Charlotte, Episode 7: Ends of the Earth

A lot of things can drive us away from God. Most are subtle, as we replace God in our lives with money, success, lifestyle, relationships, or usually a combination of many things. And sometimes, an event pushes us away from God, as we purposely, in full realization, run away from our maker.

In episode seven of Charlotte, Yuu makes a run for it, hiding away from the world, from his life, from truth, from pain, but most purposely, from Nao.

Angel Beats is not going to make you feel any better, Yuu...
Angel Beats is not going to make you feel any better, Yuu…

I don’t think any of us probably watched this episode thinking that what Yuu was doing was fantastic or absurd. We realize how difficult the time is for him, and how hard it is to bounce back from a tragedy like he endured. Those with anxiety or other difficulties and illnesses probably understand Yuu’s condition even more deeply – once you’ve been pushed over the edge, it feels like an impossible task to do what people are telling Yuu to do – to move on with life.

And so, Yuu runs. He runs away from Nao and the student council, so that they won’t bring him back to the heavy weight of reality. And he runs to a place where he can simply satisfy his basic animal desires, to indulge in things that will keep him from the reality of life. In this way, Yuu reminds me of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); though some tragedy didn’t push the prodigal to rebel, he did squander the money given him and breathed in “wild living.”

In the end, the prodigal returned to the father – not necessarily out of humility, but just for a place to go. Yuu is still running at the end of the episode, but knowing that he’s never likely to return, his “god” has to meet him more quickly than God met the prodigal.

I’ve already mentioned how Nao has demonstrated some qualities of Christ – namely how she endures suffering to save others. And in this episode, she does the same – she takes herself away from school, travels far, and stays by Yuu’s side. Like the invisible God, she remains by him even though he doesn’t realize it, day after day, letting him make his choices until he comes to the point where he’ll head down a path to which there is little chance for redemption.

charlotte 7b

And then, with serving, humility, and compassion, Nao gives Yuu exactly what he needs. Through a promise (given in her own unique style), she gives him love in a reminder of how much he meant to Ayumi (and visa-versa). She breaks down his walls, and in doing so, brings him back to the flock.

If you’ve drawn away from Christ, whether in sin or because of pain that wasn’t your fault, know, too, that Someone invisible remains by your side, caring for you even as you pull away from Him. You only need to trust, to do the opposite of what you feel – instead of pushing away from him, draw nearer to God. And when you do so, He’ll draw near to you.

It’s a promise.


19 thoughts on “Charlotte, Episode 7: Ends of the Earth

  1. And along came an atheist to ruin everyone’s fun and give them a harsh dose of reality. =P

    I know you’re thinking metaphorically here, Charles. Nao is a Jesus-like figure, watching over Yuu. But I very much want to point out that no gods came to help Yuu in his time of need. It was a human friend who came to his rescue.

    And that’s very much what I advocate as a humanist–people caring for other people. No need to rely on some higher power or even to give undeserved credit to the higher power.

    All too often this mindset of “god will come though in a time of need” leads to inaction. I feel that if people accepted the fact that no god is coming to help the less fortunate among us, they would be more compelled to take action to help their fellow man.

    I’ve not drawn away from religion (and the concept of gods) because of sin or because of pain in my life. Primarily I’ve drawn away from it because it contradicts what I observe in reality. But another important reason I feel the world would be a better place without religion or the belief in gods is because belief lets people foist the problems of the world off onto their respective god(s).

    I am a spokesman for atheism and humanism because I feel that if people turned away from comforting fantasies and faced the harshness of the real world, it would be a better place.

    1. “Primarily I’ve drawn away from it because it contradicts what I observe in reality.” May I ask what you observe in reality to make you feel this way?

      1. All kinds of things too numerous to list them all here. I’ll try to mention a few for you.

        1. The biblical creation story in Genesis needs to be literally true for Jesus’s existence to make any sense. And science proves that there’s no way the world could have been created in 6 days.
        2. The ten commandments, which so many Christians (especially Americans in the south) believe to be the foundation of morality are either superstitious or outright immoral (only two of the ten commandments are laws–don’t kill, don’t steal).
        3. Christianity (Roman Catholicism, which I was raised as) claims to be monotheistic, but they pray to Mary and the saints, so they’re actually polytheistic.
        4. The god of the old testament and the god of the new testament are completely different characters.
        5. The awesomeness of miracles has decreased as a function of time. The old god used to flood the Earth and speak directly to groups of people and cure leprosy and stuff. Nowadays the best miracle the christian god can perform is appearing on toast.

        I could keep going, but the bottom line is that the entire concept of a supposed all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good being is just going to be rife with contradictions.

        1. I don’t know, Alexander – interestingly enough, I think you interpret the Bible like a lot of Christians do, with too much of a surface level approach without taking context into account (historical, literary, archaeological, and even when referencing other pieces of scripture) and without taking the time to dig into the questions of scripture and seeking out the answers with deep thought, cross-referencing, etc. I don’t blame you – why would a non-believer do this for any reason other than an academic exercise, especially since most Christians won’t either.

          I would suggest to not let your skepticism cloud your approach to scripture, though, to understand that a dynamic group of 66 books must not be read just in the modern-day, conservative Christian (and add to that the atheist response to this type of approach) context. Some questions to think on, for instance, relating to your points: 1) There are a gazillion theories related to why death would occur before the fall, so why would the first account in Genesis need to be literal, especially when it’s written lyrically? 2) Were the Commandments written for that particular culture in time, for all cultures for all time, or for some mixture of these? 3) Although I disagree with the idea that we should approach the saints to plead to God on our behalf, would that indeed be considered praying to a god? Does praying to entity make it a “god”? <– this was a good question to ask myself 4) Does revealing one portion of yourself to a small number of people in a limited place in time and in another way in another place in time make you two different beings, and can a connection be made between judgment in the OT and grace in the NT based on the story of redemption? 5) Do miracles really no longer exist? And if they've decreased, is there a reason?

          1. Saying that the Bible needs to be analyzed and picked apart and read in context and whatnot is what I feel to be Christians’ worst case of special pleading. If this is the most important document a divine being granted to humanity and is the only way to understand that being through his own words, then he has done a pretty awful job of relaying that information if he can’t do it in plain prose. For me, it’s another big point against the existence of the Christian god.

            1. I’ve never heard any theories as to how The Fall could be introduced into humanity’s lineage without there having been a literal Adam and Eve. How could people have evolved into existence and all of a sudden a god says, “Ok, these two are the first humans, everything before wasn’t human,” when evolution doesn’t work like that? It’s a slow process of gradual steps with a lot of gray area. I don’t debate with people about an old earth / universe or whether or not evolution is true in the same way I don’t debate with people about whether or not gravity is true.

            2. If the Commandments are out of date, maybe god needs to send a new prophet to update the list for a more modern age. God didn’t seem to have any issues about sending prophets in the past, so why hasn’t there been one for about 2,000 years?

            4. Does revealing yourself to only a small group of people count as revealing yourself to the world so that there’s no ambiguity or confusion as to who the real god is?

            5. I would argue that a miracle has never happened, actually.

            1. Regarding your first paragraph, texts should always be analyzed with context in mind regardless of if it’s religious or not; I disagree that applying a fundamental literary analysis tool to Biblical texts makes it special pleading. A problem here is that “plain prose” is always changing, and to someone 2000 years ago, things written in the “plain prose” of today would just result in people making the same argument you are. Language is far from static which makes conveying of any information using static explanations pretty much impossible across thousands of years. Regardless of what God may put into words, its meaning will inevitably be obscured to people at some point in time due to limitations of language and words; there is nothing that will be read the same to everyone across all time periods. My point isn’t a Christian argument but a language argument, and I think there are other, very easy counterpoints to the argument of contextual analysis of the Bible that don’t simplify how complexly language and human culture varies across time and location (ex. similar to your point 2, why hasn’t God given us “updated info” would work).

              1. I agree that understanding historical texts in context is important. The point I was trying to make but may have not made clear is that the Bible needs to be held to a higher standard if it is indeed penned or at least inspired by a divine being. The fact that it’s riddled with all manner of problems and is open to interpretation to such a degree that it’s basically useless.

                And if it was only ever relevant to that ancient society but not to modern society, then why are Christians today still basing their morality on the Bible? Why would the all-powerful creator of the universe write a book that would become out-of-date? Did he not have the power to predict such an occurrence and make preparations for our evolving culture?

                Also, I don’t understand your argument that god not updating the commandments through a new prophet or whatever means he chooses is a language problem. Is your god so weak that he can’t get over a language barrier? Whenever the commandments are out of date, god should come along and say, “Hey, these need to be revised for your more modern society. Here’s version 3.4.15. Note that I’ve eliminated the 10th commandment because thought crime isn’t a good thing.” Or something like that.

              2. I think you misunderstood my point since you branched off into many things I don’t have complaints about. My only issue was initially reading your comment as thinking it ridiculous to read the text of the Bible in its proper historical context. Many of the questions you pose are questions I myself ask and have no good answers for. I prefer that you are asking those; I didn’t like it when you made the quip about contextual reading of the Bible.

                You definitely misunderstood my last point because I was trying to say that YOUR argument (not mine or God’s) of God not updating the Bible is much better suited than an argument which, at least what I read at the time to be, said the Bible shouldn’t have to be read in context. I was trying to say you can still pose excellent questions about Christianity’s veracity without denying us analyzing the Bible contextually. I completely agree with you that it’s strange that God never updates what is supposedly a vital piece of documentation if it becomes outdated. But since we only have this super old document, it should be read in context, and thus I’m making a language argument because even if it isn’t inspired by God, it’s still a historical text and should be read as such. I only meant that the need to read the Bible contextually is a terrible counterpoint to God’s existence while other counterpoints, such as the ones you just presented, are much better. But again, this is all because I thought you were saying the need to be analyzing the Bible in its appropriate context is by itself (and not any of the other things you expanded on later) a big hit against Christianity which I found very surprising because you usually have such valid and understandable arguments, which I greatly appreciate! Sorry for all this miscommunication.

              3. This is a response to your response below, Kaze. WordPress won’t let me respond to that one. Apparently there’s a limit to the number of replies you can make.

                Ok. I think I understand what you’re saying now. And yes. I completely agree that ancient literature should be read in the context of its language usage and the era in which it was written. My argument of using the Bible itself to disprove the existence of the Christian god based on the fact that it hasn’t been updated stems from the fact that Christians (at least the majority of Christians I know) don’t treat the Bible as merely a piece of literature, but a manual created by the all-powerful creator of the universe that we should live our lives by.

                If Christians just wanted to say, “Oh! This book is just the legend of the origins of our religion,” and left it at that, I would be fine. Personally, I treat the Bible as being on the same level as Homer’s Odyssey and if hotel rooms included The Epic of Gilgamesh and Beowulf alongside the Bible to help diversify the mythical literature they present to their guests, you’d see a much less militant atheist speaking to you here. ^_^

                Thanks for your patience with me here on a Christian blog.

    2. I can’t disagree with much of what you’re saying, Alex. Here’s the thing – the idea that “God will save me” leading to inaction is a big problem. But it’s also entirely unbiblical. Those who would rather have an unthinking religion based on blind faith aren’t an accurate representation of Christianity, even if they might be a very visible representation of it.

      Bigger questions, maybe, are why do we help people? And how do we help them? Sin and grace aren’t necessary to help others, by any means, but they do propel people like me, who are fundamentally incredibly self-centered, to make sacrifice and reach out to others as modeled by an unselfish Christ who died for the very people who killed him. The second question gets into a perhaps deeper issue, and maybe also represented by Nao – how do we help? Physical assistance is necessary and must occur, but if the gospel is considered truth, there’s a further concern, the person’s very soul – and I think that, too, can be reflected by Nao’s action here.

      1. To answer your question, “Why do we help people?” is actually quite simple. Evolution. We evolved to be social animals. We don’t have fangs, claws, strong muscles or fast legs to catch our prey like a lot of other wild predators. Our strategy was to grow big brains and out-think our quarry through teamwork.

        Teamwork necessitates cooperation and from an evolutionary standpoint those who were better at working together were on average more successful than loners and thus passed on their cooperative genes to subsequent generations.

        This instinct to help each other became so strong that it just makes sense to most people that they may not even realize the urges they have that lead them to the mindset, “If I was in trouble, I hope people would come to help me. So if I see someone else in trouble, I should go help them.”

        Also, aren’t there passages in the bible that go, “Ask and you shall receive” and “If you have faith you will have the power to move mountains” and stuff like that? Praying to god for favors with no effort on your own part is 100% biblical.

        And this last bit is getting off topic, but it’s something that gets on my nerves. People talking about the “sacrifice of Jesus.” I’ve talked in my Madoka vs Jesus series about how Jesus’s sacrifice wasn’t really a sacrifice already, so I’ll talk about a different issue here.

        The bottom line is that up until Jesus’s sacrifice, humanity was collectively paying for the sins of Adam. So god is in favor of punishing the child for the sins of parent–yeah, just the kind of “all-loving” being I can’t wait to worship. *sarcasm* But here’s the real kicker–nobody asked Jesus to free humanity from the burden of original sin. So his “sacrifice” was basically a gift from Jesus to humanity. Ok… thanks… I guess… for not punishing me for the sins of the first human being, which I had no part in. Something you shouldn’t have been punishing me for in the first place. Thanks Jesus…

        But then he has the gall to ask me to repay him for a service I didn’t ask for and then if I don’t repay him he’s going to take the favor back. Jesus is worse than the mob. Asking me to pay him protection money (ok, not really money, but loving and worshiping him) for a problem he caused in the first place.

        Sorry, that last bit really got off topic I know. But you brought it up when you mentioned the “unselfish Christ who died for the very people who killed him.” Sorry again, but if you look at the details of the biblical story without “god glasses” the way I do, I can see no reason to worship the Christian god if I believed he even existed in the first place. =P

        1. A) Ehhh…mehhh. I mean…are you a believer in the power of the human spirit? Doesn’t the belief that we only help each other out of instinct really say that our human spirit is environmental in nature and has nothing to do, fundamentally, with choice?

          B) “All-loving” is a mushy way of talking about God, and perhaps isn’t accurate. How people present God isn’t scripturally accurate all the time (or often most of the time). God, however, is patient. He gave us a way to resolve the problem, even though you must consider humanity as basically weak and worthless in comparison an all-powerful, all-knowing God of the universe – we’re not even worthy of mention to such a being. And, regardless of original sin, we commit sin, too. We’ve made our choice.

          Christ, being equated to this perfect God, holy and worthy, died to offer a way. We can choose the way we’ve always chosen, away from God, or we can choose him. If you believe that man is god, then you’ll believe that God is unjust. If you believe that man was created by God, you’ll see Christ’s sacrifice as something unbelievable and amazing. It’s all from your perspective (though only one way, if either, can be true).

          1. A) Being the science-minded person I am, I would call the “human spirit” the mind (a physical, electro-chemical object that can basically be summed up as the product of a brain). But I don’t see what the issue is. Does having helped someone diminish your kindness because you do it out of instinct? And I don’t see how choice gets eliminated either, because you can choose not to help people as much as you can choose to help them. I admit, it’s often hard to pinpoint where altruism ends an where tit-for-tat social strategies begin (ie: where is the line between looking out for the community and looking out for the individual)?

            B) I’m not sure what method that you’re referring to that your god gave us to solve our problems, but as I believe that no gods exist, we’re on our own. And I believe no problem can’t be solved if we put our minds to it. We aren’t weak. Humanity is one of the strongest forces in the universe. We haven’t tamed everything (and there are some things that are more useful and beautiful untamed) but we grow stronger through each other. We have so much potential and when I’m told that it can’t be done, it only makes me want to try harder!

            I hate that religion tells us we’re somehow inherently bad. It’s so self-defeating and it’s one of the primary reasons that if a god did exist and it was the Christian god and it actually had all of the qualities you’ve attributed to it, I would cease to be an atheist and become an antitheist. I would band together with others towards the common goal of destroying this tyrant who created me and then seeks to punish me for crimes I did not commit. If Hell is separation from such a god for all eternity, I can think of no greater heaven.

            Ok, I got a little silly there, but I’m serious when I say that the qualities I see Christians attribute to their god are ones I do not find praiseworthy. It was one of the common themes throughout my Madoka vs Jesus series.

  2. Ahhh, I’m trying hard not to read much of this in case I watch Charlotte. X3 What is Charlotte about? I know it’s probably really good considering the people who made it, though I really have no idea on what it’s about in general. And I don’t know what age range it’s in either… so I’m kinda cautious right now on wether to watch it or not ^u^, Though maybe I should finish K-ON! first… X3

    1. Charlotte, I think, has generally been considered a disappointment to most so far. I think we really need to see where it’s going in the second half before we make a judgment call, however. And to me, the show’s been entertaining, though I’m waiting for something considerably deeper and more involving – and I think we’ll eventually get that.

      I don’t really want to ruin too much for you, as the first episode itself kinda reveals a surprise. But it has to do with students who have supernatural powers. There’s a little bit of fanservice and some violent content, but nothing that’s pervasive in the series.

        1. Well, it really depends on what you consider “inappropriate.” There is language, some fanservice, some violence, and it is full of the Japanese way of thinking which is definitely not Christian. Approach with caution (or not at all) if those items bother you.

      1. I haven’t been blogging much lately, but you don’t have to look at too much of my reviews to know that my tastes in anime often do no coincide with the mainstream. Charlotte was definitely one of the anime I gravitated towards immediately for the summer 2015 season. At first I thought it was going to just be an interesting school drama with occasional snippets of philosophical insight. But episode 7 really smashed it out of the ballpark.

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