I recently connected with Japes, a commenter on our blog and a new aniblogger, through our new Facebook account. I asked Japes to write a piece for us, a task which he graciously took on. The result is below. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Japes is a full-time computer science major and follower of Christ at Liberty University. On the side, he arranges and records saxophone covers of anime/Vocaloid music through his Youtube account.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
– Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
I’ve been thinking the past few days about how people can have vastly different interests and can often be judged for how they spend their time. Many times I feel as though I am a member of that group “being judged” for having the amount of interest I have in Japanese culture, and particularly Japanese anime. However, through my personal devotions, Bible classes, and random theological discussions with friends, I believe I have reached a point in my life where I can truly appreciate ALL that I do in the name of God.
One particular thought that dawned on me was the idea of physical existence. Many religions in the world deny the physical, or regard it as “evil” (look at Hinduism and Buddhism, for instance), and many Christians do the same. Earlier in Colossians 3, Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…”, but I believe that many Christians take that to the extent of denying the physical itself. If such thinking were true, then why would God have called Creation “very good” before the existence of sin? Wasn’t the world physical??
If you look at this, then it seems obvious that God INTENDED for us to have a good physical nature, not an evil one (and as CS Lewis would say, as noted in The Screwtape Letters, physical evils are merely a perversion of physical “goods”; there does not exist a physical evil that is completely independent of a “good” from which it stems). In this way, while we should abandon the earthly evils that sin has created in us, the physical realm is something to be enjoyed!
Back to my main point.
I find more and more that as I watch anime, although many Christians condemn it, I can truly appreciate it as the manifestation of human creativity which God instilled in us from the beginning of the world. Before, during, and after every episode I watch, I can sincerely feel thanks to God for what he has created and allowed for me to enjoy in my earthly state (granted I don’t feel these thoughts or say these words as consistently as I would like, but I am getting better in this way).
Sometimes this appreciation comes in the form of direct biblical principles. For instance some of my favorite anime contain such elements (which is something I try to take note of as I watch). Haibane Renmei in its entirety is the very picture of forgiveness and salvation found in the gospels; Clannad After Story often takes me to Job and questioning the nature of suffering; one particular episode of Ah! My Goddess reminded me of the need to have faith that God will provide in the face of certain doubt (the list goes on).
However, I don’t believe that enjoying and gaining wholesome pleasure from anime is relegated simply to drawing direct principles. My entire point in saying all of this is that the creativity of the human mind is the product of the creative God who created us in His image! To use some of my absolute favorite anime as examples, after watching an episode of Spice and Wolf I can appreciate a deep fiction that touches on economics and the corrupt church, after watching an episode of Nichijou I can appreciate its zany humor, even after watching an episode of The World God Only Knows I can appreciate the beautiful character design and animation and enjoy a hearty laugh at Keima’s unreasonable obsession with dating sims.
When appreciated in the context of glorifying God, all of this enjoyment is not only allowed as a Christian, but it is recommended!
I say all this as a word of encouragement to those who find enjoyment in something that is not held in high regard by the society surrounding you. Does that thing cause you to sin? If not, then enjoy what God has put on this earth that he called “good” and rejoice in His name!
Praise be to God!
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