Category Archives: Personal
Throughout the entirety of my Christian life, there has been one thing that holds me back more than any other. One thing that I fear one day will spell some sort of enormous failure in my spiritual walk. That thing is complacency.
Maybe that’s why I felt more sympathy and compassion for Hannes and his initial actions in Attack on Titan than disgust. At the time of the first attack, Hannes lived a life of complacency. He was a soldier, a defender of the wall, and a committed fighter against the titans. A complacent fighter, but committed nonetheless, if that makes sense. Clearly he believed in the fight against the titans as evidenced by his intention to go after them to “ settle a score.” However, when finally in the fray, he found himself…unprepared.
When we first meet Hannes, he’s drunk. Even though he and his comrades are supposed to be guarding the wall in case of an attack, they have been lulled into a false sense of security by peacetime and the monotony of guard duty.
He laughs off Eren’s scolding him for this, even making a joke that he is probably right about their unpreparedness. But he is, truthfully, convinced that things are pretty much under control and why make more effort than is necessary, right?
I feel like I do this so much in my own life. When things are bad, you better believe my nose is in that bible daily, but get things going pretty good and it’s easy for me to get distracted. I’ll put of reading tonight to watch this show, I haven’t prayed today but I’ll do it in a second, I stayed up late Saturday, I’ll sleep in and miss church this Sunday. I’ll go next Sunday. It’s fine. I’ll get spiritually fed tomorrow.
The bible is clear it is dangerous to adopt this attitude.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
- 1 Peter 5:8
I had a friend say to me very recently in small group, “I just want people to realize we’re in a war.” …And she’s right. I can’t continue to live my life forgetting where I am and what’s actually going on. I can’t act like nothing that big is ever going to come against me. Just because I can handle things right now on the bare minimum of spiritual food and training I sometimes subsist on doesn’t mean it will be enough for what I could face tomorrow.
It wasn’t enough for Hannes, although he thought it would be until the very moment he came face to face with a titan.
“Don’t go underestimating me Carla. I’m gonna slaughter these titans and save all three of you!”
He had an idea of how he was going to act and what he was going to accomplish based on his personal experiences and his identity as a fighter. But, the damage of his complacency and lackadaisical approach to his responsibilities was too great.
When actually faced with the situation he was supposed to be continuously preparing for, he could do little more than fearfully run away. The only thing he could do about the situation he was supposed to conquer after that was sobbingly apologize to Eren.
That moment Hannes stared in the face of the titan made me think of something that truly scares me. What will be the consequences of my own complacency? Who is going to get jilted because of my unpreparedness? Even though I know who and what I am in the good times, I wonder what kind of person will I prove to be when the pressure is on.
Throughout anime, there are themes that reflect Christian values. You can see themes of loyalty, service, peacemaking, patience, love and acceptance just to name a few. Out of all the characters in all of the anime I have seen, the one I felt has come closest to what a Christian is supposed to be, or maybe the one I want to be like most, is Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket.
From her gratefulness, to her constant service mindset, to her unconditional love and acceptance of those around her, whenever I watch Fruits Basket I find myself wishing I would handle situations the way she handles them. It takes a certain amount of bravery and strength to approach life the way Tohru does.
If there is one anime that I have been most looking forward to this season, it is absolutely the newest season of Mushi-shi. And I can say confidently that my unrealistically high expectations for the season have been… met, actually. Possibly even exceeded, even!
It is rare to find an anime that is beautifully animated, intelligently written, and also has little to no inappropriate content (the only other anime that I can immediately think of that fit these criteria are the likes of Now and Then, Here and There, Haibane Renmei, and Nichijou, though I’m sure there are many others). All of this together is what has made it possible to share Mushi-shi with my father, one decidedly uninterested in anime and the like as well as a former pastor. However, it didn’t take long to get him hooked.
“Living beings can be bound by so many different things… …But did you know there is only one chain humans can wield themselves?” – Yuko
Talking is such a natural part of everyday life that it’s easy to forget how much our words can affect everything around us, for better or for worse. In xxxHolic, Yuko refers to words as literally living things. As the only naturally occurring “chain” in life that humans can control. In that episode, a girl was chained down by her own words as she constantly spoke and lived out negative, self-fulfilling prophecies. She would talk about failing and it would happen, no matter how likely she was to succeed before she spoke.
I know, in my own life, I can often get trapped in this same situation. I talk….a lot…. and I tend to be a pessimistic person. If I’m not careful, I can create my own complaining mantras that will leave me completely immobilized. Read the rest of this entry
Happy Thanksgiving, all! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!
There are many things I’m thankful for, but I want to emphasize particularly how thankful I am to you, the readers of this blog. For much of this year, I’ve shifted much of the time I usually use for this blog and moved it toward developing my Tumblr page. Even so, readers still come here and many of you comment – thank you. And a special thank you to all those that are consistent readers of Beneath the Tangles, both anonymous and those known to me.
And with this year of transition, I’m grateful, more than ever, to my writers:
- Goldy, who is simply one of the most creative people I’ve ever known
- Hansha, whose energy and intelligence are electric
- Japes, whose friendship I greatly treasure
- Kaze, who challenges me think about my own faith as he writes posts here
- Lynna, who is gracious, graceful, and kind
- R86, who is simply one of my best friends
- and Zeroe4, who inspires me by his faith
And how about you all? Would you share with us one or two things you’re thankful for this year?
One year ago, I was back in Ishinomki doing humanitarian work with some very good friends. Since coming back to the US, I have really struggled with fitting in. The best way I can explain it, is I am the Natsume of my own little world, and monsters are chasing me but no one sees. They can’t see the burden I’ve picked up. They can’t see the pain I carry, however this is not how the story ends.
If you have watched Natsume Yujin-cho, then you may understand what I am trying to say. Natsume Yujin-cho along with it’s sequels are some of my favorite anime. The series was recommended to me by Annalyn who is a friend of this blog and is the blogger at Annalyn’s Thoughts. If you haven’t seen the show, Natsume Yujin-cho is about an orphan boy who is passed from family member to family member. He can see also see spirits, which causes him to live between two worlds belonging to neither, but not being able to ignore either. The manga and anime, which are very faithful, start his story when Natsume moves in with the Fujiwara’s and finally finds a family that doesn’t want to get rid of him. He doesn’t tell them he can see spirits, because he doesn’t want to scare the or cause them to get rid of him. However, Natsume is being crushed by the burdens of his past and the Yujin-cho, “The Book of Friends,” his grandmother left behind when she died. The Book of Friends is a book that contains the names of many spirits, which would allow someone to control the spirits. These names were ill gotten and never used. Now the spirits want there names back and Natsume is target number one. Protected only by Madara aka Nyanko-sensei, a powerful spirit shaped like a clay cat, Natsume embarks on a journey that forces him to rely on others and teaches him quite a lot.
In many ways, I am very much like Natsume and I can really understand were he is coming from. Read the rest of this entry
At my church retreat this past weekend, I gave a testimony in front of the body. While I mostly spoke about my need for control (and a clear lack of control in my life), I could have talked about a lot of different ways God has worked in me. One on-going challenge for me is to stop wasting so much time. I think with the advent of the Internet, and so many entertainment options, this is as big a concern as ever.
In college, I was particularly bad with time management. I could waste an entire day doing basically nothing. I’d spend hours watching anime, reading fanfics about anime, tuning into anime music videos, and doing other endless fandom-related activities.
It must be worse today for college students with so much anime readily available.
When I graduated college, our church had a send-off for my senior class. After our dinner and presentation (the skit concerning me was entitled “Great Teacher Chuckie,” Chuckie being my nickname), we each offered some advice for the younger students. Mine was primarily this: don’t waste your life.
And while I’m not saying we should ditch all media and anime in an effort to manage time wisely, I hope you won’t waste your life being entertained. Ultimately, watching Youtube and Crunchyroll all day is meaningless. And when we realize what we can do to help others, care for the needy, and bring awareness to the suffering, all the time and resources we waste on entertainment is more than wasteful – it’s cold, uncaring, and selfish.
So watch your Zetsuen no Tempest, but then consider my advice, and go do something. After all, it makes no difference how many cool gifs we posted on our Tumblrs, but it does make a difference when we reach out and offer someone a little bit of love.
What is fandom to you?
This is the question Charles Dunbar, a friend of this site (I interviewed him once and he also gave us his aniblogger testimony), asked a number of friends and colleagues associated with anime. I was lucky enough to get an invitation to join in his Identity Project. Here’s how he explained the project:
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate to gather essays and ruminations from bloggers and fans about what fandom means to them. (I’m still accepting them, by the way.) Each one of the writers involved has chosen one aspect of their fandom and written about how it has fused itself into their lives. Hopefully, this will lead to more discussion about the changing nature of fandom, and provide some ideas on where it is going.
No surprise, I connected fandom to my faith. You might want to pop in and take a read, as I give a little bit of context as to why I do what I do on Beneath the Tangles:
On Beneath the Tangles, we invite readers to ask questions of the staff. We’d love to hear your concerns and questions, and maybe give you our feedback.
A couple of weeks ago, VW, a Catholic Christian and anime fan, dropped in with a question. For the sake of space, I’ll just present you bits and pieces of her email:
Let’s take a series like Mashiro-iro Symphony. I found myself really enjoying it! It was a really sweet and endearing series, with positive views on friendship and relationships.
However, Crunchyroll aired the censored version. Apparently (and I’ve looked this up specifically to see exactly what it entailed), the uncensored version (BD release) has nudity. This is something that I really don’t like in my anime, and almost always sets me on edge or makes me feel guilty.
I love to sing.
I’m practically tone deaf, but that hasn’t stopped me from singing dozens of songs each day, out loud, to the
horror delight of my wife and kids. And as we rear our children, I frequently sing with them, as we join together to bellow out everything from kid’s Bible music to Beyonce (complete with finger-wagging as we declare that “if you liked it, you shoulda put a ring on it”).
Most of all, all this singing carries over into the night. My children, and my son especially, had a lot of difficulties sleeping and napping as infants. To help them along, and to keep my sanity, I would sometimes begin singing marathons that would last up to half an hour.
Doing all this singing made me realize that there are very few songs for which I know all the lyrics (How can I declare the Goo Goo Dolls once of my favorite bands when I only know 30% of the words to “Slide”?!). But one song that I do know well is “Fly Me to the Moon,” and not just the chorus-only versions. As I pushed a stroller or gently patted a baby, I would sing the Utada Hikaru version – complete with her inflections. Cause I’m just that cool.