Category Archives: Islam

Untangled: Facing Opposition for Your Faith

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Here’s an email that brideofdracula recently sent us:

First of all I love your blog! I think it’s awesome how you connect anime and religion.

My question to you is kinda personal: recently, I moved to America from a muslim country. I am a practicing Muslim and I currently am enrolled in a liberal arts college. My problem, is I face alot of criticism from atheists. They see me, see my hijab, and start criticizing me, my religion, my Holy Book. I don’t have a problem with atheists,  but I HATE it when they start mocking me. I’m asking you this because as Christians, you must have faced such opposition.  What should I do? Should I stop wearing my hijab?

Please answer. I don’t think I can stand any more girls stuffing The God Delusion in my face. (Sorry about my English. It’s not my native language.) Thanks.

Thank you, first of all, for reaching out to us even though we’re of a different faith than you.  We definitely want our community here to cross religious boundaries, and some of that can occur when find common ground, such as criticism or persecution.

I think it must definitely be harder for you as a Muslim than for most Christians because through you hijab, you make your faith much more visible than others might.  Besides wearing, say, a cross necklace, Christians don’t usually express their faith by the clothing they wear.  Maybe that’s why when I attended a liberal arts university in a very liberal city, I never went through what you’ve had to endure.

I think that the best advice I could give you is this: make your everyday actions based on the bigger picture on what you most believe in life.  Sometimes, we have an idea of what we value most, but when suffering comes along and we’re tested by fire, we get to know where we really stand on those tenants we hold most closely to our hearts.  When you meditate on the bigger picture, it’ll help you determine the choices you make for issues like whether to continue wearing your hijab.  For example, if I were in your shoes, I would hope that I would be able to use a hurtful situation and turn it around, demonstrating the kindness, love, and grace that Jesus demonstrated to me through the gospel, which is at the core of my life.

I’d like to also open this up to our readers – do you have any recommendations for our brideofdracula?

Guest Post: The Helix Fossil, Bird Jesus & the False Prophet: The Newfound Triviality of Christianity

Today’s article is from Tommy, a great friend of the blog and a long time aniblogger.  He runs Anime Bowl, where he blogs about the latest episodes airing on Toonami, anime conventions, and Green Bay Packers football.

Only a few hours after America lapsed into the month of March, the worldwide phenomenon known as “Twitch Plays Pokémon” came to a conclusion, as the Aussies and whoever was left awake in the U.S. pushed Red past the Elite Four and Blue to a Pokémon League championship. After 16 days of democracy, anarchy and random button-mashing, the journey was complete1.

In case you’re not aware, “Twitch Plays Pokémon” was a “social experiment” conducted by an Australian who programmed a Game Boy emulation of Pokémon Red into the streaming service Twitch, making it so that anyone could type a command into the chat, and have the game respond to it. Thus “up” made the character go up, “Start” made the Start menu come up, and so on.

Of course, with the entire world able to play the game, chaos ensued. The main character Red would do bizarre things over and over again as tens of thousands of people (and bots) typed in commands. Progress in the game was made very slowly, if at all, because of the long list of commands coming through, not to mention the lag the video had with the chat. To tell the story of how the game was actually beaten would be far too long. This YouTube channel tells the story through video, while this Google document gives the facts in a different fashion.

But what made “Twitch Plays Pokémon” more than just a video game was its “religion” of sorts that its players created out of the events of the game. It began through the fact that Red kept on checking the Helix Fossil by mistake. This led to a joke that the Helix Fossil was a “god,” and the religious references spiraled out from there. Eventually it led to a full-blown narrative where nearly every major figure in Christianity was being referenced by the game players. Omanyte was “God,” Pidgeot was “Bird Jesus,” Zapdos was “Battery Jesus,” Gastly was the “Holy Spirit,” even Flareon was the “False Prophet.”

Twitch Plays Pokemon

Art by PurpleKecleon (Pixiv ID 41900018)

This isn’t a condemnation of those who came up with these ideas. Many of them were clever, and certainly quite a few of them brought quite a chuckle out of me (although of all the memes that “Twitch Plays Pokémon” produced, my favorite was the constant plea that “we need to beat Misty,” no matter how far in the game Red was).

The question I pose is quite different: has Christianity become this trivial in today’s society? We all remember how a small cartoon of Muhammad and a bomb caused such an uproar amongst Muslims, so much that even a book written all about the cartoon failed to include the actual cartoon itself, presumably due to the writer’s fear of backlash.

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Aniblogger Faith, the Number Three in Rinne no Lagrange, and Unmasking Lelouche

Jordan wrote an interesting article about the role one’s faith plays in watching anime, quoting Naru, Canne, and myself from interviews he conducted for the post. [The Otaku HQ]

Ephemeral Dreamer makes some wonderful connections between Rinne no Lagrange and various religious motifs, including those in Buddhism and Hinduism. [Ephemeral Dreamer]

Zeroe4 continues his “Under the Mask of Lies” series by examining Code Geass, reaching the conclusion that Christ can unmask us. [Zeroe4]

Also, wish Zeroe4 luck as he starts on his trip to Japan for Discipleship Training School! [Zeroe4]

__

As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere series of posts, each week, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included. 

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Religion and Aniblogging

The Otaku HQ released a terrific post today (and not just because I was interviewed for it, hehe).  Entitled “Religion in the Anime Community,” blog editor Jordan put together excerpts from three interviews, with Naru (Muslim), Canne (Buddhist and ghost worshipper), and myself (Christian).  Jordan does a wonderful job of investigating how our faith affects our viewing of anime (or how it doesn’t), and finishes with a nice conclusion.  The post reminded me of the aniblogger testimony series we did here a year ago, in which anibloggers (including Cannes) opened up about their faith.  This post approached some of the same topics in a different way.

Read the entire post at Otaku HQ.

Aniblogger Testimony – Dressing down while dressing up: on being a Muslim anime fan and a one-time cosplayer

In the Spring of 2011, I asked some of the anime blogosphere’s most noted writers to create posts discussing anime and their own personal faith.  Though the main phase of the project is over, I’m always eagerly looking for additional guest posts to add to the series.  Today, Hana, a wonderful blogger from the ever-popular T.H.A.T Anime Blog, gives us a wonderful addition to this series.

It wasn’t the first time that I’d been to an anime convention, but it was the first time that I’d cosplayed at one. Needless to say, it was a rather memorable experience.

Not that the M.C.M. London Expo is strictly an anime con, as it’s more like a trade fair for movies, comics, games and related pop culture. Yet, I knew from the previous two times that I’d been, that many attendees cosplayed in outfits that were just as impressive as what I’d seen in photos of American and East Asian cons.

The first time that I attended the Expo was in May 2009, I went with two friends and I dressed how I usually do, in casual trousers with a matching top and headscarf. As a moderately religious Muslim female who wears the hijab (or headscarf), I usually wear western clothes (I’m Bangladeshi by blood, but born and live in London), otherwise whatever I want, as long as I’m dressed modestly. Sometimes, I’ll wear a hat instead of a headscarf, as long as it’s roomy enough to stuff my hair into it. So, comfy outfit in place, my first con was a positive experience, mostly spent walking around with friends, staring at the cosplayers, avoiding the ‘Free Hug’-ers, buying a few anime related items, buying a tonne of Pocky, and generally feeling very cultured and weeabooish.

The second time I went was in May of last year and it was rather different, as it was more of an excuse to meet up with Ame, a fellow anime fan and blogger who I’d met online (and a couple of another ani blogger friends called Scamp and Hanners, as it turned out) and had been friends with for about a year, also around the same time that I had my one year anniversary as an anime blogger. In short, it was slightly nerve-wracking, as it was the first time I’d be meeting people face to face who I’d previously only conversed with online. However, having already shared photos with Ame and Skyped with all three meant that it wasn’t really the first time we’d met, so it wasn’t a big deal in that sense and turned out to be a lot of fun. In terms of the whole what to wear thing, I decided not to wear a headscarf and to wear one of my Bakerboy hats instead, i.e. like the one in my avatar, the same avatar I use when posting/ commenting on anime blogs and on Twitter. Thus, I wouldn’t say that this was a deliberate decision to downplay the fact that I’m a Muslim, in the highly unlikely event that anyone else’s first impression of me face to face would be that of some kind of religious nut. Rather, knowing that at least one of them had already shared pictures with me and knew me fairly well by that point, and that quite frankly all three of them are simply really nice, non-judgemental, ‘normal’ people, I just thought the hat thing would be a fun way for them to make the connection with my online persona and to help recognise me in the crowd. Read the rest of this entry

My Heart with Egypt and Libya

Off-topic – this post has little or nothing to do with either anime or religion – but I’ve just meaning to share a little bit about Egypt and Libya.  Of course, I support the overthrow of the dictatorships in both countries (particularly in Libya – no matter how much Muammar Gadhafi has toned down in the last decade or two, his hand was and is still brutal).  But I don’t want to blog about that – others much more qualified than I can explain what’s happening.  I just want to share my personal connection to each country.

Pixiv Artist 10033297

Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Conclusions

So, after all that, what does it all mean?  I’ve given some analysis of the results in each of this week’s posts, and many of you have contributed thoughtful comments and additional breakdown.  As a whole, though, here are some of thoughts about what the survey revealed:

The Aniblogging Generation
The aniblogger sample for this survey was young and educated, and had varied backgrounds and religions.  I understand that a group of anibloggers does not serve as an accurate sample of young America at large…but then again, perhaps it can in some facets.  Drawing from my experience as a teacher, through online interactions over the past 15 years, and through other social interaction, I think I can say that the aniblogging population is similar to the thinking, leading, opinionated young people in America today.  Of course, differences abound from region to region, neighborhood to neighborhood, and across cultural and other boundaries, but still, I think you can find people that are like this population in most every high school and college.

anime computer typing

These young people largely lack an organized religion that they are connected to.  Many are, in fact, anti-religious (often a source of turmoil at home).  Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Religion of Anibloggers

What do you believe?  Is there a God?  What is your faith?  Do you have a faith?

I wanted to know how the aniblogging community would respond to these questions.  About half of all respondents were either atheist or agnostic, with responses split exactly evenly between the two.  In other words, 49% of respondents don’t believe in a god or are unsure about a god’s existence.  If one combined the respondents who declared themselves Catholic, Christian (Protestant), Orthodox, and non-denominational Christian as one group, 35% of anibloggers believe in the Christian religion, which would be the highest percentage of all.  Within that group, most were either Protestant (20%) or Catholic (10%).  Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Fractale System as God

Fractale just started airing in Japan (lucky for us, Funimation is simulcasting the series, with episodes appearing just hours after premiering!).  The first episode was nothing at all like I expected, which isn’t entirely a bad thing.

One surpring element in the first episode had to do witht he idea that the Fractale system had become a god in society.  Not only reminiscient of organized, state-required religion (there are similarities to Islam in religiously conservative countries like Saudi Arabia), the system also reminds me of North Korea, where the divine leader is even projected as part of a triune God – Kim Jong-Il is the “son,” his father (and the first leader of North Korea) is the “father,” and the state is the “holy spirit,” if I remember correctly.

Ghostlighting of We Remember Love goes into further detail about the religious ideas (and other themes) from the first episode.  Take a read!

Fractale 01: The Looming End of Our Fantasies