Daily Archives: October 9, 2009

Earth’s Desert Fathers vs. Vulcan’s Masters of Gol

Early Christianity, like Proverbs, the Stoics, and the Greek philosophers, was sure that the wise and virtuous person (man or woman) didn’t let himself get too worked up about stuff. Being a geek, I immediately thought about the Vulcans. :) And indeed, there’s been some interesting food for thought in comparing the Christian concept with the science fictional one.

But now, an even more direct counterpoise!

Via the Anchoress, a quote from the sayings of the Desert Fathers in By Way of the Desert:

John the Dwarf asked God to mitigate his passions. He became calm and imperturbable. He told a hermit, “I now rest in peace. There is no struggle between my flesh and my spirit.”

The hermit replied, “Pray that the Lord will start a new war in you. Struggle is good for the soul.”

When the old conflicts returned John did not pray that God would take them away. Instead, he prayed, “Lord, give me the strength to survive this battle.”

So clearly, the Desert Fathers didn’t mean for people to do a Christian version of kolinahr and totally disconnect their emotions and passions and desires. The goal is to have continual spiritual challenge. (Which goes along with their concept of monasticism as a spiritual training camp for spiritual athletes.)

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Eyeshield 21: Catholics in Anime

Apparently, the main antagonist team (always presented as honorable antagonists and models of sportsmanship) in this anime is the Ojo White Knights. They’ve got plenty of good players and know what they’re doing.

In episode 4, we visit their high school. But it’s not some big city high school, and it’s not just another private school for rich Japanese kids. Noooo, it’s a private Catholic high school!

In Japanese pop culture, Catholic high schools have a cachet to them. One gathers that when they were originally allowed to be founded, they quickly got a lot of rich non-Catholic students because they taught Western knowledge. Often, graduates were influential. Often, their families go to the same school for generations.

But usually, in anime, Catholic high schools are only used for their look or a touch of exoticism and haut ton. When you add in the uniquely Japanese bits of Catholic school culture to the anime writers’ imaginations (sometimes pretty fevered, when it comes to Catholic schoolgirls), a US Catholic doesn’t usually see anything too recognizable. I mean, did you have a lot of random stained glass windows in your parochial school? Heck, no.

However, the Ojo White Knights apparently think they are Notre Dame. Heck, Ojo Private Senior High School was apparently designed to look like it’s a certain campus in South Bend. (Which could happen, especially in Japan.) They wear Irish circle-crosses on their workout gear. They have a big banner on the wall that says “Glory on the Kingdom”, which sounds like the anime writers are trying to do AMDG in a way non-Catholic Japanese would understand. So the ridiculously huge number of stained glass windows, I’m ready to overlook. :)

So far, there’s no indication whether the characters are Catholics or not (or at least, none recognizable to me as a non-Japanese!). If there’s more Catholic culture in it, I’ll let you know. But given how weirdly that Christian stuff can get mutated by non-Christian Japanese, it’s probably just as well if we don’t see any attempt at depicting a pre-game Mass. ;)

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