Sword Art Online 2, Episode 6: Problematic Pain

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.

Sinon Sword Art Online

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.

5 thoughts on “Sword Art Online 2, Episode 6: Problematic Pain

  1. I don’t like SAO2. It seems that everything was set up to give Kirito opportunities to show off in front of everyone, especially in front of Shino. Even the rules of the game Gun Gale Online was designed to give Kirito an advantage. I don’t know if you are a gamer or not, I am a gamer and I know video games don’t work that way.

    SAO1 was so good and got me exited for SAO2. But now I’m disappointed, not completely, but still feel sad.

    1. Sorry you feel that way! That said, I can’t say I really disagree with you. SAO2 does feel to me like it does a lot of pandering…

      Despite that, though, I think it’s still enjoyable to watch and has some themes that can be extracted and edifying.

      (I say all this as someone who wasn’t particularly fond of season one…)

    2. I can definitely see that. It might be helpful to instead focus on the brewing confrontation between Kirito and Death Gun, the anticipation of which has surprised me in being really gripping. He’s a pretty good (or bad) bad guy. I’m liking that part of the new season!

  2. By the end of the Alfheim Online arc, I was set to be done with SAO forever. But, surprisingly, I’m really enjoying SAOII, too, and I look forward to it each week. I appreciate Kirito’s signs of PTSD. The emotional elements from both him and Sinon deepen the show for me, so I feel invested it watching their characters develop.

    I’ve come to terms with the big “why does God allow evil” question. I’ll refrain from the details. A big part of it is that I’ve been getting to know God for years now, and I know he’s he’s trustworthy, even though I don’t completely understand him. But knowing this doesn’t lessen the pain. On an individual level, pain indicates that something is wrong with a body. And the pain, heartache, and terror across the earth tells us that the world is not as it should be–there is another way, another plan. From an early age, I set my hope on the day when “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4). We long for the goodness for God. If it weren’t for the pain of evil, I don’t know if anyone would recognize that they and the world are messed up, and in desperate need of a good relationship with our Creator.

    But, like I said, coming to terms with the question doesn’t make the pain go away. It just gives hope, and with it, peace.

  3. Annalyn,

    Jesus was a man. He had been betrayed by one of his closest friends. Most of the rest of his followers had run away. He died as a man on the cross, in agony and alone. He felt abandoned as he died on the cross because he had the same feelings and needs all humans do. Sometimes, there is a reason to feel despair. It is not a sin to feel devastated, any more than it is to feel encouraged. Like Jesus, we can rejoice when times are good and cry when times are bad. Sin was always my doom from the day of my birth. From that day I followed my natural instincts to sin throughout the emotional spectrum unto the most certain death apart from God. Once I accepted that truth, that God loved me although I am a sinner, I had a choice to change. Then after my rebirth all the defects of my character remain until EVERYTHING that broke God’s heart consumes my soul to seek regeneration through the Holy Spirit. I do continuously ask my Hosanna in prayer daily to crucify the flesh and use the wrongs I have done for His good purpose. Pain is an affliction of the flesh, but how deep the Spirit cuts through that pain… That is where God shows me growth. Phillipians 4:8 There is always service work to be completed, sickness to rehabilitate, hurting to heal, resentments to forgive, mourning to become praise, and unbelievers to learn truth. Should this work go unfinished. It is well with my soul. I can die just like the man that died on the cross, bearing the burden of Sin with God’s purpose in my life fulfilled.

    “A man can be moved to tears, can confess his sins, can consider redemption reasonable, can profess his interest in religion, can sign a decision card, can read a Bible and pray, can even testify with joy; but still his spirit has not received God’s life and therefore remains as dead as before. Why? Because man’s soul is capable of performing all these things.” – Watchman Nee

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