Friday, August 15, 2014

Barakamon, Eps. 5-6: Past Victory

As I continue my biweekly coverage of this show, I am glad to see other bloggers covering this excellent show. If you have not yet already, do check out D.M. Dutcher's post on how the people of the island can represent what the Christian Church should be like. I would also highly recommend checking out Takaii's continuing coverage of the show at Random Curiosity.

Special thanks to Random Curiosity for the Barakamon screencaps. Have a delicious oyster shell as thanks!
Of course, I am still covering this show as part of my YamaHanaBara series. In these episodes, our exiled calligrapher Seishuu Handa has had plenty of time to get accustomed to the ways of the island. Can he show some of his old friends and calligraphy acquaintances how he has grown when they visit? I probably don't need to say it at this point anymore, but expect minor spoilers after the jump.

Winning It All

In episode 5, Seishuu talks about the mentality of aiming to win when doing calligraphy, as he refuses to teach the girls his craft unless they are trying to win an award for their work. It shows that there's still a part of Seishuu's old life that he has not completely let go, for better or for worse.

For those Christians who are part of a competitive scene, such as athletes, the concept of aiming to win can be a bit tricky to deal with. After all, winning means making others losers, and for a self-sacrificing faith such as Christianity, taking a victory for oneself might not seem all that selfless. However, Paul does make an allegory of the Christian life to competitive racing (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), highlighting how an athlete must undergo discipline and self-control--a type of self-sacrifice--in his pursuit of victory, and how we should live our Christian life the same way. Thus, aiming for victory in sports or calligraphy or whatever else can be a good way to show to the world the dedicated self-sacrifice we are willing to make for God by aiming to win in His name.

In this way, perhaps Seishuu's devotion to victory in calligraphy isn't really a bad thing, especially now that he is trying to find his way there through his own style rather than just adhering to textbook form. Of course, lest we get too preoccupied with the "perishable wreath" of worldly victory, it is also good to step back and remember those things that are truly important, like getting worried about the safety of the kids of the island.

Facing the Past

In episode 6, Seishuu's old friend and calligraphy dealer Kawafuji visits the island, and brings along Kousuke Kanzaki, an up-and-coming calligrapher who's been a big fan of Seishuu's traditionalistic work. However, he was also the one that took first place from Seishuu during the last exhibit he submitted a work to, which leads him to believe that in staying on the island, Seishuu is losing his touch. As such, he tries to get Seishuu to go back to Tokyo.

For experienced Christians who have gone through a falling-out with the faith but have since started to recover and grow from the experience, facing those who know our past life in the faith can be a rough prospect. They may view our "recovery" as "backsliding", citing all the great things we did for the faith (which probably led to the burnout in the first place) that we are no longer doing. Those who do so judge our faith on our works, which is the very definition of legalism, and likewise the complete opposite of grace.

Unfortunately, as Seishuu found out, their arguments can cause quite some confusion due to all the mixed messages thrown around. Thankfully, Naru is able to once again show him what is important, throwing around the pages of calligraphy books and magazines that represent Seishuu's past life as paper airplanes, showing him that his past is beyond him, and he can focus on what he wants to be in the present. For Christians, we can stand by God's grace (and the grace of newfound friends) to reject judgment by works and take confidence in God's love for us, focusing simply on what He wants us to do.

The moment when Seishuu tells Kousuke why he is staying on the island is a great moment that shows just how far he has come after living among the people of the island. There is still work for him to be done, both in calligraphy and in mentality, but Seishuu is now really recovering from his fall.

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