Holy Week: Noragami and Treating God as a Genie, Part 1

Near the end of the Noragami series, an anime-only antagonist is introduced.  Like Yato, Rabo is a god of calamity, and the series does it’s best to make him seem a match for our laid-back (but occasionally awesome) hero.

Apparently, Rabo has returned after centuries of absence, but in just a short time, he has made his presence felt among the general populace.  One of Hiyori’s friends, Yamashita, mentions that invoking his name in attempt to off somebody is a fad, I guess akin to writing down someone’s name in a Death Note notebook you purchased on eBay.

In this same discussion, the girls have a quick, but meaningful discussion characterizing the gods.  Yamashita tells of all her wishes to the kami, to which Hiyori chastises that she shouldn’t burden the gods with too many wishes.  Yamashita responds, “But that’s what gods are for!”

Yato and Rabo
Art by mime6 (Pixiv ID 41703179)

Although it’s played for comedy, Yamashita’s words reveal how many of us treat God in deeds, if not also in words.  Our head knowledge might know God to be a living spirit who is dynamic and loving and full of life.  But our words indicate that he’s static and idol-like, something to go to when we’re in need.

Our own sinful human characteristics help define how we see God.  Nora, who seems to be the primary, underlying antagonist in the series, tells it his way:

However much you grant people’s wishes, their feelings are always fickle and erratic.

How true her words – we are indeed fickle.  And this goes for our spiritual lives as well as anything else.  Just as Nora infers that people neglect gods even after receiving things from them, we forget God and his love and nature even after we’ve experienced his gifts, including grace and salvation.  At best, for many of us, the image of Him in our minds and hearts is inconsistent, and at worst, He becomes that genie or idol, an object more than a living being.  Even those who have a strong and growing relationship with Christ fall into this cycle of understanding a bit of God and his heart, and then treating Him as if he’s unreal.

In Noragami, the character of Hiyori, who has a good a heart as any in the series, acts similarly, treating Yato as an object at first as well. But in tomorrow’s post, we’ll see that in in her, we also discover what it looks like when we transform our relationship with God into something more dynamic and meaningful.

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