My thoughts on Paranormal Romance

I walked into Kroger’s today and headed over to the book section. Not that I was expecting to find anything good – but you never know. And if all else failed, there were always some magazines to flip through while Mom shopped. You know what YA book selections look like nowadays – lots of black covers, lots of blood, lots of pointy teeth and moons and red roses. Lots of titles like “Academy of Night.” “Vampire Diaries.” “Broken.” “Pretty Little Liars.” “Demon Hunters.” “Vampire Academy.” And of course, the ever-popular “Twilight.”

 I picked up a few of them – not to read them for entertainment, but to see what the teenagers of America today are up against. The first book I opened, my eyes immediately landed on a paragraph. Somebody was explaining to another person about their ‘religion’ – comparing it to Wicca, and saying it was about ‘the empowerment of Nature inside one’s self.’

Wow.

So we’ve ceased to be subtle about this, huh? I wonder if anybody who reads these books notices this. It started out as a quiet little whisper here, a gentle nudge there. Now we’re openly embracing satanic religions, supporting warlocks and witches, and putting forth the idea that relationships with dark, moody, dangerous, supernatural partners is a good thing. (Never mind the broken hearts, the snapped nerves, sleepless nights, suicidal tendencies, and possible death they entail).

 And the odd thing is? Most of these books aren’t even written well. Open one up, and you’ll see it’s a string of clichéd, generic words thrown together and somehow… published.

Part One: Dangerous Love

So what’s the attraction? What’s this fascination with these impossible, often dark, supernatural romances? Well, here goes my take on it.

1. The books are about a girl. She’s not stunningly beautiful, overly graceful, overly special. She isn’t tall, leggy, or a model, and she probably can’t even play the cello. In fact, she’s rather plain, often clumsy, and does a lot of stupid things she regrets. This character might as well come with a tag saying “Insert Self Here.” When you have a character who could be anybody, and we read it, then what do we do? We put ourselves in that nondescript girl’s place. We become her, seeing through her eyes, feeling what she feels – because we feel just like her. We don’t feel we’re anything special. We don’t feel we’re all that gorgeous. So it’s easy to become her.

2. The second main character is a guy. He’s usually either a fallen angel (or, um, the politically incorrect term ‘demon’), werewolf, or vampire. He’s been turned into the perfect guy. He’s what every female wants. He’s chivalrous, (he opens the door for her) thoughtful, (he actually LISTENS) attentive, (he’ll notice if she’s uncomfortable and do something about it), and he’d die for her (because every ancient immortal guy wants to date a teenage girl with problems). Now, combine this sort of character with the first one, and you have – YOURSELF! In the perfect romance. (Never mind that these guys like to watch you sleep, are eerily possessive, aren’t particularly fond of the light of day, enjoy Blood Lattes, and are often either dead or doomed.) And oh, yeah, he’s in PERFECT shape, and he’s totally attractive, right down to his breath and big toe.

(BONUS: He might even SPARKLE. How cool is that!?)

Note: I also have to point out, that many – I even dare say most – of these ‘romances’ really aren’t. They characters don’t fall in love, they fall in lust. Real, honest, pure, sacrificial love is all but gone from modern ‘romances.’

And there you have the two main ingredients for a paranormal romance.

I can see why it’s so tempting to a lot of girls out there, but it’s also dangerous, like the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It looks desirable, but eat it and something’s going to mess up somewhere.

Part Two: Supernatural Evil

 Now I know several people who say they’ve read these sort of books and it doesn’t affect them. I have to disagree. I believe that it may not affect you in a particularly noticeable way, but it WILL affect you. It will affect your soul.

I don’t necessarily think that if you read Twilight you’re going to turn into a gothic person who only wears black and wants to drink blood (although that DOES happen more often than I care to talk about), but it will affect your spiritual life.

Proverbs 4:14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

 Proverbs 4:27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

I’m not trying to be judgemental on people who enjoy these books – I’m just trying to show that these books aren’t innocent. Demons – I mean, Fallen Angels – are evil. If you think I’m kidding, read Genesis! I won’t go into vampires being demonic, but in most old folklore, that’s what they are. Werewolves split half and half.

Matthew 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

That’s what I first notice about the covers of these popular books – they’re dark. Every single one. And Darkness is something that Light cannot be associated with. If you invite darkness in, the light has to leave. And I believe that reading books that induce such dark and twisted fantasies is seriously bad for our immortal souls.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

…okay. What would you think if you walked into someone’s room, and all over you could see the kind of books discussed beforehand? What if their room were covered in black and blood red? If all around you saw words like ‘vampire’ ‘night’ ‘broken’ ‘destroy’ ‘darkness’ ‘blood’ ‘witch’ ‘drink me’… Okay. So maybe not that last one (though it does fit, you know). Would you think “Wow, this person must be a strong Christian!” …well, I wouldn’t, for one. I’d think “Wow, this person needs some serious help.”

They would have the appearance of evil. Now, what if Jesus walked into a room like that? I believe his heart would heavy for the person it belonged to. I believe that, as Christians, we need to abstain from the demonic influences that have elbowed their way into our culture.

We need to show that we’re different from the world, that we have light and love to offer instead of darkness and death. We’re here to be a light shining in the midst of a sea of darkness. And I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try and shine.

NOTE: I know this post is pretty controversial, so feel free to controverse! (No, that’s probably not a real word…) I wrote this out of love and concern, not out of the desire to seem hypocritical or to incite anger. However, if you disagree with something, then send me a note and we can talk about it! If you agree with it, feel free to say that, too. 🙂

~ Ëarwen

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28 thoughts on “My thoughts on Paranormal Romance

  1. What I find fascinating about paranormal romance is that there is a market for it. Which means these three things are probably true:

    1) Young ladies are hungry to be appreciated for what is within, not without
    2) Young ladies are looking for someone to be willing to give up everything for them
    3) Young ladies are hungry to know that there is more than just the physical world (ie want to be involved in the supernatural)

    Now, I happen to know a Man who sees hearts and judges people by them and them alone. He also is a King who stepped down from His throne and gave up absolutely EVERYTHING for me, and also for them. Oh, and this Man is supernatural too. He created, maintains, and rules a realm unseen.

    Now, how in the world do I get this group of girls to meet this amazing Man? That, is the question.

  2. I’m here to say that I agree. Whole-heartedly. This was a really thought-provoking post, Mirriam, and very well-written. 🙂

    One thing that strikes me the same way about these romances is about them falling in lust, not in love. I don’t think many girls reading these books understand that, that it’s not real, pure love, it’s sinful and it for a lack of a better word, I have to say lust again. (I basically repeated what you said, but I had to mention that I think the same thing =D)

    Your second to last paragraph really makes me want to shine, too. There are so many books, movies, and tv shows out there that promote evil and darkness and the idea that demons, vampires and werewolves are suddenly “cool.” I hate seeing those poorly paranormal romances popping up so often, but it’s comforting to me to know that we as writers have the power to write something that may spark a change in peoples’ literary choices. 🙂

    Again, great post!!
    <3,
    Caroline

  3. Hm. Very good post; I agree with what you have said. It is good for me to be reminded of this. While I am very much anti-teen-romance-novels (I am a thorough and proud enemy of “Twilight” and the culture it represents), nonetheless, I think I might perhaps have an abnormal slight interest in darkness. I’m not at all supportive of witchcraft or vampires or anything of the sort, but sometimes my innermost nature is a bit dark and Gothic (but the influence of good friends has helped me to suppress this nature). So… this is a good reminder for me to face the light; to be an enemy of dark depression and to cherish light and all its connotations.

    So, thank you for the post!
    -whisper

  4. *claps* Yay, Mirriam! It’s weird you can actually see darkness creeping in everywhere.
    Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t a Christian, what would *I* be reading?? Scary thought.

  5. The only thing I can add to this is: Agree!

    This topic comes up sometimes in the women’s Sunday school class I go to. The question is always “Why are books like this coming out? Books with dark supernatural themes?” And the answer remains: People are searching! We were made with that “hole in our soul” that only God can fill. It’s a natural instinct for people to search for that “something” to fill the hole. They’ll try to fill it with whatever they can find. Be it satisfying some carnal desire, or getting sucked into some kind of supernatural evil… ness… (gotta love my eloquence)
    There are all kinds of spirits out there, but there’s only ONE that is good! And when the Holy Spirit is in us, we can discern what is evil and stay away from it. But we can also guide others away from the evil and towards the good. How? Well, with whatever our gifting is! That’s why we need to write. We need to counter the evil supernatural stuff out there with the TRUTH! Huzzah! 😀

  6. Awesome post! Very very good! *claps*

    I totally agree with everything you said. And the cover art IS dark… what’s sad is that people look FOR these covers to pick out a book. They know if they find a cover like THAT, they’ve probably found a PNR.

    I also agree with Michelle. What an awesome way to look at things! And that’s what we, as young female YA writers, need to try and instigate: the fact that all those PNR novels have nothing over this one particular Man. I mean, who needs a “fallen angel” when you can know you are loved by someone like “Aslan”?

    Very good post. I enjoyed it very much.

  7. *smiles broadly* yes!! 😀 Exactly 🙂 He, he, the guy Ithilwen marries is lots better than Edward. He doesn’t sparkle. He used to be an enemy sort of guy, but he was redeemed by ‘Aslan’ because of Ithilwen’s witness ;D And uh, yeah, Ithilwen doesn’t marry Gildinel– he ditched her.

    But yeah, I agree 😉 The stuff DOES effect you! I saw TEN seconds of Twilight/New Moon or whatever movie it was and I had nightmares that night that had me unsettled for a week. It’s chilling. And even HP… it makes you freaked out cuz in that it’s a keep yourself alive by your ‘magic.’ That’s ALL you have to ‘save’ yourself from dying… and I was freaked out cuz… what if I didn’t have *God* to keep me safe and ONLY had magic?! *horrifying* I was so freaked out by that idea of not having God to rely on *shudders* the stuff does things to you!! 😦 Yeah, even though I did draw a HP picture for a friend 🙂

    At least LotR and Narnia doesn’t do any of that 🙂 I like it when you post like this Mirriam!! 😀 Hey, you going to send more story soon? 😀

  8. Amen, amen, amen! You said this so clearly, and so truthfully!

    It’s so sad, isn’t it? All that is beautiful, virtuous, and LIGHT in this world is thrown aside for dark, evil blood-drinkers. Really? REALLY?! When you put the two side-by-side, it doesn’t even make sense! How could choose the latter over the former?

    It scares me to see what this world is coming to.

    Love in Him,
    Elizabeth Rose

  9. I’ve been hearing this discussed so many places lately, Mirriam. I agree with many of your thoughts…love the line “Never mind the broken hearts, the snapped nerves, sleepless nights, suicidal tendencies, and possible death they entail”…that’s so true.

    In fact, this and other online discussions prompted me to post on my own blog regarding paranormal romance. I tried to do a trackback to your post, but I don’t think your current site set up allows it. 🙂

  10. I don’t agree. We are not putting our immortal soul at danger for listening to and engaging in fictional stories. Nor are we moving away from the light for showing interest in them. Wicca is not a satanic religion (I’d advise you to research the origins of wicca and pagan practices if you believe satan is the source), and neither are these stories.

    I’m sorry to read that so many Christians believe that the youth of our culture is being misled, simply for reading books or watching television with supernatural themes. I don’t mean to make assumptions, but have you read any supernatural novels lately? Or are you basing your opinion on the concept alone of a girl falling in love with a vampire? If it’s the latter, you’re doing yourself a great disservice and I’d urge you to be more open-minded.

    There was a great section in one of the series popular today that touched base with Christianity. The vampires believed the Christians would be judgmental and condemning to them, but instead, they were open-armed and loving. The nuns stated that believing and having faith in God can be cloaked in many different guises; that we’re more alike than people think. For the vampires to believe in a Goddess (similar to believing in the Virgin Mary, as was stated in the book), and for the nuns to believe in Jesus – they’re all believing in God in the end. We just have different names for him.

    I’m a Christian, but I disagree with what you have to say. I don’t think we have the ability to judge if another is moving away from the light. Just as we don’t have the ability to judge whether someone else is worthy or not for Heaven. It’s in His eyes, not ours.

    Our job is merely to love and accept as best we can. Not judge.

    • Dear Victoria –
      You brought up some excellent points and arguments! I hope you don’t mind that I answer them as best I can.
      Touching the first point – Wikipedia describes Wicca as a modern Neopagan form of Witchcraft.
      I think that’s pretty clear – it’s pagan, it’s witchcraft, and it definitely isn’t God-honoring. Any form of witchcraft
      is Satanic.
      As for your belief that the youth of our culture are NOT being misled by these things, then I would point you toward
      the many articles that have been written since Stephanie Meyer’s explosive Twilight series, as well as the movies they spawned.
      The problem of ‘real’ vampirism among teenagers today has become a problem, amd they admit that much of it is due to the new
      ‘supernatural’ genre.
      Many people have tried to combime Christianity with vampires, and I have a problem with this. Vampires in and of themselves are invented creatures,
      of course, but they were originally invented creatures of superstition and demonic origen.
      I have no problem with ‘redeeming’ characters or creatures often thought bad – in fact, I enjoy doing that.
      But not demonic ones.
      ‘Fallen Angels’ cannot redeem themselves, they have made their choice – and writing books about human girls falling in love with them
      cannot be a good influence on them.
      Now, if Vampires were real (I am not speaking of the vampire ‘cult,’ I am speaking of actual Vampires), a God-created species,
      then of course we should love them, as we should love everyone.
      But they are NOT real, and therefore your particular point is null and void.
      As for your very last statement, I agree. We are to love everyone, even our enemies.
      I do not think, however, that we are to ‘accept’ everything. EveryONE, yes. But the Bible states to flee evil influences.
      We are not to judge, because it is not our place. But we are not supposed to get involved in the darkness of this world.

      • It is one thing to be reading real satanic rituals, but fiction is a different story. This is fiction that is not even based on the ‘real demonic’ side of things, as you mentioned in your reply. I asked if you had read any of these novels because I believe if you had, you would see that.

        You are arguing with the idea that vampires are real and demonic and therefore we should not read of them, and yet you yourself contradict this statement in your last reply by saying ‘they’re not real,’ and that ‘they’re invented.’ Perhaps they do come from ancient folklore, as many modern stories are based from – but the evil of the past is not what these stories are based off of. This is all fantasy. Something written by Meyers should be taken on the same level as something written by Jules Vern or C.S. Lewis. It is fiction.

        What of mythology? Is that also something that goes against Christianity? Will reading of Zeus taking many wives lead the youth to want to be poly amorous? Would you censor your child from learning of the classics because you felt they would grow a fascination with bedding a god in the future to birth a demi-god? It is a slippery slope fallacy. It is not a strong argument.

        “Writing books about human girls falling in love with them cannot be a good influence on them.”

        Why would it be a bad influence? Where did this judgment come from? Do you know any girls personally who have made drastic lifestyle changes from reading romance novels? Maybe they will dream of meeting someone like in the book (which in many of these stories is the typical chivalrous man who will be true to them – just like in Disney stories). What is wrong with this?

        “I would point you toward the many articles that have been written since Stephanie Meyer’s explosive Twilight series, as well as the movies they spawned.”

        I had to really search for these articles, and in the end, I did not find too many. The most I found were articles slashing the novels for their poor plot and syntax, which I agree with. If anything, the Twilight series should be judged on the poor quality of writing, not the story’s ability to change my faith.

        What of the movies? Were there explosive sex scenes? Was there demonic blood drinking? Were there satanic rituals? Was there excessive references to demons or were ‘goths glorified’ (even though the gothic aesthetic / lifestyle has no affiliation with religion)?

        If you look at it objectively, the idea of ‘demons’ in fiction serves as an allegory for teenagers finding their own skin. Being thought of as different in an environment is how many people feel when they are just starting a new school or are struggling to fit into a social group. Reading about it in a fantasy novel gives the reader support and hope. If they see that a character in a novel can achieve their goals, it makes them think, “Then what is preventing me from achieving mine and how do I fix this?”

        “But they are NOT real, and therefore your particular point is null and void.”

        This dismissal of my opinion truly makes me believe that you are making no effort to hear me.

        When I said, “I’d advise you to research the origins of wicca and pagan practices if you believe satan is the source” – I definitely did not mean wikipedia. Wikipedia is a very shallow form of research. If you were to cite that in any academic paper, the professor would either fail you or tell you to do more in depth research. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you are eager to look up articles on stephanie meyers and anything else that supports your opinion, but you will not look up opposing arguments. Go to the library and check out a few academic books on the subject. There is so much more information out there than what you will find on wikipedia or google.

        The reason I asked you if you had read any of these novels is because there is more to these stories than just the idea of ‘demons and blood drinking.’ These are fictitious romance novels. To understand anything that they are about, you have to read them. You cannot simply read articles about them and form your opinions on that.

        “We are not to judge, because it is not our place.”

        You say this here, but I find this in your original post – “Wow, this person needs some serious help.” This is a very quick judgment to those who enjoy the aesthetics of goth fashion. Did you catch this judgment when you were writing it?

        We do not see eye to eye, I understand that. I cannot change your opinions and you cannot change mine with those arguments. But I would hope that the questions I have asked in this response have given you reason to gather more information. I am not discrediting your opinion, but I do believe having information from both sides could make your argument stronger.

        • Okay, well – first of all, I can see you’ve done a lot of research. Good for you! And yes, we don’t see eye to eye.
          I’m sorry that you think I’m making no effort to hear you, because I really am – I’m just disagreeing with you.
          I do not believe that fiction is ‘just fiction.’ A chair is amoral, although somebody could pick it up and use it to kill somebody. A book, however, is always written with an agenda behind it. It might be good or bad or simply the unconcious beliefs of the person writing it, but a fiction book is never amoral.
          Fiction has the power to affect us in many ways, for good or for bad, and I have seen no positive effects of the Vampire/Demon craze going on.
          I try to stay away from reading things of this kind, though I DO find out all about the storyline, characters, etc. I also know about the origins of Wicca, and it IS a pagan form of witchcraft, and as the Bible says in Deuteronomy 18:10
          “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft.”
          The Bible speaks many times on the evils of witchcraft. It is satanic, no matter which way you look at it.
          And as for your remark on my being ‘eager to look up any articles… that support my opinion,’ well, yes. Don’t we all? Aren’t you doing the same thing?
          Also, the Bible instructs us to be ‘childlike’ in our innocence of evil, but also as ‘wise as serpents.’ We are supposed to be aware and cautious of evil, but not to delve into it, which is why I don’t actually read books such as Twilight, etc.
          I’m not mad at you, and I hope you’re not mad at me – I highly doubt we’re going to see eye-to-eye, but I hope this has been a respectful discussion. (If I’ve come across rude, I’m very sorry and apologize. I tend to come across that way when arguing with someone 🙂

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