Twilight book cover artLiterary scholar John Granger has identified a “distinctively Latter-day Saint theological-literary structure” in Stephanie Meyer’s popular books. His arguments deserve serious consideration by both fans and detractors of this pop culture phenomenon, writes Daniel Crandall.

John Granger has written extensively on the Harry Potter films. His website on that subject is the “Hogwarts Professor” and he has been dubbed by Time magazine as the “Dean of Harry Potter Scholars.” Now he brings his critical eye to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series of books and provides readers with some fascinating insight into what Ms. Meyer may be doing with her books about vampires, werewolves and teenage romance. Granger’s Touchstone article, titled “Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden,” is almost enough to make me want to sit down with Meyer’s books.

I suggest that the Twilight series is something for thoughtful people to be aware of and to think seriously about, first, because of its remarkable hold on the imagination of American readers and movie-goers, but second, and more important, because of the reason these books are so popular: They meet a spiritual need. Mircea Eliade, in his book The Sacred and the Profane, suggests that popular entertainment, especially imaginative literature and film, serves a religious or mythic function in a secular culture. When God is driven to the periphery of the public square, the human spiritual capacity longs for exercise, and it often finds it in the “suspension of disbelief” and activity of the imagination that are available in novels and movies. …

These Gothic romances featuring atypical vampires and werewolf champions are allegories about the love relationship between God and Man. They are, in fact, a re-telling of the Garden of Eden drama—with a Mormon twist. Here, the Fall is a good thing, even the key to salvation and divinization, just as Joseph Smith, Jr., the Latter-day Saint prophet, said it was. Twilight conveys the appealing message that the surest means to God are sex and marriage.

According to Granger, Meyer not only gives a Mormon apologetic in the guise of a fantastical teen romance, she “also incorporates substantial criticism of her church in her story.”

The depth of Granger’s understanding of Mormon history and belief is profound and his arguments concerning what many believe is nothing but a bit pop culture ephemera deserve serious consideration. Read all of John Granger’s article at the Touchstone website. This, along with some of the comments my initial review of the latest Twilight film, are enough to make me think a second time about my position concerning Twilight’s themes.