The Four Loves in Shingeki no Bahamut

I was delighted to learn that JP of Beneath the Tangles and Japesland was convinced by one of my articles to give Shingeki no Bahamut another look.  As I have another article on this show up my sleeve, I might as well give him and my other dear readers some more ideas to chew on from this Christian fairy tale.  At least, it has convinced me that it is such, but my readers may easily disagree.  After all, the Christian symbolism feels overwhelmed by pagan dualism and mythology.

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However, we have the example of Till We Have Faces 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 origin–not only the love of man for God, but each kind of love C. S. Lewis ponders in his book The Four Loves: Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Agape.

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An interesting thing about Christian theology is its emphasis on relationship, which has its foundation in God: “…God is love” (1 John 4:8).   The two things which characterize God’s relationship to his people are loving-kindness and faithfulness.  One becomes sanctified by maintaining a relationship with God, i.e. remaining in a state of grace, which enables one more and more to love as God does.  The Trinity itself can only be explained through relationship.  After all, everything the Father is, the Son is; everything the Son is, the Holy Ghost is; and everything the Holy Ghost is, the Father is.  The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.  Not three Gods but one and the same God.  But the Father is begotten of none and does not proceed, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, which Himself is the infinite Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father.

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In a similar way that love is at the core of the mystery of the Trinity, our relationships and loves are how people define us.  People develop certain expectations of us from the company we keep, our parents, our beloved, and our relationship to God–in other words, our four loves.  Shingeki no Bahamut stresses its focus on the four loves through the four significant relationships of the show: Amira and her mother (affection), Favaro and Kaisar (friendship), Amira and Favaro (eros), and Jeanne and St. Michael (agape).  (Of course, few of the hallmarks of romance are apparent in Amira and Favaro’s relationship; but, most would agree that more would have followed had Amira been able to live beyond their parting kiss.)  Each one of these relationships is maintained despite the many factors threatening their dissolution.

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The immutability of these bonds imbue each with a divine aspect.  Death cannot sunder the bonds of Amira and her mother, Amira and Favaro, nor those of Jeanne and St. Michael.  St. Jerome commented once, “A friendship which can end has never been real.”  And the betrayals threatening to break Favaro and Kaisar’s friendship are resolved by the end of the show, and we can look forward to more of their antics should a sequel be indeed forthcoming.  Love transcends death, which shows love as one of the qualities which demonstrate man’s divine image and likeness.  The divine cannot die.

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Which brings up a flaw in this show’s mythology: its St. Michael, who is called a god, does in fact die.  How can the divine die?  The fact that he dies and that there is an afterlife in which he says that he shall still love Jeanne seems to show that the series acknowledges a God greater than the gods!  Of course, central to Christianity is the story of a dying God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, but only his human body died on Good Friday, which his divinity could raise up again on Easter.  It is impossible for the divine, pure Being, to die.  So, does the mythology of Shingeki no Bahamut in fact recognize a “God of gods”?  That’s a question for another time.

Rita, one of the most lovable characters of the past season.

Rita, one of the most lovable characters of the past season.

At any rate, this is a most cursory look at the topic.  If only Lewis’s The Four Loves had been more foremost in my mind, I might have been able to make more of it!  But, I hope that this idea adds more pleasure to your enjoyment of a truly fine series.

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A Limited God and Christian Intolerance

I have begun reading Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and have run into a familiar pagan conception.  Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, says that no god could be great enough to create or run the entire world.  To reference anime, Holo of Spice and Wolf claimed the same thing.  The idea of an Infinite Being baffles the pagan mind.  I will say that even though we Christians believe in such a Being, we understand terribly little about Him.  We understand enough to be saved, but not even an eternity is enough to fathom all of God’s thoughts.  This prompted one Church Father to say that anyone who knew the least thing about God was a great theologian.

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Merlin, Igraine, and Viviane claim that Christians are foolish in denying the existence of other gods.  Indeed, in St. Justin Martyr’s opinion, these gods are really demons; in St. Augustine’s, they are nought.  But, these pagans remind me of the Ancient Israelites, who believed that other gods existed, but they were nothing compared to the God of Israel.  It is not until later in the Psalms that we see the assertion that no god exists besides God.  This suggests an evolution in thought: God is not limited, but ever-present and all powerful.

67184_maxAnd so, why not wipe out the pagan gods who are either demons or nothing at all?  Viviane makes the further accusation that Christians only want to spread their wisdom and to suppress all other kinds.  If this were the case, why has so much pagan mythology and literature survived?  Who do you think preserved it?  Monasteries and Christian schools!  Christians have always recognized wisdom where they saw it.  God ever worked for the salvation of all men, so one should not be surprised at finding wisdom in other cultures!

Cicero denouncing Cataline

Cicero denouncing Cataline

Christianity does not wish to wipe out wisdom, but only the worship of pagan gods, which must surely be accounted utter foolishness since they do not exist.  At one time, it might have been virtuous for pagans to worship gods, especially if they accounted them good, just, and holy–as Cicero and Socrates did.  But, Christ has come to remove the veil of ignorance, teaching about salvation through one Infinite God.  But, what a widening of the mind early pagan converts must have had to change their idea of God from a creature-like form to a formless and limitless Creator!