One of the series I anticipated most going into the summer season was Kamisama Dolls, which looked as if it could have a great balance of action, sci-fi, romance, and even religion. I enjoyed the first couple of episodes, but not enough to continue with the series, and dropped it there. Others who did finish varied widely in their opinions, from those who loved it or otherwise enjoyed it to those who hated the show and those who were somewhere in between. On another note, there was one one writer whose love for a character on the show approached the bizarre.
When I dropped the series so early in its run, I figured I would miss some religion-related content that would’ve been ideal for me to blog about. Luckily, my friend, アレクザンダー, editor of the terrific review blog, Ashita no Anime, filled me in on an interesting conversation in episode 8, “The Role of God.” At about the 20:35 mark, Utao and Kyouhei have this exchange:
Utao: “Aki said kakashi can only kill and destroy because they have human hearts. So no matter what, is that really the only thing Kukuri can do?”
Kyouhei: “That’s not true. If what Aki said is right and it has a human heart, then YOU decide what it will do. If you don’t want it to do those things, then Kukuri will be a good god.”
Kyouhei’s response was ripe for commentary. Are gods made by us? How do we fashion gods? What are gods? アレクザンダー included some commentary in an email about man creating God, so I thought it would be great to incorporate that information a short debate about this idea below. After that, I’ll comment a bit on Christians fashioning their own gods.
Fashioning Gods in our Minds
アレクザンダー: I’m of the position that all gods were created by people. Since the gods reflect our own image, it only makes sense that the gods people worship get labeled as good or bad depending on the actions of the people worshiping these gods and acting on those gods’ behalf. If you do charitable acts in the name of your god, then your god is good. If you wage war in the name of your god, your god gets labeled as bad. For me, this explains why every person in the world who believes in a god really just believes in themselves and uses appeals to their “invisible friend” to justify their own actions. Every person’s god, even among worshipers within the same religion is different and that god’s biases match the worshiper’s biases. If each person has a different personal god, especially when a large group all claim the same god, it’s just more evidence to me that gods can’t possibly exist.
TWWK: Okay, I’ll buy most of your argument – after all, I’m of the same opinion for all gods except for one. But I’ll contend that Christians who use God to justify their actions maybe aren’t paying attention to their own God’s values. One thing that separates the Abrahamic God from most others is that we simply fail to live up to His values. He is holy and we are not. Even the great heroes of the Bible, like Moses, Elijah, and Jeremiah, failed in their faith time and time again. Why not create a god whose standard isn’t perfection? And to add to this, why not create multiple gods? After all, much of the Old Testament deals with the Israelites turning to other gods and indulging in deeds that were fine in those gods’ eyes, but which were despicable to YHWH.
アレクザンダー： You claim that Yahweh’s standard is perfection. But we have no standard by which to judge what perfection in the eyes of any god would be. A woman who claims god’s decree is for us to strive for greater peace is just as justified in her beliefs as a man who claims his god declared all who disagree with the divinity of his beliefs deserve death. The bottom line is, even with a holy book, we still cannot agree on what values are greatest or perfect. You have to look no farther than the countless denominations of Christianity to see that my point has merit. This inevitably reduces us to making our own decisions. However, when we prop up our conclusions with the will of unprovable beings whose will matches our own, it’s inevitable there will be harsh disagreement.
A short debate, to be sure – any good points made? Or are we just a couple of ignorant fools? Let us know in the comment section below. Meanwhile, moving on…
Fashioning Idols in Our Lives
Non-Christians often, I think, lose respect for Christians because they think we live our lives by someone else’s (archaic) rules. Why don’t we use our own minds? Why must we follow this God to the letter? Why can’t we make our own choices?
Well, much of that line of thinking is ignorant – there’s certainly a fundamental lack of understanding regarding Christianity. After all, many Christians don’t understand even some of the basics of their faith, while most, including myself, don’t understand a lot of the deeper issues and concepts. But one thing is certain – our allegiance to God should come out of thankfulness for His gift of salvation. As such, we desire to worship God with our lives.
However, when we start making choices based on how we want to view our God, we get in trouble. For instance, I don’t believe in universal salvation and I don’t believe that when you’re worshiping Allah (or any other God), you are worshiping the same deity Christians are. After all, I think YHWH was pretty clear when He commanded, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
When we add our own values to our God, we begin to worshiping someone different (which was kind of alluded to by アレクザンダー). This is no longer the God of the Bible, but rather an idol – something we’ve fashioned ourselves. Although He may largely resemble the Christian God, He is no longer that if we’ve added attributes, characteristics, and values to Him that He doesn’t have. It’s like if I had a friend who said this about me: I love soccer, excel in mathematics, and am a drunk. Not only would that person be wrong, they would be talking about someone different than me.
Of course, idols extend to other areas of our lives. I’ve heard it said many times that we as humans were made to worship. I believe this. But what do we worship? What is the most important thing in our lives? For me, I often place priority on family and on entertainment before I do God, and adjusting my worldview is often a struggle. Others put possessions or money or career success or relationships first.
But the point is this – no matter what you do, you’re going to worship something. What or who you worship – that’s up to you.
Note: Thanks to アレクザンダー for hatching this idea through his thoughtful analysis and for his kindness in both finding the Kamisama Dolls quote and letting me use his analysis.