Tsuki ga Kirei and Superstitious Scripture

Tsuki ga Kirei is a cute series–not in the traditional moe way, but in the “those awkward kids are so precious” sense. Over on Twitter, Kaze and I discussed it and he mentioned that the series is capturing that awkward middle school stage almost too well, especially through the eyes of Kotaro, an aspiring writer, and Akane, an athlete who is fighting anxiety.

By episode three, Kotaro, has plainly discovered that girls are no longer the harbinger of cooties. His affections for Akane are growing quickly, and without the maturity that comes with age (well…sometimes), he can’t really reign those feelings in. It doesn’t seem like Kotaro understands the need to think through the situation a little (see the sudden bit of dialogue at the end of episode three). He’s running on adolescent do-first, think-later steam. And so his thoughts and actions don’t always make sense.

Which is why they’re the Lit Club and not the Science Club

At one point, Kotaro goes to the library and picks out a random book to find advice, as per his literary club’s tradition. I can’t really fault him for doing so. After all, he’s like, what, 12? But I also get it that most of us are superstitious to some extent (knock on wood) and perhaps the Japanese more than most, with the idea often played for laughs in anime.

But underlying Kotaro’s action isn’t some superstitious fervor; it’s a desire, of course, to become closer to Akane. I’ve been in similar situations where I’ve wanted something so bad that I’ll take almost anything as a sign of confirmation. For Christians, this can be a dangerous thing, as the book we’ll often turn to isn’t something random on a library bookshelf–it’s an item we hold much more dear.

This is when you wish you paused the episode because, well, there’s the ending

Christians consider the Bible more than just a book. We call it God-inspired, the living word, the breath of God, and by all sorts of other names that present scripture as something dynamic and infinitely complex, able to apply both to something as large as the universe and as small as our personal lives, often with the same words at the same time. It’s no wonder that some might look for answers in their specific reading for the day (or, and I know some people do this, in a passage they randomly flip to, just as Kotaro does at his school library). Sometimes the serendipitous happens and God answers you through that reading, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way.

In fact, we place a strange, ironic limit on the Bible when we approach it in this manner. We put the infinite God of the universe, who is able to live outside of space, time, and our rules, and put him in a box according to how we work. I have a problem. I’m pretty sure God will answer it through what I’m reading right now.

God, of course, answers in all sorts of ways. Yes, through your reading when you’re looking for advice, but also through your reading yesterday and your reading tomorrow; through a piece of fiction like anime or a movie; through your friends, podcasts, sermons, and prayer; through circumstances and life; and in so many other ways.

I think if we were friends with Kotaro, we would tell him, “Stop being a baka, baka.” So maybe we should stop acting the same way, approaching the Bible as magic, and instead see it as God-breathed, our daily bread, a necessity for life, words that demand our attention, memorization, study, and obedience. Because you know what? I bet when the time comes that we need advice (for our teenage romantic dalliances or otherwise), having the word up here (head) and in here (heart) is more likely to lead us to a good decision than a random flip of the page.

9 thoughts on “Tsuki ga Kirei and Superstitious Scripture

  1. Man I’m super glad you guys commented on this! When I was watching this episode I definitely had similar thoughts going through my head as Kotaro picked out a book hoping to hear what he wanted to hear. Loved reading your insights into this!

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    1. No problem! I shared that double-screenshot with the anime FB page for my church, and thought I just had to write something more substantial about it.

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  2. I think everyone (Including me, who isn’t actually a Christian!) has probably done that with the Bible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened the book on a whim and flipped to a page, hoping I’d see something that would show me this really was the Word of God. Instead I was more likely to get a rant about sacrificing doves or a historical account of how weird the Jewish judge system was.

    Truth be told, some of the best explanations I’ve ever gotten for any question I had *have* come from a random night of watching anime. Or through something that happened to me and its aftermath. I think there’s another reason we turn to “magic charms” like that and the like…And it’s because we don’t trust what our heart is telling us.

    We’ve been indoctrinated by our education, by our media, by our world, by everything around us…Telling us that there’s nobody watching us. That we aren’t special. That God isn’t going to answer our questions because there is no spiritual world. We’re told to only believe what we can see with our eyes. So even when we get something that unquestionably seems like a “message,” or an “answer,” meant for us to hear…We can’t acknowledge it. We figure maybe if it’s really obvious, or we do something specific to *get* the message, we’ll believe in it more.

    Instead, I suspect it’s more that the Powers That Be don’t really care about how self-conscious we are, and they tell us stuff about them on their own timetable. And then we don’t listen. 😛

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    1. There’s a sort of irony here in that we’re too self-absorbed to accept that our actions have zero impact on whether the spirits tell us anything, and yet when they do clearly tell us stuff we’re too insecure to accept that they told us anything. And then when we do accept it, we decide the explanation makes no sense even when it’s already dumbed down heavily so that we’ll get it. XD

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    2. I worry that we simplify God too much – natural since we’re so much less complex than him. God can work through the slip of a page and sometimes does, but he’s also working through so many different other ways because, well, life is complex. The story is so large. And in fact, I like your example of running across some random levitical law, because if we start and stop on one verse, we miss the contexts, in terms of that passage, book, the story of salvation, culturally, and the story of our specific lives. This is then an argument to be reading through scripture.

      The anime example is good, too, and I’m the same. I sometimes tend toward what you say about how we might talk ourselves out of insight (or the Spirit perhaps), but there are many I know that are maybe too quick to say “God told me” than to use wisdom informed by scripture, with all Ira breadth and depth.

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  3. “I have a problem. I’m pretty sure God will answer it through what I’m reading right now.”
    “And Judas hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5)

    Reading this reminded me of what a speaker at my youth camp once said. Hilarious though it may seem, it is also a real danger as you mentioned.

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    1. Absolutely – and it’s a thing that invades the thinking of Christians who are new to the faith and those who have been around the church forever. I remember a friend who later became a pastor who felt that God had called him into the military because of the militaristic language Paul used in one of his letters to Timothy. He didn’t end up joining, thank goodness!

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  4. This is so true! I agree 100% with you. Christians should try and read the Bible everyday, rather than reading it when a problem comes.

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    1. Thank you! It’s certainly important to get to know scripture thoroughly and not just in moments of difficulty or challenge.

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