I watched a couple episodes of That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime, which is, as it says on the tin, a story about a guy who dies and comes back to life as a slime in an alternate fantasy dimension—you know, the lowest level of monster you might bump into in a Dragon Quest or related JRPG. Now going by the name of Rimuru, it seems as though his principal way of interacting with the world in his newfound gelatinous body is by eating things. It may seem like a rather incongruous transformation, but is it, really?
Alexander Schmemann begins his liturgical treatise, For The Life of the World, with the observation that “[i]n the biblical story of creation man is presented, first of all, as a hungry being, and the whole world as his food. [….] Man must eat in order to live; he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as one all-embracing banquet table for man.” (11) He offers this observation against religious views that consider the spiritual and meaningful to be something entirely divorced from the everyday, material world, as well as views that wish to reduce the spiritual to the material:
The world as man’s food is not something “material” and limited to material functions thus different from, and opposed to, the specifically “spiritual” functions by which man is related to God. [….] Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger for our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for Him. All that exists lives by “eating”[…] But the unique position of man in the universe is that he alone is to bless God for the food and the life he receives from Him. (14-15)
The eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was the consumption of food not freely given from God, and thus, for Schmemann, “it was food whose eating was condemned to be communion with itself alone, and not with God. It is the image of the world loved for itself, and eating it is the image of life understood as an end in itself.” (16)
So perhaps, in being cast out of the Garden, we are more like Rimuru than we may think. Perhaps, at times, we need to be like the slime in rediscovering anew the spiritual significance of eating. We may never look at breakfast the same way again.
Food for thought, at least.
Quotes taken from the revised edition published by St Vladmir’s Seminary Press. For more thoughts on That Time I Was Reincarnated as a Slime, check out Team FtK’s recent podcast episode on the series.