Recently, I have been watching You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle. Those of you who watch the show know that one character named Aoi is a transvestite/trap, who gives no indication of masculinity save for his height. In episode six, a former superior who knew Aoi when he transitioned shows up and tries for a second time to make a man out of him. He puts Aoi through judo and other tough training in order to accomplish this, but Aoi persists in being more feminine than the female heroines. In the end, this superior gives up, and assumes that Aoi is fine living the way he does.
Here, I don’t want to discuss the ethics of changing a transvestite to conform to their sex. Instead, this episode reminds me of the difficulty of changing one’s ways–whether they be habits, opinions, vices, or sins. A friend once told me that a man doesn’t change much after reaching the age of twenty-five. (Though, many great saints experienced conversions around this age.) I assume the same rule applies to women. There is a strong likelihood of retaining all the evil habits one has acquired by this point to the grave; though, they will naturally ameliorate or worsen depending on our recognition of these faults and our attempts to overcome them. Sometimes, one does succeed in uprooting a vice entirely through time, effort, prayer, and the sacraments. During the long period of struggle, victory seems impossible as the long force of habit draws us again and again to sin–even over the course of decades.
A few days ago, I received a curious protest petition against the upcoming series Lucifer, which will premiere in January on FOX and is based on a character from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The e-mail highlights how the series would show the devil as a nice guy, solving crimes and being kind and compassionate to all sorts of people. The e-mail stated how important it was to urge FOX not to air the show, for it’s portrayal of the devil would confuse the ill-informed and corrupt the youth.
But, this description of the devil brought an important fact to my mind: the devil never shows himself as the hate-filled and filth-loving monster that he is. If he does take that aspect, it is only toward people who assiduously resist his temptations and refuse to be taken in by the devil’s facade. Fulton Sheen appropriately notes that the devil pretends to be a friend of human freedom before a sin, while God, who actively tries to stop us from doing evil, appears as if He were against human freedom.
Those of you looking for an enjoyable light novel need look no further than Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura. The translation put out by Yen Press reads quite easily and still manages to have a lot of character. In particular, one of anime’s most beloved characters, Holo, can be read in all her sly wisdom, cunning repartee, archaic usage, culinary enthusiasm, and love of liquor. Besides Holo, the other characters, especially the protagonist, feel compelling. I cannot but love how the medieval setting reminds one of the Baltic Crusades and how Hasekura attempts to create a merchant hero who adheres to the code of contract law. (Very interesting and unusual.) Also, the novels cover more adventures than the anime ever will.
However much fun these novels are, they never fail to needle me a little. The tales are written from an atheist’s perspective, which varies from disdain to curiosity in regards to monotheism as practiced by the Church. This Church is reminiscent of the medieval Catholic Church, but their theologies don’t square perfectly. One of my favorite pot shots has to be Holo’s “The universe is too big for it to have been created by a single god.” How limiting the word kami must be on the Japanese theological imagination!