StarStruck: Fire Emblem Awakening – A Priest, a Scientist, and a Church

With my new StarStruck column, I can sometimes talk about Japan-based media outside of anime. So today, I will be talking about a character from Fire Emblem: Awakening. One of my favorite games of all time, Awakening is the 13th game in the Fire Emblem series and the game that brought the franchise out of obscurity and made it into one of Nintendo’s most popular series. One reason this game became a hit among players was the return of Support Conversations, in which your army units, whom all already have distinct names and personalities, can form relationships with each other, resulting in special conversations that flesh out their personalities and backstories and, in some cases, can even lead to marriage. Thanks to this system, the game excels in providing a diverse cast of well-developed characters.

One of the more interesting characters in the game, especially from a Christian perspective, is Libra, a priest of the in-game church of Naga. Fire Emblem games have always had interesting portrayals of religion that are clearly influenced by Christianity while also having clear differences to suit the story (not the least of which being how the clergy pray to “gods” rather than a single God). Despite those differences, the similarities provide a nice look at what a person of faith may have to deal with.

He’s also frequently mistaken for a woman, something that other male clerics in the Fire Emblem series deal with as well…

In this post I will be looking at one of Libra’s many support conversations and what lessons Christians might learn from them. I will not be spoiling anything about the main plot of the game, though I will obviously be spoiling the support conversation itself. This will likely not be the only post I write involving Libra and his support conversations, either, but the one conversation I will be talking about will nevertheless provide plenty to chew on.

Also, special thanks to justonegamr, who has direct-captured all of the Awakening support conversations. All screencaps in this post come from his videos, and you can even take a look at the full support conversation series I will be talking about in this video. You can also read a text transcript of the support conversations here.

Libra, Miriel, and a Fantasy Church

Libra has some pretty heavy stuff in his backstory, but for now we can start with something more light-hearted, though still quite interesting from a Christian perspective. One of Libra’s support partners (and potential love interests) is Miriel, a mage with an extremely scientific mind. One might think their interactions would feature an epic clash between faith and science, but interestingly enough, while overhearing Libra speak of faith to an old villager, Miriel takes no issue with the content of what Libra says; rather, it is his methodology that vexes her. As she understands it, Libra’s words have a positive effect on those he speaks to, but speaking to just one person at a time is too inefficient. She decides to set up a way for Libra to share his message with more people at once, by organizing a gathering at a public venue and promoting the gathering in nearby villages. According to her theory, it is a foolproof methodology for improved faith work.

Being in a fantasy world means getting creative with acoustics.

However, her data shows that attendance at these religious gatherings quickly dropped off after the initial meeting. Libra theorizes that his words have reached the crowds’ ears, but has failed to reach their hearts like he could manage with one-on-one sessions. However, he does admit that the experiment has led him to meet far more people than before. Admitting that he had grown rigid in his ways, he learned from this experiment to use the gatherings to meet and make first contact with people, and follow up with them from there with personal conversations.

Christians (and probably many non-Christians) can probably easily recognize the above events as a fantasy-world take on church services. The church worship service is a staple of Christian life: an hour or two taken out of every Sunday to go into a building, sing some worship songs, and then listen to a sermon. Many churches even encourage members to promote their services to their non-believer friends, as a way of possibly helping to bring them to Christ. None of this is bad, but church services are not all there is to Christianity. If a believer’s only faith-based activity is going to church services, they will not grow as much as they could. Likewise, if the only thing a church offers is church services, they will fail to truly reach people and help them grow. Church sermons are great for providing information that can help someone grow, but it is all too easy for that information to go in one ear and out the other, or to get stored in the brain without reaching the heart.

More personal forms of ministry, such as small groups and personal meetings between pastors and members, are necessary to bridge that gap between the words a preacher says and the heart that those words need to change. As Libra says, simply saying truths that apply equally to all people, while not a bad thing, will oftentimes fall short of truly affecting a person’s heart. However, by getting to know someone more personally, we can show specifically how to apply those truths to the particular circumstances of his life. Personal ministry also offers the opportunity to directly challenge people to apply those truths, and hold them accountable for doing so. None of this is to say that church services are bad; they are good and often necessary starting points of growth. From that starting point, though, personal ministry takes the role of making the growth actually happen.

A Marriage of Faith and Science

The above events cover Libra’s C, B, and A-rank support conversations with Miriel, all of which can be attained while the two maintain a platonic relationship, even if one or both of them are married to other people. If both are single, though, the option to pursue their S-rank support and have them marry opens up.

As Miriel continues to help Libra with his faith gatherings, she herself starts to understand how matters of the heart can affect systematic theories, and becomes further interested in how abstract theories can become tangible realities. She had always known how important a person’s dedication is in making the most out of good theory, but having seen it actually play out for her has given that knowledge more impact.

“The parables hold similar words. …Albeit smaller ones.”

From there, thanks to all the time the two have spent working (and fighting) together, the two pursue a new investigation into matters of the heart: Libra proposes to Miriel (because this is apparently a culture that doesn’t bother with that time-wasting “dating” and “courtship” stuff) and Miriel accepts in a charmingly dorkish, scientific way.

Romance aside, their relationship does show, in a small way, how faith and science need not be in conflict (despite the eternal creation vs. evolution debate), and how they can actually help each other. Science can help ministries function more effectively, and in return, faith provides a way for scientific theories to connect with the heart.

Libra has plenty of other support conversations with even more to dig into, especially with his own history, and that is to say nothing of all the other support conversations available in this game or other Fire Emblem games. Expect even more posts about this series’ characters in the future, because I definitely will not be short on material, especially as this franchise seems to only grow bigger from here on out.

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