Anime Today: Christianity and the Environment

Coppelion is easily one of the more interesting and entertaining anime this season. Some might appreciate it for its striking art style, defined particularly by its bold outlines (which may remind many fans of other anime using the same style, such as the recent Attack on Titan). Some might enjoy the character design, especially for the the use of the highly prevalent gas mask (reminiscent of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade). Some might even just like it for the classic anime trope of school girls with guns. However, the area by which I have been most drawn in by Coppelion is its intriguing take on a post-apocalyptic setting.

From here on I will be writing on the series in a general sense having watched episodes one through six. Thus, the rest of this article may include minor spoilers.

Coppelion takes place in post-nuclear catastrophe Tokyo, following three girls who were genetically engineered to be able to withstand the uninhabitable area. While not terribly original, I have found the setting to so far be satisfying in that it is treated as a post-apocalypse only to an extent, seeing as thus far the main characters have been solely exploring this desolate area, yet it is made clear that the entire world is not this way.

Coppelion scenery
Screen capture assembled by Shiracirca (Tumblr)

In the fictional world of Coppelion, Tokyo has become an example of what human irresponsibility can do to nature, or the environment.

Before moving on any further, I want to take a step back for a moment so as to be able to approach Coppelion with a more biblical lens. What does the Bible say about the environment? One erroneous view that I hear far too often from conservative Christians is that Christians need not be concerned with the environment mainly on the principle that God charges humanity with unlimited dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8, and others). However, this is a prime example of proof-texting. The Bible is chock full of reasons why Christians should care, but here are just a few:

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:31 (NIV)

Before sin entered the world, the world that God created was proclaimed not as simply existent, nor simply good, but very good. The natural environment is included in this statement, and this statement is also independent on views as to Genesis’ literal/figurative nature. Whether or not you believe in a six-day creationism, progressive creation, or theistic creation, the canonicity of Genesis implies at least symbolic importance, which extends to this verse and statement.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15 (NIV)

Before the entrance of sin, God charged humanity with working and taking care of the Garden of Eden, not just dominating it.

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20 (NIV)

Paul makes the point that God’s creation is an aspect of revelation regarding the nature of God. Who are we to abuse that?

There are countless other passages that support this idea that, while we are placed in charge of the earth, we are to care for it as God’s precious creation.*

With all of this in mind, I was horrified by one of the main plot points of the past few episodes where the abandoned drums of toxic waste were discovered abandoned in a large pool of water. Companies were taking money to “dispose” of toxic waste by abandoning them in the middle of Tokyo with no containment at all, with the mindset that Tokyo was already environmentally ruined, so what would a bit more toxic waste do (this upset the three main characters to a great extent)?

This brings to mind two common Christian mindsets regarding the environment with which I staunchly disagree: (1) that the world is already fallen, so what would a little bit more do in the long run, and (2) that when the apocalypse comes, we will all go to Heaven anyway, so the earth won’t matter.**

In regard to the first of these two points, this view totally disregards the fact that God charged humanity with taking responsible dominion over the earth, much less that the prevalence of sin absolutely does not give permission for sin. An equivalent argument would be, “Well I already murdered five people, what is five more going to do?” Perhaps murdering ten people makes little difference to you if you have already murdered five and are already going to be sentenced to death or life in prison, but it sure as heck matters to those five extra people that were murdered!

The second of these two points is just as ridiculous. Coming renewal/destruction (however you want to look at it) does not mean that something can be ignored at the moment. One example of this that has always come to mind to me goes back to years ago when my family’s house was purchased by a railroad company that wanted to install a rail through our yard. The company gave us a hefty chunk of change for our land and told us that we just had to be out in a number of months, then the house would be demolished. Of course, with mowing being a primary job of mine, my first thought was, “Dad, does that mean I don’t have to mow anymore? I mean, it’s just going to be destroyed anyway!”

He did not find my reasoning as sound as I did.

But, you know, if you are going to follow that logic, you could go as far as to say, “Well, there’s no point in washing the bathtub since I’m not going to be living here forever anyway!” Disgusting! Yet that is exactly what you are saying if you claim that the environment does not matter since everything is going to be remade anyway!*** In addition to that defying what the Bible teaches, it also ignores the present time in favor of an unknown future. Matthew 24:36 points out that we will not know the time of Judgment, and so would it not follow that we should not assume that we have a short time until then, during which we can exploit the earth as much as we wish? The world could end tomorrow. The world could last until the days of Die Buster. Heck, the world could last until the days of Now and Then Here and There! We don’t know and we cannot know, and without knowing we are subjecting future generations to an increasingly destroyed place to live.

In all, Coppelion has so far been doing an adequate job of touching on the importance of respecting the environment and treating it with care… something that Christians should be doing perhaps more than anyone! I cannot wait to see where the series goes from here and to see how it continues to treat the importance of nature in our fallen world.****


*The purpose of this article is not to compare the importance of caring for the earth with the sanctity of human life or other such issues, and so I am not going to touch on that topic at all.

**That’s actually some incorrect theology since it ignores the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth.

***Not to mention that Revelation stresses the creation of a new Earth, which seems to place some importance on our current earth.

****Or at least better than Earth Maiden Arjuna (which I like to refer to as the “Japanese Magic School Bus”), of which I am not a fan. Also, four asterisks this time around… maybe I should cool it with the notes…

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