A Brief Criticism of Drifters and Defense of St. Joan of Arc

Drifters stood at the top of my list among the present season’s anime, and I wrote as much in the chat of an entertaining conversation hosted by LitaKino.  Then, one of my best commentators, David A, pointed out that St. Joan of Arc was portrayed as a crazied pyromaniac in the show and as one of the villains.  This counts as the most wholly inaccurate and unflattering representations of a saint I have heard of since Wolf Hall, a show which portrays St. Thomas More as a corrupt fanatic.  I cannot get behind a show which calumniates a saint.  At least Joan of Arc’s portrayal in Shingeki no Bahamuteven 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 just.

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Calumniating the memory of the saints and great men counts as one of the blackest crimes a writer can commit.  Not only does the calumniator blacken someone’s reputation, but he damages the heritage of new generations.  Each generation has a right to have heroes to look up to and emulate.  One can claim that Drifters‘ portrayal is mere fiction, but most people get their information about the past from media, especially because schools don’t properly educate the youth on the subject of history.  Many people do believe that St. Joan of Arc was insane and delusional.

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Interrogations of St. Joan of Arc and other trial documents give us more information about St. Joan of Arc than any other person of the period.  Mark Twain, that critic of organized religion and social injustice, wrote a historical fiction of St. Joan of Arc based upon much research he gained in visits to both England and France.  So well did he come to love this saint and the book he wrote about her that he considered it his best book and worth more than the his other books combined.  Since Mark Twain’s work is mostly critical of people and society, it is shocking to read the effusive praise he pours upon St. Joan of Arc, and it deserves to be quoted at length:

To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours. Judged by the standards of one century, the noblest characters of an earlier one lose much of their luster; judged by the standards of to-day, there is probably no illustrious man of four or five centuries ago whose character could meet the test at all points. But the character of Joan of Arc is unique. It can be measured by the standards of all times without misgiving or apprehension as to the result. Judged by any of them, it is still flawless, it is still ideally perfect; it still occupies the loftiest place possible to human attainment, a loftier one than has been reached by any other mere mortal.

When we reflect that her century was the brutalest, the wickedest, the rottenest in history since the darkest ages, we are lost in wonder at the miracle of such a product from such a soil. The contrast between her and her century is the contrast between day and night. She was truthful when lying was the common speech of men; she was honest when honesty was become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of promises when the keeping of a promise was expected of no one; she gave her great mind to great thoughts and great purposes when other great minds wasted themselves upon pretty fancies or upon poor ambitions; she was modest, and fine, and delicate when to be loud and coarse might be said to be universal; she was full of pity when a merciless cruelty was the rule; she was steadfast when stability was unknown, and honorable in an age which had forgotten what honor was; she was a rock of convictions in a time when men believed in nothing and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly true to an age that was false to the core; she maintained her personal dignity unimpaired in an age of fawnings and servilities; she was of a dauntless courage when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of her nation; she was spotlessly pure in mind and body when society in the highest places was foul in both—she was all these things in an age when crime was the common business of lords and princes, and when the highest personages in Christendom were able to astonish even that infamous era and make it stand aghast at the spectacle of their atrocious lives black with unimaginable treacheries, butcheries, and beastialities.

She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history.

-From the Preface of The Personal Recollections of St. Joan of Arc

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You won’t find another such passage in Mark Twain’s books unless it is tinged with sarcasm.  Mark Twain was generally depressed with the state of mankind.  Like the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, one imagines him going through the world with a lantern looking for one honest man.  Twain found that person in St. Joan of Arc, and any honest appraisal of St. Joan’s character would also conclude that few others have attained such a spotless soul this side of paradise.  That is why I cannot abide a story which would tarnish this treasure of France, of the Church, and of the human race.

Shortly, I hope to post an article on all the shows I am watching from the current season.  Until then!

 

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11 comments on “A Brief Criticism of Drifters and Defense of St. Joan of Arc

  1. […] which was a bloody mess, and I mean that literally. Ick. It seems that the gore might not be its greatest failing. Other shows that I quit in five minutes or less include Soul Buster and […]

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  2. Gaheret says:

    1000% agreed. She was not flawless (she herself said), but her faith could move mountains, her joy was contagious and so was her selflessness, both her fragility and her strenght were astonishing, she never feared the impossible, her courage and her hope reconstructed France, her trust in God was absolute and her personality could change everyone around her, even the most brutal fighters. And her passion was really, really cruel, but she still died in sort a way that even some of her executioner aknowledged her sanctity… Joan d´Arc (Saint Joan d´Arc) is one of the greatest.

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    • Exactly, which is why I can’t tolerate the way Drifters portrays her. If the author wanted a crazy warrior woman, he could have chosen the infamous “Apache” of Vietnam or even Julie d’Aubigny of France. Maybe even Queen Boudicca of Britannia; though, the revolution she sparked against Roman occupation seems greatly justified.

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  3. Luminas says:

    Joan of Arc was, as they say (Well more specifically as Mar says), “one of the great ones.” Noble, selfless, strong, brilliant, and shining in a way that only seems to come around a couple times in a hundred years. It’s interesting. When such people are still living, or only lived a couple of decades ago, no person on Earth would ever dare denigrate one in this way. When one lived hundreds of years ago, it suddenly becomes “okay.” “Acceptable.” Because how could a person like that really have existed?

    But it’s not, because…They do. And while we’re all called to be like them, I’m not sure we all can be like one of them. There’s something that God does there that’s rather up to Him.

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    • Yep, Joan of Arc is one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church. To only very few does God grant the grace to excel to that degree! But, we all have some talents and viewpoints others need and can all leave behind the memory of a life well spent and good character–Deo iuvante!

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  4. MIB says:

    You’d better avoid “Nobunaga The Fool” too while you’re at it then….

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    • Oh, I dropped that show right away. Not for its portrayal of St. Joan of Arc, but because it showed Nobunaga as a good guy instead of the ruthless megalomaniac that he was. 🙂

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      • MIB says:

        If I’ve learned anything from anime it is take their “historical” shows with a huge pinch of salt. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • You might say that I was spoiled by Rurouni Kenshin being the show which got me into anime. 🙂 Though, there are some other shows which do a surprisingly good job of including accurate historical details, e.g. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Maria the Virgin Witch (especially how accurately they recreate the armor of the Hundred Years’ War).

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  5. […] In the story of Joan of Arc, we find a spotless and brave character who stands up against both the enemy of her country and the spineless traitors within it–only to suffer and be executed for it.  Her tale is even more remarkable when we consider that she began her military career at the age of 17 and passed into eternal glory at 19.  Despite the brevity of her age, we know more about St. Joan of Arc than any other medieval person, because her trial went into her life in detail.  Indeed, few people have had their biographies examined under oath, and none have come out more spotless! […]

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