Oh, My Pop Culture Gnosticism: What if God Isn’t God?

Nothing says pop culture like 2000-year-old theological debates, right? You’d be surprisedand we’ve discussed it before.

Gnosticism—a heretical branch of early Christianity—faded almost entirely from view after its founders were edged out of the Church by what would become orthodoxy. With most of their works lost or destroyed, their ideas survived only in the denunciations from the likes of Tertullian and Irenaeus. The Gnostic focus on secrecy didn’t ensure a broad legacy, either—early leaders such as Valentinius and Marcion privileged access to the deeper nature of the universe for initiates and other worthies. Modern Gnostics avoid the secrecy, and as with many aspects of Gnosticism which may seem troubling, the marginalization of Gnosticism limited our understanding to unfriendly characterizations by their orthodox contemporaries.

But in the 20th century, a treasure trove of Gnostic texts was discovered by a couple of Egyptian farmers at Nag Hammadi in a sealed jar. Ever since, their ideas—which seem stunningly modern in some ways—have started to permeate back into the world, gaining influence well beyond what would be expected from their obscurity, particularly since the texts themselves are rarely read by anyone besides scholars.


Still, the ideas in these texts are starting to make their way into pop culture, directly or indirectly, and Gnostic ideas are fascinating enough to be talked about far away from their original sources. They feature prominently in the His Dark Materials series, and some concepts pop up in such unexpected places as Young Avengers, Final Fantasy, and even Futurama.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Second Time Around by wimblydonner

aerith-gainsboroughLife is awful at the moment, but whenever life sucks, we can always turn to fanfiction to make us feel better. At a shitty time like this, there was only pairing I knew I could read in order to uplift my mood: Final Fantasy VII’s Tifa and Aerith. These two were my first foray into the wonderful world of femslash, and as I needed some happiness in my life, I decided to go back to them this week. Second Time Around is a death-fix-it fic where Aerith miraculously comes back from the dead. The first thing she does is show up at Tifa’s bar, where the two consummate their love and start dating like they should have been doing during the actual game.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Summon: Ifrit from Final Fantasy

(via wiki)

(via wiki)

A while back, I wrote a post on Shiva as presented in the Final Fantasy series. To make a long story short, Final Fantasy isn’t very accurate. Nevertheless, its use of Shiva still got me interested in the original mythology. The same is true for a lot of the other summons, and so I thought it would be fun to look into their source material as well. Shiva has appeared in just about every game I’ve played, but another commonly recurring summon is Ifrit, a demon-like entity with awesome fire powers. Based on Middle Eastern stories, Ifrit’s use is nowhere near as culturally appropriative as Shiva’s, if only because Ifrit is not a deity at the center of a particular faith. Its presentation is still not quite accurate, so let’s delve into the differences between its use in Final Fantasy and Middle Eastern lore.

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Magical Mondays: Sephiroth is an Aeon

Kingdom Hearts SephirothWhether you love it or hate it, Final Fantasy X is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII. Thankfully, for everyone who dislikes this connection, the two games don’t actually impact each other in terms of plot or characterization. However, for the rest of us, it’s always fun speculating about all the different ways the two games are alike and figuring out the history of both their worlds. This connection is something the game creators have been adding to for some time, and considering that Auron shows up in the new FFVII remake trailer, I imagine that we’re going to have a few more hints and Easter eggs in our future. And yet, somehow, I found myself surprised when Kingdom Hearts turned Sephiroth into an Aeon.

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Fanfiction Fridays: From Out Of Your Soul by hyperion flare

Final Fantasy VII Shinra Tower and CloudOne of the things that I like about Final Fantasy VII is the wide array of characters to fall in love with. Some of the characters are handled much better than others, but after replaying the game again and re-watching the movie, I finally realized that Final Fantasy VII has a lot of characters with disabilities. From Barret’s missing arm to Cloud’s clear mental issues and struggles with his identity, FFVII has a lot to offer, and as I’ve been looking for disability fics recently, this fandom was a good place to start.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Final Fantasy VII Remake

I haven’t heard too much about the Final Fantasy VII remake—and to be fair, there isn’t that much information about the game out right now. What I do know is that the game is meant to be released in increments, with the first one originally scheduled for later this year before it was moved back to March of 2017. This is probably for the best, as rushed games tend to be glitchy and not a whole lot of fun. Part of me is even shocked that March isn’t too soon, considering that the game makers have to completely re-render the entire world of Final Fantasy VII, and since the game opens up in Midgar, it means they need to create a whole city from the ground up, let alone all the other places the characters are going to visit.

So far, it looks pretty good, and I am more than excited to get right back into this world. Story spoilers up ahead.

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Magical Mondays: Kingdom Hearts and Worldbuilding

The very first post on Lady Geek Girl and Friends went up all the way back in June of 2011. Since then, we have had a collective total of nineteen writers, not including guest writers, and well over 3,000 posts. I bring this up because although nearly five years have passed since we launched this site, not a single one of those 3,000 entries has been dedicated to Kingdom Hearts. We’ve mentioned the games in passing a few times, but we’ve never actually explored the series in depth. I find this surprising—Kingdom Hearts is literally nothing more than an epic Disney/Final Fantasy crossover fanfiction, which means that it should be right up our alley.

Kingdom Hearts I logo picI’ve only recently gotten back into playing Kingdom Hearts—I kind of fell out of the fandom for a bit when the third game managed to spend the better part of the past ten years not being released—but if I had to pick a favorite video game series, Kingdom Hearts would be it. That seems a bit disingenuous of me to say, since I’ve only played KH1 and KH2 and skipped out on all the others in the series. It also feels weird to call them my favorite games because literally nothing about the story makes any kind of sense to me whatsoever. The very first game came out fourteen years ago, and in those fourteen years of playing and replaying it over and over again, I still don’t understand the mechanics of how anything works in this universe.

That’s not to say that Kingdom Hearts doesn’t have a lot of worldbuilding—it has tons. Its worldbuilding just happens to be a giant convoluted mess that makes the story more than a little difficult to follow at times. Surprisingly, though, despite all that, Kingdom Hearts’s premise and gameplay more than make up it.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Theological Gameplay

Religion isn’t a new aspect of gaming by any means. Gaming worlds often blast through ideas like faith and worship in favor of the occasional tête-à-tête with the deities that created the world.

And then we beat them up.


Less dramatically, games are happy to provide priests and paladins, whose powers come from prayer, usually in some abstract mechanics.


These tend to be far removed from the real world—either adopting generic religious terminology or building their own complex mythologies.

But every so often the real thing will show up.

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Throwback Thursdays: 16-Bit Final Fantasy

Square Enix has spent the past decade realizing that, much like the Rolling Stones, its back catalog would excite fans far beyond any new release ever could. This peaked last month with the iOS release of Final Fantasy VII, a game dedicated to the belief that humans were blocky jumbles of polygons all along.

You just grab that... that brownish area by its points and you don’t let go no matter what your mom says.

You just grab that… that brownish area by its points and you don’t let go no matter what your mom says.

Final Fantasy VII, Square’s breakthrough release, is the most popular game in the series, and earned the extensive commentary on its story and themes. And flaws. But it also marked the end of the glorious 16-bit history of Final Fantasy. The SNES installments—Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI—were the peak of the series. And I’m not just saying that because my mom wouldn’t let me have a Playstation.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Summon: Shiva from Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy games like to use a lot of religious references in their worldbuilding. From summon spells, monsters, plot, themes, and even to character names, they take a lot from numerous religions around the world. We’ve got Norse mythology, Shintoism, Abrahamic religions, and others all wrapped up in these games. Unfortunately, especially when it comes to monsters and summon spells, they don’t always use these references very well, and in some cases, they completely alter religious figures in order to make them suit a particular purpose in the story.

Shiva_Victory_PoseBecause the games take from so many religions and use them in so many ways, it’s hard to get a good grasp on whether or not they have a positive or negative portrayal of religion. As such, they end up with a grab-bag of religious themes—some of these are neat, others not so much. Falling into that latter category is Shiva, one of Final Fantasy’s more popular summons.

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