Finding the Invisible God in…Serial Experiments Lain
Twitter can be a wonderful tool. It’s great for networking, establishing relationships, and finding out about news and new ideas.
It can also feed a blog.
A few weeks back, Otakurean, Prede and I were tweeting, and Otakurean mentioned that the father in Serial Experiments Lain was symbolic of God. I was confused at first – although the show was once one of my favorites and still one I admire greatly, it’s been almost 10 years since I’d seen it and I’d forgotten much. Wasn’t Lain symbolic of God? And wasn’t the father just a creepy dad? It wasn’t until after I rewatched the final episode that I got the connection.
Of course, Serial Experiments Lain is apt for discussion in a variety of arenas – media, technology, culture, society and relationships in addition to religion. Although I’m sure it’s been discussed to death, I can’t help but write about a connection between the show and Christian spirituality that stood out dramatically. In the final episode of the series, Lain embodies the role of Jesus Christ when He is at the Garden of Gethsamane, hours before His execution.
On the night of Jesus’s betrayal by Judas and his capture by the Romans, He went to the Garden of Gethsamane to pray. The Bible says He was sorrowful and troubled (Matthew 26:37). This is a perfect description of Lain as well, when she struggles with the decision to erase herself from the memory of humans. She fights with herself, wondering things like, “Why do I exist?” She is literally at conflict with herself as she talks and argues with a doppelganger. Lain knows what she should do, but seems to be struggling with going through with her decision.
Jesus, too, struggled in the moments of His fateful decision. The Bible says He was in anguish – His sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Those who were with him slept through most of the prayer, but must’ve been awake to hear (and record) Jesus say, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (43). Jesus didn’t want to die, but would rather die than disobey His father. Lain, similarly, didn’t want to be erased. We don’t know what else Jesus said or what was going on inside His head, but we know there was struggle between what was right and what was convenient.
We also know that Jesus heard from God. After all, prayer is communication with God, and Jesus did follow through on what He heard from the Heavenly Father. Lain, too, hears from her dad (from the Lain Wiki):
Lain’s Dad: “Lain you don’t need to wear such a thing anymore.” (referring to her bear suit)
Lain: ”Dad, do you know?”
Lain’s Dad: “What?”
Lain’s Dad: ”You love everyone? Isn’t that right?”
Lain: (shakes head and cries)
Lain’s Dad: ”Lain, next time I’ll prepare a good tea. And a madeleine. Certainly that would taste good.”
Here is where the hammer hits the nail on the head. Jesus died for everyone. The great equality in Christianity is that Jesus died for Jew and Gentile alike. He loved everyone. Lain, too, loves everyone, and sacrifices her life, in effect, because of that love. Her father understands her true feelings. Through speaking with her dad, Lain gathers strength to do what she will.
Jesus, too, gathered strength through speaking with His father. After Jesus’ prayer, all his anguish faded away. It is possibly the most important moment in human history, where Jesus decides whether to continue in perfection or follow His own path. And after making the decision, Jesus turns from sorrow to confidence. In fact, throughout the rest of the death and resurrection narrative, Jesus is always the figure most in command and the One most confident – in the face of certain horrible death, he stands strong and doesn’t waver. The struggle was in the prayer. For Lain, the struggle, too, was in making the decision. Once she follows through, the rest is easy, as is demonstrated by Lain’s angelic expression and easy dialogue after she wipes humanity’s memory of herself.
Jesus the Savior. Lain the savior. Both struggled and came out on top. The topping on the cake is in the dessert itself – I don’t know if Lain ever had tea and a madeleine, literally, with her dad, but the offer of comfort was there. Jesus, after He died, went to sit with His own Father, to fellowship with Him as well. God is in His Heaven, Lain is in her Wired, and all’s right with the world.
Posted on 11.30.2010, in Anime, Christianity and tagged Afterlife, Christian symbolism, Christianity, God, Jesus, Lain Iwakura, Love, Prayer, Relationship, Serial Experiments Lain, twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.