Anime Review: ERASED

ERASED is an animé series that tells the tale of Satoru, a 29-year-old failed manga artist who works at a pizzeria. Occasionally, he experiences Revival, where he can go back a few minutes in time (think Next) and change the outcome of recent situations. One day, Satoru experiences an unusual revival that takes him back to his elementary school days, giving him a chance to prevent a series of abductions and murders that happened to several of his classmates many years ago.

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This is one of the most artistically beautiful animés I’ve seen. In addition, it touches on heavy topics such as child abuse and divorce in a way that doesn’t seem heavy-handed.

This 12 episode show is currently available on Crunchyroll and FUNimation in a subtitled version–no English dubbing yet! Rated TV-14 for violence and occasional swearing.

Hallelujah!

As Easter approaches, most people think of spring, bunnies, and pastels, but what about music masterworks by two of the world’s greatest composers?  To discover what Bach and Handel have to do with Easter, read the following article by our guest author Caroline Bennett.

Handel

“I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

Job 19: 25-26, used as “Air 45” in Handel’s Messiah

It was just a few years before 1700. All was dark and quiet in the little town of Ohrdruf, Germany. Nothing stirred—except one little boy. Young Johann Bach, an orphan living with his elder brother, crept quietly out of bed when he knew everyone was asleep and snuck down the stairs to the room where his brother kept books. Dragging a chair over to a bookcase, Johann climbed onto it and grabbed a book of music manuscripts from high up on a shelf. He then pattered back up to his room and spent the next few hours copying down manuscripts. These midnight escapades repeated night after night until Johann had copied down the entire book. Then he set to work learning the pieces.

About the same time, another little boy from Germany was also devoting much of his time to music—George Handel. Neither of the boys knew that in one hundred years they would be heralded as two of the finest performers and composers in the world. Though Handel and Bach never met, they greatly admired each other and were very alike, especially with regards to their love for music and their deep faith in God. Bach and Handel combined these two passions to create many pieces reflecting their devotion to God, and Bach’s famous St. Matthew’s Passion and Handel’s Messiah are both perfect for listening to as Easter draws near.

Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, in the town of Eisenach. The Bach family had a long musical history, and Bach’s father—Johann Ambrosius—was a prominent musician in the town. So, unlike many composers, Bach was actually encouraged to be a professional musician from an early age. After his parents died in in the mid-1690s, Bach went to live with his brother, a church organist. Bach sang in a choir and received keyboard training from his brother, but was such an eager student that he made secret copies of music manuscripts from his brother’s prohibited music book. Bach continued to mature as a clavichordist, violinist, violist, and organist, and at the age of eighteen he began performing in the court orchestra at Weimar. Back in the Baroque era, it was customary for noblemen to employ musicians and composers, supporting these artists in their endeavors; very few composers were financially stable enough to find work outside of the courts of dignitaries. Thus Bach spent his entire life working for various noblemen and churches: first at Wiemar, then at Arnstadt, Mülhausen, Köthen, and finally at Leipzig. Depending on who he was serving, Bach performed and composed different kinds of music. Noblemen wished him to write concertos, orchestral suites, and harpsichord solos. When Bach worked for churches, he created vast amounts of religious music in the forms of organ solos, chorales, masses, cantatas, and oratorios.

St. Matthew's Passion
Page of music from St. Matthew’s Passion

Among Bach’s many religious works is his St. Matthew’s Passion, written in 1727 for a church’s Good Friday service. This oratorio is quite massive—a little less than three hours long—and is sung entirely in German. Reading the English translation of the words, however, reveals a recitation of St. Matthew’s account of Christ’s last supper, betrayal, trial, and death, interspersed with eloquent arias and choruses written by various hymn-writers. The solo voices and choruses are accompanied by a double orchestra and organs. The soloists sing the parts of the different people mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew: Jesus, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, and the like. All of the Scripture passages are sung by a soloist representing “Evangelist.” When writing the music for this oratorio, Bach tastefully used very little instrumental accompaniment for Evangelist’s passages, and created a “halo” effect with the strings section whenever Jesus speaks. The oratorio ends rather somberly, with the chorus singing to an entombed Jesus.

When Johann Sebastian Bach died at the age of 65 in 1750, he was completely blind and had recently suffered a stroke. Sadly, this great man and his many works were quickly forgotten by the world, until, one Good Friday in the mid-1800s, Felix Mendelssohn conducted St. Matthew’s Passion once again, sparking sudden interest in Johann Sebastian Bach. Since then, Bach has become one of the foremost composers of all time, and the dates that make up the Baroque era are even based on his lifetime: 1685 to 1750.

One month before Bach was born, the town of Halle, Saxony, saw the birth of another future composer: George Frideric Handel. When Handel expressed interest in music at a young age, his parents disagreed with each other on what to do; his father, a barber-surgeon, intended his son to become a lawyer and forbade studying music; his mother, a pious woman who appreciated music, encouraged her son to secretly study the clavichord. Fortunately, Handel was able to study music openly a few years later, because a nobleman heard Handel playing on a church organ and persuaded Handel’s father to allow him to take music lessons. By the time Handel was eleven, he was an accomplished organist, was studying a variety of instruments, and was composing original works. When Handel was seventeen or eighteen he began to travel the world and study the various Baroque styles of music coming from different countries. He incorporated the Italian Baroque style into his music, and so, while Bach’s works were staunchly German in sound, Handel’s contained a mixture of German and Italian. In a way, Handel’s works are the best of both worlds: they feature the strong, beautiful melodies common in Italian music, but maintain the richness of Germany’s Protestant culture.

Handel
George Frideric Handel

After working in a German court for a few years, Handel traveled to England, where he lived for the rest of his life. He became extremely popular there, for he was known as a lively German who spoke a mixture of English, German, and French. Few knew of the difficulties he experienced while in England—such as going bankrupt twice—for Handel found solace in his music. Indeed, because he channeled his emotions into his pieces, Handel’s music has a depth and sensitivity that speaks to all people. That is why his most famous oratorio, Messiah, is so moving. This work features a chamber orchestra, a chorus, and four vocal soloists, all weaving in and out, creating an intricate tapestry of sound.  Though it is often associated with Christmas, Messiah tells a story for all seasons, including Easter. The words are all taken straight from Scripture, and the oratorio begins in the Old Testament prophecies, tells of Christ’s birth, glories in his resurrection, and concludes with triumphant words from The Book of Revelation. To get the most out of Messiah, read the words as you listen to the music and think about the wonderful story that it tells. Also note how Handel effectively uses dynamic changes and the switches from chorus to soloist to set moods and emphasize certain passages. Because Messiah is a little over two hours long, is sung in English, and can often be very expressive, children will find this oratorio easier to understand and appreciate than Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. Messiah can therefore be a good way for parents to introduce their children to Handel’s music and at the same time talk about the story of redemption.

George Frideric Handel lived out the rest of his days in England, dying in London on April 14, 1759. Like Bach, he was completely blind at the time of his death, but, also like Bach, Handel never lost sight of the glorious hope he had due to his Savior’s redeeming work on the cross.

Worthy Is the Lamb
“Worthy Is the Lamb” from the Messiah

As Easter nears, it is timely to study Bach and Handel, two composers who understood the importance of the day and wrote music to celebrate it. St. Matthew’s Passion and Messiah are good companions, for though they tell the same overall story, Bach’s oratorio focuses more on Christ’s sacrifice, and Messiah focuses more on the salvation Christ brings. In addition, because the stately St. Matthew’s Passion was written for a church service, and the joyful Messiah for a public performance, the two complement and round each other out.

Both Bach and Handel wrote music to edify their audiences and to glorify God. After completing a new composition, Bach would always write SDG at the end of the piece, an acronym for the Latin phrase that means “Glory to God Alone,” a reminder that Bach’s talent and music did not come from himself, but was a gift from God. After the premiere of Messiah, an audience member congratulated Handel on the “noble entertainment” he had given the audience. Handel turned to him and replied gravely, “I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.” This statement is a reflection of all Handel’s music, as well as Bach’s. And if listeners hear and believe the message these two great composers propound, they will be better—better able to worship God and sing “Hallelujah!”

 

RECOMMENDED LISTENING:

♪ Celobury, Stephen and King’s College Choir of Cambridge. Bach: Matthaus-Passion. Brillant Classics, 1994.

♪ Solti, Sir Georg and Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Handel: Messiah. Decca, 1985.

Note: To view an English translation of St. Matthew’s Passion, visit http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV244.html.

 

I, Robot

Robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin is retiring.  Fifty years of work at U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men, Inc. lie behind her.  As she prepares for someone else’s name to be inset on the door of her office, a young reporter for Interplanetary Press interviews her about her experiences over the years as she watched and aided the advancement of human and robotic progress.  Dr. Calvin tells him nine stories.

Like a collection of short stories, each chapter of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov narrates a different tale that Dr. Calvin was either told or experienced herself.  Some of the stories follow the adventures of Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan, two field men for U.S. Robots, Inc.  They test new robots’ performances in the field and have to find solutions to any problems that the robots demonstrate.  These two men are very interesting, vivacious characters.  Powell is typically smart, calm, and analytic, while Donovan is quick-tempered and impatient.  Other chapters follow Dr. Calvin and her work analyzing robotic behavior as a “robopsychologist.”  When robots begin acting irrationally or go haywire, it’s up to Calvin to solve the problem.  Her job closely involves the Three Laws of Robotics:  first, a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; second, a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; third, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws (37).

I RobotEach chapter of I, Robot offers insight into robotic-human interaction and a mystery that must be solved.  Throughout the story questions constantly arise.  Are humans superior to robots?  Can the Three Laws of Robotics be broken?  Is it possible for robots to progress beyond humans?  What differentiates a robot from a “good” man?  After all, “the three rules of Robotics are the essential guiding principles of a good many of the world’s ethical systems” (182).  Because of this, self-preservation, obedience to authority, and self-sacrifice can be just as much the signs of robotic behavior as the behavior of a good person.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov represents the science fiction genre well.   Science fiction is well-suited to the discussion of philosophical questions, with its unique scenarios and environments.  It provides a good medium through which to ask the question “What would happen if…?”  In science fiction, readers and writers alike can step back from the story and judge questions with much more objectivity than usual, and in I, Robot, Asimov gives readers this chance.  By not forcing his own views on his audience, Asimov calls readers to think for themselves and practice discernment.

A Repressed Desire for Justice

 

Talk to most people on the street today concerning just about any issue and inevitably the word “fair” or, more likely, “unfair” will crop up a multitude of times. Whether the topic is immigration, education subsidies, abortion, legal acknowledgement of homosexual unions, gender switching, assisted suicide, job promotions, or who got the last cookie after supper -the term ‘fair’ has become ubiquitous in use.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of ‘fair’ is:

 

  • agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable

  • treating people in a way that does not favor some over others

  • not too harsh or critical

  • marked by impartiality and honesty :  free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism

 

After closely examining the above explanation, it is no small wonder that the word ‘fair’ has become so widespread in use. Emphasis has been added to the above to highlight my point, but ‘fairness’ is incredibly subjective -based upon what is “thought to be” correct, and is not “too harsh or critical.” For a culture that has only the individual self to anchor morality to, is it any wonder that daily conversations are filled with references to fairness?

Contrast the above definition with that of ‘just’:

  • acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good : <a just war>
  • being what is merited :<a just punishment>

Notice some key differences here:

  • Being ‘just’ deals directly with “what is morally upright or good,” no subjectivity is permitted when being truly just. In fact, the wording of this definition precludes the idea that justice can change with individuals’ differing opinions or views. Justice transcends individual human authorship.
  • Being ‘just’ has everything to do with “what is merited,” not what what we think/feel is merited. Once again, it transcends human authorship.

Even whenever the term ‘just’ is used today, it is oftentimes referred to more in the sense of ‘fair’ than in what the word actually means. However, for anybody trying to flee from God or repress a guilty conscience (which can include Christians too at times), an avoidance of speaking or thinking about justice in the sense above is almost necessary -for to use it would be self-condemning, which is why everybody uses the word ‘fair’ (or re-purposes the meaning of ‘fair’ and calls it ‘just’).

However, repression does not mean that people, on a temporal level, do not desire justice. One look at the media that people down through the centuries have consumed can leave little doubt of this: books, songs, comics, movies, and games where evil is constantly (and rightfully) brought to justice. In fact, it is often a key motivator. We revere historical figures who championed justice, and demonize their enemies; we flock to theatres to watch cops, vigilantes, and soldiers conquer evil; we love books that pit good versus evil and good wins. People, at a most basic level, will always have a sense and desire for justice because it is a piece of the God in whose image they were made.

So, as we go out this week and have those interactions where discussions of ‘fairness’ arise, and they will, let’s not forget what it means to be ‘just,’ because that matters infinitely more in the end than someone’s personal sense of being wronged. There is only one author of justice, God, and unless the world draws near to him they will see true justice with no quarter given to a selfish sense of ‘fairness.’ Remember the cry of the saints in heaven, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?“(Rev. 6:10). God’s wrath is coming and we his people are called to make his name known, and proclaim the mercy freely available in Christ, before the end when the doors close. Proclaim the author of justice to the world.

 

Required Statements

Ms. Hadrian  11/12/2031

My students had but moments ago returned from lunch.  I was stationed just outside the door to my classroom, greeting students, and thus I did not see what sparked the incident.  I was first made aware of an anomaly in my classroom due to a piercing shriek emanating from my room, followed by a cry of “Auuuggghhh!  Get that thing away from me!”  I believe I caught a fleeting glimpse from the corner of my eye of a burst of orange glow.  However, I was swiftly distracted by a profusion of shrill screeches, as a mass of my students stampeded out of my classroom and into the hallway.  I managed to make my way through the swarm of students and into my classroom, where I discovered Isaac Muldroon running about the room in a frantic panic, with the cowl of his hoodie alight.  I immediately caught Isaac and assisted him in the removal of his garment, which I cast upon the ground.   I then stamped out the flames.  Isaac was, I believe, rendered speechless; at any rate, he burst into incoherent sobs, and I did not get anything else out of him for the remainder of our time together.  While I was assessing the damage done to Isaac, I noticed for the first time Adrian Jackson, lurking in the corner.  Assuming Adrian to be responsible for Isaac’s state, I began to confront Adrian, but before I could go anything else out besides an emphatic “What…,” I was distracted by a very loud hiss, originating from underneath the group of desks situated closest to the window.  I moved closer to inspect, whereupon I must confess a very peculiar sight met my disbelieving eyes.  At first, I might have characterized the creature lurking there as a rather large dark green lizard, with an unusual amount of skin hanging from its front appendages.  However, upon closer investigation and subsequent encounters with the creature, I must now describe it as like in all appearance to a very miniscule, emerald-toned dragon.  Upon this realization, I instructed Adrian and Isaac in very forceful tones to come out of my classroom and into the hallway.  Isaac immediately did so, however, Adrian appeared reluctant, and even went so far as to make a movement towards the lizard creature.  Fearing for his safety, I must admit that I laid a hand on Adrian and fairly dragged him out of my classroom.  I then ordered the rest of my students to remain in the hallway, while I took Adrian down the hall to the 6th grade office, and accompanied Isaac to the nurse.  In my consternation, I neglected to shut my classroom door, and when I returned, I discovered that Briana Mendez and Joseph Garcia had entered my classroom, and were squatting very close to the creature, poking it with a makeshift stick constructed of crayola markers snapped one on top of the other.  The creature was producing a very sharp string of hissing and popping noises.  Not deterred, Joseph began inching closer to the creature, at which time it opened wide its jaws and emitted a small stream of flame.  Joseph’s shoe laces caught fire, but the student very quickly divested himself of that article of clothing, and I again put the flames out.  I then ordered Briana and Joseph to leave my classroom at once and to remain out in the hall.  I decided it was best to leave the beast to its own devices, and thus I exited my classroom as well, this time remembering to shut and lock my door.  At this time, though I believed him unhurt, I sent Joseph to the nurse.  Mrs. Beaten then exited her classroom.  I requested she attend to my students still in the hallway, and then set off for the 6th grade office once again, to meet with Mr. Faral, the 6th grade assistant principal.

Briana Mendez 11/12/2031

I don’t really know how it started because I wasn’t paying attention, but I looked around after Isaac screamed and I saw Adrian with this lizard thing in Isaac’s face and the next thing I know there’s flame everywhere.  I was kinda weirded out, but I stayed while everyone else ran out, but then Isaac started running around with his hood on fire and I was scared he was going to run into me.  So I left.  The teacher went in after I left, and then she came back out with Isaac who was crying really hard and Adrian who was just kind of weird looking.  She left the door open so Joseph and I looked inside.  The lizard thing was underneath the desks so we decided to go look at it.  It kept hissing a lot, so we decided to see if we could touch it, so we got some markers and stuck it together and started poking it.  It didn’t like that I don’t think, because it set Joseph’s shoe laces on fire.  He was real smart and took the shoe off and the teacher put the fire out.  Then she yelled at us and we went and waited in the hall.  Joseph went to the nurse and Mrs. Beaten came and got us and brought us to her classroom.

Joseph Garcia 11/12/2031

So I didn’t see anything at first I just heard Isaac scream and saw everyone leave so I was like I guess i should leave to and see what everyone was scared of.  So i did and out there after Ms. Hadrian left Briana was like “we should go touch it” and I was like “whats it” and she was like “you didn’t see come on”.  So we went inside and there was this weird lizard thing sittin under the desk so i was like “can we poke it” and Briana was like yeah so we did and it made my shoe go on fire but I took it of real fast and I was fine but Ms. Hadrian sent me to the nurse anyway.

Amelia Peterson 11/12/2031

Adrian and Isaac were yelling at each other and then Adrian took out this weird lizard thing and stuck it in Isaac’s face.  Then there was flame and everyone screamed.  I ran out of the classroom with everyone else.

LeBron Robinson 11/12/2031

I did not see what started it, but I did see Adrian stick the lizard thing in Isaac’s face, and I also saw the fire and saw Isaac’s hoodie catch fire.  Then everyone else left and honestly I left too because I was not going to deal with that.  Ms. Hadrian took Isaac to the nurse, I think, and Adrian got hauled to the office.

Clarence Hughes 11/12/2031

Adrian and Isaac got in a fight and Adrian stuck and lizerd in Isaac’s face and Isaac’s hood got on fire somehow.  Then I left because everyone else did.

Liz Lopez 11/12/2031

I saw Adrian stick this gross lizard thing in Isaac’s face, then to be honest I screamed and just left because no.

Juan Granados

Adrian was going to fight Isaac for some reason, so he stuck the lighter in Isaac’s face and then everyone ran.  I left to.

Destinee Charles 11/12/2031

So Marcus had been saying that Adrian was gonna fit Isaac and Carl was sayin that Isaac was gonna fight Marcus so they both thought the other one was gonna fight the other one.  so when they got the Ms. Hadrian’s classroom after lunch they was both like “Ima gonna fite you” so Isaac started it so Adrian took out this weird lizard thing that we thought was a lizard but it shooted flame so i guess it was a dragon and then I got out of the classroom because mama said if theres fire to leave the area.  P.S. Adrian won the fit because he had a dragon.

Alex Martin 11/12/2031

Adrian and Isaac were yelling at each other when Adrian took things to the next level real quick and shot him with flame from this weird lizard thing which I think was unnecesary but whatever people be crazy here.

Jamie Gray 11/12/2031

I heard Destinee say there was a dragon so I was like what this isn’t Game of Thrones in here but then I turned around and looked and saw it run under the desk and I was like nope and i went and sat out in the hallway while the teacher dealed with it.

Alexandria Rodriguez 11/12/2031

Both them boys wuz actin the fool that’s it honestly so I just read my book its a really good book about this girl whos a detective and solves crimes and stuff but then I saw Ms. Hadrian come in and she looked real serious so I figured i could go read outside so I went down the hallway to the window and sat and red.  and then i got in trouble from Mrs. Beaten for leaving the class which made me mad. I think everyones always on us about reading but the reason i dont is because everyone be actin the fool everytime i try and i cant and then i go somewhere where its quite and then i get in troble from a teacher. its dumb i quit.

Darrel Jones 11/12/2031

Adrian and Isaac were both going to fight each other, but Isaac started it, and then Adrian made it get real bad, because he broke out the flame thrower, and I then left because he was mad at me to and i didn’t want to get throwed to.

Kristian Martinez

I was sitting in Ms. Hadrian’s class, waiting for English to start, and I had gotten my journal and was starting on the bell ringer, when I noticed Adrian and Isaac both in a, how do I put this, a “Come at me, bro” stance, if you know what I mean.  Then Adrian took out a small animal that looked like a lizard with wings, and I am not a coward, but I left then, because I decided I did not want to be a part of whatever was about to go down.  I waited in the hallway until Ms. Hadrian sent us to Mrs. Beaten’s room

Edward Edwards

So Adrian took out this sick lizard thing and shot flame in Isaac’s face and I was like yeah boy but then he started running around on fire and then Ms. H came in all mad so I left.

Sophia Barton 11/12/2031

idk i didnt c anything i just herd screaming and Liz run so i ran to

Isaac Muldroon 11/12/2031

At the lunch table Marcus said Adrian was gonna fite me so I was like no way that boy is gonna fight me ima fit him first.  So on the way back from lunch I got up close behind him and said boy ima gonna fight you.  He just kind of looked at me werd so in the classroom I was like you wanna fight i bet you couldn’t even fight me.  I called him a wimp and some other stuff I think and then he got real mad.  He opened his backpack and took out this lizard thing and made it go in my face.  I asked him to get it out of my face but he didn’t.  He made it shoot fire at me.  My hood caught fire so I freaked out a lot and tried to put it out and ran around the classroom and that’s when Ms. Hadrian caught me.  She made me take my hoodie of and put the fire out by stamping on it and then took me to the nurse and thats all I know.

Adrian Jackson 11/12/2031

Carl said that Isaac had been saying he was going to fight me all during lunch because I don’t know why and so when we got back in the classroom he said I bet you couldn’t even fight me boy and then he called me a wimp and other stuff so i said yes I can and took out my dragon from my backpack just to kinda scar him and he screamed and i thought it was funny so i pulled its tale to make it shoot flame at Isaac and so I shot flame at Isaac and his hoodie caught fire and I’m kinda sorry now but not really he got what was coming to him so there.  My uncle gave me the dragon but he said it was a practice copy and not to take it to school but I did so sorry for that.