Friday, April 16, 2010

Blog Tour: Twilight Gospel (Review & Interview)

Without fail, if you have spent much time with many teenage girls during the past few years,  you’ve probably had at least one (or more) conversations filled with Bella, Jacob, Edward and the many other characters who inhabit Forks, Wash., in the fictional Twilight series.

The novels, created by Stephanie Myers, focus on the relationship and experiences of Bella, a teenage girl filled with massive amounts of angst, and Edward, a 100-plus-year-old vampire.

Filled with themes of sexuality, consumerism, freewill and more, the Twilight series has inspired multiple discussions dissecting the books various aspects, as well as spending numerous weeks on the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

Because of the series success as well as their prevalence, writer Dave Roberts has taken a closer look at the books, to provide parents and youth leaders, alike, with a “robust Christian response that is neither reactionary or reticent.”

“As a publisher I have often commissioned this type of book but really wanted to write the books myself,” explained Roberts. “This time I decided to go for it. I’m keen that Christians be helped to think carefully about culture. I think ideas have consequences and that we can’t simply say to our fellow Christians that aspects of culture are destructive unless we open up a discussion.”

Roberts said because the books are “front and center” in today’s culture, means that they are “inescapable” for Christian young adults.

“They need practical theology clearly expressed to help them respond,” Roberts said. “Plus some of it is deeply spiritually corrosive – especially the characters of Bella and Alice.

“There are so many assumptions about wealth, consumer goods and the nature of beauty in their characters that Christians need to instinctively question.”

Because stories and metaphors “carry emotional weight” and narratives often carry “ideas deep into people’s imagination,” – think Pilgrims Progress or The Narnia Chronicles, Roberts said it is important to provide a Christian response to books, which become part of a mass culture phenomenon.

“Paul’s letters were partly responses to the dominant ideas in Colossia or Ephesus or Corinth,” Roberts explained. “He uses language that seeks to subvert the meaning of the pagan religious language of the day. The early church didn’t live in a cultural vacuum and nor do we.

“John Stott reminds us to read the newspaper with the Bible in our other hand. That captures why we should analyse life and culture.”

Roberts said he hopes readers of his book take away a sense that the life of Jesus “has wisdom for the realities of culture in 2010, and that it is very clear in his teaching if we take time to reflect.”

“This is as much a book about what we are for as it is a book asking tough questions about the Twilight saga,” Roberts said.

Parents and youth leaders, he explained, need to understand that the Twilight saga includes themes of sexuality, consumerism, free will, the nature of forgiveness, the nature of beauty, socially marginal people and the nature of personal occult powers.

“This being the case what are parents and youth workers seeking to impart and pass on about such issues,” Roberts asked. “Do they intentionally seek to respond to these issues as a matter of course anyway?”

He said people may be aware of the Christian teaching on sexuality and the occult, so he recommends readers to think about how Bella views beauty.

“It is a core issue for many and Twilight doesn’t really offer a counter-cultural perspective,” Roberts explained.

Through reading and examining the Twilight saga, as well as writing his novel, Roberts said God has reminded him that Jesus was a counter-cultural figure.

“[It] provoked me to think once again about the prophetic responsibility of the church,” he said.

Roberts describes himself as a “speaker and writer” who helps lead a church. He also established youth and children’s worker training conferences, edited 4 UK national magazines for Christians and has been the DJ at a large Christian festival. He is also available to speak or discuss his book. For more info, visit www.facebook.com/thetwilightgospel.

So What I Though
Initially, I’ll admit, I held off reading any of the Twilight books. Then, I was sucked into (pun intended) to reading at least the first book, simply to find out what my students were talking about.

I’ll be honest, while the saga isn’t my favorite, there was something in the books that made me keep reading. If anything, Stephanie Myers has created a series of books that have redefined things related to love, friendship and teenage angst.

So, when I was offered a chance to review The Twilight Gospel, I jumped at the chance. I was interested in seeing what Roberts found in the Twilight saga – beyond the obvious themes of sex and occult - and how he related it to the gospel.

I’ll admit, several of the things Roberts pulled out, made me stop and re-examine both what I think about the novels and the ideas my students may be taking away from the books, especially when he talks about themes of commercialism/consumerism, beauty and free will.

Agree with Roberts or not, his small but mighty work will cause you to examine the themes of Twilight beyond the love triangle of Bella, Edward and Jacob.

About book: - From the Publishers
The blockbuster Twilight Saga is being read by teenager and adult alike. These powerful novels are getting even more popular as the movies hit the theaters. Crisply written and with a gracious spirit, The Twilight Gospel will help teens, their parents, and their pastors discern what is good from what is unhealthy in the novels and equip them to be biblically literate readers.

From the back cover: With these powerful novels getting even more popular as the movies hit the cinemas, the call for a Christian response is strong. What values and ideas do Meyer's novels promote? What is good about them, and what deserves closer inspection?

The spirituality and worldview of the Twilight Saga are fascinating, but they do not sit easily with orthodox Christianity. This book carefully and graciously assesses what is praiseworthy and what is less so. It helps the reader to think more clearly about issues to do with occult spirits, life after death, myths and legends, sexuality, personal spiritual power, the culture of glamour and the lure of materialism. All these subjects are woven into the fabric of the Twilight Saga.

The central point of the book is to help teens (and their parents) discern what is excellent from what is unhealthy, helping to create robust, shrewd, and literate young adults.

Endorsements:
"Millions of young minds are being shaped by the Twilight Saga. Dave Roberts offers valuable cultural and biblical insights -  neither reactionary nor reticent - for anyone seeking to separate the good, the bad and the ugly in these powerful books." -Pete Greig, author of Red Moon Rising, God on Mute and Punk Monk.

About the Author:
Dave Roberts is the author of the best-selling The Toronto Blessing and Red Moon Rising with joint sales in excess of 100,000. He is a former editor of Christianity and won awards for his work on Renewal magazine. He is a local church pastor and conference director for three major annual conferences on worship, children's ministry, and women's ministry. You can read more about him on his website: www.thinkchristian.co.uk Visit the Facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/thetwilightgospel

Want To See What Others Think? 
Visit here: http://www.litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/the-twilight-gospel-by-dave-roberts.html

Read An Excerpt From Twilight Gospel
Visit here:  http://www.lionhudson.com/detail.php?product_id=2588436
or http://store.kregel.com/client/excerpt/978-1-85424-976-0.pdf 

Download A Discussion Guide For Twilight Gospel
Visit here:  http://www.eden.co.uk/images/lionhudson/files/TG_Discussion_Guide.pdf
or http://store.kregel.com/client/guide/978-1-85424-976-0.pdf

Buy It On-Line
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Christianbook.com 


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Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for doing such a thorough review and using the interview material

    Be Blessed

    Dave Roberts

    ReplyDelete

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