Today, we are happy to bring you a guest post by community member Maggie Schoepke. Maggie is a writer, artist, and graphic designer in charge of her blog, Ladies of the Press.
While we are a Christian website, one of our goals here at Beneath the Tangles is to foster discussion with anime fans of all religions. We hope that you enjoy reading what our community has to offer and will consider submitting a guest post of your own. Remember, we welcome posts from all writers, regardless of their beliefs!
General Disclaimer: Beneath the Tangles does not necessarily advocate the theological views expressed in any article labeled “Guest Post.”
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With the first season of Durarara!! under my belt, I can finally say, this show takes the cake. If you know me, I seem to say this after every anime I’ve completed, but there’s something different about this one… I can’t help thinking that, even after more seasons to come, Durarara!! will be in my top ten for quite some time.
It’s been a bit hard to pinpoint, but I think what really drew me into the series was the genre. Without many shonen-like scenes, there was room for more of a plot line, undoubtedly thickened by the perfect balance of mystery and logic. Yes, there were elements of violence and horror, but I found it terribly interesting and somewhat true to life all the same. I could go on and on about how it was marvelously written with twists and turns in every episode and animation that kinda has a 90s feel to it, but as Masaomi says,“It’s the square root of three -above the heads of grade school kids,” so I’ll keep it to myself.
Instead of boring my readers to death with praises for the show, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about some of the supernatural elements of the story. There’s a sword called Saika that loves people, but also hurts them. To help you understand where I’m going with this, I have included the following dialogue below:
Celty: “I don’t understand…if it loves people, why slash them?”
Shinra: “When people are in love they have various ways of expressing themselves.”
Celty: “Huh? What do you mean?”
Shinra: “Like holding hands or embracing or even talking.”
The conversation further unfolds into a description of how the sword works. Viewers learn that the weapon simply wants its love to have tangible form. Because of this desire, it expresses itself through the person who wields it. And it does so by taking over the body of the wielder and then slashing the person it loves. Long story short, the slashing gives birth to more wielders of similar swords wanting to convey similar love. See what I mean about it being both intriguing and horrible at the same time?
Well, later in the series I started asking myself what the supernatural elements in the world of Durarara!! could tell me about the supernatural elements in the real world. And here’s what I found out. Saika loves humans. We know that from the story. But when you compare Satan to Saika, the motives of the Prince of Darkness are a bit more complicated. You see, Satan (and other demons) influence people. Such influence is not always the cause for sin, as often our own flesh-nature motivates us to do wrong, but influence in the form of spiritual warfare still happens nonetheless. We must be on guard for such attacks. The Prince of Darkness can get a grip on the mind and heart, all too easily affecting our every thought and motive. This, to me, is much like the way Saika works. Only there’s a small difference.
As I’ve mentioned before, Saika truly does love humans. Satan, however, does not. He may make it look otherwise, but the only person Satan loves, has ever loved, and will ever love, is himself (see Isaiah 14:12-15). Despite this being the case, I think it’s worth noting that Satan works most of his deceits through passion, just like Saika. Try to think of a time when Satan didn’t motivate people through their love of something. He does his best work through things like greed and lust, and even when hate is the main motivation, it only exists because there is love for something else.
So, there were those differences and similarities I caught in the series, but there were also a couple more. The primary wielder of Saika is a girl named Anri. Once, when caught in a tough situation, she announces, “I will have peace in my life even if I have to do something horrible to have it.” These are much like the lies Satan tells to motivate humans. Think about it. How does Satan often tempt us into doing wrong? He tells us that sinning (the horrible deeds he often asks us to commit) will bring us some kind of reward if we push through with it. In Anri’s case, this reward is peace. Satan has done this type of tempting since the beginning. Remember Adam and Eve?
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
The text in red is the first instance where Satan convinces humans that sinning will be worth the “reward” it brings. As I’m sure we all know, a reward is not exactly what Adam and Eve get in the end. Yes, the husband and wife’s eyes were opened, and they knew both good and evil. They did not die immediately, but death was a suddenly-existing thing that eventually came as an aftermath of their disobedience. By giving into Satan’s lies, they were shown far more than they ever wanted to see (Genesis 3:16-19). And they were also shown far less of their paradise than they ever wanted to see (03:23-24">Genesis 3:23-24). They were introduced to murder and were ultimately even responsible for their son being killed in such a way (Genesis: 4:8).
Just like Adam and Eve, who found themselves enslaved to Satan and their sin, Anri was likewise indebted to the blade, Saika. Her collaboration with the sword brought forth children (more bearers of the blade), and her pain doubled immensely because of this. Her life and the life of her friends and countless others were endangered because of the choices she made. Some of those people even died in brutal ways, and because of this, Anri struggled to obtain the life she truly desired.
In his book Creativity According to the Kingdom, Matt Tommey summarizes what I’m trying to say exactly:
Because God gave legal authority to mankind over the earth realm, both He and Satan need a human – one authority in this realm – if they want to do anything on the earth. It’s a legal issue based on the law of agreement. When God wants to move on the earth, He finds a man or woman who will agree with Heaven and then through that agreement, the Kingdom of Heaven manifests. The same is true for the kingdom of darkness.
Then, he goes on to further encourage us on what to do with this information:
As believers, our job is not to make Heaven happen here through stressful religious striving. Rather, it is our job to discern between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of darkness and then agree with Heaven. So how do you know the difference? Well, lots of different ways like God’s Word, prophetic revelation and godly counsel come to mind, but they all come under the heading of renewing you mind, so you can operate with the mind of Christ.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)
You are transformed and can discern (test and approve) the difference between kingdoms through a renewed mind (knowledge). Once you know the difference, then you can agree with heaven in your heart, having been what the Bible calls ‘fully persuaded’ (Romans 4:21), what I call being ‘in faith.’
Both Durarara!! and Matt Tommey paint a pretty ugly picture of the way Satan works. Through their use of words and imagery, we learn that the Prince of Darkness has no other motives than his own. He loves no one else but himself. He works his deceits through passions of some sort and tells us that sinning will bring us a greater reward. When we pursue this desire, we get what we deserve, not what we want. It may take years for a consequence to develop, but one will develop nonetheless.
If you ask me, this seems like a very depressing cycle. Thankfully, things don’t have to be that way. We can defeat Satan and this pattern of sin and consequence by renewing our minds, and being on guard for works from both kingdoms. We can give authority to the Kingdom of Heaven to work through us. Then, and only then, can we fully live in faith.
Tommey, Matt. “The Kingdom Is Like…” Creativity According to the Kingdom. Asheville: Worship Studio, 2014. 142. Print.