Author Topic: Apostasy From Nature  (Read 1883 times)

Radical_Dreamer

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Apostasy From Nature
« on: February 03, 2007, 12:42:18 am »
        The traditional view of the kingdom of Zeal holds that it is analogous to Babylon, a Biblical nation rife with all manner of sin.  The people of Zeal were punished for turning their backs on the Entity, or symbolically, the Judeo-Christian God.  However, the story of Zeal lends itself to a very different allegory, one which I shall lay out the case for in this article.  The fall of the kingdom of Zeal can be viewed as a condemnation of the abandonment of a naturalistic world view in favor of a theistic world view.

   The symbolism is simple to comprehend.  Zeal is an allegorical nation; it does not necessarily represent any other nation, real or fictional.  The Entity is symbolic of nature, and not, as it is usually considered, a monotheistic God.  The analogue for the gods is Lavos.  Note that Lavos is not a symbol of any god in particular, but of theism in general.  From here, it is easy to see the moment of conversion.  Prior to Crono's arrival in Zeal, the Queen has supplanted the use of the Sun Stone and the elements with the use of Lavos' power, channeled through the Mammon Machine.

   This was an act of madness.  The kingdom of Zeal had been brought about by the toil and sacrifice of it's people, and yet they willingly submit it all to Lavos, for the false promise of eternal life.  The only person who actually gains from this exchange is the mad Queen.  As the prophet of the god Lavos, she gains even greater power and adoration.  To secure her power, and the people's faith in their newly found god, the Queen must act to halt dissent.  She banishes dissenters, including the three gurus who had previously guided the royalty of Zeal.  This act can be seen as a rejection of wisdom.  With her power consolidated, with wisdom of any sort no longer guiding her, the Queen begins to spread the cult of Lavos.

   The Mammon idol becomes a focal point of worship.  The people of Zeal bask in the emanations of the machine, emulating the social warmth and fulfillment that comes from being unconditionally accepted by like-minded churchgoers.  However, this warm glow is the life of the planet, the power of nature, being siphoned away, burned to generate the comforting false warmth of the Lavos cult.  This willful abandonment and destruction of nature is endemic to the theistic Zeal.  The Sun Stone, and the power of the elements, are sealed up, away from the kingdom itself.  It is forbidden for any one to seek them out.  Theism has supplanted naturalism, and it doesn't take long for this to lead to a brazen disregard for nature itself.  The Queen orders a woman to burn a seed with the power to save the environment.  Prior to his banishment, the Guru of Life instructs the woman to save the seed.  This is symbolic of the disregard to the physical world death based faiths engender.  By placing herself in opposition to the Guru of Life, the Queen makes clear that, while the Lavos cultists believe that Lavos is the way to eternal life, the religion is incompatible with actual, natural, real life.

   It is not just life that the religion wrongly claims for itself.  The banishment of the Gurus is also a rejection of that which they stand for.  The betrayal and suppression of the wise is reminiscent of the Catholic church's treatment of the astronomer Galileo. The cult supplants an actual understanding of life with a false promise of immortality.  Also, the cult removes the Guru of Reason, and along with him, any semblance of rationality.  This leads allows the insane actions of the people of Zeal, their acceptance of Lavos, their rejection of nature, and thus, life, and their faith that the construction of the Ocean Palace would result in their immortality.  The removal of the Guru of Time further feeds the delusions of eternity held by the Lavos cultists.  Dalton, in particular, seems strongly effected by this lack of perspective.  Without wisdom to guide her, the mad Queen subverts the technological achievements of the nation to evil ends.  The Blackbird becomes a warship, despite Zeal having no external enemies.  The Ocean Palace becomes the instrument of the destruction of the very kingdom that built it, and the people that prayed for it to bring them eternal life.  This parallels the real life Heaven's Gate cult, which committed mass suicide in 1997, believing that they would then transcend the physical realm via a comet.

   Without reason, without life, without time, and without nature, Queen Zeal and her fellow worshipers lose their humanity.  In their blind quest for power, they turn inward, separating themselves from everything that is not of their bizarre cult.  This xenophobia manifests itself in two main ways. The first of these is the enslavement of the Earthbound, and secondly, there is the trivialization of Crono and his party.  The cultists consider themselves specially blessed by Lavos, and now, disconnected from nature, and all the life that is a part of it, they view themselves as being superior to the beings of nature.  The Queen even rejects her own children.  This rejection is completely unnatural, it is only under the irrational influence of Lavos that the Queen is capable of this act.  This is reminiscent of the worship of the god Moloch by the extinct Punic cultures.  A child would be placed in the outstretched hands of a bronze statue of Moloch, and the statue heated.  The priests would then beat drums to mask the cries of the child, in order to prevent intervention in the sacrifice.

   This hubris leads to disaster.  The final effort of the people of Zeal to unify themselves with their god, and thus disconnect themselves from nature, is the construction of the Ocean Palace.  This final act of worship has the Mammon Machine brought as near to Lavos as possible.  Before it is reactivate, the Queen, acting on the behalf of her people, has one final chance to put a stop to her theistic madness.  She is confronted by her daughter and the three wise men.  Once again, the Queen choses religion over family, reason, time, life, wisdom, and nature.  She commands that the Mammon Machine be activated.  In so doing, she has sealed the fate of her kingdom.  The prayers of the cultists have awoken their god.  The reward for their faith and their devotion is the only just reward for those that have turned their backs on life.  The kingdom of Zeal is destroyed absolutely, and those that survive are left scattered and powerless, no better than the poor Earthbound ones they had cruelly mistreated and enslaved.  Ultimately, history itself condemns their beliefs, as Crono and his party are successful at slaying the god Lavos.  This final triumph of naturalism over theism secures prosperity and the preservation of life for the future of the world.  It is an important lesson.

Acknowledgments:

Zeality, for his contributions to this article
Xathael, for originally researching and codifying the Biblical allegory in Chrono Trigger
Squaresoft, for producing and publishing the game.

Copyright 2007

Lord J Esq

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Re: Apostasy From Nature
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2007, 12:20:03 pm »
I did not want to create the appearance of a churlish critic, instead favoring to wait for others to reply to your well-though article. But it would seem they are all stuck speechless by your work, and if I am ever going to treat myself to a reply, it may as well be now!

First of all—and foremost—let me say what you already know: We share a similar opinion of the worth of some of our world’s more famous religions. My criticism here is motivated purely by intellectual interest; no politics. So bear in mind as I proceed through my points that your underlying intent is well-taken, and that the noise you hear in the distance is the sizzling of the meager fat beneath Mr. Krispin’s skin. =)

Let’s get on with this.

I will say my opinion right at the beginning: Chrono Trigger and its creators did not intend for the Kingdom of Zeal to be interpreted as a statement against monotheistic religion as you have argued here. And, if I may, I think you know that and will concede it. To put it simply, you are not trying to convey to us the intended allegory of the game’s creators. You instead have devised an allegory of your own. Never mind what the authors of this game meant; you are interested in what they actually said.

The inherent weakness in analyzing a work outside of its own context is hard to miss, and upon consideration I think you would concede that too. Nonetheless, I would presume on your behalf that you understand the community’s esteem for your analytical mind, and that you can expect us to expect you to have prepared a reasonable and well-argued claim. I concede that.

Now let us consider your argument.

Quote
The fall of the kingdom of Zeal can be viewed as a condemnation of the abandonment of a naturalistic world view in favor of a theistic world view.

The first part of this is uncontroversial. The people of Zeal, in pursuing the energy of Lavos, were forsaking nature in a most active way. The subject of humanity’s temptation to ways of life that lead away from nature is a very popular one in contemporary Japanese culture and elsewhere. But were the Zealish forsaking nature in favor of theism? Now that is a damaged good, and I cannot buy it.

If there is any deification to be had here, it would be the Zealish people deifying themselves and their accomplishments. The Kingdom of Zeal is emblematic of human ambition, as well as what some would call human arrogance. In the original English subbing of Miyazaki’s Laputa, the villain spoke of the eponymous castle in the sky as “the dream of the human race.” Japanese culture is very interested in the theme of humanity inevitably desiring to grow more powerful so as to be able to control its destiny and rule as gods, and inevitably losing its perspective along the way and becoming corrupt, generally making a huge mess of things, and putting at risk the very Nature that is our true sustenance.

Look at all the video games, films, television shows, comics, and other media from Japan that treat this very idea. The Japanese creators of Chrono Trigger were not trying to make a statement against organized monotheistic religions; to suggest as much is to project American cultural priorities onto Japan. Many cultures of the easternmost nations of Asia are united in their perception of the world not as a grand play of divine good versus primordial evil, but as a concert of harmonious existence whose music is the quest for preservation. When the people of Zeal send their islands up to hang out in the sky, the so-called Enlightened Ones began to shun the idea that natural limits applied to them anymore—even limits as fundamental as our mortality, culminating in the Magus’ climactic exclamation of disgust at the Queen, where he tells her that no one can live forever.

And water is wet. So I see no truth in this:

Quote
Note that Lavos is not a symbol of any god in particular, but of theism in general.

The entirety of your article is quite plausible; excepting that we must switch out “theism” for “corruption,” and “god” for “reckless desire.”

So say I.


Acknowledgments:

Master Splinter -- Brain Food
Taco Bell -- Gut Food
William Shatner -- Khaaaaaan!!

CC License. Free redistribution without conditions.

jamesexia

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Re: Apostasy From Nature
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012, 10:27:34 pm »
Lord J Esq., I really think you have hit the nail on the proverbial head. I really don't like the fact that some people have to try and shoehorn their beliefs onto some one Else's work. Just take a look at The Lord Of The Rings, so many people try to make it into what THEY want it to say, rather than letting it have its own voice. And yeah, I'm christian, but I don't agree with most followers views about the world. We seem to have a hard enough time defending the games just on quality alone, do we have to ruin it for those who may be interested in this series?

TheMinister

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Re: Apostasy From Nature
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 08:45:39 pm »
Lord J Esq., I really think you have hit the nail on the proverbial head. I really don't like the fact that some people have to try and shoehorn their beliefs onto some one Else's work. Just take a look at The Lord Of The Rings, so many people try to make it into what THEY want it to say, rather than letting it have its own voice. And yeah, I'm christian, but I don't agree with most followers views about the world. We seem to have a hard enough time defending the games just on quality alone, do we have to ruin it for those who may be interested in this series?

Couldn't have said it better than J Esq. and Jamesexia. I'm Christian as well. The Church leadership is a collection including some people who, when removed for long enough from those they lead, tend to see the church as a tool for their own personal gain, rather than a responsibility from God to shepherd and nurture. This is true of any leadership we've seen throughout history, religious or not. They want what they can't have, and when given absolute power, are corrupted absolutely.

Tl;dr? People suck. Nobody is exempt.

A pastor I met when travelling told me once that he followed Jesus, not necessarily the Church leadership positions (save for the only one that actually matters, how we're redeemed from sin).



For further reference, watch South Park's "scrotie mcboogerballs", a good example of people reading their own ideas into something where they were not intended.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 08:49:14 pm by TheMinister »