Reader Response: Who We Mean to Be

When I started Beneath the Tangles several years ago, I came in with a very direct, but ambitious and broad mission.  As the years have passed and as I’ve learned more and more about the community I’m engaging, and as it has changed, my approach and goals have changed.  My purpose has especially been in the forefront of my mind lately as Beneath the Tangles expands into the Tumblrverse and other outlets.

But some things haven’t changed.  I was reminded of that through a wonderful email sent by a reader whom I’ll refer to as Jessica:

I discovered this site recently and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the work you’ve done.  I’m a Christian, an anime/manga fan, and, in addition, a fan of a lot of entertainment that’s not specifically Christian, and your articles really echo a lot of my own feelings.  I think, on your Christian lenses for anime (which I also use for other things) I tend to take the redemptive approach, and I’m uncomfortable for reasons both religious and philosophical with works that are so nihilistic as to offer no hints of redemptive themes at all!

Jessica refers to the broad spectrum in which Christians view entertainment.  I’ve adhered to one specific approach from the beginning (though I’m currently exploring another one, well-known among many Christians).  Our blog falls into one of several categories, depending on the post, and maybe several at once.   But we never fall into the extreme, separatist category – we engage the culture, and particularly anime, as something we can learn from, enjoy, and embrace (or sometimes decidedly not).  We’ll always talk anime, as long as the blog lives on, as we explore the Christian ideas that are important to us and to many of you readers.

In addition to those kind words, Jessica added some more thoughts – and these particularly touched me:

Also, specifically to TWWK: I just wanted to mention that as a bisexual Christian, I found your past handling of same-sex issues in manga/anime very thoughtful and sensitive.  Even if our interpretations differ, I believe your approach–and hopefully mine as well!–allow us to better understand each other and find common ground in Christ.

And anime. 🙂

And this, too, is something imperative for our goals here.  Even if we disagree (this may be the post that Jessica refers to), even if we’re on separate sides of the coin, I hope that this place provides an environment where we can all feel safe to explore, discuss, and relate.  Too many times, Christians engage culture by either running from it or attacking it.  We don’t want to do either here.  Instead, we want to explore it by loving you, which we do by listening to what you have to way.  And I hope that we’ll learn from each other as we go – I certainly know I’ve learned a lot from you all.

So thank you, Jessica, for your kindness.  And thank you, readers, both for bearing with us and for being part of a unique community in the anime blogosphere.  I hope that we, the bloggers, will keep our part (and improve) in making this a place that you’ll always find warm and engaging.


7 thoughts on “Reader Response: Who We Mean to Be

  1. I appreciate what you’re trying to do on this blog. But at the same time I find that, because I also identify as a Christian, I can’t really come to discuss many of the ideas you bring up since you wear the tag so up front, that I would come across attacking your labels rather than the ideas you’re putting behind the label.

    Anyways, regardless of my opinion it seems you’ve found a nice groove at it so I hope you keep it up.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Also, please feel free to interject as you’d like, even if it might make me feel uncomfortable! The more dialogue, the better!

  2. I’d like to echo Jessica’s words here. I was raised as a Christian (of a denomination I was – and still am – never aware of), but the. . .pigheadedness, I’ll say, of so many people from that part of my life astounded me. A lot of Christian sources spoke out and argued in a way that I now associate with most forum arguments – that is, poorly, angrily, with a superior tone, and unwilling to admit faults. As someone who is always striving to be a better communicator, this really, really bothers me, and it did back then, too.

    I’ve used the internet enough to know not to generalize people, and I make every effort not to. That said, most of what discussion about religion I *have* seen (which certainly doesn’t represent the entirety of what discussion is out there) has conformed to this – stubborn, hateful, and littered with personal attacks, usually on both sides. That’s what makes Beneath the Tangles so special, in my mind. Your even-handed, open-minded, and most importantly humble (you openly admit your biases and faults, and are willing to say those words so taboo on the internet: “I was wrong”) approach in pretty much all things I’ve seen on BTT is an absolute joy to witness. You care about ideas here, about communication, about sharing, learning, and refining knowledge – at least, that’s the distinct impression I’ve always held.

    That sets you apart from much of the internet as a whole, let alone some cultural group existing in one of its corners. You do great work – thank you for choosing to continue it.

    1. Gosh, John…you are WAY too nice! Thank you so much for your words – I particularly appreciate from you, since I admire you and your writing as well.

      I unfortunately have to agree with a lot of what you’ve said about Christians…there’s a definite reason we’re pictured in a certain way. And I try to break the mold and try to be the Christian that I think we’re meant to be, though it’s certainly not easy for me to put my pride and biases aside either!

  3. You run a great blog, Charles. I love how you are able to tease out Christian themes from the anime, especially where these themes are particularly difficult to perceive. May this blog remain for a very long time!

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