TangleCast 53: Theology Synthesis Thirty

It may not always reach its goals, but even detractors of Sword Art Online can agree that the franchise eagerly explores lofty concepts that other popular series refuse to touch. The most recent season, Sword Art Online: Alicization, traverses philosophy and religion in the course of its run, and forces viewers to consider fundamental questions about free will and ultimate desire. This week, Team FtK joins the fray as David, Holly, and Peter take a dive into SAO and theology.

0:00 Introduction
1:07 Last week’s Cast Question
3:16 New Cast Question
7:15 Sword Art Online: Alicization DiscussionIntro
10:07 Discussion—STL machine
13:58 Discussion—SAO and free will
23:30 Discussion—Eugeo’s temptation and the Garden of Eden
30:09 Discussion—Quinella’s desire in life and proof of existence
38:05 Closing

And we want your feedback as well! Each week we’ll ask a question on the podcast and feature your answers the next time that team rolls around. This week’s CQ (Cast Question) is based on the choice Morpheus presents to Neo in The Matrix: Which would you take, given the option—the red pill, which opens your eyes to a harsh reality, or the blue pill, in which you would live out ignorant serenity?

Beneath the Tangles » TangleCast
Beneath the Tangles » TangleCast
TangleCast 53: Theology Synthesis Thirty

10 thoughts on “TangleCast 53: Theology Synthesis Thirty

  1. That was a nice podcast. I’ve not seen but the one episode of SAO Alicization because I’m waiting for the dub eventually. I hope they bring it online. I’m fan of Mr. Pappenbrook and Ms. Leigh’s work. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on the nature of free will.
    I believe God created the universe as well as our construct of how time works. God knows all of the actions and thoughts of all of his creations. He created us, but he gives us that level autonomy. If we did not have free will, sin could not happen because it would have been according to God’s will that we defy him which is a logical paradox. You cannot defy yourself, only others. We do have free will to act relative to our own universal bubble because of this but God can essentially predict what our thoughts and actions will be because he is timeless and omniscient.

  2. I know this probably doesn’t have to do with the post but apparently I like Veggie Tales now
    I started liking it this morning I think
    I actually grew up watching it at church but then I started not liking it but now I do

  3. The discussion of love that SAO has played out between Quinella, Eugeo, Kirito, Alice, and Cardinal (and even Charlotte!) has been fascinating, and I hope the show continues to explore the topic. As I’ve watched, I’ve been struck by the profound differences between the God of the Bible and Quinella, differences that become all the more powerful after one looks their superficial similarities. For example, Jesus and Quinella both call on others to love them. But Quinella demands that others “love” her as a condition to loving them back. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “We love because he first loved us.” The pontifex makes it mandatory that Eugeo first “love” her, whereas in the biblical model, God first loves us and any love we have for him is a voluntary response to love God already extends. The kind of love the Bible promotes is a voluntary choice, and the love based on free will stands in stark contrast to Quinella’s love-as-control paradigm.

    Alice’s eye-breaking speech plus some of her later comments to Quinella bring to mind the old motto “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Yes, the slogan’s theology is imperfect and Alice isn’t turning to Yahweh anyway. That said, the motto speaks to the idea that sometimes resisting the powers that be is right, and is part of adherence to some higher standard. SAO clearly implies that Quinella is an illegitimate authority figure and that opposing her is the right thing to do. In this respect, Quinella reminds me of the wicked queen Athaliah, another female ruler whose power relied upon destroying the lives of others, who despite occupying the throne of Judah and wielding the power of that office was unmistakably illegitimate and unworthy of deference.The defiance of Daniel’s three friends when Nebuchadnezzar threatens them with the furnace is another Biblical example disobedience to an evil authority being obedience to a greater standard.

    Quinella is definitely the devil. Few anime characters have ever stirred such a deep sense of loathing in me (Lelouch vi Britannia is close). Partly, this is because I think she’s been well written as an evil character: her wickedness is understandable without being any less horrific. I think my enmity toward Quinella is also partially due to knowing how much I have struggled with the enemy’s temptations myself. The “temptation of Eugeo” scene makes me of think of strikingly similar call and the very different response it received:

    “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

    “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

  4. Whoops, I blabbered all that stuff and forgot about the Official Query of the Pod.

    I’d like to think I’d choose the “red pill, which opens your eyes to a harsh reality.” I feel like I’ve put a lot of effort into pursuing truth and facing that truth even when it is unpleasant or uncomfortable. Hopefully even in a fantastical situation like those of Neo and Alice, God would grant me the strength to remain dedicated to truth-seeking.

  5. I feel a very similar way about the pursuit of truth! All that running after the truth…and to choose to reject truth at the end, I just don’t know…hahaha.

  6. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-10 really stick with me thinking of red vs blue, and I feel we all have to partake of the red pill…….somewhat. Scripture really warns us to not live in ignorant serenity. To be ignorant of God is the wide path. Yet, to bask in the harsh reality of things can make you pessimistic and hardened. I guess I’m saying perhaps a mix of the two can be compromised, but if one, I would take red.

  7. Twitter

    Rich (@redcar_tenken), MUTUAL: Red pill, of course. Better a painful truth than a comfortable lie. It’s only by confronting pain and difficulty that we grow, and only by growing can we gain the strength to overcome those truths and change the world for the better.


    Cory (@kokorodaki), MUTUAL: I’d rather live a harsh life than a false one, so the red pill

    @peko_chan_milky: I’d take the red pill, because without truth there is no meaning to life.

    Leaf (@scalpelfactory), MUTUAL: My life so far has been blue pill, I think I’m finally ready. Red pill all the way.

    Michael (@samuru), BtT blogger and FB manager: Which one did Neo take in the Matrix? I would take that one

    @saxonrau, MUTUAL: All the red pill does is delete your Facebook account. The blue pill hides all YouTube comments. Both pills put you on Twitter. Don’t ask how I know.

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