Author Topic: God helps those who help themselves  (Read 1566 times)

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Offline aiguille

God helps those who help themselves
« on: March 25, 2016, 05:11:22 AM »
Hello everyone! :guts:
I'm a Chinese fan of Berserk, like everyone else, I have opinions
Unfortunately my English is not good, so I have to rely on Google translate, but I must proofreading, which limits the number of my article
I think Berserk is not anti-religious, Miura indeed depicts the dark side of medieval Christianity, but if you look carefully there are chapters of witch Flora, you know the spirit has helped Guts
Guts will not seek the help of others, but he would not refuse the goodwill of others
"God helps those who help themselves" maxim spread ancient Greece, in China also has the same motto, we referred to as "天助自助者"
In the Chinese philosopher Confucius thought, humanity is to respect God ,but far from God, human beings engage their part, efforts to change the fate

(Confucian Analects Book XI: Hsien Tsin Chapter 11 )
Confucius avoids answering questions about serving spirits, and about death.
Ch L asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, "While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?" Ch L added, "I venture to ask about death?" He was answered, "While you do not know life, how can you know about death?"

You can think, Chinese people are agnosticism

In the traditional Confucian culture, religion is spiritual sustenance, but we do not spend too much time in prayer, but the emphasis on how to change their lives in the real world
You may have heard of the Communist Party is atheist, but in fact the Chinese have the same religion and temples
Chinese Communist Party religion neither encourages nor against it; I do not want to talk too much politics, but the Communist Party does not want religion in secret political interference
Perhaps because the Japanese and Chinese culture is very close, we are all polytheism, but not attention to religion, Christianity is not our culture, so Miura from another perspective Christianity
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 05:29:30 AM by aiguille »

Offline Lithrael

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Re: God helps those who help themselves
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 12:39:29 PM »
Hello and welcome aiguille!

Ah, interesting thoughts.  I agree that Berserk is not really anti-religious.  Rather, it explores humanity's relationship to religion (and to civilization itself) and the way power, religious or otherwise, can end up running away with itself.  Schierke's arcs show how, when the new religions fail to respect the old ones, everyone suffers - but that when respect is brought back, the different ways can coexist peacefully. 

We have Flora's (in-universe true) respectful relationships to the older powers, powers of nature etc, that can be dangerous and wild as well as serene.  We also have things like Slan's cult (in-universe true) that's just frenzied hedonism in the face of hopelessness, which murders babies but at least everyone is having a good time.  Which is juxtaposed with Mozgus with his sincere and (as far as we know) completely wrong beliefs, which murders babies while creating pretty much nothing but suffering.  His religion brings people together but then allows the crowd's fear and fury to turn, uselessly, on scapegoats.  Mozgus, in the end, might be the best example of real gods' favors coming down on someone who is out there helping himself, and he's so excited about it that he can't see the corruption in it any more than he could see the corruption in the way he practiced his religion in the first place.  And while all that is going on, it's the Beherit Apostle alone, who never had the power to help himself as a human, who 'helps himself' within the context of the God Hand's plans. 

So most directly in Berserk's context, it's the God Hand who help those who help themselves - the Apostles!  Whereas Guts is probably the epitome of the guy that just stands up and helps himself, and I would argue that it's one of the main themes of Berserk that he is helped by the people that he meets and inspires, rather than by any gods in particular.  Literally speaking he gets help from spiritual entities all the time, through Schierke's ability to call on them, but those are all examples of directly asking for help which these entities are willing to provide when asked in the right way, which is not what I think of with the phrase "God helps those who help themselves." 

And a big counterexample is Ganishka, who did nothing else but help himself, and pretty successfully, but all the gods had in mind for him was a bizarre world-changing defeat. 
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 01:09:07 PM by Lithrael »

Offline aiguille

Re: God helps those who help themselves
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2016, 12:03:26 AM »
Lithrael, nice to meet you, thanks for your response :slan:
Berserk there are two forces, IOE and FSK, FSK has been secretly helping Guts

We look at Chapter 202
"Flora: God has already chosen your destiny, but it is up to each person to make the choices, or so I believe"

Chapter 203
"Flora: God gave them the destiny, This encounter"

I think Flora say God is immemorial humans worship original God, not IOE
(Refer to chapter 205 and 215)
In the history of Christianity, had also polytheism, christianity angel was originally a pagan god, but it is changing doctrine to meet the political demands
I recommend a 2007 movie: "The Man from Earth"

The IOE exploit the weaknesses of the people, the people become the apostles, this is not "God helps those who help themselves."
The question is, what is the purpose of the IOE? IOE is human collective unconscious created, so I think the IOE did not want to destroy humanity
In many religions, such as China's Taoism that good and evil are one in essence, part of human nature good and bad
If IOE want to satisfy these two requirements, he must create a Messiah and a Satan
I think IOE like "The Matrix", his strength comes from faith in humanity, so he must have more faith
The heathen, Ganishka and spread disease and chaos for four hand of God is Satan
Griffith's fate and personality creation by the IOE, so IOE not force him to do anything, Griffith is the IOE designated Messiah
(Speaking of which, I have seen in Baidu a very interesting article, referred to Griffith with Trinity, I will have time to translate the article)
Griffith bit like "Superman Red Son", whether he made most people's subconscious desire, in fact, it is to suppress the free will and pluralistic society
« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 12:14:47 AM by aiguille »

Offline Lithrael

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Re: God helps those who help themselves
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2016, 03:37:26 PM »
Ah, very good points!  Flora does have this spiritual outlook and she seems to know what she is doing. 

And I really like the comparison to "Red Son" Superman.

You are correct that the IOE exists because of humanity.  It understands that the reason for its existence, if I remember correctly, is to give reason to the suffering that humanity endures.  But it isn't 'the Idea of Why,' it is 'the Idea of Evil.'  It isn't just the question, with an answer like 'because there is a struggle between good and evil' - it is humanity's answer to the question: EVIL.  It is the reason for suffering, and that reason is evil.

So - does that mean that the IOE ultimately wants to keep humanity around so that it can continue to exist for that reason?  Maybe it just wants to provide a really great reason for suffering and if that wipes out humanity, "so what"?  I don't think it wants to keep humanity around to "farm" suffering as an end in itself, but rather wants to give lots of really impressive reasons for the suffering that humanity endures.  Does it prefer quantity or quality? 

I would guess, since what humans find satisfying is something really narratively satisfying, that that is ultimately why all the IOE's plans are so epic.  Humanity's zeitgeist does not question suffering and look for an answer like "Suffering is a side effect of the mechanisms of being alive, motile, and complex."  Humanity is desperate for the reason to be cool

I think the problem, the reason that the question of 'why' created such a bleak thing as the IOE, is because humanity is as fascinated by hell and terrible reasons as it is by heaven and good reasons.  A typical human soul wonders why there is suffering, and it finds four possible answers: 1) You suffer by accident and nothing supernatural is there to protect you from that (not satisfying.)  2) You suffer because it's a necessary part of a plan/world that is good or balanced (an idea many would like to believe but which requires faith.)  3) You suffer because you deserve it and something is giving you what you deserve  (amazingly popular.)  Or, 4) you suffer because of terrible forces outside of your control (also very popular.)  I can only imagine that the IOE is essentially made of the last two ideas.  The Idea Of Evil, then, could be both the idea that YOU are evil (and so deserve to suffer) and the idea that evil is 'out there' in other people and in supernatural forces, making you suffer.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 01:26:53 PM by Lithrael »

Offline JMP

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Re: God helps those who help themselves
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2016, 04:07:04 PM »
Hi aiguille!  :serpico:

It doesn't seem to me that Berserk is anti-religious either. I think it's more anti-blindly following any belief. I think the scene in volume 24 with Schierke and Flora is a good example of that. Even though Schierke is one of the more enlightened and knowledgeable characters in the series she is still susceptible to inability to see a truth that does not fit in with what she knows. Schierke expresses to Flora that she thinks it's impossible for Guts to defy powerful beings like the godhand. She seems to think he's crazy for even trying. Flora has to point out to her that despite the odds against him Guts is still alive. He has managed to defy the godhand already and is standing right in front of her as proof. Lots of plots in Berserk seem to revolve around characters breaking free or being shaken loose from their falsely held beliefs and ways of viewing the world and themselves to see things with fresh eyes. I really enjoy getting to see that growth happen with characters throughout the series.

I do think that Berserk has a theme of "God helping those who help themselves". To me that saying means not just sitting around waiting for something to happen or for someone else to save you, but doing as much as you are able to help yourself, then the rest (what you have no control over) is up to God or fate but at least you did what you could. Berserk is rife with the message of not giving up in the face of adversity and of actively striving, as it's main protagonist, Guts, the "struggler" demonstrates all the time. I think the incident when Schierke and friends defend the church in volume 25 is one good example of that in Berserk. At first the village priest views the troll invasion as a test from God that the village must endure. He and the rest of the villagers are understandably afraid and it seems they can't even conceive of humans being capable of fighting and winning against the vicious monsters. Also, the priest believes that the village should not accept help from those he sees as sinners and heretics. Schierke and company, though, end up showing them that they can be saved with a combination of defending themselves and help from spiritual beings who are entreated to aid them.

I enjoyed reading you and Lithrael's thoughts!  :ubik:
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 12:26:57 AM by JMP »
A good sword, even if it rusts and dulls, has good steel that never rusts left over in the wick. That steel's the ultimate steel. Even if it cracks, if you return it to the fire, it's sure to be reborn. - Godot