The Real Place of Phos’s People in Fractured Humanity

Houseki no Kuni, also known as Land of the Lustrous, does a great job of crafting a mysterious and complex world with very few people.  One of the most interesting developments in the world building comes from Phos’s digestion by a giant snail.  After they get this monster under control and reconstitute Phos from the monster’s shell (One of the benefits of being a crystalline humanoid appears to be infinite opportunities for rebirth), Phos discovers that she can understand the now diminutive monster’s language.  If the preceding strikes you as outlandish, remember that this is anime!

At any rate, this creature leads Phos into the ocean, where it transforms into a half-jellyfish and half-human female creature named “King.”  (I found the name a little jarring myself, but “King” is the literal translation of “Ou.”)  King freely converses with Phos and tells her the myth of there once being a human species.  (I say “myth,” but the reaction of Phos’s master to the word “human” in a later episode proves that humans did once exist in this world.)  However, this human species became divided into three peoples representing “soul, flesh, and bone.”  The lunar people making war upon the peoples of Phos and King represent the soul, King’s sea people represent the flesh, and Phos’s landlubbers represent bone.

One problem I have with the above division of humanity is that bone never counted as a significant part of humanity.  People say “flesh and blood,” and Adam famously referred to Eve as “flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones.”  Both phrases point to the physical side of a human being.  The other side of our nature is spiritual.  Naturally, there must then be a mediator between the flesh and the spirit–and it’s not your bones!  Quelle idée absurde!  Two good candidates exist for the role of arbiter: the mind and the will.  Yet, the mind may be said to be synonymous with the rational soul.  Furthermore, the crystalline attribute of hardness is shared both by gem stones and the will–but not with the mind.  The mind has the subtlety to take any form–even of ideas without material form.  People might say that someone “has their mind set,” but it is not really the mind which is set, but the will: after all, the mind can continue to doubt itself even as the person wills himself to perform a course of action.


The seat of the will has classically been seen as the heart.  One recalls God’s promise: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,” (Ez. 36:26).  This notion of a hard heart–of a heart unwilling to bend to the inspirations of divine grace–has its echo in mystical literature.  The passage below comes from St. Catherine of Siena’s famous conversation with God, The Dialogue.  God tells the saint:

These are they who are in a state of ordinary charity, wherefore, if they have trouble, they receive it in the guise of correction, and do not resist over much the clemency of the Holy Spirit, but, coming out of their sin, they receive the life of grace. But if, like fools, they are ungrateful, and ignore Me and the labors of My servants done for them, that which was given them, through mercy, turns to their own ruin and judgment, not through defect of mercy, nor through defect of him who implored the mercy for the ingrate, but solely through the man’s own wretchedness and hardness, with which, with the hands of his free will, he has covered his heart, as it were, with a diamond, which, if it be not broken by [Christ’s] Blood, can in no way be broken. And yet, I say to you, that, in spite of his hardness of heart, he can use his free will while he has time, praying for the Blood of My Son, and let him with his own hand apply It to the diamond over his heart and shiver it, and he will receive the imprint of the Blood which has been paid for him. [Italics mine]

How emphatic is this passage!  The reprobate’s heart is not only a heart of stone, but the hardest of stones: the diamond!  It would be much better for him if it were at least phosphophyllite so that it might more easily feel God’s love!  That which makes a heart diamond encrusted is none other than bad habits–repeated evil actions of the will.  By a certain point, these evil habits can no longer be changed by mere human effort: one’s personality is practically set in stone.  Only grace can melt the stone of–or over–one’s heart, specifically the infinite merit of Christ’s blood.  By approaching God through Christ crucified, the blood of Christ melts our hard hearts until God can effectively reform them.

God says: “‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the LORD. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel,'” (Jeremiah 18:6).  Yet, this clay has free will and can refuse to follow the loving will of God.  We might prefer to be diamonds instead of clay and refuse to be molded.  We imagine our own plans are better than those of God’s, but we only become more miserable as a result. Only by placing ourselves in the hands of our loving Father can we achieve our real glory.

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