Death= Redemption.

I got the idea from this from a comment conversation I had under my last post. I have been thinking about writing it for a while, so let’s talk tropes.

Although this trope is not exclusive to anime, as I’m sure all of us have seen it in movies and shows, anime uses it a lot.

Correction: anime pretends its going to use it a lot.

All us weaboos know the annoyance of animes that pretend they’ll kill everyone all the time, and then never kill anyone…except that one person you were kind of rooting for to make it. (sniff, Pyrrha.)

Then there’s Death Note where everyone dies.. (I don’t watch it.)

Well, I don’t care if nobody dies, I just hate being lied to and faked out so many times.

Naruto is almost sadistic about killing characters, it will inform you a character died a whole two or three seasons in advance, and then bring in the character later for a side arc, or flashbacks, and show them being cute and lovable and ready to actually be happy…and then they show your them dying, alone…(I’m still salty about The Bubble Guy Utaeka, I think.)

But, sometimes villains die, and they might stay dead, and then you have the redemption arc.

Anime accomplishes the arc part usually with flashbacks, while American media tends to either show you the villains in the beginning of the film and hint at a possible redemption, or maybe drop small hints throughout the movie or show, and then they have the death be a surprise.

Anime rarely makes it a surprise, by the  time they’ve actually died you’ve been watching for like, three episodes, or seen half a dozen flashbacks dragging it out.

Anyway, before I get into the meaning of it, I wanted to point out that not every redemption death is for a villain. Sometimes it’s a good character who left the fight, screwed up royally, or never committed to actually helping until that point. They aren’t a villain, sometimes they are a chaotic neutral, if you will, but they choose to sacrifice themselves and end up a hero.

The most infamous example of this in America may be Darth Vader from Star Wars, everyone loves that redemption moment of self sacrifice.

Often in kids media, its common that the character not actually die. In The Little Mermaid, Arial’s father sacrifices himself without dying exactly, (but I always found it much more horrifying to be turned into a worm-thing than just straight-up dying.) Or they will appear to die, but end up being okay.

Anyway, the kinds of characters you’ll see get a redemption death are usually villains who were shown to have a human side, maybe a person they still loved, even more likely if the person is the hero, take Thor and Loki’s back and forth relationship in the Avenger movies; another common one is bad parents who couldn’t seem to get it up until then, but show they love their kids by dying for them (Darth Vader); also the mentors or sage characters who failed to stop the villain make a sacrifice to give the heroes more time to figure it out. That’s even in The Lego Movie.

MHA has used this trope in a slightly different way, equating losing your powers with dying, for a hero, in a way. Thereby adding a weight to their fights that actually has a longer lasting impact on the show itself, not just the characters, because it means they can no longer use that character as a fail safe.

So why is this so  common?

The simple answer is that it’s easier to use death to create sympathy for the character and often it just doesn’t seem practical for a villain to survive, they would just go to prison or die anyway, why not let it be a blaze of glory instead?

But mechanics aside, I think there’s a deeper reason this is used so often.

The thing about tropes is, people mock them, but the reason they are so common is because they reflect meanings about real life that people feel to be true. Romantic tropes mirror what happens in real life, Chosen One tropes mirror the feeling of purpose we all want to have, and fallen Hero tropes mirror the knowledge we have of our own human weakness.

The Death=Redemption Trope is no different, it mirrors a feeling human beings have that death is somehow the only thing that can make up for our sins.

The Bible says “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” For thousands of years that meant animal blood, so that people could be pardoned. After Jesus came and died, His blood was enough to cover all men throughout time.

Fiction has felt this truth, whether the authors admit it or not, and that is why villains die so often to redeem themselves. somehow death seems to be the only way to blot out the memory of their evil.

Anime is interesting here, because as I pointed out in my last post, it has many bad guys who end up living. And without fail, those bad guys feel they must atone for their sins.

See, when the death part does not happen, the good guys are faced with the much more complicated problem of still remembering what the bad guys did and having that reminder in front of them. Even if the bad guys are sorry, the good guys may have a hard time seeing past that, sometimes they do not want to. Like Katara with Zuko on Avatar.

If the villain is dead, you can’t punish them anymore anyway. Only rarely will a character obsess over not getting to kill the villain.

Plus, dying for someone is just so hardcore noble, that it can challenge the heroes to think maybe the villain was never as evil as they thought. a lot of shows choose to later reveal that the villain did some good things along the way, often that they even help the heroes by leaving clues as to how to solve future problems.

Naruto did this with Itachi Uchiha…I hated it…

Now that I’ve discussed why this is so common, the better question is, does it work?

IS it good to send this message?

The answer is yes and no.

While death=redemption can be a beautiful way to symbolically show how we need to die to our sin, and how “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (-Jesus) there is one problem I see with it.

The whole point of fiction is to be symbolic. Sometimes when shows try to break down too much if death really equal redemption, then you have to start being more realistic.

The discussion then becomes “Should you have to kill yourself in order to be redeemed? Isn’t there a better way than that?”

Fairy Tail did this over and over again, and nearly always concluded on the side of life. But one time, at the end, they had Irene, the mother of Erza, kill herself because she did not trust herself and wanted to prevent herself from falling to the temptation to use Erza or her friends again.

When this happens it’s similar to Jesus telling us that if our right eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. If you really jsut cannot control yourself, then it’s better to lose an eye.

The bible is not saying self mutilation is a good idea. It’s saying that if we view sin that seriously, then we will put that kind of effort into getting free of it.

But we do not have to die fro our sins.

In the real world, this questions is also prevalent in our legal system. Should we just imprison people? Or should we kill them? Can’t anyone be redeemed? The real thought behind the more merciful system in America is that men can turn their lives around. But some men don’t, so we still need the Death Sentence.

Of course, Christians know that men on the verge of death for their sins have been saved, the thief on the cross is the most famous example. It happens nowadays too, in prisons and hospitals alike. But they still die.

The Bible does not seem overly concerned with whether men die in the body or not, as long as they are alive spiritually. That is, it is pro-life, but holds biological life as second in importance, if you follow God. And if you die immediately after accepting Christ, you are not the loser by any means.

Basically, with God, no one has to die for their sins, but some people still will because men cannot know for certain when there’s a change of heart, but that death is just of the body and not seen as a punishment to the christian anymore.

That said, you could say Death=Redemption really hangs on how well the villain understood why they were changing. You have to feel that, had they lived, they would have kept changing, not that they died out of some unhealthy, spur-of-the -moment, self hatred.

Dying for love is the preferred reason. And the one that reflects the most what Jesus did for us.

Though nonchristians may deny that, I don’t know anyone who hates this trope. It seems to be written into our psyches to see meaning in self-sacrifice. I know a YouTube reviewer who will give a movie a win every time there is a self-sacrifice in it.

Death is a tricky subject in fiction where death can be undone. Or prevented in ways we in the real world can only dream of.

Did they have to die? Does their death truly atone for their sins?

Death is all that can atone for sins, but yet, if they keep on living, can they live free?

Most often the answer is, they have to learn to love, to be a good person, to change.

Christianity ties these two things together by having a way to die before you die, to die to your sinful self, and to live in Christ.

As crazy as that sounds, the proof is in the pudding, more people become good because of Christianity than any other reason I know of. Throughout history, the bad kids, the rebels, the slaveholders, the cruel, the arrogant, have made 180 degree turns because of Christianity. Whole countries have changed over it. They still are.

In closing, there was one time Naruto did something with this idea that I thought was profound. When Gaara, a former murder/demon possessed person tried to learn about love, he later got kidnapped and killed in order to steal his power. He lost the demon (thank goodness)but also his life. But then a woman who had stuck him with the demon to begin with gave her life in order to resurrect him, with a little help from Naruto himself. Gaara is essentially given a new life, someone else’s life, and able to live free from then on. No longer needing to worry about losing control.

Easily one of the best examples I’ve seen, up there with Frozen.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

 

Bringing people back to life.

“Was it you ‘mid the fire and the ember? Were you there to bedevil and beguile?

See, your face isn’t quite as I remember, but, I know, that wicked shape to your smile.

Bury me as it pleases you, lover, at sea or deep within the catacombs,

but these bones never rested while living, so, how can, they stand to languish in repose?”

(Where is Your Rider, The OH HELLOS.)

Today I want to jump right into a rather unusual topic for blogs.

This began for me by thinking of one of the shows I’ve given my patronage too, that is RWBY.

I have my issues with it, but last year’s season brought some new ideas to the table.

Namely, one episode that raised the question: Is it okay to want people to come back from the dead?

You know, as much as people like to tell you that we’re all entitled to our own opinion, and that we don’t need to talk about it if we have differences, and that we should focus on our strengths, yada yada, I never see so much engagement online or in real life as when it becomes about a moral or religious question (if they are really different, which I doubt.)

A lot of people’s comment on this episode is that death must be accepted and why should one person get what millions of people do not get.

Some people think, it’s no big deal, can’t gods (or God) being people back to life with a snap of the fingers, why not just do it?

Some say, the person has to be worthy of being brought back. It gets real twitchy at that point.

Well, as Christian, I found this debate rather interesting. All religions address the idea of life and death, most of them address the idea of whether people can be brought back to life.

Egyptian and Greek Mythology famously contain myths about trying to bring back dead people or dead gods.

What’s funny too, is that almost every religion gives some reason why people must die and stay dead.

And most modern interpretations of the issue feel the need to justify why people must stay dead.

Even though, strangely enough, the idea that resurrecting people is possible is everywhere. Even through time travel, as the least magical or mystical way to achieve it (sort of).

Have you ever thought about it?

The great writers I’ve read have all encouraged me to think more seriously about ideas that are common to almost all people. Why do we dismiss the things everyone wants, everyone thinks about, as wishful thinking?

It would be more sensible to ask, if this desire shows up everywhere, like hunger and thirst, shouldn’t there be a reason for it?

Grief itself is proof of it’s own strangeness.

Grief is universally shocking. That’s one of the first emotions of it. When we lose someone, even a pet, even a plant, we are stunned.

Even in war times when it was likely, we are surprised.

And we wish it didn’t have to be so.

So when it comes to the idea of raising the dead, it seems to taunt us in a way.

Shows, especially anime and magic-based shows, are very fond of bringing up the issue almost in mockery of the bereaved.

Like bringing back characters who we wish could stay alive, but in ways that make it impossible to be happy. They come evil, they come back because of some terrible crime, or they come back but don’t remember who they were.

That dream of resurrections isn’t truly achieved.

And usually the other characters have to let them go back to the afterlife. If there is one on the show or in the book.

In myths, the idea of bringing back loved ones tends to backfire. Like, you’re messing with nature.

Odd, considering resurrection is actually a part of nature.

The process of reproduction is basically a resurrection in of itself. Let alone the stories all of us have heard or read of recoveries that don’t make sense, out of body experiences, people coming back to life after being declared medically dead.

Death is the most unnatural part of nature.

At least if you believe the Bible.

Skeptics might look at the Bible and declare that death is part of the ecosystem, that we could not survive as a species if we did not die, if animals did not die.

But they assume two things, one, that the ecosystem we have now is the only one we could have.

Two, that the world is the same as it always was, which the Bible claims is not true, that at one time our resources were far greater.

Lastly, though the skeptic may laugh at this, it’s a bit stupid to think that God who made all things could not replenish the earth if we exhausted our resources. He already does that.

The same with death, really. If things do get worse over time, it really doesn’t matter. The bible says God renews youth like the eagles.

So that death happens is strange. But that it is irreversible would also be strange.

Why on earth would it be?

Death, according the Bible, is the offspring of Sin. No sin=no death. The God who could remove sin could remove death also.

We still die, naturally.

Christianity, it’s been pointed out, would be a hopeless religion if Jesus did not raise the dead.

It’s odd that the thing many religions are afraid of, and modern writers tend to treat as an abomination, as a weakness of the person who refuses to let go, the Bible treats as barely an inconvenience.

In both the old and new Testament, raising the dead requires less time and effort than climbing a mountain; phases people less than the voice of God; and barely even shocks them, after the initial amazement.

Elijah raised a boy from the dead, I think Elisha did also, Jesus raised at least three on record, probably more, Peter raised one. Paul presumably was raised from teh dead by God. And Jesus Himself of course.

It doesn’t even seem to stun these people.

What’s hilarious, if you’re comparin it to how we treat the subject in myth and ficiton, is that when the dead are raised in the Bible it’s never for them. Never based on what they deserve.

Because, you see, if they were in heaven, they are far better off, and it’s ridiculous to talk of deserving to return to this messed up world.

If they were in hell, clearly they didn’t even deserve earth.

Nope, every time it’s for the bereaved. The very thing RWBY, other shows, and myths all decry as the worst reason to resurrect someone, is the only reason the Bible does so besides just straight up God-force, like when Ezekiel brought a whole valley of bones to life, and saints resurrected after Jesus died. (Google it.)

Jesus raised Lazarus for the sake of his sisters, Peter raised Dorcas for the sake of her friends, Elijah raised the son of the woman who sheltered him for her sake.

Is it selfish to wish people back from the dead then?

That’s the idea behind telling people “Why should you be any different from anyone else?”

Funny thing is, the Bible abhors that idea.

The Bible’s question to all men and women is always “Why shouldn’t you be different from everyone else?”

“All men die, few men ever really live”–Braveheart

Why should you sin, and die, like all men? Why not seize onto the offer of Christ, as anyone who reads His word is given the chance to do?

Well, the goal of Christianity is that we will all be saved and so share the same fate, but at the very least, you yourself should be saved.

When you consider that life is the normal state of things, it is not remarkable to want people back from the dead. Death interrupted them.

One zany anime has coined this feeling exactly, you probably can guess, if you’re an anime person, that I mean Dragon Ball.

Dragon Ball classically treats death as an inconvenience that is remedied multiple times even for the same character. People joke that death has no consequences on that show, like that’s a downside.

But the Bible teaches exactly that. “O Death, where is your sting?”

The idea most ridiculous to most people is that death does not have a sting anymore, that it could be a nuisance, not a tragedy.

But, hell is the tragedy. Our bodies dying is a inconvenience.

Before I end this, I suppose I should answer the question as to why people still die.

Christians, specifically, since we are the ones who claim we will live forever.

The best answer I have, and I am no expert, is what Paul says about the corruptible putting on the incorruptible.

The body, because we’ve had it while sinners, is corruptible. Many health issues come for sin, a lot of death comes from sin. Jesus, in a mortal body, died.

Mortal bodies pay the price of sin, whether it’s the person’s who has it, or someone else sinning against them.

After all, if they did not, sin would be a minor problem also, or men would at least treat it as such.

But, when we die, as Christians, the Word says we change this body for a new one. We are not ethereal spirits floating through space, we remain ourselves. Our body is a tent, Paul says, one we will upgrade eventually. The body is the last part of oneself to be redeemed form death.

The reason is, God starts form the top, Spirit, Soul, Mind, and Body is the least important part.

That’s to the  best of my knowledge.

Yet, if Jesus had not raised the dead, I’d be foolish to trust that idea. WE must know resurrection is possible before we can trust ourselves to be resurrected after we die.

see, the Faith of the Christian all comes down to this: Are we willing to be resurrected into a different world? Are we willing to leave earth and accept heaven?

It sounds like anyone would, but heaven is scary. IT’s unfamiliar. There have been christian hesitant to go there.

Some people joke about going to hell because all their friends will be there.

Well, that may be, but it wouldn’t comfort you.

Hell is as unnatural to us as heaven, the only difference (other than torment) is that Heaven is not isolation, and so we will have help. While Hell is isolation, utter and total. And if you know of people there, it only make it worse. (See the story of the man who asked Abraham to warn his brothers not to go there.)

It’s a smaller matter to be raised to lif eon earth, that’s a return to an old form, but to be raisedin heaven, it’s going to be different.

That’s why old stories and new stories often do not go far enough. They ask if we should want the dead to be raised, but they never ask if we should want the dead to come back stronger and better than before.

(Except Dragon Ball, that old show really just hit it by accident, didn’t it?)

Lastly, this is one example of a very real truth: That Christianity is not about accpeting thins as they are.

It is about knowing things are not the way they should be, and doing soemthing about it.

IT is dangerous how much the idea of acceptance has crept into the church, and the culture around it. Sure, we should accept people initially as they are.

But we should not accept that thins will never change, because they will. It’s just a matter of whether it’s for the better or worse.

Either you are moved by the world, or you move it  yourself. Archimedes had the right idea.

Image result for archimedes move the earth image

 

Until next time–Natasha.

Answer to what someone said.

Taking a break from my anime series in order to write a post that I felt inspired to write after reading something that popped up in my recommendations.

I don’t want to name the blog because I think it would be unfair to criticize them by name when I have not asked them, and I don’t want to be one of those people who ends up bringing down a hate storm on another social media person just because I disagree with them, publicly.

That being said, what grabbed me about this post was how strangely vague it was. It’s really a perfect example of a modern 20-30 year old’s viewpoint, as is commonly expressed in media. And, I meet college students who talk like this.

The post was discussing someone’s search for meaning, and going through school, not really taking philosophy, then studying mythology and wondering why the gods punished people for stuff they were fated to do, and how he went on to become a Marxist, and later a Romantic, that is, someone who denies that God, love, justice, beauty, are real.

He denies being a cynic, saying he appreciates them more because they are not real. And thinks that Jesus, when he was dying and felt forsaken by God, is a remarkable idea.

In the end, he almost laughs at himself for wanting to be real, when he’s made of wood. That he cannot dream himself into being human.

The last sentence of the post  declares himself Alone, and Meaningless in a dark, empty world.

(Any more and I’ll be directly quoting him.)

In all fairness, I can’t repeat it word for word, so you’re taking my summary of it as accurate, but the blogger himself admitted to basically finding meaning in nothing.

He reflects at one point about a Christian girl who once told him that God has put it into everyone’s hearts to want to know him.

He laughed it off then, but admits that it’s basically what he’s describing, but, he knows God is a lie.

After I finished reading this, I had one question: How does he know God is a lie?

This guy pretty clearly suffers from depression, I believe it’s even in other posts on his blog, so his thoughts may have a morbid tenancy anyway.

But I couldn’t help noticing that at no point in his story did he ever say he sought God personally. He asked other people about Him, and pondered the idea of God, as well as other values most people agree are real, and he found them unbelievable, for whatever reason.

But there is no record of Him approaching God face to face and seeking revelation.

Ironically, many times when nonchristians tell me they’ve sought truth, or sought God, it ends up meaning they sought ideas about Him. Perhaps they went to church briefly, they talked to a christian…and failing to be impressed by it, they left.

Well, Christians can be bad at representing our faith, however, part of the problem with nonbelievers is that they expect something of us that we are not able to give them.

God, frankly, never makes sense to anyone who has not tried to meet Him personally.

Not because God can not be explained in a way that makes sense, but because the explanation is not enough to make you know what He is like.

I can give you the best description of my friend, till you almost feel like you know them already…and until you hear them talk, see their face, or even see their handwriting, you will still lack a true impression of their character.

The God of the Bible, distinctly unlike gods of most religions, is not high up in the clouds, or deep down in the heart of the earth, He’s not in the sun, or the planets, or the wind.

God is not in one place, He is in everyplace, one can meet him in a closet, at a beach, on a mountain top, in a bar, in an alleyway, a brothel, a prison, a church, a battlefield…anywhere at all.

It is no use to say you have sought the truth about God, and found nothing in it, unless you have spoken to God directly. From the heart.

Someone might say “If you do not believe in God, then you cannot speak to Him from the Heart.”

If you yearn for meaning, if you feel dissatisfied with how empty life is, then, you can speak to God.

If you can speak to the void, to people who will never meet you, you can speak to God.

This is the one thing no one ever wants to do. In the Bible, in Exodus, when Moses approached God on the mountain of Sinai, the people begged him to talk to God for them, they said if they tried to, they would die.

Moses, in contrast, begged God to let him see His glory.

Was it really so impossible for the people?I wonder.

There is no record in the Bible of anyone ever praying to God sincerely, one on one, and not getting some kind of answer, even it it took awhile.

What there is a record of is God lamenting constantly that people do not seek him. He promises if He is sought, He will be found, if we seek with all our heart.

I will say, God is not found by anyone who is looking for him like one might look for a free show.

People who search for God flippantly, with the attitude that if He is not exactly what they want, they will bail, are unlikely to find anything.

I do not know this blogger well enough to say for certain why He has not found God, he seemed quite close, in some ways.

But, if I went just by what he said, as an idea, then my answer would be this: He did not find God because He did not seek him one on one.

It’s the simplest thing in the world to pray, yet, people are scared to death of it. It feels like such a commitment.

It’s funny too, since, no one else will ever know if you pray alone in your room, even in your head, but it still feels huge.

I may make someone angry by claiming that atheists are just too afraid to seek God, and I do understand that some of them have other reasons besides this…

…but, by and large, the people who hold the belief that all of life is meaningless are cowards. They believe that because they are afraid to believe it has meaning, because the meaning might be something they cannot handle. And if God could direct the meaning for them, they fear He will direct it a way they don’t like.

The meaning I even give to these people themselves is because I believe life has meaning, they ask that I listen to them, that I care, but deny the reason why I should. The honest ones admit that, but fail to see how the fact that they even care would in itself prove life has meaning.

You can’t want something that does not exist, you have a hunger because there is a food for it. You thirst because water exists. You feel pain because nerve endings are real.

You can’t ache inside without there being a balm for it.

This has run long, so I am going to end this post with this:

I don’t think this blogger will read my answer, and, I am not sure it would help him if he did, unless he could face his fears and look at God for himself.

But to me, it’s so beautifully simple. When I struggled with those feelings myself, the solution came when I spoke to God directly and surrendered to him.

That has no meaning to someone who despises that approach, thinks it’s too simple…Well, to that, all I will say for now is I don’t see much happiness in thinking the other way.

Until next time–Natasha.