If you have watched any of the three installments in the series Magi you may or may not have noticed how the whole thing is a mishmash of religious and literary references. The manga adopts the flavor of a Babylonian creation story where a will-less Chaos is tamed by, instead of Marduk, the Biblical King Solomon who harnesses a Buddhic/Kharmic-like power of the cosmos and fate called the Rukh to save humanity and construct a new world. Three of the series’ central characters — Alibaba, Aladdin, and Sinbad — are co-opted from the frame-stories of Scheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights. There are enough story connections to make your head spin if you try making too much sense of them. I mean, look at all these hyperlinks! But the one literary text that is perhaps most relevant to Magi is The Lesser Key of Solomon, an actual, real-life grimoire and occultic text which (in the spirit of stories referencing other stories) hijacks certain biblical elements for its own.
The Lesser Key is an alleged record of Solomon, the world’s wisest and most knowledgeable king, and his accomplishments in the study and mastery of demonology (Spoiler Alert: it is no such thing). Magi plays as fast and loose with the The Lesser Key of Solomon as it does with all of the other narratives it adopts in service of its own story, but that’s still enough interaction to raise some eyebrows, especially among us Christian fans. What Gospel benefit can we hope to gain from a series that seems like one big gumbo of pagan beliefs and pages from a demonic spell-book? Answering that question will require us to dig into the mechanics of the story to see how it all ticks.
Magi’s story picks up at a time when massive and foreboding towers have sprouted up mysteriously in established countries. Magi are those persons appointed in each age by the spirit of King Solomon to lead candidates for a country’s kingship to its designated tower for testing. The djinn who controls the tower tests and tries the entrants in various ways to identify who is worthy of their allegiance and their demonic power. Djinns attach themselves to a vessel on the successful candidate’s person, and the power they provide their masters is directly proportional to the level of magoi within that master. Magoi is this Buddhic energy tied to a person’s life force; therefore, “Supplying magoi is the same as reducing your own life” (Adventures of Sinbad 1.11 “A New Visitor”). And when the vessel user wants to access a djinn’s power to full effect, they perform a “Djinn Equip” by calling upon their djinn to “dwell in [their] body” and become one with them (Magi: the Kingdom of Magic 1.2 “Departure”).
To make its ties to The Lesser Key even more obvious, Magi uses the text’s names for the various djinns (demons), some of which will assuredly sound familiar to those of you who read the Bible: Amon, Baal, Belial, and Astaroth (nominally associated with the pagan Asherah and Ishtar). The Lesser Key takes the Biblical person of Solomon and makes of him a mythical hero, a master and subjugator of demons. But, the opposite is true. The Bible tells us that Solomon was taken in by the idols and gods of his many wives and that the repercussions of his idolatries lasted 215 years until the time of King Hezekiah and the reforms of King Josiah 380 years later. Furthermore, the Bible makes clear that Solomon’s success as a king rested solely upon God’s providence and mercy toward Solomon’s sin, not upon some “power of Hell” or any “scheme of man,” as the hymn says. As Christians, we need to be honest about what’s going on in Magi: the series uses an occultic book of witchcraft as a playbook, attributes to Solomon a positive alliance with demons, and paints those demons as a legitimate source of power upon which a person can call through demon possession to harness that power for good.
Now, this is not the point where I want you to feel bad if you liked Magi. I liked Magi and still don’t think its a terrible show for all of the things I’ve said about it. The benefit of Magi is not in its positivizing of an occultic text or demons and human possession by them, but in how the series can’t help but play by the conventional Biblical standard despite those very pagan-like qualities. Yes it paints demons and their possession in a positive light, but it also can’t help but paint them in the way that the Bible paints them, as leeches. Demons in Magi make promises of power but require your life as currency; the inverse of saving grace which gives life and life abundant through the laying down of its own (John 10:7-18). Demons seem to have authority of their own, but they actually have only so much as is given to them, and certainly not supreme authority because they all recognize the authority of the Magi Aladdin (Matt. 8:28-34 ; Acts 19:11-17 ). But there is another biblical understanding of demons which the series seems to have stumbled into as well.
In Daniel Strange’s book, Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock: A Theology of Religions, he summarizes his thesis this way:
From the presupposition of an epistemologically authoritative biblical revelation, non-Christian religions are sovereignly directed, variegated and dynamic, collective human idolatrous responses to divine revelation, behind which stand deceiving demonic forces. Being antithetically against yet parasitically dependent upon the truth of the Christian worldview, non-Christian religions are ‘subversively fulfilled’ in the gospel of Jesus Christ. (98)
Translated out of academic theolog-ese and into a more common parlance, Strange is saying that, because the Bible is true, we can know that (1.) pagan religions are lies; (2.) diverting worship away from the God who deserves our praise and toward a lie is the same sin committed by and peddled to our desires by demons; (3.) God is still in control and any truth found within pagan religions finds its fulfillment not in the lie of that false faith but in the person of Christ Jesus.
Strange then points to the event at Babel as the origin point of these various pagan religions. Babel was an attempt to do the logically impossible and erase the divide between created humanity and its Creator (just like the original sin in Eden). Strange makes the case with Herman Bavinck that the various cultures and their religions which were born out of the event at Babel are a continuation of rebellious humanity’s attempt at blurring the Creator/creature distinction by creating ethnic-specific worship of animals, inanimate objects, and even abstract states of being in lieu of no longer being able to unite together as one people under a common language (133). He then zooms in on the Mesopotamian ziggurat culture following the Babel incident as an example of guilt suppression within pagan culture, claiming that the tradition of tower building is an attempt to reframe the Tower of Babel as a divine creation event instead of a landmark of human depravity (134).
These two sections from Strange’s book describe exactly what is going on with The Lesser Key of Solomon and with the narrative of Magi by proxy. Both decontextualize parts of the Bible and then cut and paste them in with false religions and pagan practices. Magi takes things like demons, demonic possession, and even Babel references of its own (i.e. the concept of tower capturing) and then proceeds to twist them to look like good things, similar to the Mesopotamian twisting of Babel into a celebratory event. AND YET, with all of this being said, I think Magi still manages to tell a good and engaging story that tackles some surprisingly complex themes for a fantasy shounen. How does Magi succeed in doing this? One thing you can bank on, when Magi wants to pull at your heartstrings by appealing to something objectively true and good and beautiful, it can’t help but align itself with orthodox Judeo-Christianity. This is what Daniel Strange means when he says that false religions and stories which paint bad things as good things, like Magi, are “antithetically against yet parasitically dependent upon the truth of the Christian worldview” (98).
I will give more specific examples of how Magi manages to tell a story that testifies to the truth of the Christian worldview when I revisit this series in a second post. But I needed to say at the outset that just because Magi suffers from this inverted understanding of demons and where true power comes from doesn’t mean it can’t tell a good story in spite of those things. I would argue that the series’ pastiche of religions actually cripples itself with narrative contradictions by pulling the various faiths out of their familiar contexts and then mashing them together with other exclusive faiths. But there are also some truly good parts of the show and, as Daniel Strange points out, any truth, goodness, or beauty that can be found in the series are instances of subversive goodness in imitation of Christ.
If you want to watch Magi in all of its installments, it’ll prove a bit inconvenient. At the moment, Crunchyroll and Hulu both stream Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, but Magi: Adventures of Sinbad is a Netflix exclusive and only accessible through their services. Netflix used to carry the other two installments as well, but they recently let their license to stream expire as they are wont to do. Those of you familiar with Netflix are already experienced in such heartbreak, I’m sure.
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17 thoughts on “Magi: A Babel of Pagan Practices”
Yeah, but this seems to be making a fundamental mistake in and of itself concerning religion. First off, djinn doesn’t refer to a demon in the language that the word is used in. It’s what Islam happens to call its angels. It’s pretty easy to parse this point when you realize that the Qur’an calls Iblis or Shaytan (Satan), angels, demons, and seemingly random unaffiliated spirits all “jinn.” So “jinn” means “spirit being” in Arabian folklore and culture.
Now, the culture that is inheriting this word are the Japanese, and their religion is one-third Shinto. So they view unaffiliated gods known as kami as making up the natural world, and more mischievous lesser spirits called yokai as making up other aspects of the world. So minus the very clear references to Middle Eastern myth and folklore the show is making, it’s basically just using “djinn” in the same way you’d use a fairy as a power-up in a video game. 😛 This is the same sort of thing you see in Neon Genesis Evangelion, which repeatedly uses Christian imagery and folklore to signify….absolutely nothing. It just looks cool. And similar rules apply here. The show’s writers no more view what they’re writing as “the truth” than do you. It just makes fantastic background for a universe.
Now *should they do this?* Well no, for the same reason that the PS3 game Asura’s Wrath might be offensive to an actual Hindu. They literally have no conceptual idea of what kind of lore they are playing with. (Heck, if the game El Shaddai is proof of anything, it’s that even if you know *exactly* what you are talking about you might twist it to suit your own ends). But they did do it, so here we are.
“Translated out of academic theologese and into a more common parlance, Strange is saying that, because the Bible is true, we can know that (1.) pagan religions are lies; (2.) diverting worship away from the God who deserves our praise and toward a lie is the same sin committed by and peddled to our desires by demons; (3.) God is still in control and any truth found within pagan religions finds its fulfillment not in the lie of that false faith but in the person of Christ Jesus.”
Presupposing that the base of your argument is true (which is exactly what I do here on BTT), then yes. This is basically right. All truths there are do at least relate to Biblical truths. But it’s important to point something else out.
Most pagans and non-Christians believe what they do for an exceedingly complicated series of reasons, and some of them are actually because the person has found a truth that is *antithetical* to Christ Jesus, but nonetheless emotionally and morally salient to the events of that person’s life. What rings as true and real to them, so to speak.
A big part of why I believe what I do is that I think immortality cheapens Life. If you have forever, if you are Eternal, than every action you take carries none of the importance our actions do here on Earth. And that goes for us if we become immortal as well. Part of the reason that the relationships we have matter, and the choices we make have relevance, is that we have a finite amount of time to devote to anything. So much of that Meaning that we invested will fade once we have the ability to make any commitment, pursue any form of worship of God that He likes, paint any picture, develop any skill. Having eternity means the gravity of choosing an action in this finite life is lost.
And unfortunately, off I go lapsing into quasi Luminas-specific worshipful poetry XD: The feeling of watching the Sun set on you both as you cling together, and that moment matters more than all the glory and all the grandeur and all the perfection in all the world. “He knows his time is short” is a promise as much as a curse, because He chose to come here now, in the brief millisecond that you are alive in His eyes.
My point being, if you can get past the strange way I’m conveying it (I swear to God I’d be a Christian poet in another life, if someone else had come to me in my darkest moment and saved my life) is this: Be careful what you’re saying there, because you can’t know why people think what they think and feel what they feel.
Thanks for commenting, Luminas. I know that the transliteral meaning of the word djinn isn’t demon in the most exact sense, but what I was referring to is the show’s identification of them as demons. Magi borrows/steals its djinn names from the Lesser Key of Solomon, in which the possessors of those names are demons. So, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not trying to force a square peg into a round hole here; I’m just pointing out connections the show has already made on its own. However, because this article is meant to propose a case study for a biblical theology of religions, we could go so far as to say that the very idea of a “djinn” as you have defined it is not in conflict with the idea of demons.
I think you actually made a pretty good case for what I mean in your comment: you compared the series’ use of djinns to faeries. We might impulsively think of Tinkerbell at the word faerie, but that is a highly sanitized Disney version of faeries compared to their Scottish progenitors which often engaged in child stealing, bride stealing, murder, drowning, and transactions with the citizens of Hell (https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-biggest-reasons-why-fairies-are-evil-510180209). On this point I think you and I may actually be in agreement because Daniel Strange in the book I referenced is arguing that the catastrophic sin at Babel was an event later sanitized by the cultures involved, just like faeries were sanitized by Disney.
I hope you don’t think I was suggesting that the writers for Magi were out to push Pro-Demon propaganda which they whole-heartedly believe because I certainly am not saying that. I fully believe with you that the writers probably got a hold of parts of the Lesser Key which intrigued them and then tossed a bunch of related and identifiable literary references from that geographical region into the narrative blender. However, what I am saying is that while it may not have intended to paint demons in a positive light in any sincere way, by using source material that certainly WAS trying to paint demons positively (The Lesser Key), Magi ended up taking on and resembling that source’s traits of sin sanitization. That’s what the article was meant to point out.
As to your last three paragraphs, I can’t say I understand what you mean with enough certainty to respond. However, I can say that I think you misunderstand the difference between the words “immortal” and “eternal.” You have used them here as synonyms when they are two distinct things. Eternal refers to a being (God) who has always existed and will always exist because He transcends time itself. Immortal, on the other hand, refers to something which is undying but which is not necessarily eternal. For instance, humans are creatures with immortal souls but, because we are “creatures” and were necessarily “created” at a specific point in time, we are not eternal like God who is uncreated.
Did my crazy rant post? Let me know; It’s getting up there in page length. Short version:
(1). At a certain point, does something ever become so sanitized compared to the original that it’s basically harmless? Tinkerbell and Disney Fairies are…really good examples of this, compared to the much more blatant Magi.
(2). Does Magi’s description of how demons work actually correspond to the Bible’s description of demons? The Bible describes demons as liars, not leeches. Magi’s description is much more similar to old notions of equivalent exchange than anything the Bible says. Then again, the book is weirdly inconsistent in telling us whether or not occult magic actually *does* anything. Why tell us not to do something, say it doesn’t work anyway, and then later describe a guy as being possessed by demons?
(3). To a pretty significant extent, I worship the conflict between good and evil *itself.* The holy war gives my life Meaning and purpose. Which means that a peaceful immortal life worshiping God would never actually be Paradise to me. Paradise is being right on the battlefield with the person I worship. That’s why I’m not a Christian, even though I basically inferred that much of Christianity was true. The other reason is because by becoming immortal at the End of Days, we end up eventually giving up a lot of what makes us human. A lot of why our choices matter is because we can only make so many of them. If we had forever to be anything a human could be, worship God in any way any human ever has, could any of us really be individuals anymore? Could we form relationships?
Which is to say that sometimes people find Truths in their pagan religions, things that give their lives Meaning, that aren’t Biblical Truths at all. Mine relate back to the Bible, but most people’s probably don’t.
1.) That’s the question I intended to answer with my article. I’m arguing that, whatever Magi is trying to do with its story, the way it has set up that story shares some things in common with a biblical theodicy. As for harmlessness, that tends to come down to intent. I could mistakenly use a 12th century Medieval torture rack as a dining room table, then proceed to serve delicious meals, create family-building situations, and raise my kids to be upstanding adults around what I’ve classified a “table,” but my intended use or purposeful sanitization of a thing so that it is harmless does not change the thing’s history or the purpose for which it was created. That’s all I’m saying about Magi: I’m pointing out how its source material (The Lesser Key) is opposed to the biblical understanding of God, and then I’m pointing out how that doesn’t disqualify the series from occasionally describing its world in a way which manages to reflect truths from the biblical worldview.
2.) To answer your question, yes, Magi’s description of how demons work does correspond to the Bible’s description of demons. I gave a defense for this in the article and would point you back there. As to a defense of demons as “leeches” as well as liars, I would point you to the book of Job. This is what I had in mind, since Satan’s power over Job is entirely dependent upon God’s allowance. In the book of Matthew, during the event regarding the Gadarene possession, the demons who were exerting what they believed to be their rightful authority over a gentile region recognized that their authority was superseded by Jesus’ authority as God. And even though its not a biblical citation but an inference from the scripture, I know that C.S. Lewis notes somewhere how the very nature of evil is unoriginal, requiring the existence of a good that it can twist to unnatural purposes (e.g. gluttony is a misuse of God’s creation of food, adultery is a misuse of God’s creation of sex, etc.). Hence, “leeches.”
To your second point, I don’t believe the Bible is inconsistent on whether magic does anything. We could talk about how God used the necromantic practices of the Medium of En-dor to prophesy over Saul, God’s use of the rogue, mercenary prophet Balaam to accomplish His will, or how Moses’ confrontation with Pharoah’s magicians is literally the precursor to all modern conceptions of a wizard duel. But, whether or not magic is a real thing, we can say for certain that sorcery is a pursuit of control and power for oneself that seeks to draw upon some form of providence other than God which doesn’t exist, therefore making the action a blasphemy against God. In that sense it’s the same as the original sin in Eden and further proof of man’s attempts to erase the Creator-creature distinction. On those grounds alone, it makes sense that God would command against it regardless of whether or not it actually works.
3.) And finally, I’m not really sure what to make of your final paragraph. It seems to me that you believe in a kind of religious dualism that hints of Norse mythological sentiments among a variety of religions you’ve adopted, and which dances concerningly close to the edge of moral relativism. This article was never meant to tell you not to believe those things (though given the opportunity to do so, I seriously discourage it), but was a case study in the application of a strictly biblical theology. It makes sense that what I’ve written would not accommodate your personal and pluralistic views because I based my thesis exclusively on the Christian worldview which explicitly denies the equality of other religions. Perhaps the best solution would be for you to read Daniel Strange’s book for yourself. It seems to me that it might be the kind of thing you would enjoy if you like having long, complex conversations like this.
Thanks again for the engagement.
Actually that sounds fun! : D I might just check out his book for myself. So, then, the Bible is more or less consistent in saying that “Yes, magic does *do* something, but you definitely shouldn’t do it. It’s trying to take power into your own hands rather than relying on God’s authority to act for you. The results, assuming it even works as intended, are inherently reprehensible.” Thanks for clearing that up!
As for what in the world I was saying with #3, what I was trying to point out is that works of fiction that reference a mishmash of Biblical truths and pagan religion aren’t *only* emotionally salient so far as they reflect Biblical truth. People have reasons for finding works like Magi to be “True” (that is, the work reflects what they believe is True) that have next to nothing to do with the Bible. Basically, I’m refuting Strange’s point here, which you connect to Magi and (infer) a connection to all pagan religion: “God is still in control and any truth found within pagan religions finds its fulfillment not in the lie of that false faith but in the person of Christ Jesus.”
Then again, this might just be a case where strict Christian theology and I disagree on the inherent premise (that there *is* something you can point to that’s “objectively true and good and beautiful” from the perspective of all humans). Christians use the word “Truth” in a lot of different contexts, and to mean a lot of different things than just “whether something is literally, objectively true or false,” although they usually mean that too.
“One thing you can bank on, when Magi wants to pull at your heartstrings by appealing to something objectively true and good and beautiful, it can’t help but align itself with orthodox Judeo-Christianity. This is what Daniel Strange means when he says that false religions and stories which paint bad things as good things, like Magi, are “antithetically against yet parasitically dependent upon the truth of the Christian worldview” (98).”
I don’t believe that it’s necessarily possible for any show to appeal to something “objectively true and good and beautiful,” because I’m not sure that all humans agree that anything is “objectively true and good and beautiful.” The things that I believe are beautiful and glorious and sacred would probably disturb you if I were blunt about it, and it is (to a certain extent) mutual. People are a lot more alien to one another than anyone wants to admit. Even in a morally absolutist universe, there will be people like me, who love and worship evil things to the same degree and with the same intensity that people love good things, and who are consciously aware of this. But that tends to go against Christian theology a fair bit too much to discuss at great length here on BTT of all places. XD
So I guess I’m done. I’ve already gone on too long as it is; I need to leave room for everyone else. : ] Anyway, great post! It made me think about the Biblical references in Magi in quite a bit more depth.
Hey, Luminas. You said you were signing off after that last comment so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I wanted to clarify some final things about the Biblical position based on what you said and also for anyone who happens to read these comments. Inevitably, this is going to come off as though I am trying to get the last word, but that’s not the case. It’s simply that I didn’t want for this exchange to end with the biblical view left misunderstood by you or anyone else. I figured one last go at it couldn’t hurt.
Your summary of the biblical view of magic did not get it or how I was describing it entirely correct, which is most likely due to a failure in my explanation. The Bible, through the specific events that I mentioned, is saying that in so far as the practice of magic “works” it is entirely dependent upon the will of God. The Bible does not say explicitly whether or not the Medium of En-dor was successful in any of her previous attempts at necromancy or whether Balaam ever uttered true prophecies prior to the moment God chose both of these people to facilitate His will. However, it would follow from scripture that if Satan himself has to ask permission before harming Job (and then not without constraints decreed by God), we can safely assume that a mere human trying to speak with departed souls or predict the future will only have as much success as God allows. This is part of what it means to believe in the sovereignty of God.
The second thing I wanted to clear up is that it isn’t so much that “magic” is inherently reprehensible as it is that we as human beings are inherently reprehensible. At the root of magic is an attempt to exert dominion over nature, which is the kind of thing God advocates when He commands humans to have dominion over nature in Genesis 1:26-28. You’ll also notice that God ordains for numerous people, including Jesus, to exert dominion over nature through what might look like “magic” in the modern sense, but which we call miracles instead due to the fact that they are accomplished through God’s authority. But therein lies the problem and the reason why intent is so important. Instead of subduing the earth and having dominion over it, knowing appreciating the fact that it is God who gave/gives us that authority (an act which the Bible calls worship), we grab greedily at that authority believing that if we can capture it we will become God. Scripture defines magic as any attempt to harness some numinous power that you believe exists in creation or yourself and beyond God’s authority so that you can do what you like, believing that you have achieved a level of authority independent of God.
In this way, the practice of magic is similar to idolatry which is a sin not because God is afraid that a carved piece of wood or stone might grant a pagan worshiper its power, but because the very idea that a created thing, animate or inanimate, could possess, bestow, or exert any kind of power independent of God is ludicrously impossible to the point of being blasphemous. Both of us have thrown around the word “truth” several times, but the thing that makes sorcery, divination, magic, or idol worship a sin is the fact that all of these things are predicated on a lie.
The final point regarding this exchange we’ve had on “truth,” is that we continue to talk past each other because we aren’t talking about the same thing. I believe that the standard for “goodness, truth, and beauty” revolves around the character of God because the Christian worldview is Theocentric. But because you by your own admission don’t believe in a standard which can be appealed to for determinations of right and wrong, you’re upholding the kind of moral relativism I suspected and warned against:
I don’t believe that it’s necessarily possible for any show to appeal to something “objectively true and good and beautiful,” because I’m not sure that all humans agree that anything is “objectively true and good and beautiful.”
If human opinion is our standard, and that standard means that what one person thinks is good another person thinks is evil, and we posit that neither of those opinions is wrong but both are right, then good and evil are words without objective meaning and it’s pointless for us to use them. It’s fine for you to try refuting Strange’s claim from your perspective that other people might find truth in ways which “have next to nothing to do with the Bible,” but I’m trying to tell you that moral relativism based on the standard of human taste offers no support for your perspective. Making your claim will require a different standard. Your “love and worship [of] evil things” does not worry me so much as your indifference to the fact that your worldview is groundless. I happen to have a bad habit of loving evil things too; I call it sin. But between us, I’m the only one whose worldview allows him to identify things as evil according to a standard. The most your worldview allows you to say is that you think I have poor taste.
This dilemma is the reason I thought it was necessary to clarify why I think the biblical position is important, even at the risk of seeming obnoxious. And you’re right that BtT isn’t the best platform for this kind of discussion. If you see this comment, you can respond in kind but I will leave it at that.
Looks like my post didn’t send, so I’ll just leave my other email address here in case you ever *do* want to have this kind of discussion: Rockett674@hotmail.com.
Even though this dialogue is about a series I haven´t seen has been bugging me for a year, and that´s because the beautiful description of the fugacity of existence and the value of the never-ending fight, characterized by Luminas as extra-biblical sources of meaning for her life, an idea I´d never heard and which gave me a lot to think about. I didn´t want to interfere at the time (what interested me was tangential to the central, detailed argument), but these days I´ve been watching Bokurano (I´m at the end of the first half), and its tragical, beautiful and almost unbearable portrait of life and death of the young strongly reminded me of this. So maybe it´s time. I think I´ll use Mawaru Penguindrum to explain myself.
We humans have three kinds of time present in our lives, if time is the measure of changes around us: anime has the same structure. There are cycles, motifs and repetition: Mawaru Penguindrum highways, family meals, fights, encounters, hospitals, again and again. There is the narrative time, the time of memory and projection, centered in a character, be it Ringo, Sohma, Kanba or Himari, or all the rest, and his or her pasts and futures. There is eternity, and this feeling of being struck by love, sudden truth, unexpected beauty in which one finds meaning, like the final episode. The narration gives meaning to the cycles, the cycles are an anchor for the narration; the light comes from the story as a vitral, usually in the moment in which a cycle is broken: it´s a catharsis. The idea that immortality cheapens life is a very interesting one: if I understand it correctly, it points to the fact that without an ending, there is no true narrative structure, just an infinite succession of events, good or bad, but ultimately uncapable of providing us a catharsis. Without narrative, we´re without that narrative/cathartic potential, and ultimately trapped in either cyclical time or indefinition. On the other hand, and ending provides a chance to define yourself, to make an ultimate, relevant decision, to choose. Kanba and Sohma (spoilers) did chose, and their tale ended. And Bokurano´s characters (spoilers again) are doing the same: every small interaction, every interior fight, every relationship they have is vital, because their life is literally ending. And every one of them becomes unique for us. “I was told that I am just one of the countless specks of dust on this planet/ but that is something I cannot yet comprehend”.
Likewise, there cannot be narration without conflict. A story, even the most peaceful ones, needs some kind of obstacle so things may keep happening. But ultimately, all conflict is Holy War, because it doesn´t really matter otherwise. The war must involve us at the deepest level, be interior, and a war between good and evil, hope and despair, illusion and truth, faithfulness and treason, God and sin. Surely a life without a narrative structure, that is, an endless tale without climax or ending, would be without meaning in our fallen world, and inhuman. But every tale with this sort of ending is, by itself, a tragedy. Mawaru and Bokurano fit the structure of tragedies, yet they are hopeful. Because there is something unexpected in them, a highest, divine spark which trascends and changes all what has been told. And it is true that every spark of this third time outweights the second: to think the opposite leads to Mawaru´s “Survival Strategy”, to Voldemort´s error of judgement in killing of the unicorn to indefinitely delay his death. To take the light into a bottle kills the light.
Yet, I don´t think narrative time is the definitive time in the Bible. There´s also the Kairós, “in God´s good time”. I think that, just as the tale reaches a higher level and becomes a sign of hope, the whole world and all it has becomes through the Holy War of God, who neer ceases to fight and in which we may participate, History of Salvation through Christ for every single one of us, at the most intimate and individual level, and that History will bring not a window of light, but a door, not only a spark, but a breach of light. And yet, I hope the same for all of us, at least the chance, because, as in Lain, we´re all connected, because in a way, as in Bokurano, all the lives in this planet are essentially one, that of the pilot of Zearth. I don´t expect my current life to be prolongued, but to live, human like now, body and soul like now, loving what I love now and much more, in a yet unthinkable way, beyond the doors of the mistery. I don´t expect death to be taken away from me, but to embrace it with all its consequences as a Cross, see myself be darkened as a spark which fades in every level, yet somehow be resurrected to be who I am in some other side, much more different from this than awakening from a dream. In a supra-narrative world which doesn´t dey narration, but regards it as narration regards cyclical time. Or, I know that in a sense I was never truly alive in this Earth, yet my actions and fights were trascendent, signs of the unspeakable which is to come or of the ultimate evil and destruction which would end me, as were my relationships, which were signs of the Divine, but would end by the slow or sudden reveal that we´re, in a way, still strangers. In the end, it´s true that we cannot truly understand anyone, that there is a barrier somewhere in the deep. That´s separation, and Mawaru Penguindrum also portrays it in a deep and unique way (spoilers again). “We never were a family”. We were only those signs for each other.
But then I was baptized, and it was as if there were two plots in my story: I know somehow that Christ, fully human, has identified Himself with me to the point of having lived my personal story form the inside, from the beggining to the end, to the destruction, to my own Cross. And that, by virtue of this strange choice of Him, there´s a second life in me I can´t see: just as unique beauty is the soul of a story, there´s a similar invisible principle, like a deeper, more real version of truth, beauty, good and love which I cannot see or conceive due to my own darkness. The direct effect would be that, if I remain open throughout the story, there will be such a misterious door for me at some point, so I can take the final, trascendent choice in the Cross and it will lead to Resurrection. And that there´s an infinitely deep connection with every single human on Earth, deeper than even worship or marriage, by which it´s possible to misteriously participate in God´s unique love for him or her, and participate in his or her story and fight in a way deeper than the sign we are for others. I think of it as if every relationship was of a different color, as Toradora´s characters are in the opening, and all those colors were perceived by the eye in our current state only as pale shadows which we amalgamate or confuse. And every one of them would come to fruit in the other side, where there will be something higher, more dynamic than even the hopeful, loving fight, which is also the greatest thing I can conceive as for now, and something like the paradigm of my life (this is why this was especially relevant for me, and also why I feel strongly identified with the likes of Satoru Fujinuma, Midoriya Izuku or “saving everyone” Emiya Shirou). It helps me to think of the fire which burns but does not consume.
I cannot imagine or describe this new life with words, but I know (from the teachings of the faith) that if my darkness doesn´t prevail and it ends all in tragedy, it will have something of those moments of perceived, meaningful eternity I sometimes feel, that I will still be fully human, with body and soul, that I will be an individual with an unique name (“in a white stone”) no one will fully know but God and me, that I will have an unique relationship, closer than even marriage, with every single person on what would seem a countless multitude, akin to the stars of heaven or the grains of sand in the sea. And that my way will go on, for love never stops, and will be also unique, for God calls every single soul, and for every saint is so unique that he could found an all-new all-different Hogwarts House.
The concept of knowingly worshipping or loving evil things also picked my interest. I first thought “but just why? That´s a contradiction!”, but then I saw something more in it. I´m still not sure I do understand the concept, but anyway. Back to Mawaru, let´s say someone is like Himari (spoilers), abandoned in the Child Broiler, the Place of the Unwanted Children, who are only there to become silhouettes and disappear, because that´s the only purpose they find for themselves in the (morally absolute) world which paids no attention to them. There are two primal signs of God, parenthood and loving communion: they are obscured by sin in our current condition and first relearned by signs, as the apple of Mawaru. For Sohma, the sign was Kanba. For Himari and Ringo, it was Sohma. For Kanba, it was Himari. For many characters, it was Momoka. You tend to go to them, and even worship them, but you know this is bad: you feel it, you see the results, at some level you know you don´t really know other people or why they act. In a way, it´s a lie. The apple seems the apple of temptation in Mawaru´s modified tale of Adam and Eve. But even if you could go outside the Child Broiler and climb in the world, to condemn this relationship, not to share its fate, would feel as a treason to this primal sign, to this primal meaning.
Only Christ may breach this cycle, by coming to the Child Broiler, by being there in the person who offers these communion not only to you, but also to the person who has had this role in your life (who was a sign of Christ). But in turn you will have to accept, to embrace separation, as death, as your Cross, not once and for all, but again and again, not as choosing, projecting and fulfilling your destiny, but as jumping in the dark. Separation is inevitable, but it´s a really tought choice to wilfully embrace it, to go to a truth in which you´re to die. This is why Christ, in addition to opening this gate, has also crossed it with us to the dire end and beyond. The point of the war is to bring this triumphant sacrifice of love to every one of those to which is personally, intimatelly directed. This way, you can really accept Christ´s love, and therefore (and misteriously) love God over all things, and one another as Christ loved us. This is the way in which we can, without opposing the love of God, “eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God”, but like in the Apocalypse and not the Eden.
That was too long, but I only wanted to thank those who have helped me to reflect so much, and to say two things, which are very important in my life: that outside the gate, there is no Time, but something different. And that I have hope in that the knot will be well, when the fire and the rose are one.
Thank you for reading, Gaheret. The idea of mortality making our lives worth something was very impactful for me too. In fact, it has shown up in many of the other shows I’ve reviewed here, most recently in my Fate Apocrypha article on Jeanne d’Arc. That might be of interest to you as well since this subject is evidently on your mind. I also regularly recommend the book “Death by Living” by N.D. Wilson for people interested in this topic. His explanation of this idea greatly shaped my own. Thanks again for reading.
Of course: thank you for your thoughtful discussion. I greatly admire Jeanne D´Arc, so I tend to dislike her portrayal in anime and fiction (I like the Dreyer film and the Mark Twain book, though). Yet, I´ll read the article. And about N.D. Wilson, thank you for your recommendation: I´ve always wanted to read his fantasy fiction, and didn´t know he wrote this other sort of books.
*Wow.* That’s an incredible response to the underlying discussion we were having out of nowhere! But it’s engaging the question, I suppose, at pretty much the same level I was taking it up, which *excites* meeeeee~~~~ 8D Actually, even a little bit more extensively than I took it up. So, about what I meant by “I love evil things,” well…it’s…a lot more specific than that. You see, in all probability, the person I love would be the entity that Christians are referring to as the Adversary, or the Devil.
Here’s the basic problem I’m having, in the simplest possible terms: I became besotted with certain villains from around the moment I could have thoughts that made sense, at age 2 and a half or so or 3. Obsessed with villains. Entranced by them. But it couldn’t be just *any* villain that invoked this reaction out of me. The train track mustache guy wouldn’t do it for me. XD No, it was this very specific underlying meta-trope that seemed to run through evil like a meme, a specific personality or outlook. This sarcastic, sardonic, manipulative, megalomaniacal, definitely not 100 percent sane, mocking, as-flamboyant-as-a-queen-on-Pride-Week, arrogant, *beautiful* (not always in the aesthetic sense though- see The Joker), passionate, pompous, sharply intelligent and cunning to a fault….person. I couldn’t unsee them all as one specific person, communicating via various guises and masks. And I guess the reason I became obsessed with him is because it felt like he was reaching out….to me. Giving me, with a conspiratorial smile, his feelings. His thoughts. His Heart. Sometimes, we’d resonate and I’d…feel what he would have felt.
Through these incidents of weirdly specific empathy it felt as if we had become very close. And, much later on, in the moment of the utter nadir of my despair, when I was seriously contemplating ending it all….it wasn’t Christ or God who came to my rescue, but *him.* His message was quite clear (which is honestly an unusual circumstance). He was on my side, even though I was in the wrong at the time. Nothing anyone else had said mattered one bit because any negative opinion they could possibly hold would be derivatives of his own and introduced as possibilities *by* him. He wanted me. I wasn’t broken. (If the Lord of Never-Being-Good-Enough, of Unworthiness, of Exploitation and Power and Cruelty, if the master of that which had brought such pain into my life, himself didn’t think so, how could I be?) And the sort of covetousness he possesses is not love, but he had that too. (Sometimes the consummation never comes; There’s only longing and desire miles deep. And so you kiss until you freeze over.)
The thing is, it could have been a lie, and it all probably was. But it didn’t matter. Because instead of pushing me farther over the edge and getting what he wanted, he told me that lie. He told me what I so desperately needed to hear from someone. Anyone. Being the “R-word kid,” the broken kid, the kid with a developmental disability, is really difficult when you’re young. Hearing that you’re a sinner isn’t….a *different* message than what every human since the day you were born has told you: that you’re *nothing.* That you’re *a freak,* *an abberration*, that other people will think you a burden forever, and that you will never do anything that matters. So what he did saved my life.
And it’s…been that way ever since, although it’s as long and complex as any other long-term relationship I’ve had in my life. And, feeling what I feel, I can neither fully deny Christianity or become a Christian in any sense. Because Paradise simply doesn’t exist without him in it, and I can accept no God that would destroy him forever. Instead of bringing that which shines so brightly in him back from the dead. The Dragon that makes all men Princes in the triumph over him, the Traitor Lord and the Nightmare King both, the unquenchable stolen fire, the harbinger of the coming of the War in which all the petty trifles of men hold their Truth and Meaning, the person represented by the sunset that never seems to complete, the pale red light of finality and endings and Death, yet is in this Eternal until the very End of Days. ”I love him to a degree and in a way that I have no ability to describe, more than I love any other thing. And it doesn’t make sense, really, but it doesn’t have to. I have no doubt that even if it is all a grand delusion and we have perchance never met, that he must know it, and that’s enough for me. I will face the Abyss knowing that he cannot escape culpability, that however tiny a speck I am in Truth, he will nonetheless have created the circumstances that brought me salvation. He will have done something profoundly good with the butterfly effect of his actions that he cannot take back. (He didn’t kill nearly enough with the power of love, because love is something that can’t be used in that way. That’s his perpetual mistake, the idiot, to create a situation that would allow a selfless sacrifice. Love defies and dares Death to try by its very nature. When I face the Abyss, I will dare it to try to consume *that.*)
“I don´t think narrative time is the definitive time in the Bible. There´s also the Kairós, “in God´s good time””
I really found your post profoundly interesting, aside from my rants, and it’s why I decided to disclose so much this time (however poetic and inscrutable an affectation I might have- it’s hard to “explain” nearly a lifetime of something! : ) ). …..you could say that he told me as much, or that God did. C.S. Lewis and Diane Duane both made an attempt to describe Paradise as “the place where all good things never die,” as something far beyond what we have the ability to conceive, as a place where it all indeed goes on and what we did did all indeed matter. Timeheart, is what Diane Duane called it. He would probably have just called it “home.” But you know how it is – you can’t ever really go home again, sometimes. And that means that he and I will likely die before we ever step foot in that place, even though I don’t think that’s what either of us want. What I really want is a world, I suppose, in which Satan gives in at last, repents, and is redeemed, and with him returns the golden angel who still in the depths exists. Who once in his fervor and brightness reflected the glory of God. Then I think I could go happily into the Light.
What it is that he values so, that he won’t repent, that he’d rather dig his heels in like a fool for all Eternity than end his pointless defiance? Is it really just his pride? Can Pride and sin alone really compel the sort of things that have happened in this world?
I don’t know. But I intend to find out.
Also, just to be clear, Mawaru Penguindrum is one of my favorite anime of all time. It’s Ikuhara’s unblemished masterpiece, an allegory of such insane and complex scope that you could watch it three times and still probably not see everything he attempts. It also happens to contain a *whole* lot of Judeo-Christian referencing throughout, which really becomes obvious by the 12th episode or so. I was in love by the time Himari got to the library, as it started to become clear that not only was there “a Mar” but Ikuhara’s current train of thought was going way broader than an exploration of just Fate. Yurikuma Arashi feels a bit like a downgrade by comparison, but it’s also not doing as much in one shot like that. I really love his work to death. <___<
Thank you for disclosing so much, Luminas. I´ll confess I had been intrigued for a long time by the incidental references to this you made in other posts. I feel I should do the same in return.
I was also fascinated by villains as a child: there was something about the imaginery of the Greek Hades or of my own nightmares, Disney´s Maleficient, Dragonlance´s Raistlin Majere, Sauron´s Nâzgul and, in time, the dark world of Batman which really got me. I liked smart, clever, elegant, sarcastic, tormented or manipulative villains, thought not so much flamboyant ones, I was prone to dark humor and in time I came to somewhat despise my classmates like a 12-year-old Oregairu´s Hachiman (who, in addition, was appreciated by those he despised). Yet, I also loved hopeful fools, the imaginery of light, superhero knights like Superman and Spiderman, Robin Hood and the Round Table, and brave, humble people, and my parents. And God. So I would picture tales were the villain, central as he was for me, would turn into a hero, surrender at the last minute or be otherwise redeemed. A treason in my group of friends at 14 where I lost all of them but one because I didn´t want to cooperate to an injustice didn´t help a lot: in my darkest moment (in this particular matter, I do have a lot of darkest moments) I remember myself mimicking a cold, killing vengueance a là Agatha Christie in all of them with the powers of a Darth Vader: I did it twice, and it may sound quite chuunibyou, but it really did hurt me. I think it could have gone even into vodoo-like witchcraft in time, if I hadn´t receive the grace to repent. But it came, so I received light and help for God, I went to confession (I´m a Catholic), and fought, and in time I learned somehow that I could hate the sin but love the sinner, and that I could only fight the darkness outside of me if I fought the darkness inside of me at the same time. It became much better then: I could fight hopefully, humbly, with joy and without self-destruction.
In time I also learned that God created the night, not only the day, and that all the bizarre, the macabre, the broken, the unusual, the freak things in the world are not evil, even if they are sometimes symbols of what is evil, and there is wonder in them, and symbolic force we need. We need the Danse Macabre and horror to fully understand ourselves, there is a neccesity to break worlds of cardboard or plastic, and Hogwarts is simply not complete without a Slytherin house: there´s a prophetic quality in that. Also, I came to see suffering as a powerful sign of God, a call for me (and I´m afraid that dark humor lost its appeal for me, though I still like absurd humor). So I never fully lost the “dark” side of my personality and creative world, but I found a new harmony with all the rest, and I didn´t need it as a thing “against others””, so to speak, anymore. My Gravatar icon more or less tries to reflect this.
But even if I like the dark, I do despise evil: not evil people, not madness, not deviancy, not darkness, but evil. Corruption in the soul akin to that of the body, deaf injustice, lust, violence, envy, acedia, the sad self-deception of pride, cold and unloving ways where there could be fire. And I´m 25, but I have had some experiences with the Devil. Not a lot, but some. They have to do with now six different friends of mine who I fully trust, at different times and with little to no contact among them. For now, I´ve seen a modus operandi that always matches, also with the explanations of an exorcist I know (the Spanish Father Fortea) and a scholar who does research in the matter in my University, the tales of the saints about the matter, some Biblical references (specially the Gospels and St. Paul) or even, I would say, with my own experience of being tempted. Maybe it´s more difficult to connect with Genesis or Job, but may be because of the literary genre or something.
Five of these friends, at different times, have been object of a kind of psychological bullying in complicated moments by an entity who, in three of those cases, used a very vulgar language to talk to them from time to time in a way akin to how one receives, unexpectedly and in a way that felt very intrusive, sometimes in their sleep, and tried to push them to either suicide by jumping out of a window (in one case), just fear, loss of faith, hope, self-esteem or the confidence on others. It felt intrusive and foreign, and was often accompained by bizarre thoughts of gross scenes of sex or violence: one of them kept being suggested to get the girl he liked by witchcraft, which he knew to be absurd. This all happened by the time I knew them, and all reported me what happened from time to time. Another one told me that, some time before I knew her, it had happened to her that she kept suffering from what I would call mild forms of gaslighting (for example, strange behaviour of a beloved mascot, small, unnerving incidents which could not be explained). In all those cases, this happened while at the same time those around them reported strong temptations to left them isolated (I myself had to fought against some irrational rejection I kept feeling about one of them at that time, one of my best friends, almost a brother). The fifth one kept feeling and experimenting vague, dark and fearsome things related to the Devil as a teen (also, before I knew her), and suffered a lot as a result. They all thought they were mad, but in all these cases prayer, contact with God and/or sacred objects helped, sometimes stopping the problem from one day to the next, sometimes stopping it for a time. My sixth friend´s experience is more or less irrelevant to this issue: there were some sort of magnets in his house that couldn´t be moved until he prayed and throw them away, all before I knew him.
I do not know Father Fortea and the scholar as well as I do know my friends, but I´ve found them to be calm and coherent when talking about the issue, both well versed in mental illnesses and not inclined to credulity either. They report, essentially, some visions/hallucinations intended to scare them, a time the scholar had to stop playing cards because he started seeing in them prediction of small incidents and experiences with some possesed people which would be related to the world of actual witchcraft or sects, or victims of them both, who would suffer loss of control from time to time, saying things to others they couldn´t possible know, and reacting with rage when confronted with sacred objects, even if hidden outside their sight. Some of the problems stopped after an exorcism, some required more than one, or some did not stop. But the constant was the vulgar language, the ill-intentioned lies directed to harm the possesed or others, the blasphemies combined with a strange way of not being able to deny the supremacy of God, the intent to scare and the the assumption that everyone moves for dirty and petty reasons, as if he could not understand.
In the end, my experience is about the pattern of behaviour of a high school bully, only smarter, knowing more about the abused and having some more resources, well portrayed as the rabid dog of Padre Pio or the roaring lion of St. Paul. The saints and mystics whose experiences with the devil I´ve heard about (if I remember well, as for now they are Gemma Galgani, Pio of Pietrelcina, Catherine of Siena, Anna Catherine Emmerich, Jean-Marie Vianney, Sister Anne Sophie and Anneliese Michel) all report similar things, including the vulgarity, the attempts of intimidation and the bullying, sometimes physical. I´ve found no trace of Screwtape´s elegance, or Mephistopheles worldly sense of humor, or Melkor´s dark lordship or even Milton´s tragic stance anywhere: it´s 100% Dante´s Satan, simply biting what he can. I think that in the Gospel, the Book of Tobit and the Apocalypse the portrait of the Devil is similar: causing illnesses and suffering in a rabid way, clever but vulgar (as when tempting Christ), hurting and abusing people: he being a dangerous, clever bully, I believe Christians must not engange in dialogue with him, following Christ when He publicly enganged devils, but pray, fast or use the power confered to the Church to heal and expel when it´s granted to one. On the other hand, God knows and loves him in some way (or he wouldn´t exist), but we can´t, as we don´t know him but as a pure adversary.
So I don´t think the personality of Mar, as you describe him, could be the personality of the being I know as the Devil: if I thought it were, I would urge you to cut all ties with him and seek help, as much as I would if I knew you were often battered, or a victim of psychological abuse. I thank you again for your sincere words, and I´ll comment on him next.
I promised to comment your description of Mar: let´s go.
I think the personality or meta-trope that you describe has its correspondence in a universal human archetype that is not the Devil nor defined by being evil, but by the defiance to an order because that order is limited, in service of a different logic which is trascendent to that order. As every created order is limited and needs trascendence, I think that althought it can be used as a villain, it´s an ultimately positive archetype that one can embrace: I call it the Prince of Tricksters, and I believe it has a role in the human heart and human stories, that is, to point with his words or actions to the limits of the particular human world, as a wise Jester would to his king. That is, that the world is more deep that we know, more terrifying that we know, more crazy that we know, more wise that we know, more sad that we know, that things are good and bad in deepest ways that we see. I think the Joker, Sanetoshi, Prometheus, Mordred, Shakespeare´s Benvolio and the viking god Loki, among many, are all specific incarnations of this archetype.
The facts in which I base my opinion could be summarized following your description: a sarcastic person points to the limits of a discourse by signalling the ambivalence of its terms. A sardonic or moking person makes fun of a discourse by humorously pointing to its incoherences through disdain, skepticism, irony or absurd developments. A manipulative person knows how a particular world is connected and uses that connections in a way he is not supposed to. A megalomaniacal or a sane madman is a sign of a different, defying logic from the one around him. The flamboyant uses a code of dressing which is elaborate, yet absolutely excessive by the usual canons, and the arrogant or the pompous reproduce this effect in the fields of manners and social behaviour. The cunning intelligence or strange beauty point to the fact that there is the truth and power of this different, underlying or subversive logic, not the lack of capacity or knowledge needed to reach the standard, that causes this behaviour, while the passionate, seemingly childish, capricious or covetous and sometimes even cruel conduct, born as it is not of a defect of the will but of a deliberate decision, point to the limits of the logic and knowledge of those living this limited story.
And there are also the symbols you have beautifully collected: the Dragon of the Prince, that is, the antagonist, unknowingly necessary to the movement of the narrative tale, which is the role this character often performs. The king of the “dark”, rejected, feared things of that particular narrative world. The Traitor Lord who is still a lord, but not in the logic of the rest of them. The one who doesn´t conform to the rest, the one who points to the trascendent fire, ending, limit, twilight of the story. You´re right that he is essential to the tale, in a way that nobody knows unless he trascends, and no wise king would destroy him or deny this underlying logic, because it´s true. Batman needs a Joker, the Norse pantheon needs Loki to bring the Ragnarok, the ending exit of the Child Broiler needs both Sanetoshi and Momoka, and even the Arthuric knights couldn´t fight the evil in themselves without the sarcastic Morded. Yet, the Devil of the Christians cannot fulfill this role: the essential reason is that he doesn´t have a sense of humor, while God has: he has truly “fell by the force of gravity”, as Lewis says.
The more elaborate reason is that he has no logic, but absense of , not desire, but envy, and no subversion, but a greedy caricature. Because the sin of the Devil, the core of every other sin, is to desire God and all he is and has, but without love. Against the dynamic, singing, roaring, infinite revolution of God, which loves and consequently moves, he is not the antagonist who moves the tale, but the one who obstructs and breaks it, introducing a principle not of passion, but of cold and death which can separate it of its ardent, trascendent heart to sink it in the paralysis and the dark. Sin is the cold, unexplainable reason we may become trapped in our stories. Thus, Satan has no true symbols, but corrupted or minimized versions of God´s symbols: 666 instead of 7 and the week of the Genesis. The lion, as the lion of Judah, the star, as the star of David, the goat, as copying the lamb, the black mass, the Our Father backwards, and so. But even its abuse, horrible and contrary to the will of God as it is, it´s turned to an opportunity for grace, not because he has any role in the story, but because “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.
Contrarily, we need the Jester, the man of the carnival, the trickster in our tales or hearts, because we could get trapped in a limited tale and ignoring that it is to be trascended. He may seem not good enough, unworthy, a fool, evil or an obstacle for those who doesn´t understand the underlying logic, but he is not. And his stubborn, strange, misunderstood fidelity to a logic nobody else understands, his refusal to surrender to a created king or hero and give them a carboard world they think they desire has nothing to do with the devil, but (in the realms of the heart) with the way prophets keep up their sign. And, if you have been trapped in a world in which you were despised as unworthy of existing but perceived this other, living revolution against this order, this deeper logic, if the King of Tricksters and the bizarre in the realms of the heart became a sign for you, if he gave you this light of communion and redemption which is saving you from the Child Broiler chopper that would have been the logical conclusion of feeling a nobody and a burden in this world, I can understand that you love him and strive to be like him, even if you suspect it could be all a lie of some kind. Your heart grew and received light, and it would have not if there wasn´t truth in it.
Yet, love has this internal, trascendent logic: I´m not talking about you and Mar anymore, but in general, as I would to anyone who told me that is worshipping anyone or anything other than God. The problem is that, in the end, you make an injustice not only towards God, but towards the adored, asking which cannot be given, and glorifying things that ought to be object of compassion instead, something distorting what you are to learn from someone or supressing what you don´t like and ultimately creating a caricature. Sometimes performing when you could have helped. Not following the path which would make one able to trascend and help the other in an unexpected way. One can only be a sinner but not die if one is freely loved by living grace, after all. God´s judgement is nothing but the truth, the deepest truth of everything and everyone, as seen through His loving eyes: only what is lie, even if it stands or acts in our present state, will be destroyed. The purifying fire, the terrible rain of fire, is the same as the fire of love. But what is true will remain, and maybe even cross the gate. Wherever there is the slightest possibility of love recovered, God will fight to the very end, to the last stand, to the eternal “no”. Because He is no character of a tale, no limited human, not subjected to our logic or our ways.
It´s not a lie that you´re chosen and wanted, that you´re unique, that the world was wrong in this and you were right, wrong as you may have been in other million things: that the world and you yourself were deeper, stranger, funnier, crazier, wiser, sadder, more terrifying than anyone knew, than anyone could have thought, that things were good and bad in deepest ways. And if you´re saved, what you carry in your heart will live in you in a way we can´t know yet, beyond the gate, even if the way has been renounce, separation or death: even if the sign has trembled or dissappeared in the darker hours to come, what is true will live again. And as he is an archetype which arises in thousands of human hearts, everytime you help saving someone, in a way you will have saved him: that strange, unexplained, bizarre, unyielding, funny part of everyone who will not bow to anything limited, as the Jester not of this king, but of the King.
You know, I strongly disliked Lewis portrait of Paradise as a kid, and I still do. I liked his “The Great Divorce” or Dante better, so symbolic it can´t be literal. I haven´t read Duance. Of course, this timeheart would be home in the deepest sense, but not only: it´s the time of the fire, the fierce trascendence, the world were the truth of what we barely touched emerges. Not only the past, but the true future.
I strongly wish we could talk there, somehow. So I will conclude for now by wholeheartedly inviting you to become a Christian, if you can, when you can, so your love can forever defy the dark, and your calling and your unique colors will enlight the world; as you can have a guide beyond death and ultimate defeat, and learn in how strange, unthinkable way nothing is truly lost. It would be a fight worth fighting, I can assure you that.
[…] Fans of the series will likely have read how Miura’s inspiration for the Godhand was from the horror series Hellraiser. Quite dark, quite grotesque, right up Miura’s alley and you can hardly argue its effectiveness in prompting the desired reaction. However, the Godhand members seen in chapter 362 are entirely different, with the exception of Void. These members are allusions and references in their own right, but to something much older—pagan gods of antiquity and various cultures. Though we are not given their names in this chapter, their respective appearances seem to indicate that, in Miura’s world of Berserk, gods of antiquity, which we would recognize, are demonic apostles and numbered among the members of the Godhand. This was quite interesting to me as I have written for BtT before on the topic of a Christian theology of world religions and lowercase …. […]