Ambivalences

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Re: Ambivalences

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:22 pm

No I have not read all of this thread yet, I am on page 24 of Explorations, then I'm reading here. But I had to address my overstatement! :blush:

Jazz Girl wrote:But, if it comes down to "a Christian world view", of which one are we speaking? Using the term "Christian" covers a lot of ground. Where perhaps Smitten, you have been raised in one version, others have been raised with completely different versions. For instance, when I say that were Edward& Bella to choose each other over what they [he] views as a risk to their immortal souls, I have been told point blank by a member of the clergy that there is in fact a hierarchy and God comes before your spouse, and that it is possible to essentially make a false idol out of your spouse if you value the love of your partner above that of God.

Absolutely correct, JG, and I'm not quite sure my priest, liberal and world-faith-oriented as he is, would agree with as far as I took that. Loving God and others equally does not seem quite right. But I don't think my overstatement invalidates the rest of what I said. The fatal pregnancy allows them both to behave in a manner consistent with their love for each other and with a believer's view of correct Christian behavior. Had they freely gone ahead with the transformation without this kind of pressure, they would have been making false idols of each other - placing their love of the other above their love for God/their souls. Which I think you would agree with?
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby Tornado » Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:08 am

I'm not sure I agree with that. Not unless you assume that Edward still believes that Bella will lose her soul by joining him. Remember, they had decided that she would be changed prior to the pregnancy, so either he had already decided that he was doing it because he didn't care about God or didn't care about Bella's soul anymore, or something has changed his mind about all that, mainly, as I said in a previous post, that his perception of God has changed.

This is backed up by what Bella points out at the end of New Moon, when she says that he would have realised instantly what was happening when he saw her in Italy, rather than thinking that they were both dead together. And I don't think he ever really thought he was in hell with her at that time. He would never think that Bella was destined to go to hell, especially as he believed, at that point, that she had died a human.

So it's clear that, although he's still unsure, post-New Moon he has hope that something is possible, some sort of afterlife for them that is more than hell. This is, I believe, what is at the heart of his acceptance to change her, although he continues to doubt whether it really is the right thing until he sees her as a vampire, and sees how happy and content she is with it.

This is, I believe, what clears his final objections and hopelessness. He sees this as a sign (from God? Perhaps) that he has done the right thing. In fact, in line with the story, you could even say it was providential (i.e. destined by God) because of the talent Bella displays that allows them to defeat the evil foe trying to destroy them, while at the same time witnessing to their lifestyle of denial and morality in front of a diverse crowd of vampires. The sight of them living their life has certainly impressed Garrett, as evidenced by his speech.

So, is it possible that, if all these things had really happened, that God ordained Bella to be a vampire, giving her the gifts he gave her so that she could save the Cullens, and provide a witness to the rest of the vampire world that might lead them away from a life of murder? This is the way I see it, and I think it can demonstrate that, although Bella's transformation was done under duress, even if they had chosen to do it when her life was not in danger, it is reconcilable to a Christian belief system, likely to SM's, and certainly to mine.
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby Jazz Girl » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:26 pm

I suppose how one views God, what faith they proclaim, in what tradition they were taught that faith and how they relate to that religious doctrine would have a hefty impact on all of this. I'm not an aetheist by any means. I suppose the best description for me would be agnostic. I was raised with a very restrictive understanding of religion and I believe that there is a vast (and I mean VAST) difference between religion and spirituality. For instance, I do not believe that Edward& Bella choosing their love of one another at the risk of their souls (even if they believed that, which I don't think they did) would be akin to making false idols of each other, or marking their love of each other as more important than their love for God. I have always believed that, when you love things differently, there is equal room for love that is equally valued. Therefore, it should have been perfectly acceptable for them to freely choose each other and the love between them without having to justify it, or create mitigating circumstances that make it ok. That is where I feel that Edward&Bella (and by extension we readers) were robbed just a little.

Tornado is absolutely right in that some people see the hand of God at work in all things. So, seeing Bella's transformation as ordained by God is certainly one way to look at it. My small objection, again, comes in the fact that the strength of their love, the connection between them and the fact that they want to be together isn't quite enough, that reasons have to be created to make it 100% okay. But, either way, I agree that, by whatever force, Bella's transformation was just meant to be. Isn't it really just a deistic way of saying that they were fated to be together?
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby corona » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:09 pm

JG, are you possibly thinking here ("fated to be together") about the book that shall not be named? Lots of angel references and Edward reflecting upon Bella's perfect design. Can't get too detailed and I certainly can't quote it, as you well know (you were sooooo caught!) :lol: . Yeah, one of my favorite sections too.

I'm eventually going to get around to working out my post further. I get it worked out in my head, but it is still too long. I think there were things that I missed, though, because I had become so worked up over Jacob. I don't think I was able to get through most of EC or the first half of BD without mentally being armed with a baseball bat, and it definitely got a workout.

BTW, what's up with the crowbar? I always picture the baseball bat, but it seems everyone else votes for the crowbar. I think we need a new crowbar smilie.
"It will take an amazing amount of control,” she mused. “More even than Carlisle has. He may be just strong enough…the only thing he’s not strong enough to do is stay away from her. That’s a lost cause.”
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby Jazz Girl » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:41 pm

Corona~ Let's just say that... once you read... certain passages, they stick with you. But, even before I read... those words, I always believed that there was a stronger force (by whatever name) at work to ensure that Edward&Bella were together. Of course, I also believe that fate was at work much earlier, delivering Edward to Carlisle's care in order to preserve him for his true soulmate. So, it's always been a nice neat package for me. :D

As for the crowbar, personal preference? It would definitely make a more... lasting impression. :twisted:
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby newborntwifan » Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:15 pm

I guess I'm kind of a lurker here...I'm usually reading posts on my phone, and trying to respond via mobile device is too much of a pain, but I finally have time to sit down to a computer, so here goes...

Although I think there are numerous values that align with those of Christianity woven throughout the Saga, I think that trying to relate specific Christian doctrine to Bella and Edward's choice (or lack there of) to be together takes it a little too far. Choosing mercy by killing animals rather than humans, loving selflessly, believing their lives may have a higher purpose, believing their loved ones are the blessings of a higher power--these are all consistent with Christian values but are not necessary exclusive to Christianity. If one is to say that the bite damns Bella because that means that she and Edward are choosing one another over God, thus breaking a Commandment, then wouldn't the souls of all of the Cullens be damned as well? Making "wise" investments due to Alice's foresight would be the equivalent of stealing and the overall charade they have to maintain includes lie after lie. One Commandment doesn't carry more weight than another as far as I understand. Sin is sin.

As for Stephenie's ambivalence, I didn't mind Jacob as a character throughout the first three books. I don't think Stephenie "allowed" him to get away with certain dialogue or behavior because she favors him. I think his dialogue and behavior reflect the fact that he is an impulsive, somewhat immature teenage boy who sees the love of his life slipping away, and he's desperate to do anything to keep it from happening. He lacks the refinement Edward gained growing up in a different era and the wisdom that 100+ years on earth brings.

As for TGDS, it really doesn't anger me. When Bella sees all that she could have with Jake and still knows without a doubt that Edward is who she should be with, it's just further confirmation of how powerful their love is.

As for the events of BD, I can't really think about them without feeling depressed. The Jake I liked earlier in the series (and most of the other characters I came to love for that matter), disappeared for all intents and purposes. So many thoughts, conversations, and choices seemed out of character to me and inconsistent with the themes of the rest of the saga. I really wanted Jake to get his HEA, too, but it would've been much more satisfying if his HEA were separate from that of Bella and Edward so they could all move on in some way. For me, Jake imprinting on Renesmee makes him the leech, sucking all of the life from the HEA Bella and Edward truly deserve.
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby Tornado » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:18 pm

I certainly agree that the spirituality in the books can be related to quite a few different religious and spiritual POVs. I was simply making a case (one that I would make to Christians!) for how it aligns with Christianity, especiallys since SM would have had these influences in her writing.

What is fate? What is destiny? If you believe in God, these are simply alternative terms for how he works. If you don't believe in God using these words suggests that you do believe in some force that make some things happen in the world. Essentially, I believe that these things were destined to happen to Bella, that she was designed for the vampire life, mainly to save the Cullens, but also to show the value of their pro-human philosophy to the rest of the vampire world. That may be reading a lot into it, but that's no surprise for me! I like to explore these things in their deepest levels. I find that kind of exploration fun!

I never really thought that it was a problem that Jake imprinted on Renesmee (I have never been a fan of Blackwater!). It does seem like he belongs in Bella's life in some way, and this seemed like the perfect way to make him family. I can see why a lot of people do have a problem with it, though. Maybe it all seems too easy. But it's so interesting to consider that SM always intended him for that, long before she ever developed a real relationship between him and Bella. Yet it still fits, as she clearly wants him to be in her life, even as a vampire, although as the soul mate of her daughter, it means their relationship can be more platonic. I always thought their was a maternal edge to Bella's feelings for Jake. She always seemed anxious to protect him, and I don't really equate that to romantic feelings.
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:33 pm

:wave: Finished reading everything and keeping up with new posts, prepping a nice long post :D for when RL lets up a bit ....
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:12 am

So, I've caught up on both the Explorations and the Ambivalences entire threads, and RL is doing all right. The threads, especially Explorations, remind me of those really great conversations I sometimes had with college friends, between about 10 and midnight, when everyone was reasonably sober and no one was too tired to talk ... except this conversation has been going on for years. Wow.

I wanted to address my thoughts about my perceptions of SM's intentions with Twilight and religion, or spirituality, or whatever. First I should mention that I have already written more about religion than I usually say in a year, which seems a natural segue into briefly talking about my religious/spiritual orientation.

I was born and raised cafeteria Catholic and continue to practice that way. I say "born cafeteria Catholic" because my father was Methodist (and remained so) and my parents didn't exactly shove religion at me - Lenten practices were totally new to me when I began to attend a Catholic high school. I had a long lapse of not attending Mass at all - partly because when I did I would cry, feeling overwhelmed with presence - but I married Catholic, so here I am (still cafeteria style). Of my husband's 5 sibs, all raised Catholic, 2 are now agnostic, 1 converted to pretty fundamentalist Baptist, 1 converted to Pentecostal, and 1 is still searching very, very hard. 1 of the agnostics has a daughter who is a Druid - great wedding. So lots of tolerance and surface familiarity, but still, I'm coming from a Catholic orientation when I speak about religion.

After I got past the first insane blush of love with the books and could look for deeper content (or read into it), I began to try to understand what SM meant when she talked about vampires being dead, because obviously they move, think, eat (drink), have feelings, etc. Along about the 9th re-read and after much reading of interviews, etc, I came to the belief that she really meant d-e-a-d dead. As a doornail. I don't think they meet the high school biology definition of life - for one thing, they don't reproduce within their species. Vampirization seems to be more like infection - they only pass on two chromosome sets. And that's not within species anyway. They need humans to reproduce (or infect, whichever).

In a deeper sense, they are no longer part of the life cycle of this planet. They consume blood, and they use it, and they consume more. They do not excrete at all, tears, sweat, other excretions. They don't even give off heat! When ripped apart in the books, they don't spill recently drunk blood. There's a part in either NM or EC where Jacob describes them as parasites, and I think this is an accurate view. Even the Cullens, who arguably contribute to society through Carlisle's medical practice, Esme's restorations, etc, do not biologically contribute to the planet. We don't know if the ashes are useful, but somehow I don't think that stone, burnt up by highly flammable venom, would make a useful fertilizer. I think it is valid to consider them a sentient alien species, but one that is not life as we know it.

This implies that when Bella chooses to become a vampire, she is literally choosing death - she will be leaving life-as-we-know-it. She will become a member of a species that is parasitic on this planet, and inevitably lose everything that was a part of her old life. She will lose it permanently, for an eternity that she literally cannot fully comprehend as a human. This is what she commits to, and what Edward does not want for her. I don't think he ever wanted it for her, but I'm going to get to that slowly.
smitten wrote:The fatal pregnancy allows them both to behave in a manner consistent with their love for each other and with a believer's view of correct Christian behavior. Had they freely gone ahead with the transformation without this kind of pressure, they would have been making false idols of each other - placing their love of the other above their love for God/their souls.
Tornado wrote:I'm not sure I agree with that. Not unless you assume that Edward still believes that Bella will lose her soul by joining him.

Not personally attached to the term "false idol," but yes, I think that he at least still thought that her soul would be at risk if she deliberately lost her human life only because she wanted to become a vampire. I hope that you can see my statements as fleshing out my own thoughts, rather than arguing. Much has been made of Edward's comments when Bella runs into him in Volterra (and of course, the movie either confused you if you saw it first like me, or I'm sure enraged you if you already knew the books). "Carlisle was right.... So maybe this is hell. I don't care. I'll take it." Although Edward did not think that he believed that he had a soul, he certainly would have thought he would go to hell if he had one, having committed oh, probably thousands of murders. Now, I'm not sure about other Christian faiths, and I personally would like to believe that a merciful God could be understanding of someone despairing enough to take their own life, but in classical Catholicism at least, people who suicide go to hell. Edward believed, based on Rosalie's report of Alice's vision, that Bella had jumped, not fallen, off a cliff and died. Hearing about it without the context of her increased risk-taking, and knowing that she would have been at least a little distressed when he left, he believed Bella suicided. Therefore, according to my hypothesis that Edward has really conservative spiritual views, Bella was in hell, with him, which was acceptable to him under the circumstances. I know, I know - later in her bedroom he says "But I can't imagine what you could have done to wind up in hell. Did you commit many murders while I was away?" He knows now that she didn't set out to commit suicide, but he didn't know then. I won't quote the whole paragraph where Bella points out to him that he must be hopeful that he has a soul, but that seems to me to be a crack in the wall, not an overturning of his beliefs. The soul resolution between them seems to me as if it doesn't move much from the end of NM to the middle of BD. Edward continues to believe that, if he does have a soul, then he is probably damned, and that Bella has a soul that will probably either be lost or damned when she is vampirized. It's just that he also recognizes that she literally cannot live without him, and has persuaded his family to vampirize her if he won't. So he will accept her sacrifice (which does make him happy in another way), and plays for time.
December wrote:It seems to me that the story of EC is equally driven by Stephenie’s qualms over Bella’s choice -- only it solves the problem another way, by re-imagining the sparkly superhero fairy-tale destiny which Bella (and the reader) once naively supposed vampire immortality was into something darker and more difficult. So it becomes a sacrifice Bella is making for love of Edward rather than some glittering first prize in life's lottery.

Totally agree, December. I think the storyline of EC has a lot to do with getting Bella to really understand Edward's POV on vampiric immortality.

So then it is strange for me when BD goes into this fairy tale connection again in the third book, especially when she sees her house for the first time. I tend to see much of what happens in BD as SM loving her characters not wisely but too well. I can certainly sympathize with the worry that characters that you create might be living out the life you write for them somewhere! And of course, the possible desire to model correct behavior. Saving Bella and Edward from the sin (using Catholic terminology again here) of killing Bella, giving them and all the Cullens a perfect baby, giving Jacob a miracle HEA, and ending the conflict with the Volturi (for now) with hardly a life lost, all strike me as great examples of this loving too well, or the Angel of Destiny (I thought that was a great bit too, corona and Jazz Girl!), or deux ex machina techniques. I have trouble respecting it, but I can understand and enjoy, because I want them to have heaven forever, too!
newborntwifan wrote:So many thoughts, conversations, and choices seemed out of character to me and inconsistent with the themes of the rest of the saga.

Absolutely. I tend to just read BD for the parts I really enjoy - and there's lots that I really, really enjoy - and gloss over the parts that I just have to accept.

I enjoyed the conversation on Jacob, but I'll reserve my comments for some future post! Hope this thesis fits on one page. :blush:
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Re: Ambivalences

Postby Tornado » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:12 am

Boy, Smitten. That was a really cool post!

smitten_by_twilight wrote:After I got past the first insane blush of love with the books and could look for deeper content (or read into it), I began to try to understand what SM meant when she talked about vampires being dead, because obviously they move, think, eat (drink), have feelings, etc. Along about the 9th re-read and after much reading of interviews, etc, I came to the belief that she really meant d-e-a-d dead. As a doornail. I don't think they meet the high school biology definition of life - for one thing, they don't reproduce within their species. Vampirization seems to be more like infection - they only pass on two chromosome sets. And that's not within species anyway. They need humans to reproduce (or infect, whichever).


I certainly agree that they are dead in the biological sense in that they don't eat, sleep, have a heart that beats or a real circulatory systems. The only standout contradiction to this is that it seems the males can still produce life by conceiving a child with a human woman. It seems at odds with the 'deadness' of their bodies, but plausible explanations can be given, and have been given. And, of course, you can do anything in the world of fiction!

smitten_by_twilight wrote:This implies that when Bella chooses to become a vampire, she is literally choosing death - she will be leaving life-as-we-know-it. She will become a member of a species that is parasitic on this planet, and inevitably lose everything that was a part of her old life. She will lose it permanently, for an eternity that she literally cannot fully comprehend as a human. This is what she commits to, and what Edward does not want for her. I don't think he ever wanted it for her, but I'm going to get to that slowly.


Dead in the biological sense, yes. But in the spiritual? Perhaps not.

smitten_by_twilight wrote:Not personally attached to the term "false idol," but yes, I think that he at least still thought that her soul would be at risk if she deliberately lost her human life only because she wanted to become a vampire. I hope that you can see my statements as fleshing out my own thoughts, rather than arguing. Much has been made of Edward's comments when Bella runs into him in Volterra (and of course, the movie either confused you if you saw it first like me, or I'm sure enraged you if you already knew the books). "Carlisle was right.... So maybe this is hell. I don't care. I'll take it."


You know, I hadn't even noticed that before. Yes, I guess it is a little at odds that Edward says, "Heaven" in the movie. Does he really believe that's where they are? I would really like to know if SM approved of that line, or if it was added on location.

smitten_by_twilight wrote:Although Edward did not think that he believed that he had a soul, he certainly would have thought he would go to hell if he had one, having committed oh, probably thousands of murders. Now, I'm not sure about other Christian faiths, and I personally would like to believe that a merciful God could be understanding of someone despairing enough to take their own life, but in classical Catholicism at least, people who suicide go to hell. Edward believed, based on Rosalie's report of Alice's vision, that Bella had jumped, not fallen, off a cliff and died. Hearing about it without the context of her increased risk-taking, and knowing that she would have been at least a little distressed when he left, he believed Bella suicided. Therefore, according to my hypothesis that Edward has really conservative spiritual views, Bella was in hell, with him, which was acceptable to him under the circumstances.


This is dependent on Edward being raised as a Catholic, or in an extremely conservative fundamentalist Christian group. As I said earlier, I am a conservative Christian, but was raised as a Protestant, for whom this position is far less of an issue. Yes, I think the Southern Baptists and perhaps some Anglicans might go along with the Catholic viewpoint, but other Christian groups would not automatically equate suicide with hell, even back in the early 1900s. Although I could be wrong about that. It wasn't something that ever came up a great deal in my church.

Also, you have to remember that we are still dealing with a simple kind of spirituality here. I really don't think the belief systems in the book are going as deep as to say that suicides go to hell. If Edward was thinking that deeply about it, I can't help but feel he would realise it takes more than just "living a good life" to go to heaven. Also, there's no evidence that Bella was ever baptised into any church, which is another essential for Catholics to go to heaven. Not just any church, either, but a Catholic one. This is also an issue for some other denominations too, and still is today. So if Edward is thinking deeply enough to believe that suicide ruled Bella out, then her un-baptised state should have been equally concerning.

I would be interested in knowing the Mormon position on this suicides in hell is, actually, as it would be the most telling point, as it would reveal what SM's viewpoint was, which likely leaked over into this scene. If Mormons do believe that people who suicide automatically go to hell then Edward's belief that Bella is in hell would probably be significant. If not, then I think it was more just his assumption that, if he went anywhere when he died, it would have to be hell.

smitten_by_twilight wrote: Totally agree, December. I think the storyline of EC has a lot to do with getting Bella to really understand Edward's POV on vampiric immortality.
So then it is strange for me when BD goes into this fairy tale connection again in the third book, especially when she sees her house for the first time.


I think that just shows that Bella never believed for a moment that Edward was a monster, and that he had lost his soul. This is still her position, in spite of what happened in Eclipse. I must confess I didn't get much of a sense of spirituality from that book. It seemed more concerned with the hardships associated with 'living' as a vampire, rather than what would happen after they died.
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