Friday, May 9, 2014

One Week Friends: Knowing vs. Really Knowing

If you read my "what I'm watching" posts for this season, then you know that One Week Friends is currently one of my favorite shows this season, if not my outright favorite. It is an incredibly pleasant show that is full of heartfelt and emotional moments. It also has some aspects that are worth looking at for Christians.

One major part of the show is the diary that the amnesiac Kaori keeps to help her keep track of the memories of her friends that she forgets every Monday. The amnesiac's diary is something that has been used before in these types of stories, such as the one used by Chihiro, who also suffers from anterograde amnesia, in ef - a tale of memories. The role that the diary has in One Week Friends is a fairly interesting one, and one worth looking at not just to consider to what extent a written record can compare to a memory, but also how Christians can look at our own written Word, the Bible.

That said, in order to look at this, be warned of significant spoilers after the jump.

Art by とおな (Original)

The idea of a diary is first proposed by Yuki Hase, the guy who becomes Kaori's first friend, in episode 2, although admittedly with some selfish motivations as he wanted to save himself the trouble of having to ask her to be his friend every week. Kaori herself is somewhat hesitant to write a diary, as she had tried it before, but it did not help her actually remember anything. And sure enough, despite having written about all the fun things she did the past week with Yuki, come Monday she still forgets it all, and reading the diary does nothing to help her. It is a rather insightful look at the nature of memory: the diary gives Kaori a written record of her experiences, but in and of itself it cannot let her recall the actual memories of those experiences--that is, mentally re-living those experiences and the emotions associated with them. It is much like looking at old photographs of events you have long forgotten about, in contrast to looking at a photograph of an event you remember, in which looking at the photograph evokes the experience in your mind again.

While not related to memories, for Christians, this has some important implications for our faith's own written record, the Bible. As the Word of God, the Bible is undoubtedly important: it contains all sorts of important things God wants to tell us about who He is, what He did for us, and how He wants us to live our lives. For a faith which is all about building a relationship with God, it is a potentially life-changing work, and regular reading and studying of the Bible is an important part of the Christian walk. However, there is one major caveat here: in and of itself, a Bible is nothing but a bunch of words on paper. (Or, if you have joined the technological revolution of Christianity like I have, a bunch of words on a smartphone/tablet/e-book/computer screen.)

What I mean by that is, it is all too easy to only read the words in the Bible, gaining all the head-knowledge of the contents within, without ever letting it affect your heart and change the way you think and live your life.You can read the Bible and claim to know God objectively, but without truly knowing Him as someone in a relationship with Him. It is much like how Kaori can read through her diary and objectively know about Yuki and the times she spent with him, but cannot recall that knowledge in any way that is meaningful for her relationship with him.

Thankfully for Kaori, she does not remain stuck in this state of being completely unable to remember anything about Yuki. Her progress is slow but noticeable, starting from when she sees the number 18 and remembers how she made tamagoyaki with exactly that many grams of sugar for Yuki's lunch. From there, through things like working over an argument with Yuki and making a new friend in Saki, she starts to, if not exactly regain her memory, at least gain a better sense of her friendships and the fulfillment she gets from them. Her diary is an important part of all that, as it gives her the base information, which she can go from to decide her actions.

Likewise, for Christians, the way to get the most out of the words of the Bible is to actively engage with it. This includes prayer and communicating with God before, during, and after reading it, and acting on what you read in it. Words on a page (or screen) will remain just words until they are brought into the heart and out into our actions, when they will come to life and allow us to grow.

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