Okay okay. This scene in the church with the woman who talks about how Cas’ ‘lack of faith’ doesn’t cancel out her faith…
It bugged the hell out of me on my first watch and I’ve never entirely made peace with it because it seemed opposed to spn’s usual stance on religion by seeming to extol Judeo-Christian faith (well, either that or cruelly mock it, which didn’t seem in keeping with the show’s typical presentation of the religion either).
But I think I’m starting to understand it a bit better (or at least find a better way of thinking about it anyway!)…
Bear with me.
What if you were to find out that no one is listening? That God had pretty much left, that Heaven had gone out of business? What would you do?
I’ve been seeing this question as specific to this scene, to this moment, to this woman. With her answer as a definitive answer.
But now I think this question is a more open one along the lines of:
'what if a story you believed was “real” was proven false/fake? what would you do?'
(something that can, perhaps, be narrowed down further to - ‘how important is the truth?’ or maybe - ‘what is truth/reality?’ and isn’t far away from Blade Runner's - 'too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?')
And her answer is one of many possible responses.
This makes me think of first Corinthians chapter 13 when Paul is talking about putting away childish things and how we only see a dim reflection of the truth, but will later see everything clearly, as if face to face. The way to get there is through faith, hope, and love. The lady in the church was talking about faith and hope, and I think Cas had trouble understanding because while he knew those things at one time and lost them, he was still missing a piece he had only seen in a distorted manner. (I’m not saying he never saw it at all before, I’m just saying he didn’t see it clearly yet. I think he’s still fine-tuning the focus.)
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I believe what Cas is striving for is love, which is what Paul says is the greatest of the three. He’s spoken in the language of angels and men, he could fathom mysteries and has great knowledge, he tried to give over his body to hardship in Purgatory, but with all that, he found he still had nothing. He even said he is nothing. He’s been boastful and self-seeking and easily angered in the past.
But, he seems to now be approaching completeness, and if he ever gets there, the feeling of being “part” or incomplete will go away. And when he finally really, truly feels love, he will no longer be able to fail. And the prophecies and talking tongues and incomplete knowledge will no longer matter for him, because it will be enough to have the greatest of those three. It won’t matter if he is still an angel or a human or some sort of mixture, because he will be complete regardless, and he will be fully known by those he loves but also by himself. I don’t really even think it matters which kind of love. I suspect it will be more than one kind.
And then he can keep striving like Mercer. And even if he doesn’t make it to the top of the hill himself, others will see and join in the burden and someday, someone will make it there. And that will be good enough.
Well since being an unreliable narrator is about biases as much as it is honesty, I don’t think any character is reliable!
Yep, I probably shouldn’t have used the term unreliable narrator to introduce the post, that’s just what got me thinking along those lines.
I do think that Cas is currently seeing things the most clearly at the moment. (Again, just talking about right now, he certainly had his problems before this.) That’s not to say he’s perfect now. He did leave Theo’s vessel to die (or outright killed him) after stealing his grace, after all.
You’re right, though. Because Cas saying “I’m nothing” isn’t quite right, just like Sam saying he’s not worth more than anyone else is.
I guess the problem is that the main characters keep jumping around from “I’m Superman/Batman/God” to “I’m nothing/poison/worthless” without ever settling on “I’m Sam/Dean/Cas and that’s all I need to be.”
In visual media, *dis*honesty can certainly contribute to a character being an unreliable narrator because their dialogue is the closest we get to their stream of consciousness. But also the question is how dishonest they are with themselves. So dishonesty is on a continuum with bias, and they’re both incompatible with being a reliable narrator.