In Episode 6 of Angel Beats, we find Kanade and Otonashi trapped as the newly elevated Class President Naoi abuses his powers, attacking the students the Afterlife Battlefront. With them seemingly defeated, Naoi declares that the goal of this afterlife world they’re in is to determine who will be God. Then, he declares himself God and says that the suffering he has endured made him deserving. He’s wrong.
This reminds me of a story from the book of Judges, the tale of Micah’s gods and his priest (Judges 17-18). The story goes that Micah robbed his mother, then returned it to her and she let him use the stolen silver to craft himself a “god” that he could control for his household. He then paid a Levite to be his priest, leading in the worship of his “god.” Idolatry is about control. By creating the god himself, after his image, he is making himself into a god. He is worshipping himself. Much the same way, Naoi is trying to craft a version of the afterlife based on himself at the center, himself in charge, himself as the god. He has paid off “NPCs” to serve him in a capacity which puts the Afterlife Battlefront at a severe disadvantage. But, in the end, when you are your own god – the world you create is fragile and will fall.
In Judges, Micah’s fall comes soon as the tribe of Dan is searching for another area to conquer. They travel through town, find his Levite and ask him to follow them. The Levite and the Danites then take Micah’s god and leave town, leaving Micah once more without the power base he wanted, without his god. His god with eyes that cannot see or ears that cannot hear was stolen from him. His power source taken away because the world he built for himself was fragile and imperfect.
For Naoi, the end may not occur yet, but it will and by the end of the episode the carefully created world he has crafted appears to be collapsing after Otonashi confronts him. That said, we sometimes need to be reminded that we are not god. It seems odd to remind yourself that you are not god, but let’s look at the facts.
We are flawed. We are fallen. We are imperfect. But, we like to be in control. We like to have authority. We want to make all the decisions on our own. But, the fact of the matter is that we have no control over the world around us. As a parent, we see that daily as we try to create a safe environment for our children – only to find out that we cannot account for everything again and again. In our lives we try to exert control as we can, and sometimes that’s good. But, when we go so far as to ignore the authority of the Lord; when we decide to follow our own path laid out and in essence worship ourselves as a god – that is when we fall.
We see it in our lives often. We see the televangelist who seems to wish to be worshipped falling from grace. We see it in politicians who develop a personality cult and are loved by their fans to the point of worship, only to watch as they see their “god” is truly a man behind the facade. We see it in people who build up worlds for themselves, carefully planned, only to have something unexpected come their way. They seek the control, seek to be in charge, seek to be their own god. When the Lord throws something their way to remind them they are not, it can be crippling. Let us not fall victim to this lie seen since the beginning. Let’s not believe what the serpent tried to trick Eve and Adam with in the garden – that we are in control, that we deserve to be God…