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.
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). And though it may be foolish to make predictions, I feel that in 20 years, you will be the norm in America. Those who cling faithfully to their faith will be abnormal, and perhaps those who even identify with a religion at all will be a minority. Anibloggers, then, I think are on the forefront of an entirely new generation that will be far more secular than those in past. America is going European.
Christians…We’re a Bunch of Hypocrites
I’m the biggest hypocrite I know… But that’s fine, as long as I’m the only one who sees it.
Losing My Religion
Hmm…the title of this section doesn’t quite fit, but I had to get this REM song title in here somehow…
Anyway, the fact of the matter is that, while the idea of religion is important and I think that one’s personal feelings about religion are immensely significant, not all find religion that vital. Some may find it at the very center of their lives, but for many anibloggers, religion is in the background or hardly present at all.
I’m bringing two separate worlds together with this survey, and like church and state, they don’t necessarily go together. Shortly after distributing the survey, one highly-admired blogger took me task about it. We conversed some through email and I think came to an understanding. One point she mentioned is that religion and blogging are likely separate things for most anibloggers most of the time. The results support her assertion, as do the blogs themselves. I scour blogs daily in search of posts about religion, but only a tiny percentage mention it, and even less make a connection between anime and one’s personal faith (most that do are Christian-related).
But still, besides my own site and others in which the bloggers are outspoken Christians (Caught Up in the Rush, My Humble Blog Abode, Annalyn’s Thoughts, Breaking Metal Windows and Anime Bowl among them), excellent posts involving anime and one’s faith or involving their knowledge of faith come up here and there (hence my Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere series). And though we as readers might not know it, the values we have that are instilled by faith may often find their way into posts in some form or fashion.
So…while one’s faith tends to have little to do with what most anibloggers write about…it’s not entirely impertinent.
Can’t We All Just Di-a-logue?
On the day my survey went out, some tweeted about it, wondering what the point of it all was. Besides just being of personal interest to me, there was a greater (devious?) intent. I hoped that this survey would bring open dialogue within the aniblogging (and even greater anime) community. Judging from the comments, I think that my goal is starting to come to light.
We obviously don’t understand each other’s faiths (or lack therof) very well. Protestants have misconceptions about Catholics’ faith; atheists think Protestants leave their minds at the door when stepping into church; Jews wonder why Christians have to make their faith part of every corridor of their lives; and agnostics wonder why Muslims can be so sure of their God. We don’t understand each other, and when it comes to something so intimate, so culturally intertwined, and so emotional a topic as religion, it’s really important to understand each other if we want to be open, loving, and compassionate. Of course, not all of us want that – but I certainly do.
My blog is about anime and Christian spirituality. However, I want it to be a safe place where any can discuss religion without be browbeaten – whether you’re Protestant, Catholic, Wiccan, Muslim, or any other religion. If you’re an atheist or agnostic, I also want you to be able to express your views without thinking that I’m going to bible-thump you.
And I hope that we can understand why we believe what we believe, in addition to clearing up misconceptions about each others’ faiths. I’m reminded of an exchange student from Indonesia that was in a history class I taught. She gave me a book about Islam and said something to the effect that I didn’t understand her religion. I was taken aback, having thought that I was being sensitive to all religions in my classroom – apparently, I wasn’t. That book helped me understand the idea of peace in Islam and that perhaps my experience with Muslims during my stays in Egypt and with what I’d seen on television had marred my idea of the religion.
Do you see the application? Non-Christians, I hope that you’ll understand that our faith is not necessarily what is demonstrated by the religious right (though we may be part of it) or abortion clinic bombers (though we may be pro-life). Get to know us, get to know our faith through us, and get to know why we believe, and you may change our minds about Christians.
That’s a wrap folks. Thanks to all who took the survey and for those who’ve read and commented on what I’ve written in the past week. I hope that these posts were enlightening, interesting, and helpful. And above all, I do hope that these surveys will help open dialogue, break down barriers and misconceptions, and bring a significant topic more to the forefront of our lives.
Are there any other major conclusions y’all (<— betrays Texan upbringing) can draw?