El Cazador de la Bruja and the Spirit of the World vs. the Spirit of Christ

Today, I started pondering why so many people become atheists, agnostics, and deists in their early twenties. I concluded that they must have been deceived by the spirit of the world—the most dangerous of our three foes. I wish to illustrate exactly how the spirit of the world conflicts the spirit of Christ through using episode eleven of El Cazador de la Bruja.

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This episode features a con artist who poses as a witch to deceive people into giving donations to a phony religion. *Spoilers ahead, but only pertaining to this episode.* Our heroines, Nadie and Ellis, enter the town when the witch is placed in a bind.  Fortunately for her, Ellis releases her power in such a manner as for the witch to use it to protect her hold over the villagers.  In gratitude, the witch allows them to stay a few days at her place. Once inside the house, the witch confesses that she had been a con artist in her younger days, but that she does have one real power: reading people’s memories—not very lucrative. After Ellis and Nadie leave, she reports Ellis to the government, hoping to gain some money from the government as well as protection for all three of them. She honestly believes that she can work out a deal such that all three of them can live in a house in Beverly Hills! However, some shady individuals murder her for placing the call.

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From my description of the episode, it is apparent that the witch places the highest value on money. Authors like George Bernard Shaw reveal that the spirit of the world might be known from how it quantifies everything. Nothing can be enjoyed for its own sake. Rather worldliness looks at things on a scale of how they benefit us. It can even infect the way our relationship with friends, family, and oneself such that we become incapable of enjoying them.

A picture of George Bernard Shaw.  Sinister looking, isn't he?

A picture of George Bernard Shaw.

The reason that worldliness afflicts the spirit especially around the age of twenty lies in the fact that people start to be evaluated for the marketplace and desire to impress other people. It is important to earn a living, but the market operates strictly on the principle of efficiency. People are weighed and often found wanting. They discover that worldly people are considered cool, and try to lift their status by befriending them. Realization of the benefits of money drive people to seek money and compare people on the basis of their possessions and earnings.

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But, the great problem with the spirit of the world lies in that this manner of quantifying everything and entering into relationships for what another person can offer rather than for their own sake.  This is counter to the spirit of Christ. How can a system of weights and measures comprehend an infinite God? And so, Matthew 6:24 states: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” After all, what can we give God that he does not already have? Someone might say that we can serve Him by good works and supporting the cause of religion. Well and good: God has seven billion people who can do it better. Sure, God-fearing people are God’s instruments for spreading His reign, but His alone is the grace that actually converts hearts. He could turn a stone into a child of Abraham and spread the gospel more effectively with this instrument than any of us!

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As much as other people find us weighted and wanting, how much more easily might God do the same when every sin has infinite consequences. We are all infinitely unworthy of salvation and infinitely worthy of the wrath of God. For a Christian of a spiritual mind, this possesses no problem; but, it depresses the mind of a worldly Christian. This realization of one’s uselessness and culpability in the sight of God can allow such bitterness to enter into devotion that the crucifix turns from being a sign of hope and reconciliation to a sign of condemnation. The bitterness of God’s justice chokes the sweetness of devotion. A wrathful God takes the place of a loving God in his imagination. Then, he looks at the evils in the world and finds fault with God. Bitter toward God and suffused with an ideology of weights and measures, he decides that God is a figment of the imagination: the seed of faith sown among thorns has choked.

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Yet, the desire for love never quits a human being—however warped his understanding of love becomes. Even as the witch I mentioned earlier desires her two friends to be kept safe from harm in the same breath as she hopes for riches. Another sharp difference between the spirit of the world and the spirit of Christ lies in that worldliness desires to have while the Spirit of Christ desires to give. While the worldly man sees himself as furthest from God and the cross as a reproach, Christ is cut to the quick for this lonely and isolated soul. Christ cries “I thirst!” for the soul of this man so that he might not thirst eternally in hell. Does the soul proceed to lead others away from Christ and heap up sins upon itself? Christ fights ever more desperately for a soul in proportion to its misery and sins. Then, you say, God is unhappy because He does not have our love—that solves the problem of what God gets out of saving us! No! “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). God’s happiness is unchanging and eternal, but He is happy in making us happy! Moreover, He does not wish to be happy without us being happy too! All our sins and sufferings Christ bore both on the cross and throughout his life so that He might share our miseries completely. Christ did not measure the blood He shed but emptied Himself so that He might be an ocean of mercy for poor sinners.

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In the final moments of the El Cazador de la Bruja episode to which I alluded, my heart ached to watch the final moments of the witch alone in her house. Happiness seems to have eluded her for her entire life: she grew up knowing little save the pursuit of money, this pursuit prevented her from pursuing her individuality, and she had just tasted a few drops of love before having her life cruelly extinguished. Why does God allow such cruelty? Especially perhaps the cruelest joke that her pursuit of money brought no happiness at all? One can only hope that God will say to such people who are so spiritually impoverished along with Lazarus: “…and Lazarus [received] in like manner evil things; but he is comforted here…” (Luke 16:25). For without love, no amount of possessions can make someone happy. One might ask: “Would God really care about the welfare of a soul which spent itself in the pursuit of money?” Well, would you take care of a weeping child who appeared on your doorstep? Then, how much more would God take care of one of His weeping children no matter how wayward!

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Inuyasha and Beating the Devil

Inuyasha stood as my third favorite anime, but finishing Inuyasha: The Final Act gives me no choice but to bump it back into second place ahead of Code Geass.  Yes, the final installment of the series was enough to cover for any faults in the first several seasons.  The whole series focuses on the battle between good and evil.  Such shows and books are a dime a dozen, but Inuyasha parallels reality closely enough to catapult it to greatness.  In particular, Naraku very nearly captures the attitudes and wiles of the devil, and Inuyasha and his friends show how to beat the devil.

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#1 Good always wins.

This is the first and most important rule.  One must always act with this truth in mind lest one be taken down by despair.  Even if we are plagued with defeats, we must remember that an All-Powerful and All-Merciful God desires to hand us the victory which He won for us, and so we have great reason to hope, do penance, and continue doing good.  Naraku in particular tries to fill Inuyasha and his friends with despair.

The only thing to do is to keep fighting without believing the evil one’s lies.  As St. Anthony of the Desert (from whom I draw many of these maxims) said, Christ has defeated Satan so that the devils are powerless–they can only threaten.  They are no more than playthings for us Christians no matter how frightful they appear.  Christ always is ready to give us the power for victory, unless too much pride prevents his grace from being efficacious in us.  But these very falls provide reason for humility and allow for us to be victorious through God’s grace later.

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#2 Evil is best fought by the greathearted virtues of faith, hope, charity, and courage.

We see this especially in scenes like Sesshoumaru unhesitatingly entering the insides of Naraku, who has become a giant spider, in order to save Rin or Inuyasha jumping into the underworld to save Kagome.  Also, the utter reliance Kagome places in Inuyasha offers us a great symbol of faith: she does not fear falling into dark abysses, knowing that Inuyasha will save her.  We Christians should also not fear the darkness, knowing that we not only have a powerful savior, but an omnipotent and omnibenevolent Savior.

Evil cannot be conquered by excessive anxiety or worrying.  This is the fault of scrupulous people.  (Yours truly is guilty as charged.)  If we have excessive worry in our hearts, the devil will play upon these fears until we cannot perceive real goods or begin to fall into more vices.  Yet, if our hearts are filled with faith, hope, charity, and courage, all hell breaking into pandemonium cannot scare us.  Hence, it is important to fight evil with the greathearted virtues.

St. Anthony the Abbot doesn't look scared at all, does he?

St. Anthony the Abbot doesn’t look scared at all, does he?

#3 Remember Mercy and show mercy.

We are all weak and fall often.  Therefore, it is important to show mercy to one another, and to hope for mercy–even though all mercy is unmerited.

This is exemplified by things like Kagome forgiving Inuyasha for wounding her–the lover forgives her beloved.  In a similar way, the Church is the Beloved of God, who is more infinitely merciful than any human lover; and so, we have full reason to hope in receiving God’s mercy.  Then, we also have Sesshoumaru’s forgiveness of Sango for attempting to cut down Naraku by cutting through Rin in order to save Miroku.  Fortunately, Rin is not cut down, and Sesshoumaru completely overlooked Sango’s sin, for which she confesses to deserve punishment.  Though there is no forgiveness scene, the fact that Sango has three children at the end proves that forgiveness must at least have been tacitly given.

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#4 Even though we fall, don’t surrender.

Consider the mistakes Inuyasha and the gang made above.  They do not excessively grieve over their faults as to stop trying.  Rather, they continue to fight and refuse to give in to despair.  Miroku and Sango are particularly anguished by the prospect of the wind tunnel devouring Miroku; but, refuse to give in to despair, even though they come very close.

We are only human beings, not angels after all.

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#5 The devil lies and ought not to be heeded, even when he speaks the truth.

The devil is “the father of lies.”  Therefore, he ought never to be heeded.  Even when he speaks the truth, it is so that he can twist it to his own deadly purposes later.  Thus, Jesus Christ even silences the devil when he truly calls Jesus the Holy One of God.

In the same way, Naraku constantly lies or uses the peril of the situations to induce despair.  Sesshoumaru is perhaps the best at picking up on Naraku’s lies, especially where he quietly ignores all the illusions Naraku places before him of Rin.  (Indeed, silence and a calm mind are two great weapons in the fight against evil.)  And Inuyasha has this great line: “I’m sick of listening to you!”  In the same way, we should ignore the evil one and live our daily lines focused on doing good and our duty.

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#6 Though victory is assured, the struggle will take a very, very long time.

Inuyasha ran for a good 56 volumes, 193 episodes, and four movies in toto.  The struggle against evil in our lives and against our own vices will continue until death.  But, we must imitate Inuyasha and his friends in fighting this battle with perseverance and magnanimity until all our vices are pulled up by the roots.  Our Savior wishes this very thing.

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#7 Evil is small-hearted, mean, essentially nothing, and for nothing.

Kagome beautifully brings this out in a speech toward the end of the final battle.  Naraku lives merely to destroy.  He destroys relationships, friendships, families, and lives; but, for what?  No benefit ever accrues to him except that hollowest of pleasures: the delight in seeing another’s pain.  In the same way, the devil is the hater of all good and so truly deserves to be despised.

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However, Kagome’s speech brings out a very sad point: Naraku, while still a man, desired to be loved by Kikyo, but he gave in to despair and envy, which allowed him to be possessed by demons.  There are even hints in the show that a part of him wants to be good and to love others.  Rather than follow these good impulses, he actively strives to eliminate them.  These choices resulted in him becoming the evil creature that he is.

Hence, though we can gaily trample upon the devil and his designs, we should pity and pray for our fellow men who have fallen so low.  Remembering that if not for the grace of God, we ourselves would be in the same sorry state.

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