If that bullet could also kill a player in the real world, and if you didn’t shoot them, you or someone you loved would be killed, could you still pull the trigger?
I won’t lie. Sword Art Online 2 has kept me entertained all season long. The Alfheim Online arc burned me so bad that I’ve lost the absolute love I once had for the series, but it’s starting to come back. I’ve even begun to accept Kirito and Sinon in all their post-traumatic stress syndrome glory whilst just two weeks ago, I felt that the latter’s back story was too contrived.
I thought episode six, however, did an especially good job of demonstrating to us that these two characters had real fear and real pain from the past. Their situations are more extreme than a typical person’s – they aren’t the hurts that most of us can relate to. But they’re perhaps the kind of hurts that it might be good for us to reflect upon.
While most of us are in our cushy homes watching SAO 2 on on laptops through our Internet service, there are people in real dire situations throughout the world. Genocide is brewing in Iraq. Children are starving to death and dying of disease in Africa. And real soldiers, not virtual ones, are fighting for their lives on battlefields.
In the most unfair situations, it’s common to question God. The Book of Job, for instance, deals with the question of unfairness and why God allows evil to exist. It’s a vital question, but one that’s perhaps hard for us to contemplate when we’re not dealing with a situation that feels cosmically unfair.
Media like Sword Art Online 2, then, can be an initiator in helping us think about these significant questions. Another piece that comes to mind is Silence, which asks the question, why is God silent in tragedy where we would expect a just and loving God to intervene? The answers that Christians give have a cold feel, and a detached one, even if we believe they are true.
Silence puts forward this idea – many Christians can become martyrs, but if others were being tortured because of you, would you be willing to let them be tortured and die because you’re unwilling to become an apostate? The answer’s not so easy if you’re put into a situation like this.
In SAO 2, both Kirito and Sinon are put into unfair situations as well. The quote Kirito gives above demonstrates how he’s haunted by having to take others’ lives. We would hardly blame either Kirito or Sinon for wondering why God would have allowed them to be in such positions.
For all the reasons why people are put into horrible predicaments, Christians must ultimately must turn to faith in situations as these, or in intimate and more realistic ones – like dealing with sickness, death, or failure. Because it’s in knowing God that we can establish our trust in Him and hope to keep that through when the valleys come, remembering this – that even in this, even in this, God is good.