and those conversations tend to be a waste of my breath.) though i think my reasons for avoiding the series are different than yours, i’m glad i’m not the only one who thinks it’s a waste of time 🙂

  2. Good post… I have similar feelings Kev. I don’t think I ever enjoyed reading when I was young. I hated assigned work no matter what it was. However, one thing I have always enjoyed doing is thinking. And reading provokes thoughts. It is reading the thoughts of others. It opens your mind to understanding.

    It is odd to think of who I once was, and who I am now. Someone who loves books…hmm. Only by the grace of God.

  3. also, funny thing. I read more in highschool than I am right now. especially my sophomore year. some of those books I need to re-read because they may mean more to me now.

  4. Just to clarify to anyone who reads the above post. I don’t mean, by what I wrote, that all elements of pop culture are unworthy of engagement, or are a waste of time. I simply am saying that I’d rather do other things theologically, and in terms of popular culture that don’t include teenage vampire romance novels. That’s all. 🙂

  5. I understand where you’re coming from, but surely you have missed the point of the Twilight Saga – they involve vampires and mythical creatures but they aren’t actually about them.

    They are about doing what is right – morally – and following your heart. They’re about loving and accepting people who have been out-casted by general society – the very thing Christianity teaches, if I am not mistaken.

    Furthermore is it not better for teenagers to read books like Twilight than not read at all? It opens their minds to the world of literature which they otherwise would not be drawn to, and statistics have shown that the huge impact of Twilight has led to an increase of sales of such great literary works as Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights and the works of Jane Austen; due to the references made throughout the saga.

    Just a few things to think about, admittedly from someone who loves Twilight, but also someone who enjoys more distinguished and accepted works.

    • theBookGirl-

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog, and respond. I appreciate your willingness to share your perspective. I am always a fan of generous dialogue, so I hope you’ll receive my reply to your response.

      Undoubtedly, there are messages “behind” the Twilight saga. I would never assume that Meyer would write about vampires and mythical creatures for the sake of simply writing about vampires and mythical creatures. If that were the case, the books would not be as widely popular as they have become, nor would they connect with the audience in which they have.

      However, I would be very hesitant to say that Twilight puts forth “the very thing Christianity teaches.” In reality, God’s Word does not teach people to follow their hearts, but rather that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV) The prophet Jeremiah, thus, spoke of a new covenant:

      “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, ESV)

      The prophet Ezekiel reiterated this reality as the LORD God spoke through him saying, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26, ESV)

      By trusting in Christ Jesus, these new covenant promises are realized (see Luke 22:20). Christians are those who have understood that they are lost apart from Christ, realized their helpless sinful state before God, turned from their sin, and placed their faith/trust Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in their place. In turn, they have been forgiven of sin, clothed with Christ’s righteousness, adopted into God’s family, given and new heart and mind, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit who changes Christians more into the likeness of Christ day-by-day. Still, Christians are not called to follow their hearts, but rather to follow Jesus. He, by his Spirit, thus changes Christians into his likeness, gradually, to the glory of God the Father.

      In regard to your other statements about loving the outcasts, and doing what is right…though those are elements of Christianity, it can by no means be reduced to that. In addition, it is only through Christ that outcasts (or anyone) can find true love and acceptance through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; thereby finding joy in a personal relationship with God. It is thus the love of Christ that compels people to go out and do what is right, by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.

      You said, “Furthermore is it not better for teenagers to read books like Twilight than not read at all?”… I would say, possibly. Part of my overall point is that there are better books out there that people could spend their time reading.

      Again, thanks so much for your input! God bless.

      -Kevin

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