When Little Red Riding Hood is sent by her mother to take a basket to her grandmother's house, her mother warns her not to talk to anyone. Of course, she talks to the wolf, and that (after a few plot twists and "the better to eat you with, my dear") is the end of that. No one who really understands what monsters are, no one who "gets" the Big Bad Wolf, is under the impression that Riding Hood should talk to the wolf because it's not his fault that he is a wolf. No. Big Bad Wolf = Bad Wolf (tautology).
An imagination rightly trained on fairy tales understands that monsters are just bad and are to be regarded and treated as such--preferably, avoided, or perhaps fought, if one is a hero.
Here is an absolutely wonderful (and very funny) video clip of Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll talking about occultic preteen literature. More remarks below the fold.
Driscoll does such a great job that I don't want to gild the lilies by adding too much. But here are a few additional things that occurred to me:
Driscoll's rightly contemptuous reaction to "they practice chastity" skewers what I might call the checklist method of Christian literary and movie review. "Is there premarital sex?" "Is there swearing?" and so forth. Shall we list it as a "pro" of the Twilight series if smoking is not presented positively? Talk about missing the forest for the trees! It is terrifying that Christians should be so clueless, so foolish, so tone-deaf that they can talk with a straight face about a girl's "practicing chastity" because she waits to have sexual intercourse with a vampire until after they are "married" (whatever it means, metaphysically, to "marry" a vampire). The monster instinct has been totally extinguished in such people, and they are literally incapable of seeing the big picture. She marries a monster. Moreover (I understand--I've not read the books and have no intention of doing so), later in the books she becomes a monster, losing her soul in the process. That's the story. That's the big picture. To echo Driscoll, there is nothing remotely good about this on any level. (I could add here a few remarks about the fact that such books are not going to encourage chastity in girls who read them.)
Why are people, including Christians, so clueless? I want to suggest that one factor in killing the monster instinct is the holy commandment of modern liberalism, "Thou shalt not discriminate." Driscoll humorously alludes to this when he imagines his audience chiding him, "Don't be a hater." The audience laughs, but there may be more to it than a joke. Why don't more people say, "This girl is marrying a monster and becomes a monster. He struggles with the temptation to kill her and drink her blood, but she marries him. This is totally unhealthy literature"? Could it be in part because of the idea that we must not think ill of anyone presented to us as a talking being, no matter how dangerous? There have been plenty of satires of such thinking--fairy tales rewritten with sympathy for the villains and even a review I recall at NRO of the LOTR movies that talked about how liberals would want us to sympathize with the orcs. But is it really just satire? I think perhaps we are being taught a frighteningly false compassion according to which there are no dangerous people, no dangerous individuals, no wolves, whom we, like Riding Hood, should have nothing to do with. Everyone is to be pitied or thought well of. To do otherwise is to "be a hater."
It also occurs to me that the foolishness on this topic may arise in part from a loss of the old-fashioned idea that one can be seriously harmed, led down the path to ruin and total heartbreak, if not damnation, by marrying the wrong person. I wonder if Christian parents are so worried about premarital sex that they no longer worry enough about their daughter's marrying a godly man, a good man, a kind man, an honorable man. No doubt any parent worries about the latter to some extent, but I wonder if there are too many parents who, confronted by a bad boyfriend, would encourage a marriage in order to avoid or put a stop to premarital sex rather than strongly urging the daughter to break off the relationship altogether. It used to be understood that a man who married a bad woman or a woman who married a bad man was risking ruining many lives--the lives of both spouses not to mention any children of the marriage. Celibacy was a real option, and both single women and single men had occasion to "thank God fasting" for having avoided the fate of their contemporaries who married, in the quaint old phrase, "outside of God's will."
Finally, and relatedly, Christians need to get over the pagan notion that amor vincit omnia. Sentimentalism is going to kill us. If your daughter loves a dangerous man with twisted and violent impulses, the fact that she loves him is a bad thing, a dangerous thing, not a good thing. Even, for that matter, the fact that he loves her (to the extent that he is capable of love) is a bad and a dangerous thing. Romantic love is not a panacea or a disinfectant. Discriminate against him. Try your darndest to break off the relationship.
But better still, if you have a young daughter, start when she is little: Teach her not to talk to wolves.