When Principles Aren’t Enough – Christianity in View of Osamu Dazai’s The Setting Sun

So… this is part-book review, part-religious monologue—thinking out loud, really. It’s just a personal reflection. It could come across preachy or possibly offensive, neither of which is my intention. Please feel free to skip if this isn’t your cup of tea. ❤

I appreciate you all, so much.


You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
—Matthew 5:43-45

As I write this, it’s 12:40 AM, Saturday morning, and we in the U.S. still do not know the outcome of the election.

We do know that our country is split down the middle. Actually, fractured would be a better description. There are some, on all sides, who are terrified about the future and for their own safety. This is just the tip of an iceberg that has been growing for a very long time. In some ways, it has little to do with presidents, and much to do with people.

With that weight on my heart, I’ve been meditating on the above verse. By meditating… I mean the phrase “love your enemies” came into my head a few weeks ago, as spoken on the Jesus movie by actor Brian Deacon. (The way he said it with a confident conviction is something that stuck with me since childhood.) Later on, I saw the phrase on a church billboard as I was driving one day. Then a friend quoted it to me, unprompted and out of the blue. It won’t stop following me around…

So, what does this all have to do with a somewhat obscure 1947 Japanese novel? For a Christian, and to my surprise, literally everything.

The great struggle I have with the verse is, of course, actually living by it. The characters in Osamu Dazai’s The Setting Sun grapple with similar conflicts, or rather, with living by principles in general. They come to rather different conclusions.

In the last analysis my death is a natural one—man cannot live exclusively for principles.

The Setting Sun, ch. 7

Victims. Victims of a transitional period of morality. That is what we both certainly are.

The Setting Sun, ch. 8

The overarching theme of the book is this: when life circumstances become terrible, destruction—of traditions, others, or one’s self—is a natural reaction. When things get bad enough, when simply living day-to-day is a struggle, leading a good and noble life is not only difficult—it’s unreasonable. Pursuing a hedonistic life, putting one’s self first when it comes down to the wire, may be the only way for us to survive.

Does this sound familiar?

Continue reading “When Principles Aren’t Enough – Christianity in View of Osamu Dazai’s The Setting Sun”

Top Ten Non-Bookish Hobbies

Here’s a little levity for this angsty day: my top ten hobbies outside of reading!

  1. YouTube – I’m one of those hypocrites who is proud for not owning TV, while watching YouTube all day. 😆 It’s not all mindless… I listen to music and podcasts when I work, and sometimes political commentary in the evening, and then the occasional lecture or long interview. My current guilty pleasures are comedy skits and K-pop music videos (which I never-in-a-million-years thought I’d get into. See, people can change.).
  2. Music – I play piano and violin, when the mood strikes me. On my other blog, I listen to and analyze pop music.
  3. Cooking – A year ago, I set a goal for 2020 to learn how to cook. I started this past August, and now I cook every week and sometimes bake. Being mostly vegetarian cuts down some of the cost and unpleasantness!
  4. Writing – I love writing stories and poetry. I have a little book coming out in a week or two (self-published). More on that soon…
  5. Conversating – There’s few things so fun to me as long discussions about politics, religion, and history with someone who is open minded or at least won’t make it personal. Though I have strong opinions on certain things, I dislike debating from just one side; I prefer looking at multiple ideas and going over the pros/cons with the other person. I will sometimes play devil’s advocate if I feel a conversation is getting too narrow in scope. (My poor family is used to it now.)
  6. Decorating – Well, those of you who watch my YouTube videos know about this one. I’m fond of pictures, flowers, and figurines. I try to keep it budget friendly; most of it comes from Dollar Tree, Daiso, and Hobby Lobby!
  7. Movies – My family and I watch/rate movies together every month. Usually old movies (we have an ongoing Alfred Hitchcock project), but also costume dramas and indie films. I just started a Letterboxd account, not much on there yet but feel free to add me if you’d like; it’s sort of a Goodreads for movies.
  8. Walking – I used to walk daily and still love nature walks when I can. Recently, though, I’ve been getting my exercise at the grocery store (thanks, Freddy’s, for moving everything).
  9. Shopping – I enjoy shopping for home decor, lots of the time I’ll just window shop to see what they have. Hobby Lobby, At Home, Joanns, all those fun places.
  10. Sewing – To be honest, I haven’t sewn as a hobby in years, mostly for lack of time. I used to be really into it, making clothes and stuff. I still do small projects, like hemming pants, when I need to.
Comments →

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Willis Wu is a first-generation Chinese American whose dream is to become a movie star. Not just any movie star, but the role of Kung Fu Guy—the pinnacle of Asian acting, according to childhood memories. It turns out those memories weren’t so off-base, at least in Hollywood, and Kung Fu Guy is hard to get as it is. Wu soon finds himself in an uphill battle to escape the role of Generic Asian Man, stuck as Guest Star in a crime TV series called Black and White with no room for Asian leads. Meanwhile, he watches the people in his life—father, mother, girlfriend—morphing between different roles and stereotypes, trying to find a good life for themselves and their families.

Continue reading “Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu”

October Catch-Up

It’s October already, one of my favorite months! And yet I feel its arrival with a mild dread….

To get the elephant out of the room: my blogging has been really sporadic this year, which I feel bad about. A combination of amping up my YouTube channel + shutdown + quarter-life crisis really threw me off track. I’ve also been working on my writing again (more about that soon!!), which is going to take a lot of time as well.

Recent Reads

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham – Often compared to The Great Gatsby, this novel is about a young man’s spiritual journey in the midst of mass consumerism and interpersonal drama, post-WWI. This was a great book. Very painful—gut-wrenching—but very great. The writing was not quite as tight as Gatsby, but I liked the quasi-realism of the narration, where Maugham inserted himself as the narrator and related the events in a very down-to-earth way. I plan to write one or two follow-up posts about The Razor’s Edge soon.

Kristin Lavransdatter, Book I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset – Another coming-of-age story, this one is about a young girl growing up in 14th-century Norway. I was underwhelmed by this novel and its characters, but it was pretty well-written historical fiction nonetheless. I will post a YouTube review this evening.

Current Reads

The Idiot (re-read) by Dostoyevsky – I have barely made any progress here, focusing more on Kristin and other books.

The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino – A collection of short stories; just started this one, too.

Maybe: Middlemarch by George Eliot – A few readers on YouTube/Instagram are reading Middlemarch this month, and I’d love to join in if I can find time…


My goal for the rest of the year is to just read more and focus on books I already own. Maybe I’ll even finish that Nikola Tesla biography. 😳

Along with that, I will post more book reviews and other blog topics!

Comments →