Aiyoku no Eustia and the Threat of Blind Faith

Aiyoku no Eustia is a fantastic visual novel (I initially thought it was only “great” but the more I thought about this post, the more I liked what it did) that still has yet to receive an English translation (a partial patch is available). While most people praise it for things like world-building and a character driven story, what I found most interesting about Eustia was its commentary on religion and faith. Eustia is definitely one of the most religious stories I’ve seen in otaku culture. What I mean by this is that religion itself plays an incredibly large role in the story. Indeed, many of the plot reveals revolve around the church (of a fictional religion) and personal faith is challenged in multiple characters. Perhaps this is not entirely unique as there many examples where the “church” battles “demons” or something of that nature. However, these stories are always incredibly superficial with their inclusion of religion. How often are things like personal faith and the details of the religious beliefs actually important to the story? Almost always, they are but a tool or excuse to tell a story that doesn’t really have anything to do with belief in a god.

Spoiler Disclaimer: The below post contains numerous spoilers about the visual novel Aiyoku no Eustia.

Eustia has a very specific and fictional religion in its universe. Novus Aether is a city floating in the sky, and it is thanks to the goddess that the citizens worship that the city can stay floating above the now cursed land of Earth. The world building surrounding these circumstances is lengthy, but it safe to think of this city as the only important inhabitants in the Eustia universe. Years ago, the lower section of the city collapsed in what is now known as the Gran Forte, and this created a place of degenerates which became known as Prison, a place of lawlessness and suffering. The cause of such a tragic event is that the appointed saint, who prays to the goddess on behalf of the citizens, failed to carry out her duties properly. Or so the people are told.

Saint Irene earnestly prays every day

However, in a major turning point of the visual novel, the current Saint Irene reveals that the city’s ability to float has nothing to do with whether or not she prays to the goddess. She herself does not know why; however, she has long since stopped performing her duties yet still the city thrives. In the story, as more earthquakes that remind the characters of the Gran Forte begin to become more frequent, she is urged to pray more diligently.  Pray to the goddess that the earthquakes will stop. She never stops praying, but as she reveals, she is not praying for the city. In other words, while Irene is a very faithful person, her religious beliefs are nothing like what people expect of her. Her belief in the religion of Novus Aether was shattered long ago when she realized her prayer had no effect on the city.

Blind Faith and Misguided Religion

There are honestly countless interesting things to take away from this series of events as it relates to prayer and faith. However, in the context of the story, I want to focus on the idea of misguided religion. Within the world of Eustia, the religion of Novus Aether is not entirely false. It is a classic example of mixing myth with reality and changing facts just enough to align with political gain. In some ways, it is very much like Christianity today – at least the kind that gets all the criticism for how misguided it can be. The world of Eustia is small; microscopic, even, compared to the population of today. But the influence religion has on the inhabitants is quite the same.

The people of Novus Aether cannot imagine that the religion they have been taught all their lives is false; they cannot even comprehend the idea of doubting it. It is not just an obvious truth in their lives; it is a necessary truth. Without religion, how else could they explain how the city is floating in the sky? Without a Saint, who else could they blame for the Gran Forte? And thus is the difference between well grounded faith and blind faith. While unwavering faith may be the ideal that Christians aspire to reach, it must be grounded in some level of reason. Of course, as I have said before, no amount of reason can make one’s belief perfectly logical – a leap of “blind” faith is always necessary. However, completely blind faith which is not grounded in anything besides “I was told so” is a dangerous way of life.

I often hear Christians mocked for being unable to defend their faith, and in some ways, they should be shamed if they cannot even answer the most basic questions about their faith. The ones who question Christianity the most should be Christians. We should always be questioning why we believe what we do and doing our best to make logic out of the seemingly hypocritical words of the Bible. More importantly, we should question what other believers tell us, even our leaders, and come to our own conclusions through numerous conversations, self-reflection, and prayer. If we are not consulting God and the Bible when it comes to how to live our lives, then we are only blindly following a religion that is not Christian because Christianity is about a relationship with God. Unfortunately, far too many people blindly follow what others tell them, and this has catastrophic results.

When Misguided Faith Crumbles

No one in the world of Eustia thought their religion could be wrong until it was far too late. When an entire piece of land breaks off and falls to the Earth below, chaos, panic, and true anarchy begin to emerge. The Prison, which was already a place of unrest, erupts into mobilized forces out of fear for their lives and anger at the nobles and church members. Countless people died, and the survivors of the tragedy lacked even enough food and water to continue surviving. Religion has completely failed the citizens of Novus Aether. We see such a phenomenon manifest in today’s world in two different ways.

The first is on a very small and individualistic scale: people stop believing in Christianity. College students have one of the, if not the, highest rates of turning away from Christianity, and for obvious reasons – it is often the first time they are truly thinking about why they are a Christian. They begin to see other worldviews that make far more sense. Prayer, much like the prayer in Eustia, has completely failed them, and there many other things in life which have are far more reliable. Without having a strong foundation of faith, people will turn away from Christianity. However, a strong foundation does not just mean going to church and reading the Bible; it means asking questions and thinking critically. It means having a certain level of doubt before accepting something as true. It means building a relationship with Jesus, not marking off a list of checkboxes.

The second way is, in a way, an exact replica of Eustia – countless of people suffering because political decisions were made based off blindly following religion. Perhaps I am edging too close to a political stance for this blog, but it is obvious to anyone that there is a disproportionate amount of anger both towards and from people who identify as Christian. The story of Eustia reminds me greatly of the current political situation we live in now, and while it is no doubt an incredibly complex set of issues, the role misguided religion has played in it is quite apparent. Far too many people have blindly followed so-called Christian teachings, and while the core concept of it may be true, it is hardly recognizable to me. Much like Novus Aether, if people had stopped to consider the real meaning of what they were being taught, perhaps the tensions could have been minimized.

The end result in Eustia is a civil war and the complete destruction of Novus Aether as it falls back to the Earth, with the survivors left to restart life from scratch. The blind faith of the citizens leads to hatred and mutual destruction. A religion meant to bring about peace and prosperity crumbled apart after being twisted into something far different from its original form. The story of Eustia is perhaps more relevant than ever in these uncertain times, so what can we learn from it to avoid a similar outcome?

Religion’s Interaction with Society

Eustia can be seen as a story about how religion and society interact with each other, how religion affects our ways of thinking for better and for worse, and, most notably, how easy it is for a religion engraved into the culture to cause unintentional chaos when it veers off track for long enough. Christians are always so keen on spreading the message, but somewhere along the lines, we have become too complacent about Christianity that is not based on God’s love. Rather than focusing our efforts on spreading the Gospel, I deeply wonder whether we need to first redirect our attention to those who are misrepresenting what Christianity is about. How can we hope to raise good Christians when such a large proportion of Christian examples to follow are so wrong? Moreover, it is clear from both Eustia and in real life that this spreading of hate based on religious beliefs can manifest in incredibly dangerous ways in society. It is one thing when different denominations have different interpretations of what the Bible says about doctrine; it is another thing completely when so-called Christians are calling for murder and genocide.

But while it may be easy to point to these people and say they are the problem, it is just as easy to let ourselves off the hook. The way Christians raise children or new believers is something that can have a permanent effect on what kind of people they become, and many Christians go about it the wrong way. Rather than teaching them how to live a Godly life, they teach what actions need to be done. It is a subtle difference, but one which manifests completely differently. As I have interacted with more and more Christians in my life, I see this manifestation more and more clearly.

There are Christians who simply say they are Christians and go through the motions, and then there are Christians who just so loving, caring, and accepting I am forced to accept how amazing Christianity truly is. Are people being shown how to have a relationship with God and how to act in a loving manner, or are they only being told the list of things that need to be accomplished to be a good Christian? Every now and then I hear church members praising some 2-year-old child for parroting Biblical stories and how he or she “gets it” at such a young age. To me, these people are taking Jesus’ words about being like children far too literally; it is exactly this kind of thinking that creates people who don’t have any kind of deep understanding of Christianity.

Thus, the issue is not just that there are misguided people blindly following their faith but how such people came about in the first place. Perhaps one can even argue that the Christian desire to spread the Gospel to as many as possible in a quantity over quality type of approach is what led to this. Either way, people who are blindly following Christian ideas without having a true relationship with God are something we must be very wary about, arguably even more so than those who aren’t claiming to be Christian at all. When so many have been on the receiving end of hatred from them, it is not enough to simply say they don’t represent “real” Christians. Naturally, everything exists on a spectrum, and it is hard to draw a line between a “real” Christian and one who has gone too far. All of us have parts and actions in our lives that are very un-Christian, myself included.

Regardless, as we seek to be Christians who love others, we must also show that we are serious about any misconduct that our fellow Christians are doing. We must make sure people’s faith is not blind but grounded in true understanding, and that they are truly building a relationship with God. We must actually listen to the complaints and criticisms people have of us; while some may be pointless hatred, there are plenty of reasonable criticisms to be made as well. Being a Christian is not just about teaching others. It is also about interacting with everyone around us in a loving manner and making sure that our society does not end up the same way it does in Aiyoku no Eustia.

 

7 thoughts on “Aiyoku no Eustia and the Threat of Blind Faith

  1. There are definitely many problems with Christian education, which has led to many Christians becoming apostate when they encounter the arguments against Christianity in college. The attack against Christianity is two-pronged: from anti-Christian philosophies on the one hand and, on the other hand, a culture which values money, material advantages, ease, and pleasure above the riches of virtue and charity. This worldly culture despises the riches of Christ exalts the Law of the Flesh, and people are often led by subtle degrees to conform themselves to the wider culture ruled by that law until they find it almost natural to doff the Faith of their childhood. As the Venerable Fulton Sheen said: “If we do not live the way we think, we shall think the way we live.” Faith and good works ought never to be separated.

    I wish our culture was like that of Aiyoku no Eustia, where believing in religion was as natural as breathing. Instead, those holding the Faith must continually fight to remain relevant or even to voice their opinions. France recently passed a law banning Pro-Life political speech. Canada attempted to criminalize Catholic teaching on homosexuality. America made it for the first time to the International Christian Concern’s “Hall of Shame” list for persecution of Christians in 2016. The Kulturkampf is real! And, I do think that it played a pivotal role in America’s presidential election, where the Silent Majority chose a very flawed individual over the candidate they deemed inimical to their Faith.

    Still, religious persons are in for a very hard struggle in convincing the rest of the population that a relationship with Christ and the salvation offered by Him offers the best solution to the riddles of human life.

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  2. One: This seems like something I would enjoy immensely!! Is there a way to get ahold of a copy of this in English? (Looked up again—apparently not VV, only a partial translation patch…) World-building, weird made up religions and religious referencing, visual novel….just…Oh wow…~~

    Secondly…I think that the issue Kaze raises is very important, and that there are a lot of different takes on it (As revealed by Medieval’s answer here, and mine on Medieval’s thread). I will say this: As soon as it becomes about how “sanctified” or “holy” oneself is, and not about what Jesus did, or about what “sinners” the unbelievers are…That is where the root of the rot starts. There is a pretty huge gulf between saying someone is sinning and treating them as inhuman, but unfortunately that gulf is so easy to cross. And so toxic when it is done. When did Church go from the place where a person could debate the things that were bothering them with their pastor to the place where people feared having doubts, of deviating in any way from the “norm” of the congregation?

    It is only very recently (As little as three years ago, now) that I started to see a Christianity I could really get behind. A Christianity that would accept little disabled boys and girls who can’t sit still in church and can’t stop vocalizing. That would talk to them about Jesus and model trucks in equal measure, that didn’t see them as defective sexless annoyances. That sees differences in people as part of God’s plan and creation. That sees homosexual acts as sins but homosexuals as human beings born for a reason. The Church my sister represents within.

    …..Mar and I Fell in together because my younger self saw us as being very similar. We were both people who didn’t fit and in fact even at our best could never fit the mold of what a “good person” was supposed to look like. A good Mar would look like Lady Tremaine trying to be a good hostess at the party in the only ways she knew, while envy grew in her heart towards the woman she could not ever be. I understood exactly what that was like— I had wanted all my life to not be autistic.

    There’s a point at which it must be asked whether “the world” is really what turns people against Christianity….I really think it’s the Christians who expect that every child of God needs to be or act or seem a certain way to be really saved. And it is Christians and God who have the power to turn people back, too. To show them that God wants to perfect them as they really are, not as what society expects a Christian to be.

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    1. For the confused, I’m referencing the recent Disney live action Cinderella remake above I will say that I’ve noticed that much of the fault for people’s dislike of Christianity lies not in Christianity or even college campuses, but in Judeo-Christian influenced culture occasionally conveying Aesops that Jesus Himself would abhor.

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  3. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth… (Fides et Ratio).” I’ve always ever loved this quote, and it seems to really fit to this topic. Indeed a complete “blind faith” leads to certain doom, if one can even correctly call “blind faith” as faith. Witnessing this firsthand, it’s really disheartening to see the person fall gradually in that manner, persuading/condemning without any sound reason and finally crumbling when it ricochets back. In a way I’m also reminded of Wakka from FF10 when he discovered the truth about Yevon’s teachings. For me faith is the belief in the truth that we have yet to see (hint: Hebrews 11:1); it goes without saying I should have a strong reason to stand by this truth – for even calling it truth – which has a significant influence in my way of life.

    However, while it is true we need to question in order for our faith to grow, I believe the Church and her teachers are also necessary. Not many of us have the time to exclusively study the Bible for long periods of time due to our work and life. And some are just not intellectually wired to delve into the intricates of faith. For instance we know that airplanes can fly, but how it flies is beyond the understanding of ordinary people. We just have to trust that those responsible in the making of the craft. In the same way, sometimes we just have to trust the teachings of our pastors who have studied and contemplated for much longer than us. The majority of Christianity believe in the Trinity (3 Persons, 1 God) yet it is never explicitly stated in the Bible and has quite the steep theological exposition for this. As Kaze mentioned, there comes a point in which we have to put our trust in God, and in our leaders who were appointed by God.

    God bless!

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    1. Sure, how airplanes fly is beyond the understanding of ordinary people, but it’s still possible to figure out how they fly. There are probably a good many technical books, easily located in your public library, which explain how it works. There are even a couple books for kids on the basics of how airplanes work. A human who studies hard enough can become an airplane engineer.

      The Bible is pretty dissimilar from this situation. People who have spent an equally long time contemplating the book can come up with very different interpretations. Nobody reads stuff into airplane manufacture, yet the Bible is among the most read-into, deliberately misinterpreted books of all time.

      As for pastors— In matters of kindness, tolerance, justice, retribution, repentance, faith, penitence, and wisdom, and what the Bible truly says— They can be trusted as valued experts. : ] But in matters between the person and God that they have never experienced or known themselves— It is hard to trust them. You could say it is the sighted trying to decide for the blind, thinking that it must be hard not being able to see…when they have never known what it is like.

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      1. Umm, I was merely trying to provide an (admittedly crude) example as to why we need teachers, as not many of us are able to study the Bible due to some reason or other (as previously mentioned above). Guess I should leave those out in future to avoid misunderstandings – sorry about that =(

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        1. Nah, I’m just rambling on and prone to taking things literally. XD We definitely do need pastors, particularly when we’re concerned we may be missing something important in the text or context. That, and many have lived longer with the Bible, and therefore have the wisdom of experience backing up their statements.

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