I had lunch with a friend last week, with whom I talked about how hard it is to shake loose your cultural upbringing as it relates to religion and really focus on the real message of the gospel. I mentioned how helpful it is to hear perspectives from others whose upbringings were very different from our own. I know that for me, even though I frequently take a step back and try to see things from others’ points of view, I still struggle to understand how others think (or to be honest, how they could possibly think what they do).
One of my favorite manga is Silver Spoon, a series I recently picked up after watching the anime with my wife. There are a lot of strong themes running through the series, but perhaps none more strongly than the idea that when we open ourselves up to other points of view, we’re able to grow. Hachiken, the distressed city boy, experiences change almost immediately as he adjusts to life at an agricultural high school. By the end of the anime run and into where the manga is now, he’s transformed even further. By embracing different perspectives, he’s found himself.
The series also gives many asides from minor characters who comment on how Hachiken has changed them, too.
It’s not so much Hachiken’s experience, though, that moves the student body toward transformation – it’s Hachiken himself. His earnestness, intelligence, and compassion leads his friends and staff and others to think outside the box. The greatest example is Mikage, who is given the courage to stand up for her dream and is motivated to put in the seemingly impossible task of working toward it.
Perhaps Christianity could learn a lesson from this manga. For a religion that began with a Messiah whose every word was outside the box, it’s distressing how rule-centered and confined Christianity has become in the west. As a reaction, perhaps, against easy beliefism and wrong theology, many of us have unwittingly become modern-day Pharisees who miss the forest for the trees. We speak of mercy, but show ungrace. The hypocrisy can sometimes be unbearable.
When we’re too much among like-minded folks, we often find our thoughts reinforced – that’s human nature, and it’s not always a good thing. But when a different voice enters, there arrives, too, an opportunity to consider things from a different viewpoint. Our convictions, then, can grow or change based on new information. And even if the other person’s view is vastly different from ours, especially in regards to religion, we perhaps get to see people and the world a little more from God’s broader perspective of what individuals are like and what they believe, and not from our narrow view, and that in turn might increase our love for the world.
We are inevitably changed as we develop relationships with others. That’s a mechanism through which God works in our lives and that’s ultimately the way through which real, genuine change can occur – by relationship.
But such change has to begin by opening ourselves to others and how they think. And when we do that, who knows? We might both better ourselves and find that others might change as well.
5 thoughts on “Silver Spoon: The Importance of a Different Perspective”
Awesome article! I think that is is one of the reasons that Paul exhorts Christians not to “forsake the assembly of the brethren” in Hebrews 10; it’s important to have different perspectives in your life, especially among believers. It’s sometimes hard to be around people who don’t always pat you on the back or agree with you, but in the end it’s more beneficial to your growth as a person. I think the main struggle though, is when you’re in a church or a community where everyone believes mostly the same way, like I and many people do. What would you say is the best way to combat this? I mean,how can we find more challenge, or conflicting ideals when those in our immediate vicinity don’t really have much to differ with us on?
This is a great question – Sorry for the late response!
I have a two-prong answer. First, I think we need to be consuming biblical content from sources outside our community, whether it’s through our own bible study, books, sermons, or other resources. We often get very different points of view by going outside our zones.
And then, we challenge others (and ourselves in the process) when we bring in these outside ideas through discussion, and in doing so, we might impact our community in a positive way. Hopefully, we can get others to return to scripture rather than their own culture as they seek to live a Christian life. This is why it’s so vital to really be part of a church community and hopefully in small groups as well, where this discussion often occurs.
And now you know why I love this series (both the anime and the manga) so much. Great article!
I think one possible reason some Christians don’t open themselves up to other perspectives is because they feel the need to present a strong argument for Christianity for unbelievers to “logically” come to accept Christianity and all its ways. They feel like if they open themselves to other perspectives, their own faith can be “taken down” by a counter-argument–especially if it targets the doubts they still have with their faith.
And yet, the vulnerability from exposing oneself to other perspectives is one reason Hachiken is liked so much: he openly wrestles with the matter of raising animals for food (among other things) and does some seemingly crazy things because of it, but that is part of his earnestness that draws others to him. So maybe what the Church needs is to not always look like we have all the answers, and be willing to show our doubts and struggles to the world. (At the very least, it can let others know that you don’t have to be some kind of certified Bible scholar to be a Christian.)
Ohhh, very nice said, Frank!
[…] gentle, pure and without defect. Silver Spoon, a well-loved tale about maturity and growth we have commented on a number of times here, has at the core of the first season (spoilers ahead) a similar situation: […]