Thoughts on Various Anime and November

National Blog Posting Month and NaNoWriMo have come to a close.  Regarding the former, Medieval Otaku for the first time has managed a post for each day of the month–even if I had to resort to reblogging.  (I suppose next year’s goal will include only posting articles written by yours truly; though, I do have fun introducing people to some of the bloggers I follow.)  Regarding NaNoWriMo…well…I wrote one chapter and started the second.   All my inspiration was siphoned off to various channels.  Now, I shall see if I can deliver on my hope of writing a second novel by the end of the year.

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Yet, the title promises some thoughts on various anime.  Below are blurbs on select themes in each show or my overall impression of them.

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1) Akame ga Kiru

The sharp deviation from the manga we see in the last few episodes of Akame ga Kiru increased my interest in this show.  Unfortunately, I have an idea of what to expect: everyone except Tatsumi dies before the Prime Minister and Esdeath are taken down.  Or, will the animators find a way to surpass my expectations with the last few episodes allowed to them?

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That the anime never became popular in Japan leads to this precipitate ending.  The weakness of the first six episodes–with the possible exception of the first–hurt this shows ratings.  They should never have set out to produce an exact replica of the manga, but people in the entertainment industry are often lazy.  Also, though there have been a few excellent battles, the uneven quality of the fights with some being downright poor must also have turned away some action fans.  Despite that, I’m looking forward to watching all my favorite characters die in tragic fashion.  If they make their deaths epic enough–especially should they reach Kikuchiyo of Samurai 7 level epic, I’ll give the anime four stars out of five.

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2) Akatsuki no Yona

This anime has become a classic tale of  good vs. evil, where the good guys win because the Universe is behind them.  Despite how common such a story is, who does not delight in seeing the weak and downtrodden conquer the wicked and powerful?

And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty. (From the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55)

Yona is like the Blessed Virgin Mary in her lowliness, but, because Yona has the Mandate of Heaven, she shall trod a powerful tyrant underfoot–as did St. Mary.

akatsuki

The flashbacks have hurt the advancement of the plot.  However, I believe that the following episodes will concentrate on the progression of Yona to becoming a powerful general until the eventual downfall of Soo-Won–not out of revenge, but because the deed is just.

Upside down

3) Chaika the Coffin Princess: Avenging Battle

This show has been a lot of fun.  I have not let down my suspension of disbelief enough to do more than enjoy Chaika, but I love how much more solid the plot is in this season.  The episodes have focused on leading up to a final battle between the red and white Chaikas, and that battle will be fun to see.  Among the characters, Akari and Frederica especially shine for their quirky personalities and humor.

akari et Frederica

ICUWMHIS

4) I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

Touching and funny adequately describe this anime.  A several episodes speak less about otakudom and more about the vicissitudes of married life.  The point of the show seems to be encouraging salarymen and salarywomen to stop being concerned only with their careers, otaku to stop focusing merely on anime, and both to seek the joys of real romance and married life–including children.  Japan really needs more shows with a message like that: in fifty years, the Japanese will be an endangered race at this rate.  More need to marry and have children–people of European descent too for that matter!

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5) Madan no Ou to Vanadis

I’m impressed by the author’s love for the Middle Ages.   Sure, it contains a few errors, but the battles feel authentic (except for the occasional use of magic, of course!), and the embattled feel of the Middle Ages is well replicated.  It must be remembered that Vikings, Celts, Saxons, Muslims and other barbarians all attempted to carve up Europe during the Middle Ages.  It is amazing that European culture survived.

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I like how the anime refers to the Muslim invasions in episode eight by refering to the invading army as name Muozinel.  Muslim armies often outnumbered their Christian opponents, but Christians often carried the day through a combination of better armor, tactics, and sheer courage.  (I remember reading about one Christian victory in Spain where the Christians won despite entire units being annihilated during the battle.  Like in episode eight of Madan no Ou to Vanadis, victory was achieved through the Muslims routing after the death of their leader.)  Muslims menaced Europe from the 8th century until the Battle of Vienna, which was fought from September 11, 1683 – September 12, 1683 and ended Turkish campaigns against Christendom.  My mother’s family comes from Croatia, which earned the nickname “the Wall of Christianity,” due to the Turks’ inability to conquer the country entirely.  You can bet that I loved watching episode eight. 🙂

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6) Psycho-Pass 2

I’m convinced that this is the best show of the season.  Some people accuse it of having an incoherent plot or being too similar to the previous season, but such people have not adequately suspended their disbelief. 😛  We knew that the characters would fight against the Sybil System again, and having another antagonist who wishes to take it down is the most obvious way for this plot to begin.  Besides, the last episode indicates that the Sybil System will actively turn against Akane in the future.  Don’t you want to see what happens when Akane becomes Public Enemy #1?

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7) Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

A commentator warned me about the religious syncretism and the scantily clad angels.  Sure enough, episode six felt rather jarring to me.  If the angels are gods, they’re no longer angels.  The only parallel between Christianity and the religion of Shingeki no Bahamut is the inclusion of Joan of Arc–but, she’s pagan, which does not mesh with the idea of a Catholic saint!  Also, as the aforementioned commentator said, there is a theme of gods and demons–good and evil–vs. choas.  This doesn’t work!  Despite D&D’s inclusion of a lawful evil category, evil is chaos!  God created an ordered whole–a cosmos–when he created the universe.  Satan was the first to try to disrupt this order when he declared himself God.  Even now, the devil principally fights against God by inducing human beings to disorder and perversion.  A brief look at the Seven Deadly Sins reveals that they are all disorders.

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That aside, the show is spectacular!  The characters are interesting, and each episode offers surprises to the audience.

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31 comments on “Thoughts on Various Anime and November

  1. jubilare says:

    I think that Satan sometimes uses order and law to evil ends, and that God included beneficial and useful forms of Chaos in creation. However, the idea of the two united against chaos is ludicrous to me.

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    • It is true that Satan uses order to further evil ends, but I’m not sure if law is the best term in those cases. Force is better. Bastiat famously says that law is force, but I can’t really call such force law unless it is based in justice. For example, Catholics are bound by divine law not to provide contraceptives to others–no matter how the government tries to force Catholic institutions to do so. Evil laws are not laws but coercive force.

      I don’t think there is any chaos in God’s creation through God’s will. Storms and such seem chaotic, but they obey natural laws and often produce a good–such as how hurricanes purify the quality of the air. Even the supposedly random interactions of electrons and other things at the quantum level are known to God and occur through God’s will.

      On the level of free will, there may be some chaos, but that is through moral agents willing evil, which is not beneficial. In terms of willing the good, even though there be many good choices, willing one good over another good–even if the latter good is actually better than the good willed–does not seem to me chaotic, because neither choice would be disordered as long as both are truly good.

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      • jubilare says:

        I feel like I can’t express myself as well a second time, but I shall try!

        Divine Law and human law are still both law, though on very unequal terms. We are even commanded to obey the latter when it does not oppose the former, even if we don’t like it. God gave us the ability to impose authority, whether for good or ill. That we, as Christians, are to disobey laws that contradict Divine Law, does not mean that evil laws, the corrupt echo of the Law, are not law. Evil law is a degraded thing, but still intended to impose some kind or order. That is really all that is necessary, in the eyes of the world, for such a thing as Lawful Evil or Chaotic Good to exist… the one being a character archetype (it’s important to remember how artificial and unrealistic for anything other than archetypes D&D alignments are) of an oppressive, but orderly, tyrant, and the other being the archetype of the noble rebel who defies evil law (it’s been corrupted into a more “harmless thief” idea, now, but it got there from the idea of Robin Hood).

        I think we need to define terms because, as you express yourself, I come to doubt whether, in your view, such a thing as Chaos exists at all. If you do not consider entropy and the element of the random in creation as chaotic, then what do you mean by the term? Is it simply another word for anything that defies the Natural Law? But surely, even that contains its own form of order and, being directed by minds, is not chaos.

        Now, I have a somewhat dualistic view of creation, not in terms of co-existent or inter-reliant good and evil, but in Good being all that truly exists, and evil existing as a corruption of what is good. Thus darkness is good, restful, peaceful, but corrupted into a refuge of fear. Light is sight-giving, nourishing, warming, but also burns and kills. In human and angelic terms, strength and intelligence, good things in themselves, are easily put to evil ends.

        In my view, order and chaos, likewise, are elements of Creation, and therefore good. They are inter-locking, they work off of each other, a cycle of creation and destruction and re-creation that is the very foundation of the physical world. How can I reconcile chaos with divine providence? Utter chaos, I might not be able to, but then neither could I resolve utter Order with it. One would be dead, and the other stagnant. The two together make perfect sense. Both can be corrupted, used to evil ends like every other element of creation, but they themselves are not evil. As you say, God may understand and even direct the elements that we call “Chaos,” in which case they would not be “chaos” to Him. But if you consider Freewill a form of chaos, then again, chaos is not evil, merely susceptible to evil use.

        Now, let’s consider Satan, briefly. In my understanding of chaos, my definition of the term, he is no more chaotic than he is orderly, and perhaps less so. His method of working in the world is so predictable that it would be boring if it weren’t so devastating. From what I see, and from what I read in the Bible, and perhaps from Dante’s influence 😉 I think that the Enemy wishes, not for chaos, but for control, to bind, to enslave, to rule over creation as its god. One cannot be god over nothing, one cannot rule utter chaos, and so I do not see the enemy working for chaos save in his attempts to destroy the works of God in order to build up his own. Perhaps Satan would consider it good to destroy creation simply in spite of God, but not because he is a thing of chaos, but because he is a thing of hatred and pride.

        So, in short, I see chaos and order as simply two elements of creation, both of which are, in their right places, Good, but which can both be corrupted. It may come down to the fact that we use the terms differently. It must be certain, I think, that there is an element of the Random in God’s creation in order for Freewill to exist. I tend to think God even likes the random, but that’s just my personal view. 🙂

        I hope that helps illuminate my position. It’s neither as succinct (the original was half this length) nor as cogent as I would like, but it’s the best I can do, for now.

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      • Thanks for responding! I’ll also put together my thoughts on law and chaos as well as I can.

        I think of law as something binding on the conscience. The mandates of an evil law are not binding; therefore, it seems that laws which compel or permit injustice are called laws equivocally, but they lack the essence of law, which is to be binding on the conscience because they are based on justice.

        Of course, there are certain evil laws which one ought to obey because the penalties for not doing so outweighs any harm done to one’s soul. For example, if the government passes a tax which it does not have the constitutional authority to impose, one should pay it until the law is struck down in court or repealed. So, I guess even bad human laws have the veneer of law in having the ability to compel certain actions, but only to the extent conformable with principle and prudence.

        To me, chaos is disorder. If one looks at nature, entropy does seem to be a part of the natural order. Of course, if we look at the thing itself suffering entropy, it does seem to be suffering from a form a chaos. However, in the wider scope of nature, where all created things are subject to corruption, this entropy is natural and orderly. God has established a reasonable principle behind it.

        In the same way as God ordered the universe with the laws of nature, he established an order for moral agents to follow. When moral agents diverge from this standard, they are disordered and participate in chaos to some degree. Even though the devil seems to be orderly in his temptations of people to diverge from the order set by God, he’s no less pleased if people become disordered in a different fashion than the one he aimed for. Virtue walks a straight path. Vice wanders all over the place.

        So, Satan gives the appear of acting orderly because he is using his mind to devise schemes for the perversion of God’s creatures. But, what do we call someone who pursues perversity in a deliberate fashion? Insane. Even if the devil acts deliberately, his mind is corrupt and perhaps the most chaotic and disordered thing in the universe. He likes to think he rules, but he cannot even rule himself and does not create any order in those who serve his purposes.

        But, I don’t think limiting chaos to evil makes the world any less interesting. Knowledge is infinite and there are a myriad of ways to attaining it–most very surprising and intellectually stimulating.

        On another note, though chaos is limited to moral evil for God, chaos also includes various misfortunes and physical evils for human beings. So, the scope of evils which are seen as chaos is larger for human beings than it is for God, because our knowledge is extremely limited.

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  2. Among all these, I’m interested the most in “I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying.” And by the way, “lawful evil” and “chaotic good” are still evil. The way the word “lawful evil” and “chaotic good” seems to be treated by most people is like treating “half-truth” as something that isn’t true and isn’t false at the same time, which makes me facepalm.

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    • I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying is a great show. I look forward to those three minute episodes every week.

      Is chaotic good really evil? I took it to apply to the sort of character who is rather whimsical in doing good deeds or he might do something good in an unorthodox or even half-baked manner. For example, deciding to steal from person X to give to person Y. Well, I suppose that is evil after all! But, I’m sure most of the time chaotic good characters are good randomly which gives them their chaotic feel.

      And yeah, half-truth is just a statement of truth which does not tell the whole story. I’d also face palm if I heard someone using it to mean a statement that is true and isn’t true in the same manner.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. jubilare says:

    Hmm… somehow my reply didn’t go through! I will have to try and remember what I said, now. I hate it when that happens with an involved reply. 😛

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    • Ouch! I hate writing long paragraphs only to have it get lost somehow. How you reconcile chaos with divine providence was what I was most curious about. But, respond when you have a free moment. 🙂

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  4. David A says:

    Akame ga Kill:

    That series is now follwoing the common custom of making an anime exclusive ending… other reason to not watch it. I dislike various instances of that type of direction some series take.

    Akatsuki no Yona: I haven’t finished the first episode yet.

    Chaika:

    Yes, this second season has been fun. But some episodes were slow, and others felt rushed. And it seems that are only two episodes left… and, the anime ending supossedly is going to be the same ending of the Light Novels. Speaking of these, it seems that most of the fanservice present there, was removed from the anime, that was a good thing to do. If only more LN adaptations did something like that. Something that prevents me from recomending that series, are some of the vulgar illustrations from the LN, and various promotional images, including ones made by the LN illustrator, because their availability.

    I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying:

    The concept is interesting, but I didn’t continued that series. Why they had to include that degenerate brother (incestuous, makes erotic manga of his brother, etc) of the male protagonist? How the female protagonist deals with that? I worry about how these absurd things are being taken by granted in the fandom.

    Madan no Ou to Vanadis:

    Despite the fanservice (even the chibi complementary episodes haven’t been spared from vulgar jokes), it has managed to hold some level of seriousness. Speaking of these battle you mention, a favorite miracle, is the one at Lepanto.

    Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra held that battle in high regard.

    Psycho-Pass 2:

    I would suggest to put some content warnings for series like these. I was Reading about it the other day, is very graphic and disturbing (maybe pointing the stuff mentioned at the YMMV part of he tvtropes article, or some of the anidb tags). These characters are living in a dystopia… not a dingy and dirty one, but still a dystopia.

    Shingeki:

    What happened on the sixth episode?

    And, wow, I didn’t knew that about the Angels, or the Jean D’Arc character.
    I think the inclusión of chaos, is part of a trend that consist in making the demon character seem less evil, I was reading about the key that is an important plot element, and how a demon was involved in it, eventually helping with the “peace” of that world.

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    • From my perspective, whether an anime tries to make an original story or stick to the script of the manga depends on how well it transfers over to the other medium and whether the studio will give the story enough episodes. They obviously hoped that Akame ga Kiru would become a long running series, which is why they followed the plot so precisely in the beginning. But, since this was not to be, it would have been better if they exercised more creativity in the earlier episodes and created a different plot line. At any rate, I’m curious about the original ending they’ll give to the anime, which is based on one of my favorite currently running manga.

      Akatsuki no Yona has a very slow start. But if you like the characters, it’s well worth sticking with the show.

      I saw some of the covers from the Hitsugi no Chaika light novels. Ichiro Sakaki might be going over to the dark side. Fortunately, anime has a trend of Bowlerizing the original source material. At any rate, I’m looking forward to the ending.

      I only know the bare details of the Battle of Lepanto. I’ll have to read Chesterton’s poem about it soon. I can imagine that Cervantes would have loved that battle, both because it was a smashing victory over Muslims and freed Christian slaves and because it marked the high point of Spanish power on the world stage.

      Yeah, Psycho-Pass has some very disturbing scenes, many of which go to unnecessary degrees of gore–fortunately, the show doesn’t dwell on them very long. But, the story is very compelling.

      That Jeanne D’Arc was chosen by “the gods” in Shingeki no Bahamut came as a big surprise to me. I suppose that does simplify things somewhat. Christianity is not present in the anime after all, just some ideas from Christian myth. I suppose that kind of story is easier for a pagan to handle.

      Essentially, Lucifer combines with Zeus to form the key to beating Bahamut. Since the Catholic Church has considered the pagan gods to be really demons since ancient times, this union does not seem so surprising. At any rate, I must classify Shingeki no Bahamut as a show expressing an idyllic imagination: neither good nor evil and not based on reality. All the same, it’s fun to watch shows like this sometimes.

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      • David A says:

        Yes, maybe a series that from the start makes their won continuity can be better than starting the manga plot and then drifting from it.

        Thanks. I’ll watch it later then.

        Reading more, the illustrator for the Chaika LN’s draws porn too, so maybe that explains these.

        I like that poem about the Battle of Lepanto. It seems that Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra based the prisoner tales from Don Quixoe in his own experiences.

        Back to Vanadis, I worry about the ending, they are covering the material fast, but the LN’s aren’t finished yet.

        But I guess these gods aren’t depicted as demonic. I think that could have been a fantastic show if they removed names rooted on Christianism, and made something like Chaika (and if they corrected the angels, vs demons, vs chaos plot).

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      • Oh! Cervantes was one of those slaves freed after the Battle of Lepanto. That provides an excellent reason for him esteeming that battle so highly. Thanks for reminding me. I had forgotten that.

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      • David A says:

        He fought in the Battle of Lepanto, and some time after, he was captured, and spent 5 years in captivity. he was ransomed by her parents and the Order of the Trinitarians. More time after that, he wrote Don Quixote.

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      • It seems that I had learned about Cervantes role in the battle incorrectly. Thanks for telling me. It seems like Cervantes was shot three times during that battle and lost the use of his left arm. He would later refer to his immobile arm with pride because it showed that he was in the thick of that battle.

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      • David A says:

        Ah, Is him, not her, sorry for the typo.

        Yes, that is also the origin of the nickname “manco de Lepanto” (one-armed man of Lepanto)

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  5. […] The significant parallels between Christian life and character actions in Akatsuki no Yona continue, while historic connections can be found in recent episodes of Madan no Ou to Vanadis (to Muslim conquests) and Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (to Joan of Arc). [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  6. jubilare says:

    Hmm. While I am pretty sure I understand your reasoning, and agree with most of your perspective, I think I still kick against your use of the word “chaos.” It’s something of the linguaphile in me. I think “evil” is a much more clear word, with fewer connotations and uses. Evil is that which goes against the will of God (though it is His will that we have freewill, and so, His will allows the existence of evil, at least for now). Chaos is just a principle, and one that, from your perspective as far as I understand it, may not even exist… at least, it does not exist in any way that would make the use of the word “chaos” preferable to using the word “evil.” To use them interchangeably would merely serve to rob us of a useful word and to confuse people.

    If I understand you, your definition of chaos is simply that which goes against the natural order? Then it is not a principle, it has no substance, no attributes, no… anything. It is descriptive only of contrariness. Surely we have better words for that. And what, then, do you use to describe what is, from human perspective, chaotic? “Entropy” cannot cover the whole of it…

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    • I understand your frustration. 🙂 When I was speaking of chaos, I was mostly concentrating on it in a cosmic sense, because of the way Shingeki no Bahamut uses it. And, I do think that, from the perspective of God, in the natural and moral orders of the universe only moral evil can be chaos.

      However, from my own perspective, my desk is chaotic because it has so many papers and receipts strewn about without order. A rugby game is chaotic because I do not know the rules and why certain players are acting the way they are. Perhaps, to the players themselves it may be chaotic because they’re not sure how to play their position because of the chaos of the field.

      These don’t seems particularly evil, though they evince disorder. However, in the case of a messy desk, certain people exactly what and where everything is on it–so, it would seem orderly to them. A rugby enthusiast would not be confused by the plays on the field. A skilled player who kept his wits about him would know exactly how to act in those circumstances.

      So, I think on the cosmic level, chaos can only be equated with evil. On the human level, ignorance is the cause of things seeming chaotic. And, since human ignorance is great, chaos appears to be found in many places.

      Oh, and chaos–since it does describe a lack of order–does not really have existence of itself. It’s sort of like how cold does not exist of itself, but describes a thing or place which has a lower heat level than we do.

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      • jubilare says:

        I can’t quite accept that definition, but it seems we’re unlikely to come to a full agreement. That’s ok, though. At least we’ve come to a better understanding of how the other uses the word, and perceives creation. That’s something. 🙂

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      • jubilare says:

        I will ask one more question, though, as it puzzles me. Is even moral evil capable of being chaotic in your view? Even something that goes against the moral order is still within God’s created order, that is creation itself. It is, presumably, something God understands. I think both Chesterton and Lewis wrote about the concept of evil being like madness, something that sanity (in this case, God’s supreme sanity) can see around and comprehend, but which cannot, in turn, comprehend sanity (God). If God understands it, allows its existence, even made it a possible thing in His creation, then can it be chaos/chaotic? Or does it, like earthly chaos, merely SEEM chaotic from a human perspective?

        Deep water, really. Sorry. I had thought I could stop my brain from prodding this more, but apparently not yet. 😛

        As if re-watching Terminator 1 and 2 over the weekend hadn’t given me my fill of paradox. 😉

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      • I especially love the second Terminator. Time travel has a never ending stream of paradoxes. The best solution I’ve ever seen to the paradox is that the future is changed on one timeline/parallel universe, but still the same on another. But, the subject just gives me a headache.

        God definitely understands evil as he understands all things. And it is certainly true that evil cannot exist apart from God’s created order. As St, Augustine says, evil can only exist in a fundamentally good thing–good because God brought it into existence: “God looked at everything he had made, and found it all very good” (Gen. 1:31). But, at the same time the evil doer acts outside of God’s Will; but how can one act inside of the order created by God’s Will and yet act outside of that order at the same time?

        I refer to St. Anselm of Canterbury for the solution. Take someone murdering another person with a knife. There is nothing inherently wrong with the action of driving a knife downwards or thrusting it forward. The problem arises in that the wielder of the knife wishes to deprive another person of life unjustly. So, God permits the motion of the body, but the murderer adds an evil object to this motion. The chaos/evil would lie then in the evil mind of the murderer than in the natural motion of the arm or the virtue of the knife.

        And, we understand man to be a rational being formed in the image and likeness of God. Murder is utterly opposed to this image. A murderer takes on the likeness of a monster rather than the likeness of God. Since God never created a monster in human form, the existence of this person exemplifies chaos.

        It is very deep water. I could not answer without referring to the Bible, St. Anselm, and St. Augustine! 🙂

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      • jubilare says:

        So do I, but the second one would be much less effective if it did not build on the horror of the first. I see there is a 5th one set to come out next year. Given the problematic (to say the least) 3rd and 4th ones, I tend to be wary, but the preview seems to have some potential, so… I am cautiously looking forward to it.

        That explanation makes a little less sense to me than Lewis’s, probably because I seek a closer explanation of how the choices of the mind, not just the actions, are within and yet against God’s will. I believe Lewis stated that a mother might tell children that she is not going to force them to keep their room tidy, that they must learn to tidy it themselves. Then, when the children let the place be a mess, it is against her will that it is a mess, but according to her will that they are free to clean it or mess it up.

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      • St. Thomas Aquinas has an interesting section on free will in the Summa Theologica, and he reminded me of something important for this discussion: the will acts based on the opinion formed in one’s reason. God created people with the desire for happiness and goodness, but permitted them to decide what was good for themselves. No one chooses evil for its own sake. Even when Eve decided to eat the apple, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6). And so, Eve mistakenly thought that eating the apple was preferable to following God’s law–even though He only gave her a single rule! So, she was deceived into doing an evil action because it held the appearance of good, though her true good was in following God’s will. In the case of the children, play seemed better than discipline, but they too miss their true good by choosing which appears more pleasant.

        Of course, such freedom of choice is necessary for creatures to love. Without freedom, there can be no love. And so, God appointed our time on earth as a period of testing, where we must act by faith in choosing what God said is good rather than what appears good to the senses or our own judgement. Often, we must follow God’s law without understanding it before we understand why God commanded it.

        Fortunately, in heaven, we shall see God face to face and all evil actions shall appear completely repugnant to us in the light of God. The beatific vision is why the saints and angels cannot be tempted to evil, even though they are still have free wills.

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      • jubilare says:

        I agree with the first bit. I am uncertain that our existence on Earth is nothing more than a testing-ground… I think there may be more to it than that, but that it is not necessary for us to know.

        That last part, though, fails to make sense to me because, if that were the case, then why did any Angels fall in the first place? Why did humanity turn its back? No, I think that the nature of freewill includes our choice in how we respond to the supreme Glory of God.

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      • St. Thomas Aquinas solves the problem of why the fallen angels and Adam and Eve fell by saying that neither had attained the Beatific Vision at that point. God demands that all His servants choose Him freely and lovingly. But, God is so good that no one would choose evil while they saw God–utter goodness, love, meaning, and holiness–face to face. And so, God gives his servants an “in via” period to choose Him freely before having their wills constrained by love.

        Of course, St. Augustine claims that people are capable of choosing something out of pure malice. In which case, I suppose that one can choose evil in God’s glory. However, this would lead to the conclusion that a saint could sin and fall from heaven! I do not think it possible that a saint can sin. (Neither does St. Augustine for that matter, but I think this a weakness in his concept that a person can choose evil for its own sake.) But then, how does God constrain the saints’ free will so that they cannot sin? I do not think God fetters the operation of their free will, but only removes concupiscence, which was added to human nature by the Fall. In affect, this restores the freedom originally held by the human will. But how is it that Adam could fall with this freedom, while a saint cannot? It must be because a saint has attained the Beatific Vision, while neither Adam nor the angels in their “in via” period had it.

        At any rate, for the angels, this test comprised a single decision. Most chose God, Lucifer chose himself, and some followed after Lucifer. From which decision, some were established in the glory of the Beatific Vision and others in perdition.

        Curiously, the same would have occurred with the human race. Since God passed on the condition of Original Sin through Adam’s fault, it is reasonable to assume that He would have passed on Original Justice to Adam’s descendants should Adam have resisted the devil.

        But, since Adam failed his single test, we required Christ’s salvation. And permanence in God’s grace no longer pivots on a single test passed by a single individual, but a myriad of tests in the life of each individual–always relying on the grace Jesus Christ obtained for us in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

        The idea of life being a test seems annoying at first glance. However, when one considers that this test consists in using our talents (becoming unique individuals), gaining virtues (i.e. growing in the fullness of Christ), loving God, and loving others, the test no longer seems like an irksome task meant to suck the joy out of life but the joy of life itself.

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  7. jubilare says:

    If you are, or become, sick of this debate, let me know and I’ll withdraw. I’m still finding it very interesting.

    “Of course, St. Augustine claims that people are capable of choosing something out of pure malice. In which case, I suppose that one can choose evil in God’s glory. However, this would lead to the conclusion that a saint could sin and fall from heaven!”
    While you may be right, I tend to agree that one can choose something out of pure malice, bitterness, that mix of self-love and self-hate that turns a soul to poison. I don’t think it is a weakness in St. Augustine’s argument (though I haven’t read the material, so I don’t know how he puts it), but rather is his acknowledgement of a subtlety. One can love and hate simultaneously, and one can choose to hate beauty and goodness in this world, so it is, perhaps, possible to choose to hate the Supreme Good. I don’t think it follows that “saints can fall” in the way you say, though.

    I look at it this way: A saint, in this life, turned towards God. A soul like that would be open to the beauty and goodness of God, and on beholding that overwhelming Presence, would be overcome with love and be utterly satisfied. That satisfaction would mean the removal of concupiscence, for what else could be desired? What could, then, possibly come between God and a soul so enraptured? What possible reason could there be for a saint to turn away from that vision?

    An embittered soul, however, one that exists in rejection of and defiance to the Divine, might have no such reaction. Upon encountering the Divine, a soul so twisted might reject any part of itself that still desires to love Good, and so be struck with overwhelming horror or hatred of that which is the Good it has rejected. Or, perhaps, being unwilling to accept Divine Grace, a soul might be so horrified by its own condition that it cannot look beyond itself to see God. …these are horrible things to consider, but we have echoes of it in this world.

    Another possibility is that a soul’s corruption stands between it and true sight of God. In that case, the Beatific Vision would not even be possible, save by purification through Jesus Christ. I am not sure which possibility saddens me more. But I do know that neither seems cruel or unjust, whereas making a damned soul love God, by seeing Him as He truly is, and then forever shutting it out… everything in me revolts at the idea. It is “All shall love me, and despair.” That does not sound like the action of One who submitted to pain and death in order to redeem a creation that deserved no mercy.

    In other words, the possibility I am discussing, the possibility of a soul not reacting in love to the Beatific Vision, depends on the choices and the condition of the soul so confronted. Once one lets God in, in other words, the choice is made. There would be no reason to make another.

    So choosing is more than just a crossroad. It is a development of the soul. Each choice we make contributes, in some way or another, to the Choice, with only the Grace of God to help us overcome the bad choices we make. As for whether or not the Angels and Adam and Eve were shielded in order for them to have freedom to make those choices, I don’t know. It’s possible, but I think there are other possibilities as well.

    The idea of Original Justice is an interesting one. At least God left His Law written on our hearts… so while we may not be justified from birth, we have had, passed down to us, a map home.

    Also, I don’t reject the idea that testing is one purpose for creation. I merely object to the idea that its the Only purpose. 😉 Testing is certainly part of it, and an important part for us, but testing is also part of growing up. However, growing up does not consist only of tests, and neither does existing. There is so much mystery, power, potential on the edge of sleep, that exists in every fiber of creation. If I may, from Gerard Manly Hopkins:

    “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    “And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

    There is Becoming, here. Yes, there are tests, lessons, and I do not consider these to be dry or prosaic. I merely think that there is more to the pattern. I know that is terribly vague…

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    • It is a very long debate, but interesting as you said; so, I am willing to keep picking at certain ideas.

      It is rather difficult to separate the condition of souls before the Fall and after it. Both have freedom of choice, but the latter are said to be wounded by Original Sin, which inclines them to concupiscent desires. However, if a soul can choose something out of pure malice, I’d say that it could only be possible in the case of wounded souls and only then in the case of significant warping. After all, what are the concupiscent desires but inflammations of natural appetites? Malice or ill-will is said to be the essence of all sin, but malice does not motivate one to sin in the beginning; instead, one is moved by appetites for good food, good drink, love of power/control, a place to live, romantic love, ease of living, rest, etc., and then on takes more than they need. Instead of enough food, drink, self-control, one wife/husband, contentment, and sufficient rest, they participate in gluttony, pride, lust, greed, and sloth, which warp the soul from its divine image. Only then, with the accumulated malice from refusing to restrain concupiscence, would it be possible–if it is indeed possible–to choose something out of malice.

      In the case of souls presented for judgment, St. Francis de Sales divides them into penitent and impenitent. Since the penitent have a good will and love of God despite their sins, God’s grace is able to work on them and save them. (Of course, it was also God’s grace which gave them a good will and love of God, but the interaction of grace and free will is a mystery!) The impenitent, on the other hand, know what they deserve and lack a good will and love of God, because they refused to believe in God’s goodness and seek Him. Most mystical accounts I’ve read of souls falling into hell do not even involve God judging but the souls plummeting into hell of their own will with the punishment accorded to their sins.

      But, is the choice of the damned motivated by malice or only enabled by it? One sees that they have an imperfect understanding of God, Whom they see as just but not kind. (In the same way, the devils do not know God is good, but only that He is just.) So, might they be motivated by seeking justice for themselves in their decision to go to hell? And justice is a good thing, but they cannot see that love is better and that accepting God’s mercy would have produced true justice in their souls. For God wills the salvation of all and the reparation of the nature damaged by the Fall.

      But, prior to the Fall, there was not even a wound on human nature. Hence, malice could have had no part in Adam’s sin, even though his sin held malice in itself. So, neither the angels nor Adam and Eve fell rejected God’s law from malice, but from selfishness, which would have been overcome if they turned to God in their necessity–as in the case of the heavenly hosts.

      So, basically, a rational creature naturally desires God and in the Beatific Vision would follow the course of its nature: to seek its own happiness, which is perfectly met in God. Only outside of the Beatific Vision would such a soul have the freedom not to choose God, and only a warped soul could refuse God within the Beatific Vision.

      Well, I hope that’s a good response to some of your points. Thanks for sharing the poem!

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  8. jubilare says:

    I’m not “Catholic” in the modern sense of the word, so I may be misunderstanding your usage, here, but would it not be more accurate to say that, instead of causing the wound, Original Sin Is the wound? Is not Original Sin the rift caused by humanity’s first disobedience?

    “Malice or ill-will is said to be the essence of all sin” said by whom? It seems to me, as you say, that malice is the result of frustration from seeking to fulfill desires in the wrong way.

    “Of course, it was also God’s grace which gave them a good will and love of God, but the interaction of grace and free will is a mystery!” Agreed, I won’t touch that debate. 😉

    The thought of souls rejecting themselves into hell is… well, as all thoughts of hell, it is horrible, but it does make psychological sense. There’s a lot that we don’t know. There are the blood-chilling words “depart from me, I never knew you,” that suggest that God can and will reject some of those who believe they should be admitted into His presence. Though, perhaps it is their pride, and desire to be admitted on their own terms, rather than His, that stand in their way. Perhaps there are many ways to be damned… narrow is the road, after all.

    Do you think the demons do not know that God is Good? It seems, to me, that that is where malice comes in, not as a source of evil, but as the barrier that stands between the evil-doer and repentance. Malice is, I think, a child of Pride. “I will do this simply to spite you,” is one of the most blindly prideful actions possible, and attacking that which is good because it is in opposition to one’s desires is utter malice born of frustrated pride. A lot of human abuse seems to come out of hatred of the good in someone else because it makes the guilt of the hater more painful. That seems like a very demonic thing, to me. “I will hurt you because you remind me that I am not good.”

    I agree that malice probably had no part in the original rift between God and Mankind. Selfishness, impatience, something else lies at the bottom of that. Malice is simply an example of one motivation that could cause a creature, on seeing the Divine, to reject it, not because it does not know that it is Good, but because it hates it for being so.

    “So, basically, a rational creature naturally desires God and in the Beatific Vision would follow the course of its nature: to seek its own happiness, which is perfectly met in God. Only outside of the Beatific Vision would such a soul have the freedom not to choose God, and only a warped soul could refuse God within the Beatific Vision.” I mostly agree with this. I am not sure “freedom” is the right word because I believe the Beatific Vision is, among other things, the ultimate freedom. It’s the difference between an animal on a leash, and an animal who stays with its master because that is where it wants to be. The choice remains, even while it is ever-made.

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    • Concerning Original Sin, I think that it is more accurate to say that it caused the wound on human nature, which is our inclination to evil/concupiscence. The wound itself is called concupiscence, though people do use Original Sin to mean concupiscence; but, that seems to me imprecise. Original Sin is the sin of Adam from which derives the concupiscence in our souls.

      St. Thomas Aquinas says that all sins contain a degree of malice, whether they are committed out of omission, passion, or habit. Think back to the verse: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). St. Augustine says it is logically impossible for theft to make one guilty of murder and fornication, so he solves the apparent contradiction in the verse by saying that the fabric of the law is charity. So, to sin is to go against charity whose contrary is ill-will or malice. If the whole fabric of the moral law is charity, it stands to reason that the fabric of sin is malice.

      There are as many ways to be damned as there are sins. So, certain of the damned may confidently approach the Just Judge until Our Lord declares that He never knew them. But, I imagine that in the presence of God, all the pride of these people in their worthiness might fall away. The truth of their condition may appear sharply against the light of the Truth. Having trusted in themselves rather than God and seeing that they have nothing in themselves to lean on might make them flee from God’s presence faster than most. But, it is true that such matters are speculative, and I can hardly claim to be an expert on damnation. 🙂

      There is a certain subjectivity when it comes to people’s opinion of goodness. Aristotle describes the good as “what is desirable” and contemplates what is desirable universally. For example, there is a standard of what makes a man good which we refer to as virtue. However, although all people acknowledge that chastity is a virtue, not everyone really believes that chastity is desirable. For them, as is proved by their thoughts and actions, chastity is not good–even though it is in fact good.

      In the same way, the demons believe that God is just and holy, but do not think that He is good. If they had thought that He were good, they would have become angels and not demons! St. Martin of Tours even challenged the devil once to repent, saying that if the devil stopped tempting men, St. Martin should obtain God’s forgiveness for him. The devil fled immediately, because he refused to believe that God was so good!

      Though, a sinful being’s malice is not so much directed against the good because the good are good, but because it is bad. It wishes to bring the good down to its own level because it sees no way for itself to be good. In the case of people, this can easily be seen in people who have no gratitude for their jobs, lives, talents, families, or other people. They are unhappy, have lost faith in becoming happy, and wish no one to be happy. It is rather demonic, but unfortunately too common. Malice, pride, and despair all run together!

      In regards to freedom and the Beatific Vision, St. Anselm had the same problem with calling a will which could sin a free will. For sin is slavery. How can a will which sins be called free? How can that be called freedom? But, at any rate, it does seem to me that God held back the Beatific Vision from men and angels so that to serve or not to serve God would be up to their decision. I need to read more of St. Anselm, I think, who covers the Fall of the Angels, Original Sin, and Free Will very precisely!

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  9. jubilare says:

    Wouldn’t that be “the Original Sin” instead of just “Original Sin,” though? I thought that, grammatically, “Original Sin” described the fallen nature that resides in each of us from birth.

    Mm. I don’t think I see quite eye-to-eye with Augustine in this. Instead of a logical fallacy, I take that verse to mean that if you break the law in one regard, the Law itself is still broken. If I break part of a vase, other parts may remain intact, but the vase, itself, is broken. Thus every violation of the law is a violation of the law. Sounds like a tautology, but as Lewis once said, not all tautologies are barren/needless. In this case, I think it is meant as an antidote to the human desire to believe that there are such things as “little” or “minor” sins that don’t really matter, when, in reality, all sins matter, and all are death. I have certainly sinned without any trace of malice (that I can find) in myself. But those sins still break the Law. Thank God for Grace.

    Let’s hope neither of us is ever an expert in that. 😛

    I must point out that not all people consider chastity a virtue. I know a few who believe it’s a sin against humanity/the body. I disagree with them strongly, but it doesn’t change the fact that they consider me (single and celibate) to be an abomination, and fidelity/chastity in relationships to be impossible/foolish. They are, thankfully, a small minority.

    Your dichotomy of what is considered virtuous and what is considered desirable, though, stands. Considering one thing to be “the right thing” and another “the desirable thing” is fairly ubiquitous in our culture.

    Hm. That is an interesting concept. I will have to ruminate on that awhile. 🙂

    “Though, a sinful being’s malice is not so much directed against the good because the good are good, but because it is bad.” Well, yes. That’s rather the point! It is a sad thing to see, but all too common.

    Perhaps I should read him, too. I need to stop working 2 jobs so that I have time for more reading. If only someone would pay me to read what I want! 😛

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  10. […] The significant parallels between Christian life and character actions in Akatsuki no Yona continue, while historic connections can be found in recent episodes of Madan no Ou to Vanadis (to Muslim conquests) and Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (to Joan of Arc). [Medieval Otaku] […]

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