I’d been waiting weeks and even months for this. As I drove to my friends house, I was a bit nervous and excited. Truth be told, aside from my wife, this would be only the third time I’d ever watched anime with a friend.
A couple of months ago, I was talking to this friend about anime. During college, we’d talk anime quite a bit – he helped me really get into it, providing me with direction over which series to watch (I wouldn’t have watched Maison Ikkoku, now one of my favorites, without his suggestion). But now, like so many of us, he’d grown tired of the medium, watching hardly any anime the past several years.
In the course of our conversation, I mentioned The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and was shocked to find out that he’d never seen it. I thought that certainly, if any series could help an anime fan recover, it would be Haruhi. And so, when the time came, I brought my DVDs over for a mini-marathon of what is possibly my favorite series.
This whole series of events got me thinking back to much-repeated words of wisdom in Sunday sermons – wherever your time/wallet/energy/etc. is, there your heart is, too. After thinking about how excited I was about showing Haruhi to my friend, I pondered some on the order of significance of parts of my life. Basically, I want the order to be this:
3. Everything else
But after considering where I put my money, my time, my energy, my resources, my commitment, and my thoughts, the real list ended up something like this:
3. Entertainment (including anime and sports)
As you can see, the list represents complete fail. Well, maybe not complete – a year ago, possessions might have been a notch higher on the list and God one lower. -_-‘
Still, the list emphasizes something – no matter where your mouth is, your actions determine where your heart is. I believe our hearts were designed for worship, and if this is true, we all worship something – whether at the feet of a deity or at something else, like self (by the way – if I combined most of the numbers on those list under the broader category of self, that would rank number one).
For me, the conclusion is obvious. The first commandment says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And so, I’m a hypocrite. Maybe I’m a self-aware one that is trying (not as much as I should) to change and be a man of integrity, but a hypocrite nonetheless.
In the end, if I want my heart to match my mouth, I need to move – often against the grain of my desires.
By the way, back to my friend. How did he respond to my question of how he liked Haruhi after our viewing?
“It was okay.”
Where is your heart? What do you consider most important in your life? Do these two match?
6 thoughts on “Worshipping Haruhi…and Other Things Your Heart Desires”
Hmm my list is probably similar to yours except for the wife part, I am still single. However, there are times when I do feel guilty for loving this medium so much and being so outspoken about it as opposed to my Christianity.
I still kinda feel its unfair that loving something so much would be considered as putting it above God though.
There certainly isn’t anything inherently wrong with loving something or someone. I think when I evaluate things though and see that I set aside more time, have more passion for, and often think about anime more than I do about godly things (not necessarily specifically the Father), I realize my list is out of order.
Thanks for the comments!
I also was completely lukewarm on Haruhi. I never got the hype. I feel for your friend.
But I do know that what I’d like to put first in my life often isn’t, sometimes because of things that I can control, sometimes… not. It’s the things I can control I need to work on, but it can be so easy to fall into old habits.
I do think that the time/money you spend on something isn’t relative to how much you love it, though. I watch a lot of anime because I’m broke and on my own (and can get it from the library for free), and my fiends are often too busy to hang out. Does that mean I love anime more than my friends? No. I also only get to talk to/see my family only twice a month or so. That doesn’t mean I love anime more than my family.
True, money or time doesn’t automatically determine where your heart is. But it can certainly be indicative of such things. Anyway, your example is a good one and makes me think of this – I would certainly fight (die?) for God, but I wouldn’t do the same for anime…even Haruhi! But then, that kind of makes it sadder that I don’t spend more time with one that is so significant to me.
Oh, and by the way, you’re just wrong. Haruhi is king (or queen). 😛
The self is perhaps the highest love that the natural man has, at least with respect to its fallen nature. Its rare to find someone who would put kids or family before themselves though. If that’s truly your order of loves, then I’d say you’re in the right direction. Its self-reflection like this and the desire to strive for God as our greatest treasure that serves as evidence of our salvation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Like Augustine said, “For when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves” and “So that it seems to me that it is a brief but true definition of virtue to say, it is the order of love.…”. In other words, a “good person loves the right things and in the right order”.
The more I reflect on this, the more I realize just how sinful I am. In our natural state we will compare ourselves to those who love the wrong things (e.g, murder, selfishness, greed, etc) but when it comes to good things, we tend to be far less concerned with how we order them. To me this speaks of how true the Bible is when it says “No one seeks after God, no not one”. In a very real sense, no one seeks after God unless it is for their own benefit or for some intellectual excercise. Rarely will they seek after Him as the greatest treasure a man could search for. This may not seem like a problem to some, as long as they enjoy what they want but if you think about it, such a thing is equivalent to treating your pet diamond as more important than your child. Now that may seem like an exaggeration, but if one recognizes the infinite far surpassing value of God then this is practically what is being done.
I think this is a very real problem for all Christians. We fail to pray as we should, read His Word as we should, and meditate as we should. Our spiritual walk is in many ways like physical exercise. We shouldn’t expect to flip a light switch and suddenly be reading, praying, and meditating for hours on end without fail. This is not how it works. Rather, we fight the good fight and make our bodies our slaves. We preservere to the end so that we can receive the crown life and look unto Christ as our strength and hope during various trials and difficulties. Its a gradual process that we must all strive for. So for myself and everyone else, if you have problem praying or reading then start small. Set aside 5 minutes in the morning to pray and maybe read a “Verse of the Day” on Bible Gateway every day and try to ponder on that as much as you can throughout the rest of the day. Then gradually increase the amount of time you spend on each of those activities. Let 5 minutes turn into 10 minutes.
Think of a muscle. In order to gain muscle, you must break it down and replace it with more muscle tissue. You rince and repeat this process. Similarly, with our walk, we must break down our self daily and replace it with Christ. Another practical point to make is that often times, we can use these goods such as our family and entertainment to increase our love for God. In fact, this is exactly what this blog does and I am so glad I recently found it. From what I can tell, you’re a legit Christian, TWWK. Like the Apostle said, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:13). To me this is astounding, because even the smallest of things like drinking can be appreciated. How much more for anime? Of course we should watch with discernment, but at the same time, I think we should recognize where all these goods come from and how God embodies those goods in a infinitely perfect manner. For example, in anime, you can appreciate the artistic beauty but that should just lead you to reflect on the beauty of God because it is only because He is beautiful than any beauty can exist at all.
Sorry, I kind of ranted there but yeah, keep up the good work on this blog. Hope to get to know you guys more!
Gil, thank you for the response! I’m glad you ranted – there was so much great stuff in there, both practically and in a more lofty sense. I hope others will read your comments and gather as much wisdom from them as I did!
I obviously agree with you when it comes to how sinful we are and how little we actually seek God with the right heart. How much are we doing what we do out of habit, fear, selfishness, or other reasons beside gratitude, love, and simple enjoyment of God? I compare it to our love for family, which you also mention. When I’m in the “right” state of mind, I think about how much I love my family and how I genuinely want to sacrifice for their sakes. But in other moments, I’m just going through the motions or doing “what I have to do.”
As for enjoying the godliness of anime (and other media, objects, etc.), I agree with you again. The verse you mentioned definitely came to mind while I was writing this post. The blog was not birthed in the manner I’m about to describe, but has partially continued to help me consider how God works through and in all sorts of things, particularly anime, so that I might enjoy the medium with discernment and appreciation, rather than blindly.
Now, I’m off to my quiet time! 😉
Thanks for the comments, again! I look forward to future comments from you. 🙂