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jroa



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:31 pm Reply with quote
ChibiKangaroo wrote:
What exactly is this test? God is testing to see whether Maria can keep rebelling against him, and when she passes, he awards her with equal status in the godly "natural order?" Like I said, it still doesn't make any sense from any kind of historical or theological standpoint.


We appear to be circling around each other too much, but I will go at this one last time today.

-I do not believe that her ability to "rebel" is what God was testing here. As Michael originally put it and later referenced, Maria was being asked to place her happiness on the scales and weigh it against that of the world. That can be interpreted in multiple ways, but I think later events make it clear enough. Was she sincerely doing all this in order to genuinely help others in spite of the risks (which implies that God does know the concepts of friendship and love as well as sincere goodness) or was Maria simply seeking her own happiness out of sheer arrogance? If arrogance was the only truth at the heart of her own self, Maria could have easily given up when serious complications and signs of opposition crossed her path. That would have made her more mature as a character, perhaps, but also proven such a task was too much for her to endure. Maria would need to be both stubborn and pure of heart in order to deal with the pressure. Broadly speaking, tests are all about surviving in the face of adversity and this is one manifestation of that principle.

-There is room for interpretation here, as the natural order is never strictly defined, but I do not think the show is saying the natural order is exclusively the realm of the gods. In other words, both regular human beings and witches who play by the rules are a part of it. The problem was whether or not Maria was truly disrupting the balance. Her actions had both positive and negative effects, but the general impact she had on people, in spite of all the trouble she went through during the story, was valuable enough for the Church of Heaven to reconsider her place in said natural order. But I feel that is not simply unilateral surrender to a witch, as you have taken it to mean. Maria is not just going to proceed with her own magical interventions as if nothing had happened. If Maria were truly selfish and had "defeated" God in order to lecture him about her ways, there would be no need for her to accept this outcome in practice.

-As already discussed before, I believe it makes plenty of sense from the very particular theological standpoint of this show, which is nothing more than a fictional interpretation of a religion that is evidently far more complex (and some would say far more contradictory) in truth. However, I find that there are some connections and parallels to the real thing, rather than being completely disconnected from it. You believe there is no such thing as a precedent for the conceptual progression I have outlined, but I think the Bible -as a historical document- suggests otherwise. Even if there weren't any, however, that doesn't make it non-sensical.
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DuskyPredator
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:11 am Reply with quote
Episode 12 (finale)

This does seem to be a show that has had me thinking about what it meant while reading the posts here, and looking back on the episode. Firstly it can easily be explained that the spoiler[village and such would accept Maria because they themselves witnessed Michael and by extension God accept Maria, they can't punish her].

Not sure if it quite the case, if the episode was say a child she might have later spoiler[would be the reborn Ezekiel, or as a final touch Maria became even closer to her ironic name sake in becoming a virgin mother]. Overall I thought it was a very sweet part.

And lots left to interpretation about how exactly this finished off. After spoiler[a bit it has become my personal view that Maria being welcomed as a neighbour, being said as part of the natural order, and her saying that she would see Cernunnos again meant that she too may well become a deity]. Perhaps after her spoiler[mortal life which she was to enrich by living with mortal people she would become what Ezekiel accidentally mentioned several episode back, a god].

I looked up what the female counterpart to the Horned God is in neopagan belief, and even if it does not hold significance with what creators had in mind, it might be an interesting take. Apparently the female counterpart is something referred to as the Triple Goddess, which takes the form of a Maiden, a mother, and a crone. With the spoiler[series finishing with Maria transition from a maiden to a mother] it made me think that she did have experiences left, the crone part was also quite large in the series too with Martha, and Anne as the storyteller. Of course the real possibility is that this means nothing.

Other thoughts is that Bernard spoiler[might have been crazy and all that, his beliefs heresy to the world he lives in, but his beliefs were kind what one would call early atheist], it may not have been all that crazy. Of course he lost it further when he could spoiler[not accept what was right in front of him].

I feel fairly happy with rating the series as Very good. People are going to be separated on this show, but it was a good one in my opinion.
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ChibiKangaroo



Joined: 01 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:48 am Reply with quote
jroa wrote:

-I do not believe that her ability to "rebel" is what God was testing here. As Michael originally put it and later referenced, Maria was being asked to place her happiness on the scales and weigh it against that of the world. That can be interpreted in multiple ways, but I think later events make it clear enough. Was she sincerely doing all this in order to genuinely help others in spite of the risks (which implies that God does know the concepts of friendship and love as well as sincere goodness) or was Maria simply seeking her own happiness out of sheer arrogance?


I understand this point, and although I think it makes sense in the abstract, it doesn't really make sense to me in this show because the answer to this question was completely obvious based on what Maria was doing. She had only ever used her powers to (a) cure people with medicine, and (b) stop wars to prevent people from dying. There was never any indication she was doing anything else. As far as we can tell, she has been doing only things like that for years. Again, I ask what, exactly, would God have been testing when Maria hasn't changed and has been doing exactly the same thing long before we saw her in this show?

It is the same point that was raised before by Yttrbio and has been noted by others as well (even Key at one point). Maria hasn't changed. She hasn't grown. A test would imply that one has learned something and is being put to the test on that. She hasn't learned anything. If we assume (as Christian faith does), that God is all-knowing and all-seeing, then he already has seen and known everything Maria has been doing for her entire life. It wouldn't be necessary for him to check "one last time" and see if she really wants to keep stopping wars.

Furthermore, the part where Michael says to her that she will weigh her happiness against the world's was in reference to the condition being put on her that if she has sex she will lose her powers. It had nothing to do with "if you keep using your powers openly, I will kill you." That was a real threat, not part of that particular test. So even if you wanted to claim there was a test, it was a test of whether she would have sex to achieve her own personal pleasure (happiness) rather than have power to keep helping people. But that question is never actually put to the test in this show. The show isn't about Maria resisting sexual urges or denying herself a life of pleasure. That's never been the focus, and such things were barely ever mentioned, mostly in that one scene with Viv first finding out she is a virgin. The rest of the show has been about Maria rebelling against the Church and God by continuing to summon huge monsters in the middle of battle to stop the wars, and being repeatedly confronted and nearly killed by Michael and the Church officials.

So although I understand why you might want to interpret there being a test going on, because there could have been a focus on that based on Michael putting that condition on her, it just didn't play out in that way. The show didn't address the real "test" that was apparently given, of her virginity vs helping the people. Instead, the show focused on her stubbornness/arrogance going up against the will of the Heavens on the propriety of her using her powers to stop wars, and in the end she "wins" by forcing the Heavens to acknowledge her as a fellow deity. That was how it played out in the end, so the "test" was never completed or evaluated.
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Blood-



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:27 am Reply with quote
ChibiKangaroo wrote:
I understand this point, and although I think it makes sense in the abstract, it doesn't really make sense to me in this show because the answer to this question was completely obvious based on what Maria was doing. She had only ever used her powers to (a) cure people with medicine, and (b) stop wars to prevent people from dying. There was never any indication she was doing anything else. As far as we can tell, she has been doing only things like that for years. Again, I ask what, exactly, would God have been testing when Maria hasn't changed and has been doing exactly the same thing long before we saw her in this show?


My interpretation is that her interventions have become more frequent and spectacular over time and like all good shows, it began just as that tipping point was reached.

Quote:
Maria hasn't changed. She hasn't grown.


Yeah, she has. It's already been pointed out how and you choose to ignore it so no point in repeating how she's changed and grown since you'll simply once again ignore those points.

Quote:
So although I understand why you might want to interpret there being a test going on, because there could have been a focus on that based on Michael putting that condition on her, it just didn't play out in that way.


Yeah, it did. It's true that it wasn't initially obvious that Heaven was testing Maria, but the final episode made it obvious. Heaven wanted to see how Maria would act when the purity restriction was put on her. Wanted to see if she'd play ball with Michael's warnings. Michael consulted with a wide variety of people (and, uh, things) who were friends, foes and neutral to see what they thought of Maria. Maria indicated by spoiler[making Joseph her boyfriend and by accepting Dovey as her child to be that she was giving up her magic (I think) and planned to advance her peace agenda through "adherence to natural law" means.] So then Heaven made its Judgment. Because she had spoiler[changed in a way that made it possible to operate within the natural law as mandated by God, she was allowed to live and (presumably) do good things.] It's all there.

eta: just read Gabriella's review of final episode. A very nice summation of how Maria has changed and grown.
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ChibiKangaroo



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:57 am Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:

My interpretation is that her interventions have become more frequent and spectacular over time and like all good shows, it began just as that tipping point was reached.


This is certainly possible, but it doesn't negate the fact that she has been doing this stuff for a long time. God doesn't require frequency or spectacularity in order to understand someone's motives and commitment. Again, God is considered to be all knowing and so he would have already seen everything Maria was doing. What I mean by she hasn't changed is that she has continued to do the same stuff she's done in the past, and feels very stubborn about doing it no matter what. That's not change. If God already knows that, what exactly is being tested?

If you go back to the biblical examples we threw out there before (both myself and jroa), both of those examples involve God testing how someone reacts to a new issue that God doesn't have a record for (which is in keeping with Christian teachings since humans are supposed to have free will.)

Abraham being told to kill his only son was God testing whether Abraham would sacrifice something so dear to him just because God told him to. It was a test of devotion, but there was not previously any track record of Abraham sacrificing sons to appease God which God could put that up against.

Job was tested by a God/Satan combo. He was a super wealthy/prosperous man with healthy sons and daughters, and was extremely faithful and pious. But then Satan taunts God saying Job wouldn't be that way without all of his wealth and prosperity, so God takes away his protection and lets Satan mess with Job by killing off all his family, taking away his wealth, and giving him leprosy. Yet, somehow Job refuses to curse God. So then in the end God gives him back even more wealth than he had before.

Those are the types of tests you see in the biblical verses. What happened here with Maria was not such a "test." Again, Maria already had an established record of using her powers to stop wars and rebel against the Heavens.

Now, as I said earlier, the whole virginity condition could have been used as a test (which I think was somewhat indicated, but it just wasn't followed-up on.) I think it would have been a real test if Maria had been forced to either struggle against primal sexual urges, or if (in lieu of the virginity condition), she had simply had all of her powers taken away by God for a long period of time. Then there could have been a test to see if she could keep stopping wars. Those are the types of things that would make sense as a test, but God simply asking "are you really going to keep rebelling against me as you have since forever?" is just not a test.

Granted, I do recognize that the spoiler["judgment" part of the final episode appears to have been some sort of ultimate determination of Maria's virtues and vices, and I think that was done fairly well thematically (as I said earlier)], but that appeared to be much more of an "on the spot" thing as spoiler[Michael was about to kill Maria and the other witches right before God decided to back down and judge her based on human morals.] That didn't appear to be at all tied to the conditions placed on her previously.
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Blood-



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:28 am Reply with quote
ChibiKangaroo wrote:
What I mean by she hasn't changed is that she has continued to do the same stuff she's done in the past, and feels very stubborn about doing it no matter what. That's not change.


Maria at beginning of show: using magic to stop battles (as Gabriella puts it, imposing her will on others).

Maria at ending of show: gives up magic (I think) and resolves to work with the natural law as set down by God.

Please explain to me how that is not change. You should read Gabriella's review of Episode 12 - as I said, it's a good summation of how Maria has changed since the beginning of the show.
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ChibiKangaroo



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:40 am Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:


Maria at beginning of show: using magic to stop battles (as Gabriella puts it, imposing her will on others).

Maria at ending of show: gives up magic (I think) and resolves to work with the natural law as set down by God.

Please explain to me how that is not change. You should read Gabriella's review of Episode 12 - as I said, it's a good summation of how Maria has changed since the beginning of the show.


I did read Gabriella's review. I have read all of her reviews. However, your interpretation of the second point is contradicted by what was in the episode. There was not a statement that she was giving up magic. In fact, the opposite was indicated.

First of all, Michael and Maria spoiler[have a spat after God's judgment where Maria indicates she is going to keep using her powers to stop wars and Michael indicates he is going to keep trying to stop her. If she wasn't going to be using powers anymore, he would have no reason to keep watching and interfering with her.] That's pretty clear proof that she has every intention to keep using magic.

God declares that spoiler[Maria will now be considered a "neighbor" in the natural law of the world]. Previously, this whole "natural law" concept has been used to talk about magic and deities. The indication is that spoiler[God is accepting Maria as a fellow deity of sorts, even if she is a minor one. This was backed up later by Michael/God's conversation with Cernunnos, where they talked about Maria continuing on as a power of some sort.]

I believe there was some statement spoiler[either by Maria or someone else that said she would live as both a human and a witch.]

Lastly, there was an indication that spoiler[her powers would be taken away after Ezekiel is born.]

So all that is I think pretty strong evidence that she intends to keep using her powers until they are taken away.
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Blood-



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:09 am Reply with quote
@ CK - before I get into specifics, I just want to point out that there is ambiguity in the final episode. I think it would be as wrong for me to say, "Maria has definitely given up magic and will pursue her agenda through other means" as it would be to say, "Maria definitely plans to continue on exactly the same way as before."

However, here are the things that lead me to believe more in my interpretation, than yours:

1) She leaves her hut.

2) She no longer wears her "sexy l'il witchy-poo" costume (and mores the pity), not even her funky red rubber ball earrings.

3) We have been told that she will lose her magic when she loses her purity. Galfa impeded her magic use but because he did not fully destroy her purity, she was able to regain it. I'm sure there will be a lot of purity nullification going on with Joseph.

4) Michael does not smite her down. I fully believe if she had intended to keep on defying the edict of Heaven she would have been smitten - and not in the good way. I believe the only reason why God didn't punish her temerity (beyond the fact that she is giving up her magic) is that a number of people put in a good word for her.

Now to respond to your points:

Quote:
First of all, Michael and Maria spoiler[have a spat after God's judgment where Maria indicates she is going to keep using her powers to stop wars and Michael indicates he is going to keep trying to stop her. If she wasn't going to be using powers anymore, he would have no reason to keep watching and interfering with her.] That's pretty clear proof that she has every intention to keep using magic.


Granted, I have only watched the eppie once, but I don't recall any indication that she said she continue to use magic. What I did get the sense was that she wasn't going to give up her agenda to prevent fighting. It's just she wasn't going to be pulling dragons out of cauldrons to do it, anymore. Can you cite me some dialogue or action that indicates she plans to continue to use magic?

Quote:
God declares that spoiler[Maria will now be considered a "neighbor" in the natural law of the world]. Previously, this whole "natural law" concept has been used to talk about magic and deities. The indication is that spoiler[God is accepting Maria as a fellow deity of sorts, even if she is a minor one. This was backed up later by Michael/God's conversation with Cernunnos, where they talked about Maria continuing on as a power of some sort.]


See, I interpret the fact that God is willing to consider her a neighbour is because she is giving up magic - i.e. adhering to his "natural law." But I fully admit that due to the ambiguity of the finale, other interpretations than mine are possible with respect to whether or not God is accepting her as a deity of sorts.

Quote:
I believe there was some statement spoiler[either by Maria or someone else that said she would live as both a human and a witch.]

Lastly, there was an indication that spoiler[her powers would be taken away after Ezekiel is born.]


With respect to your first point, can you point to that statement? And doesn't the second point support what I have been saying - that Maria will be giving up magic?
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ChibiKangaroo



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:30 am Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:
@ CK - before I get into specifics, I just want to point out that there is ambiguity in the final episode. I think it would be as wrong for me to say, "Maria has definitely given up magic and will pursue her agenda through other means" as it would be to say, "Maria definitely plans to continue on exactly the same way as before."


Agreed. If I have said before that it is absolutely positive, I retract that. I do think it is more likely than not though.

Quote:

However, here are the things that lead me to believe more in my interpretation, than yours:

1) She leaves her hut.

2) She no longer wears her "sexy l'il witchy-poo" costume (and mores the pity), not even her funky red rubber ball earrings.


As humorous as these were for me, I don't think they say TOO much. They certainly do indicate she plans to live among humans which is good for her not planning to become some old crone in the woods, but I do think she will still be using her magic within the village.

Quote:

3) We have been told that she will lose her magic when she loses her purity. Galfa impeded her magic use but because he did not fully destroy her purity, she was able to regain it. I'm sure there will be a lot of purity nullification going on with Joseph.


That's definitely true, but I don't know whether this condition applies still and we don't know exactly when she and Joseph will get it on, even if it does still apply. I will have to go back and watch the episode again to be certain but I do feel like (as jroa said before) there was some indication she would lose her powers as a result of Ezekiel, not just Joseph having sex with her.

Quote:

4) Michael does not smite her down. I fully believe if she had intended to keep on defying the edict of Heaven she would have been smitten - and not in the good way. I believe the only reason why God didn't punish her temerity (beyond the fact that she is giving up her magic) is that a number of people put in a good word for her.


I figured Michael didn't smite her because God backed down and decided to let her live on as a member of his godly family, so to speak.

Quote:

Granted, I have only watched the eppie once, but I don't recall any indication that she said she continue to use magic. What I did get the sense was that she wasn't going to give up her agenda to prevent fighting. It's just she wasn't going to be pulling dragons out of cauldrons to do it, anymore. Can you cite me some dialogue or action that indicates she plans to continue to use magic?


I will watch the episode again later today and find that for you. All I remember is there was a scene where Michael and Maria are going back and forth at each other, and she says she will keep doing what she has been doing and he says he will keep watching/stopping her. Granted, they were smiling at the time so there was probably some humor there, but I still think there would be no reason for Michael to be watching her like that if she didn't have any powers anymore.

Quote:
Quote:
I believe there was some statement spoiler[either by Maria or someone else that said she would live as both a human and a witch.]

Lastly, there was an indication that spoiler[her powers would be taken away after Ezekiel is born.]


With respect to your first point, can you point to that statement? And doesn't the second point support what I have been saying - that Maria will be giving up magic?


Again, I'll see if I can find those things after I re-watch it.
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Harleyquin



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:33 pm Reply with quote
For all those still confused on whether Maria is still a witch by the end of the series, Martha's last line basically gives the answer when she spoiler[describes her as a witch in the past tense. Unlike temporal jobs, losing the job description implies loss of powers rather than just a change in lifestyle. ]
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Blood-



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:41 pm Reply with quote
@ Harleyquin - I may be wrong on this so apologies if I am, but I think it is spoiler[Anne - who it turns out has been our elderly narrator from the beginning (something I guessed at early on but refuse to take a hero cookie for since it was pretty obvious) - who made that statement, not Martha.] But, yes, I take that as more evidence for MY unimpeachable, glorious, couldn't be wrong interpretation as well.
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ChibiKangaroo



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:11 pm Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:
@ Harleyquin - I may be wrong on this so apologies if I am, but I think it is spoiler[Anne - who it turns out has been our elderly narrator from the beginning (something I guessed at early on but refuse to take a hero cookie for since it was pretty obvious) - who made that statement, not Martha.] But, yes, I take that as more evidence for MY unimpeachable, glorious, couldn't be wrong interpretation as well.


Before you get too fired up, remember that I'm saying I think she loses her powers spoiler[after she has Ezekiel anyway]. I only believe she continues to use her powers between the end of the show and that point.
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HaruhiToy



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:12 pm Reply with quote
If Maria spoiler[lost her powers] then why did she spoiler[retain her familiars?]
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ChibiKangaroo



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:14 pm Reply with quote
HaruhiToy wrote:
If Maria spoiler[lost her powers] then why did she spoiler[retain her familiars?]


Good point. I didn't think of that one.
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jroa



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:26 pm Reply with quote
HaruhiToy wrote:
If Maria spoiler[lost her powers] then why did she spoiler[retain her familiars?]


spoiler[We do not see them in human form again. It is entirely possible they are still with her, but not as familiars in the strictest sense of the word. Just as owls who remember their shared experiences without speaking or transforming. I suppose someone might interpret that the other way around, but I think it is not clearly proven.]
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