Untangled: Maria the Virgin Witch and Being an Ezekiel in Christian Society

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Today’s question/comment (revised) comes from a long-time reader of our blog:

Junketsu no Maria 7 won’t leave my mind. Here we have Ezekiel berated for the sins of love and mercy. And he (she?) does deeply regret ignoring Heaven’s orders… only he hates the idea of killing the innocent so much more!  Ezekiel pleads he cannot act because he does not understand the main character’s sin.

“I didn’t make you to think,” the archangel Michael refutes Ezekiel’s doubts. “My words are the words of Heaven.”

It is a dead-end street for Ezekiel. His mind will not dare blame the religious authority, his heart will not cast away love and mercy. What is there left for him but to blame himself for… for what?

I feel like Ezekiel’s plight perfectly reflects the tribulations moral and thinking people go through in a Christian/Catholic society. We are called upon to hate, abandon and destroy in the name of God. That’s maniacal heresy, certainly, but words of hate and division are sweet indeed, especially when spoken from a position of heavenly authority. As the poison spreads, many an Ezekiel is born. Those poor souls retained their sanity and suffer for it in solitude and silent doubt: might they be the insane ones?

The reader goes on to give examples, mentioning a priest decrying My Little Pony as satanic and the church as “spawning internal conflicts by delving into politics and dishing out the tried and true ‘you are with us or against us.'”  He concludes with this:

The will of Heavens is unfathomable, the Church will say – the end-all of any discussion, the all-answer. But wait a moment longer and you will be told exactly what the Heavens want you to think and do. “My words are the words of Heaven.” That is most unfathomable!

I think of the Ezekiel curled up silently by the riverside, and wonder what words I can offer him. And I tell him, if you do not doubt God, make sure you doubt that Archangel.

My response? Hallelujah!

Our reader goes straight to the heart of what turns off a lot of non-Christians in regards to the church – leadership that directs congregations in an ungracious, unthinking manner and with an iron fist.  This kind of thought pervades all religions, and Christianity is no exception.  Historically we know this to be true, but we don’t have visit history for examples – just drive to many churches in America’s bible belt today, and you’ll feel the same.

As the reader points out, Christians need to look to God.  Churches, unfortunately, sometimes would rather look to their own culturally created god rather than to the God of the Bible.  Power, sin, ignorance, and idolization cause church leadership to drift from God toward something ungodly.  But they can’t be the only ones to blame – we are sheep in need of a shepherd, but the ultimate shepherd aren’t pastors or priests or bishops – it’s Christ.  And if we see our church valuing ideas that run contrary to scripture, we have to make the choice to follow down that wide and destructive path or to take the narrow but righteous one.

Staying true to scripture also means that while we to avoid swaying toward becoming pharisees or otherwise hoisting wrong teaching upon others, we must also avoid becoming universalists or those that otherwise water down the gospel into one of the world’s vision of love, acceptance, and mercy.  We can’t forget the significance of Christ’s death and the weight of our sins, and forego that message, jumping straight to grace.  That misses the point of God’s gift of salvation entirely.

On another note, although few of us on staff are watching Junketsu no Maria this season, we may delve into the series some as time allows.  Even if it approaches religion from an angle other than our own, as the reader email demonstrates, there’s plenty to dig into that beneficial for Christians and non-Christians alike.

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

5 thoughts on “Untangled: Maria the Virgin Witch and Being an Ezekiel in Christian Society

  1. I particularly love the last line “if you do not doubt God, make sure you doubt that Archangel.” While I have constantly been trying to view Maria as a show being as accurate to Christianity as plausible, the constant reference of the archangel claiming “these are not my words but the words of god,” makes me shift from wondering is the god in Maria really this cruel? OR is it the archangel who is pushing his own personal agenda/beliefs? With only one episode left, we still have no confirmation from god himself, only one claiming to be the representative of god, although the credentials of being an archangel are certainly believable…much like the credentials of a pastor, perhaps? I would love to go into some in-depth analysis of the show, but for now, there is too much material, and I don’t have the time.

    1. If God were really cruel in this story, He wouldn’t have stopped the Archangel from getting rid of Maria (and/or her powers) near the start of the story.

      I also recall Michael doesn’t constantly say that his words are those of God all the time, but he does mention it on one or two occasions. I think context is important.

      All the same, beyond that, one should recall that the Biblical God was capable of acts of what humans perceive as great cruelty as well as great kindness, even if it usually had a greater purpose.

      1. I suppose cruel may have been too harsh a word. I just mean cruel relative to my own biased view of how loving God really is because for the most part, I’ve been extremely pleased with how God has been portrayed (or lack thereof), which has really raised my expectations, so the few instances of potential inaccuracy disappoint me more than they should.

        On one hand, it’s true Michael doesn’t say it all the time, but he repeats his lines a lot, so I applied his statements of “these are god’s words” to every other time he said similar stuff – and therefore constant in the meaning of unchanging, as in, his argument is constant; I originally worded that poorly. That said, the different context is indeed why I’ve been shifting back and forth in my interpretation. The upcoming final confrontation/conversation will really determine how I feel about Michael’s character, and perhaps, subsequently, god’s.

        And God’s history of supposed cruelty is exactly why I’m enjoying Maria so much. This part is VERY accurate, and I love that the anime doesn’t hold back with how bad the world is while God supposedly is just sitting idly and watching, all while the people suffering are expected to continue to have faith, even in the face of death. Before Michael claimed to be speaking god’s words, I was thinking that he was actually using/relying on Maria to intervene in the war (this line of thought has a lot to discuss so I’ll leave it alone for now) which would be directly contrary to others who might see her as a “heretic playing god.” Even now, I think this is a possible interpretation.

  2. I think Maria is a worthwhile show. It takes some potshots at Christianity, yes, but most of those are historically accurate. If there is anything “unfair” about it in that regard, it’s that it makes little effort to show the positive side of the Church’s influence/efforts in those times (there were positives, right???).

    Maria’s line of thought basically goes along the lines of the Church being too focused on theory and too little on actual love. But I like how the story does sometimes take a potshot at her beliefs, too. And the ending is highly unexpected (despite heavy foreshadowing), and one that Christian viewers might actually be satisfied with.

    The question this time struck quite close home, so I felt nervous reading your response to it xD. My heartfelt support to all the Ezekiels out there!

    1. Haha, I’m glad this turned out well. Thank you for the question – it was a really important one for us to address, and I’m glad you gave me the opportunity to think on it and write about it.

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