Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Story (The End, Part 2)

Y'know... I've been dreading this ever since I woke up. I'm nervous because I'm about to reveal the core philosophy that makes me get up in the morning, that gives me comfort when things are going wrong, and makes me happy to just think about. What makes reality....real. What makes life worth it for me. It's something that I've been thinking about for awhile, and have always wanted to talk about, but now that I"m here, about to do this, I realize that it's possibly the most nerve-wracking thing someone can do. But I want to anyway.

So here we go, kiddies. I can't guarantee that my philosophy is complete, mature, or even right, but it is mine. It is my truth. And I think that's what you guys are here for, so you're gonna get it.

I've been Catholic for most of my life, some might say for all my life. Unlike a lot of people my age I never didn't believe in a personal God. It wasn't that I didn't think about it or question it. It's that, from the time I was little, I knew that God existed, and that He had a very direct hand in my life. I'm not going to say that I don't have my doubts about God being loving, because I do. Terrible things happen in this world every second to strangers and loved ones alike. But I push through it anyway, confident somewhere deep down that free will was given to us because God decided to err on the side of trusting us, so that way the beautiful things that make us live and grow can happen in a way we'd understand better. Good by an invisible being is no good at all, and I think God knows that. Which is why I think we have free will. So that way God can have good things happen that we can understand as being what they are: gifts.

Despite my faith, however, there is one thing that has always disturbed me to my core, which never seems to disturb anyone else in the same way. Sometimes it just irks me, but there are times when I really do get depressed about it.

We die. All things fade.

I guess why this disturbed me so much was the loss of a body. Everything that I loved to do (painting, writing, music, role-playing, etc.) had a physical element that was irreplaceable. That it seemed to not bug anyone else angered me. What's the point of life if we lose our bodies? I concluded that, even though God existed, He must not be very loving, because we were in a trap that gave us the joy of bodily things for only a short amount of time, only to snatch it away. Reading my Bible (at least at the time) didn't help me at all, especially in the Old Testament, where you find the author of Ecclesiastes wailing that all things are vanity because we die. This didn't help, and while I had been taught about a resurrection it had never gotten through the horror, anger, and despair that I felt about death. Just as I started to actively ask myself about these questions, I started going out with Jamie, and struggled with these questions throughout (and past) our relationship. So when she suddenly broke up with me all I had were my questions, and no answer that had actually satiated me. My icons (one of which you can see up above) grew darker and sadder, and I knew I needed to do something. While I had stopped believing in goodness I hadn't stopped believing in God, which was terrifying. I needed to feel something positive again, to see something that would let me know that everything was OK, that I was wrong. That life had purpose and meaning.

Enter Clannad.

It took me watching the show six times to realize it, but that really was the answer that I was looking for.


The return of the soul to the body that it couldn't go without.


That God was so merciful as to give back that which we can't go without, by virtue of being human. That God was so good and loving as to realize that there were some things we couldn't negotiate on, so He made the single most important concession in the history of humanity, and gave us the thing that would make us happy forever: our own bodies. And all we have to do is ask and believe that it'll happen, and it will. How can that not be the most kind and merciful thing you've ever heard of? We get them back! We don't have to try to "get along" without what was once the most familiar part of our existence. We don't have to move past it, or find a new meaning that we can't find because our bodily memories will always be a part of us. We get them back. And all we have to do is ask.

In this way Clannad is the most realistic show I've ever seen, because it captures the simple reality of it all. There is no great price we have to pay, we just have to believe that God will do it for us and be ready for something completely unexpected. Clannad is truly art, because it actually represents life in a way that we can understand and grow from.

Now what shocked me was that what I'd realized by watching this show had been with me all along, in the form of Christianity. Say what you will about the abuses of Christianity in its 2,000 year long existence. Say what you will about the incredibly dense teachers, lecherous priests, and scandalous nuns of the Church. They're called "failures" for a reason, because they failed the great reality: that we're saved from death and meaninglessness. Everything that we are can go on, because we'll never actually fade. Granted, it'll take some time, but isn't that the case with anything that's truly worth it?

After a year of thinking, questioning, and screaming at the heavens I have my answer from God. It took 22 years to get here, but I have it now. There is a happy ending that we can know and understand. The God that I always knew was there but doubted has been shown to be both existent and loving. And because of this, I can move on to live and give everything that is inside of me. Life, while not perfect, is wonderful. And whether I see it or not, there is a happy end.

For everyone who wants it.

This is the story that I'd wanted to share with you from the beginning of the blog. I hope you enjoyed it, because it was one of the most rewarding things that I've done. I greatly enjoyed writing out my thoughts and watching this amazing show again, for the sixth time. 

I would like to thank all the people who have made this blog what it is. To Brandon and Sean, my co-posters, who have each added their own to something that belongs to all of us. Especially to Taylor, who made this blog what it is with his constant work splicing and uploading videos for all of the posters on this blog. All without a complaint, and overwhelmingly on time. But I'd especially like to thank God, who put this show in my life and used it to get me into a place I can live happily. This is all thanks to Him, and for that my gratitude cannot be adequately expressed.

And so silence is the proper response.

I do have one request for the ending of this blog post

If you disagree please state it rationally and clearly. I understand that I probably hit quite a few buttons, but if you must disagree with me do so in a way that won't force me to delete your comment because of it's...unsavoriness. I welcome a good discussion, and always have. But a quarrel is nothing I'm interested in, and those wishing to pick a fight will find themselves ignored and deleted.

I would like to thank all of you who have read this blog, be it from the beginning or just this, my last post as main writer of The School's Trees. 

Yes, that's right, I'm stepping down. My reasons are simple: I'm done. 

While I will still be on The School's Trees, it will be more of an administrative role, finding other people who want to tell their story about Clannad. These people will fill in the holes of the narrative that I intentionally never filled in, will bring their philosophies to the tapestry that is this blog. While this is the end of one era, try to think of it as the beginning of a new time for this blog. And every once in a while I'll put up a post about a topic Clannad-related that's on my mind, as the muses take me. In the next few weeks expect the next main writer, CarpeGuittarem, to start up his blog posts on the alternate world arcs. I'm really excited to see what Carpe has in store for us, so please!  

Stick around.

It's been an honor and a joy writing for you.

-Liam Francis Traveller


  1. I don't have anything much to say, but whenever I put something online, I like knowing that someone read it. So I'm just letting you know I read the whole thing and liked it.

  2. Fantastic post!
    It's sad that you're stepping down from here, but it's great that you've found another writer to contribute. We'll miss your insights!

  3. I don't think I've ever heard personal redemption defined in quite those terms, but I think that you are right, at least mostly. God does give us back our bodies in the resurrection, but even more, He gives them back to us better, and in a world that will not take any of it away from us, no less. And on top of that, He gives us Himself, as prophesied by the Apostle John in Revelation 21:2-4, "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'"

    Quite seriously awe-some. In the old sense.


  4. What you say is correct, Galen. I was going for something very basic with this blog post, however, which is why I didn't put that bit in. It already felt complex enough to take 3 or so months of blog posts and sum it up into one "this is my philosophy".

    Glad to know you found the viewpoint unique, however. That's a good bit of Eastern Catholicism mixed with someone who's a recovering nihilist, however I can't really tell where one stops and the other begins.

    To the rest of you: thank you for the kind words. Writing this story has been a constant desire of mine for the last year, and I'm glad that I was given the opportunity to do it.

  5. That was fantastic. While I myself am not a Christian, I always find it interesting to read other people's viewpoints, and in fact one of your problems with the religion was one of the large reasons I'd moved away from it myself.

    I also am happy to see that Clannad has been able to help people in such a way. I know that it had changed the way I look at the world and treat things, but it's also heartwarming to see it help others who watch it, and in such profound and diverse ways. This is the most in-depth one I've read, and your touches with the music was very nice.

    I myself have become more of an agnostic/atheist, as most religions I've found and looked into have had very large points that just grated with me, but that's besides the point. I'm happy that you were able to have your faith restored, and really find true comfort after watching Clannad.

    I've watched Clannad about three times myself, and always it just, to me, helps realize how important family and friends are, and no matter how bad things get, we should always keep moving forward and do our best not to break. Heh, that's actually mixing in a little bit of what I got from Gurren Lagann.

    Since I watched Clannad, I've just approached things differently. I care more about my friends (that's not to say I didn't before, but I'm now just more willing to help if they ever need it), I feel a bit closer to my family, and really appreciate the comfortable life I've been lucky to have.

    Thank you very much for sharing all your thoughts on the series, again, I always enjoy reading other people's reflections about something, especially something like this. I've not kept up with this blog quite as much as I wish I had, but after reading this, I'm definitely going to go back and read through all your posts. It's a shame that you're stepping down, but I suppose you've said what you need to.


  6. Thank you for the kind words, Sam. I'm sad about stepping down as well, but everything that I had set out to do originally is done. But as I'd said in the ending of this post that doesn't mean The School's Trees is over. Hell, we're just getting started. Carpe will be posting sooner or later, and there's some talk being thrown around about a Top 10 series of lists being made, which I'll definitely be a part of.

  7. I suppose I'll provide the opposing viewpoint on this one. To start with, I'm not here to discuss god himself, or even the concept of him, beyond that I am an atheist.

    I took more meaning from tomoya's process of realizing the error of his behavior towards ushio, and the following reconciliation between them. I'm not a parent, but it's still the most important thing to me that you take care of your child, it hurts me to see parents neglecting or abusing their children. In my mind it is true happiness to provide what you could not receive to your child. That's what my parents have done for me, and that's what I hope I can do when I have children.

    I suppose the reasoning for this if I really think about it, according to my beliefs of this life being all there is, the most important thing is to make sure the persons life that follows yours is as good as it can be, because in a way it's all that really matters.

    I'm not asking anyone to revise their beliefs, but if you imagine the situation in which god absolutely does not exist, what would be the most important thing you? Since it's hardly fair to ask that of others while not taking part myself, I'll think about things from your perspective.

    If there is a god watching over us, and he has the power to give you a life in heaven after you die, in which you can do all the things you enjoy and be with the people you love, that is one of the happiest things I can imagine. It would certainly make me get up in the morning to know for certain it was true.

    Please do not try to convince me of the error of my ways, just I have respected your point of view enough not to attempt to do the same for you.

  8. Wouldn't dream of it, Jared. All I would like to point out is that Tomoya doesn't not believe in God. He seems to believe more in a Puritan "Sinners-in-the-Hands-of-an-Angry-God" sorta guy, which is probably why he did what he did. If God/the city/whatever is truly out to make your life hell there really is nothing you can do, and while Tomoya didn't go all the way through with it, life wouldn't be worth living. Even for others. Because what's the point if God's going to take it all from you?

    I suppose I'm really not the type of person to ask "What if God doesn't exist", I think the reaction I would have would be... probably really darn close to what Tomoya did. But again, that's just me. I live the way I live for a reason, I guess.

    Beyond that I found your comments very insightful, and true. Tomoya's reconciliation with Ushio is possibly the most beautiful moment in the show, and in many ways is what makes it work. Although I didn't point it out here it's Tomoya's love for Ushio that ultimately saves him, and gives us the happy ending we were begging for.

    I hope I didn't step on your toes with my reply, and if I did I'm truly sorry.

  9. I wanted to drop in and say great post. its been 2 years but as you see people are still checking this post out. i would like to thank you for helping me understand this anime so well, I do believe also that nagisa and usio deaths had to do with the town changing. if im wrong please correct me.