But it’s really about something more fundamental: groping to explain what it is we find in Stephanie’s story that takes us beyond the mere pleasure of a “good read.”
I have went back and read a good portion of the posts which December has linked to. Thank you. I only regret I wasn't around during the last couple years to join in them when they were fresh ideas. Rather than dig up old worn out conversations, I will attempt to stay on topic as suggested above.
To be completely honest, part of the draw for me and I will include my wife in this since we both have active conversations together on these subjects, has a lot to do with the big questions of life. What is our purpose in being? Who is God, What role does he play and how do I relate to him? What is a soul? Do I have one and if I do, what conditions could cause it to be lost or saved? Can I do something to lose or save my soul, or is that entirely in God's hands and subject to his good pleasure or mercy? This also ties into the other big subjects I've seen tossed around, such as our free choices and how they relate to morality or the choice of right and wrong and how that leads to consequences good or bad.
I realize that most conversations on these subjects seems to be done from a safe distant, trying to remove our own religious beliefs from the equation and focusing instead on an objective discussion of the characters and how they relate to these subjects, usually done based on historically accepted principles established throughout the centuries. I think it is good to keep that distant as we may want to avoid offending or trampling on others sacred beliefs.
However, as I continue to be honest with myself and you, I admit all this deep thinking brings me directly to relating it to myself and my own opinions on these matters as they relate to my own existence and potential future through the eternities.
It's been an evolution for me. Starting with Twilight, my initial attraction was as I related to Edward, I could understand from my own life what is was like to be drawn or tempted to do things that I felt were wrong. This parallel could be to sex, drugs, alcohol, or anything tempting or destructively addicting. As I continued reading and then watching the Twilight movie, I could relate to the characters and really appreciated how SM gave them a conscience and allowed them to triumph over evil so to speak.
As the story progressed, it went from the simple matters of right and wrong, to developing the ideas of the soul and what the eternities might bring for each of the characters. Once again I related this to myself. What future does God have in store for me, what part of that is freely given, and what if any influence do I have on it as a result of my own decisions and actions? How much is Edward's future locked in by his current state as a vampire or does he have hope for the future of a better life per God's mercy or through his own actions? Even though this is a fictional story, these are real subjects which I personally ponder over and this story gave fuel to my own pondering.
Then there is the subject of personal sacrifice for the unselfish benefit of another, the ultimate being giving one's life so that another might live. This has definite religious connotations, but also prompts us to think about where we personally stand on the unselfish giving scale. Do we love, as in my case my own wife or children enough to give up my own life for them? Or am I self serving and selfish and try to better myself at the cost of others?
Then towards the end of the saga, in Breaking Dawn, one of my favorite scenes is as Bella is turning into a vampire and leaving her mortality behind her. SM describes in detail the sensations of becoming more aware of her surroundings as she connects to her new enhanced abilities. Colors and feelings she did not know existed become part of her awareness. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe this was something God may have in store for me as I pass from my own mortality to whatever future he has planned for me. This made me ponder the eternities and imagine what it might be like. Part of me questioned my own faith and said I should just focus on doing what I know to be right and God will take care of the future, but the other more inquisitive side of me enjoyed speculating on what that future might really be like.
So December, in pondering your original question:
what it is we find in Stephanie’s story that takes us beyond the mere pleasure of a “good read.”?
For me this series has been a catalyst for pondering on all subjects that are the most important or sacred to me, even to the full purpose of life and where we are headed through the eternities. So in some ways, I give credit to Twilight for awakening my own awareness on these most weighty matters.