Holy Week: Noragami and a Saving Grace

The world of Noragami reflects the pantheon of kami in Japanese religion.  There’s an unraveling uniqueness to Yato, but from the beginning, Noragami also emphasizes the truth of Shintoism, that he is just one of many gods.  And without a shrine, Yato is a minor one at that.

The presence of many kami in Shinto religion is just one of many differences between that system and Christianity.  Yet, Noragami demonstrates to us a very Christian idea through Yato, one god who offers a similar gift as the One God.

Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine
Art by 砂糖イルノ (Pixiv ID 42444617)

As we discussed earlier this week, Yato’s actions, and that of others, help define the most important of Christians terms and help us understand what Easter is all about:

  1. Yukine helps us define what sin is.  Before a holy God, sin is more than offensive – it’s a rebellion against Him and against the breath of life He put into us.  It’s us outright telling God that we do not want to be in his presence, like telling parents who have reared us with love and affection, “To hell with you,” and like the Prodigal Son, leaving them behind to live life our way.
  2. Yato helps us define grace, that very hard-to-grasp term which tells us that there’s nothing we can do to make God love us anymore, nor is there anything we can do that would lead to God loving us less.  It’s an undeserved love that Yato shows Yukine, and that God shows us, even as we rebel against Him.
  3. Yato’s sacrifice mirrors that of Christ’s death on the cross.  He is willing to die (well, Yato believes so much in Yukine that he feels he’ll only get to very brink of death, while Christ know He will suffer and die) out his grace toward Yukine.  The caring that Yato shows to Yukine is powerful and moves the boy to repent and change.  The love of Christ toward us is real and powerful and sacrificial to the ultimate end.

It’s these key pieces that we need to know to understand the gospel story – God’s nature, our nature, our need, and how God fulfills that need.

In the end, of course, Noragami is fiction.  You might think the same Christ and the Easter story, which is often (even by my friends) flippantly referred to as a zombie story.  But I hope that as you perhaps think a little about the powerful emotions that come from Yato’s desire to help Yukine, or of other similar stories of grace in anime – that of the brothers in Mawaru Penguindrum, Wolfwood at the cross in Trigun, Madoka’s sacrificial actions in PMMM – you’ll consider the possibilities of this story and what it might mean to mankind, and more personally, to you.

Good Friday is the day we commemorate Christ’s death on the cross.  If you haven’t planned on doing so, please take the time to meditate on what that means – read the Bible (here’s Luke’s account), pray, ask a friend (or myself) a question – and consider what God has done for you.

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