The Final Temptation of Jeanne D’Arc

In watching Shingeki no Bahamutsine dubio the best show of the past season, the temptation of Jeanne D’Arc struck me enough to produce the present article.  Their portrayal of demons and how they tempt people advancing in virtue is very true to reality.  Note well, the devil does not tempt everybody in the way that Jeanne was tempted but only the virtuous.

Jeanne at the stake

According to Aristotle, there exist four kinds of people in the quest for virtue.  Well, Aristotle does list two more; but one is a worse state of the vicious man, and the other is lukewarm.  Neither are especially important to my arguments here or to Aristotle himself.  The four classes consist of the vicious, the inconstant, constant, and the virtuous.  The vicious freely and painlessly commit sins out of habit; the inconstant fall often though they intend to do the right and are pained by their sins; the constant avoid wrongdoing even though the practice of virtue feels painful to them; and the virtuous joyfully and often painlessly do the right thing.  The devil does not bother to tempt the vicious, sometimes finds it necessary to tempt the second, fights against the progress of the third, and–in his bitterness at their good fortune–wages total war against those sane individuals who love the practice of virtue.

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Most of us are slightly insane in believing that sinful deeds are good for us.  We believe so either because of the pleasure obtained in the sinful act (occasions of lust, sloth, or gluttony come to mind) or because sinning appears to be to our advantage (e.g. theft or destroying a personal enemy’s reputation through slander and detraction).  On the other hand, the virtuous make for very difficult targets for the devil, because not only do their minds and will tend toward the right but even their affections and emotions.  Every sin repulses them, no matter how apparently advantageous or pleasurable, while the thought of any good deed spurs them to action no matter how arduous, self-effacing, or painful.  They possess true wisdom and solid good habits.  So how does the devil make war on them?

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We see the answer in Jeanne D’Arc’s temptation, which spans episodes nine and ten: the devil assaults them with darkness in order to take away their wisdom.  Not only does Martinet try to make the sinful desirable for Jeanne but even persuades her that goodness itself does not exist.  Martinet mocks her belief that she is a holy knight and states flatly that the gods have abandoned her.  Jeanne makes the fatal mistake, which everyone makes, of actually talking to the devil and engaging with his ideas instead of treating them with contempt.  Demons lack all wisdom and deal exclusively in lies–no matter how persuasive their words or how close they seem to match reality.  By engaging with them, we only become entangled and influenced by them.  Our Lord provides the perfect example of how to deal with devils when He does not permit them to speak (Mark 1:25 and 1:34).

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Shingeki no Bahamut‘s gods are finite beings; therefore, they did indeed abandon her.  However, when the devil tells us that God has abandoned us, we ought instead understand that the devil is panicking in seeing that God works ever more strongly in perfecting our souls.  In Jeanne’s case, Martinet even resorts to impersonating the gods in order to induce despair into her soul.  I can think of two saints against whom the devil has impersonated Our Lord: St. Martin of Tours and St. Padre Pio.  The people of St. Martin’s time esteemed him as equal to the apostles.  Padre Pio is the greatest saint of modern times.  Both saw through the devil’s schemes.  The more hotly pursued we are by evil, the more tightly God binds us to Himself: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

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Sadly, Jeanne allows her mind to become so disturbed by the abandonment of the divine and the problem of evil that she drinks Martinet’s poison.  Similarly, if we allow despair and distrust of God to guide our choices, we shall doff our wisdom, imprudently indulge our senses, and eventually drink the poison of the vices.  Fortunately, such failings do not turn us instantly into demons!  But, how shameful for someone who has been given so many graces and the honor of participating more in Christ’s Passion than other people to not only distrust God but to show Him scorn!  Surely, God will bring down many punishments upon such people and abandon them to the deepest hell!

Our Lord Jesus Christ descending into hell on Good Friday.  He grasps Adam by the hand in order to lead him to paradise.

Our Lord Jesus Christ descending into hell on Good Friday. He grasps Adam by the hand in order to lead him to paradise.

No, God is infinitely more merciful than even St. Michael in Shingeki no Bahamut.  As St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes, “When we fly from Thee, Thou pursue us; when we turn our backs, Thou present Thyself before us; when we despise Thee, Thou entreat us; and there is neither insult nor contempt which hinders Thee from laboring unweariedly to bring us to the attainment of that which the eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and which the heart of man cannot comprehend.” People are weak and ignorant, stray from the truth, and sin.  However, God is ever faithful, even if we are unfaithful: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  God Himself restores the light lost amidst darkness and the faith lost in bitter trials.  This restoration may take a long time, but we are assured to be more blessed then than we were before–as was the case with Job.  No matter how dark and bitter our present circumstances, God never swerves from being generous, good, merciful and caring.

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9 comments on “The Final Temptation of Jeanne D’Arc

  1. jubilare says:

    “Demons lack all wisdom and deal exclusively in lies–no matter how persuasive their words or how close they seem to match reality.” While, on the whole I agree, the worst lies in existence are the ones built around a seed of truth. The Enemy likes to remind me that I am sinful. That much is true. His lies come in the condemnation, the whispers that, surely, God will grow tired of “putting up with me.” Not that lies built upon lies are not also used, but it seems, to me, that the more truth a person has, the more Satan has to find ways of using those truths to tell greater lies.

    “As St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes, “When we fly from Thee, Thou pursue us; when we turn our backs, Thou present Thyself before us; when we despise Thee, Thou entreat us; and there is neither insult nor contempt which hinders Thee from laboring unweariedly to bring us to the attainment of that which the eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and which the heart of man cannot comprehend.”” beautiful…

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  2. […] themes convince me that this was a Christian fairy tale.  My dear readers have already perused one article linking the show to the Christian worldview, and I have another in the works.  The first draft of the upcoming article even mentions two works […]

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  3. […] Jeanne D’Arc’s temptation in Shingeki no Bahamut–sine dubio reveals lessons about temptation of the virtuous. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  4. Luminas says:

    “The vicious freely and painlessly commit sins out of habit; the inconstant fall often though they intend to do the right and are pained by their sins; the constant avoid wrongdoing even though the practice of virtue feels painful to them; and the virtuous joyfully and often painlessly do the right thing. The devil does not bother to tempt the vicious, sometimes finds it necessary to tempt the second, fights against the progress of the third, and–in his bitterness at their good fortune–wages total war against those sane individuals who love the practice of virtue.”

    It’s interesting that this was a quote from Aristotle, who was himself not a Christian. But the early Church fathers did esteem many Greek philosophers, so it makes a kind of sense. But more on the subject.

    I think that I disagree here, although it depends on what you mean by “tempt.” The Devil actually DOES speak with those he already knows are corrupt (although most of what he says is bullshit)because he is a cautious creature that tends to place insurance on his investments. If Hitler and some of the better on-screen villains are any indication, he’s also completely self-obsessed and borders on giving nonverbal advice on how to be more evil. XD

    It is implied that Heath Ledger in essence died because the Dragon and the mortal came far too close to one another, though nobody knows for sure.

    “Demons lack all wisdom and deal exclusively in lies–no matter how persuasive their words or how close they seem to match reality. By engaging with them, we only become entangled and influenced by them.”

    Agree with the first guy in that the first one isn’t quite right, but the latter is good advice to those seeking Nobility in life. Even if what they’re saying is literally correct, what they’re doing to you with that information is almost inevitably poisonous. Carl Jung’s Shadows. They have an intimate familiarity with the you you most loathe, but they use that information to attempt to destroy or corrupt you.

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    • A great comment. Now that I think of it, you’re absolutely right that the devil does tempt the vicious when it suits his ends. (I am especially reminded of the villains in C. S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength.) At the same time, they do not need to be tempted to do bad things which they do from habit and sans remorse.

      I do feel very sorry for Heath Ledger. Some actors feel like they have to become the persona they wear, which was very unhealthy in that case. I remember one story about Dustin Hoffman neither eating nor sleeping in order to get into the persona of a particular character. When Sir Laurence Olivier saw him, he expressed astonishment that Hoffman looked so miserable. After Hoffman explained what he was doing, Olivier replied, “Dustin, there is a reason they call it acting.”

      Yep, the devil just tries to destroy by hook or crook. But, using the truth for an evil end almost seems like lying. The biggest truth which the devil tries to hammer home is that we are sinners deserving of divine wrath, but he obscures the Great Fact that God’s mercy triumphed over justice on Good Friday; and so, no one need ever despair of it.

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  5. […] by C. S. Lewis that Christian truths can be reaped from a pagan world.  I have already mentioned how Shingeki no Bahamut tells the truth about demons and temptation.   The present article will discuss how the show points to human love having a divine […]

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  6. […] which calumniates a saint.  At least Joan of Arc’s portrayal in Shingeki no Bahamut—even though it presents a Joan of Arc who falls from grace for a time–still presents a character bearing her name as noble, courageous, and […]

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