Can anyone elaborate on the Mormon themes in the Twilight books?
August 10, 2011 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone elaborate on the Mormon themes in the Twilight books? I've read them all, and I still don't understand what's so particularly Mormon about them. Maybe I just don't know enough about Mormonism. I'm not a Twilight fan (I mostly read them because I was curious about all the fuss), so don't worry about offending me.

I do see how the books are conservative, what with the emphasis on marriage, family, and, er, carrying to term your horrible blood-drinkin' monster baby, even when it's killing you. And of course, there's some panting over extreme whiteness, and the prospect of eternal life is a big issue--but I think that could describe most vampire books (minus the sparkles). I keep hearing how Mormon the series is, but I haven't seen any convincing examples. Can anyone help me out with this?
posted by Nibbly Fang to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

This livejournal is jokey (and image heavy!), but addresses the LDS imagery and theories in the books.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 12:52 PM on August 10, 2011

My best guess is the afterlife themes in the series, being together for eternity if you "protect your virtue" in life. But ya pretty much all of it can be seen as conservative Christian values not just Mormon.
posted by boobjob at 12:52 PM on August 10, 2011

This is a Mormon livejournaler's response to the stoney321 commentary elizardbits linked. She concludes there's not much in terms of overt Mormoness, at least nothing that isn't also seen in conservative Protestantism.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 12:57 PM on August 10, 2011

I don't buy a lot of the supposed "Mormon" connections, either; a lot of them seem to me to be common to the genre, and would be there whether Meyer was Mormon or not.

Some people have used "Mormon influence" as a way to describe the (foreign to them) conservative sexual values that are the background of the story. It's not particularly clear, since these values aren't unique to Mormonism, but I think it's common. They aren't all referring to specifically Mormon imagery.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the same impression as Kutsuwamushi - since Meyers is Mormon, it's understandable to assume that the conservative view on relationships depicted in the books is part of her Mormon moral theology.

The one part that seems uniquely Mormon (vs. other conservative Christian ideologies) to me is the emphasis on perfection.
posted by muddgirl at 1:09 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've seen a general trend of people assuming that the works of creators who are known to be Mormons, such as Orson Scott Card or Jared and Jerusha Hess (creators of Napoleon Dynamite) have crypto-Mormon themes; this excludes works of theirs that are explicitly Mormon-based (such as comics artist Mike Allred's adaptation of the Book of Mormon) or that deal with their religious beliefs (Card's campaigning against same-sex marriage).
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2011

While I was reading Elanatris I was wondering if the idea of people becoming the near god-like Elantrians came from Brandon Sanderon's Mormonism, but I eventually decided that it was equally likely to be something he just thought up that seemed cool.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:15 PM on August 10, 2011

Straight outta Brigham Young University: "Book of Mormon Stories that Steph Meyer Tells to Me: LDS Themes in the Twilight Saga and The Host."

"One of the most important theological aspects of the Twilight series is its emphasis on what the Book of Mormon would term overcoming the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19). This phrase crops up throughout LDS scripture as a reflection on sin and redemption. To understand this term, we have to go back to the first parents, Adam and Eve. The specific transgression that resulted in their exile and the fall of humanity stemmed from the desire to become like God. The Book of Mormon’s unique twist on traditional Judeo-Christian theology ties their proactive decision to partake of the forbidden fruit to their desire for procreation. The Book of Mormon also makes the audacious claim that the pair chose to give up mere immortality for the chance of eternal life in relationship—with God, each other, and future children. As a result of their choice, their life in the fallen world would be a struggle, and human nature would become something to transcend.

"In Twilight, the problem of a carnal, sinful nature is embodied and symbolized by the figure of Edward. His sole purpose in life (well, death) is to feed on human blood, to be literally carnal and carnivorous. Edward, encouraged by his foster father, Carlisle, makes the decision to reject this way of life for a better, if more difficult, one. He makes this choice on a daily basis, and the temptation is always strong, especially when a new girl shows up at high school whose blood “sings” to him."
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I know very little about LDS theology and practices so I can't speak to the veracity of these claims.

(Spoilers for the last book, I guess?)

It's been awhile, but I remember reading a critique that pointed to the evil vampire institution in Rome as a subtle parallel to the Catholic Church. And there was something about the "bearing witness" to the baby as being very similar to Mormon language. I don't remember it being from a snark-tastic source, but some googling pulled up the lifejournal that elizardbits and Ideal Impulse linked to.

There's also this USA Today article which points to a lot of other pages discussing the connection.
posted by lilac girl at 2:30 PM on August 10, 2011

The emphasis on being bonded to your destined family so that you can live together in eternity (Bella doesn't just want to be a vampire, she wants to be Edward's wife, Alice's sister, Carlisle and Esme's daughter, and so on) reminded me very strongly of, uh, the "celestial marriage" themes in Big Love, my main source of knowledge about Mormonism.
posted by milk white peacock at 2:30 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a mormon, and I've seen Twilight, and I'm pretty sure you could relate any religion to Twilight, or even athiesim. People that say it's got mormon themes are see something that isn't there.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:40 PM on August 10, 2011

Response by poster: Interesting stuff. Thanks, everybody.
I'm feeling like Twilight has a Mormon-informed worldview, but it's not on-purpose Mormon propaganda. The books also felt really personal to me, almost queasily so, like Edward is Meyers' dream man or something. I do think it's odd that Mormons are really scrutinized whenever they do something, in a way that a comparatively conservative Christian wouldn't be. Maybe it's because I was raised Wiccan, so Christianity doesn't seem like the default setting, but Mormons don't bother me in that special extra way. I think Stephanie Meyer is a pretty moderate Mormon, and so far, she's less creepy than Orson Scott Card.
For the record, this was so my favorite quote from the Sparkledammerung livejournal: "Vampire baseball. <-- that should mean baby heads for the ball, or something, instead it means they zip around super fast and throw the ball crazy hard". I'm so tired of "good", angsty vampires... obviously it would be really, really fun to have superspeed and strength and have everyone want to bone you, so Edward should stop his damn whining already.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:37 AM on September 22, 2011

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