Anime and the Digital Church

More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.

There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.

screenshot-12_22_2012-2_34_12-pm

For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.

.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.

Hack-todos
The .hack//Sign team all together!

Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?

Not at all.

In fact, you could just remove yourself from the group or just click delete and be done with them, that simple. Many people prefer this because we can hide instead of being confronted. When you are dealing with sinful choices or you made a bad move there’s nobody there to correct you when your online.

I am all for anything that expands the gospel of Christ, whether it’s online, Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs, etc. I myself am writing these articles partly to see others know Christ personally, but at the same time I understand the importance of having someone who has an authoritative position (like a pastor for example, or church leader) who can speak into my life and tell me things I don’t want to hear, but in the end will help me. God loves us, and disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3:11-12) so don’t be afraid of stepping into that place of fellowship with other Christians, or others of your faith. Keep your digital connections with those that you have built relationships with, but never forget the importance of spending time with others that can help you grow.

17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

– Proverbs 27:17

Being in a church group, whether big or small, new or old, will help you grow as a person. You may feel uncomfortable having to listen to someone speak truths that go against what you want to do, but often it’s those words that we need to hear the most. We don’t want to be checked and told what we are doing is against God’s word and will for our life, or that if we turn our lives over to Him and follow His standards for living we will be blessed. We would rather live our own lives and do what we want, but that never leads us to success. I challenge you, my reader, to take the next step towards being a part of a group or church that will take you to another level. Even if it’s just a small bible study that meets once a week, get plugged in and don’t walk this journey of life alone

* E/N: While it’s our goal to build genuine community here at Beneath the Tangles, we never want to substitute as a church for any individual.  We encourage all of our readers to become part of a local church community, or for those who are not believers, to consider trying out a church for a while to see how believers live out their faith together.

14 thoughts on “Anime and the Digital Church

  1. I know the internet can be an intimidating place, but God is always in control. He uses even the internet for his glory. Blogs like this can be a wonderful light to others, but it is no substitute for real personal fellowship. Still, God has been using the internet in crazy ways to bless myself and my friends. God is so hip, he’s so up to date on all this technology thing. I love to watch him use this medium that has such a bad reputation to promote so much good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lady_Teresa thanks for that. Yes, I agree, the internet is a great place for believers to connect and strengthen each other in His word. That is true, God is super up to date, He will use any avenue of media to bring more to Christ. Even this blog is here for that 🙂 God bless ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree towards the importance of finding physical biblical community, an area of my life I seem to struggle finding as of late partially of my own accord, partially due to reasons of overall mistrust from past experience. While I do not seek regular involvement in an MMO to be the way to have community, I believe it’s a great outlet to leverage our faith indirectly. For example, going out of one’s way to be kind to another player. Maintaining appropriate language and attitude on TS, etc. In everything we do, it should be for God’s glory and not merely our entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Boroosh, thanks for the comment. Yeah, it can be hard but you will be able to find the right place of worship for you. It can be tricky to fit in sometimes, I have gone through that, but when you feel Gods presence there and the people are full of His love it just clicks.

      That has been my experience, not saying thats the only one. But I will pray that God opens a door for you to connect somewhere.

      I also agree with what you said, yeah having online etiquette is important and showing Gods love even online can impact others positively.

      Like

  3. I have an interesting point of view on physical community, partially because of how I met the vast majority of people I am close friends with.

    You see, I’m not convinced that in-person relationships actually provide superior connections to people. This is particularly the case with me because I have an autism spectrum disorder. My in-person self and my online self appear to be two different people. This is because the chief feature of autism isn’t social inadequacy, but rather the inability to accurately read and imitate social behavior. This means that my in-person self doesn’t resemble the person you’d expect to meet from just listening to me chat.

    I have fallen madly in love twice online, met many good friends online, and worship an entity with no human form and who instead manifests as a series of associations and concepts difficult to put into words (But that are instantly, universally recognizable).

    “Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life?”

    And I have shared the most personal. intimate details of my Heart with some of these people, too, things I would ironically never tell my own relatives. I do have a very close in-person friend as well, but I see no real emotional gap between her and my closest friend online.

    I think that the way our society thinks about the online world doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be the case as a rule, and that a community should be wherever one feels most truly at home and understood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Luminas, again thanks for the comment 🙂

      Well, when I said that people often don’t share intimate details it is true most don’t but there are always exceptions. Personally, for example, I will not jump on facebook if I am struggling with paying a bill or something, but some people may confide that to someone online. My main point here is talking about being accountable, since like I said if your online you are not accountable to anyone. You can delete the post, close the browser, turn off the PC etc. Can’t do that in a face to face conversation (not on a phone).

      I encourage you to get with someone you can trust and can challenge you to take steps in your life to keep on improving yourself. I have worked for years with autistic people, mainly children, and have seen how far they can go. Trust in God to give you the strength to do it. He loves you, and wants the best for you.

      Seek Him and He will show up in your life.

      God bless you, thanks again.

      Like

  4. “I encourage you to get with someone you can trust and can challenge you to take steps in your life to keep on improving yourself. I have worked for years with autistic people, mainly children, and have seen how far they can go. Trust in God to give you the strength to do it. He loves you, and wants the best for you.”

    To be completely fair to me I’ve graduated from law school and have taken a great number of steps during law school (And gotten a great deal of advice) to make my interpersonal interactions more effective. But with that said, it’s always good to try and improve oneself. 🙂

    “Since like I said if your online you are not accountable to anyone. You can delete the post, close the browser, turn off the PC etc. Can’t do that in a face to face conversation (not on a phone).”

    This is the bit I don’t quite get. Technically even over the phone you can just hang up on the guy and cut yourself off from him, except in exceedingly dangerous situations. And when you’re online, assuming you really love that person, you are every bit as accountable for what you say to them when you speak in real time and regularly. At least, assuming you want to keep your friend.

    It’s all a matter of proximity. Online it IS possible to create numerous acquaintances, many more than you can create online, but you still owe the same accountability to your closest friends— Regardless of whether you’ve met them in person or not. You end up wanting to meet them, to be fair— I have met two so far and have plans to meet another. :}

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very cool. I personally am more for making friends offline, online friends just never was a thing for me.

      I meant by the phone as in if you talk to someone you can hang up on them but face to face its much more personal.

      And I didn’t know you finished law school. Are you a lawyer ? Just curious. Congrats by the way, thats not an easy accomplishment

      Like

  5. Soon will be, assuming I can pass the most miserable test ever invented by Man (Not entirely convinced that the Devil DIDN’T have a hand in creating the test to get into what’s basically his profession ;} *Ba-dum-PSSH* )— The Bar exam. Basically, everything a teacher ever said about a test—- That it was fair, that there were no trick questions, that the answers made sense…The test they’re remembering when they say those things is this one. XDD This test is just outright mean.

    If I can pass that, yep I’m a lawyer. :3

    Like

  6. I’ve found so many online communities awesome sometimes even better than real ones because I feel like I’m less socially pressured yet of course it can’t completely replace IRL interaction. I love that you used SAO as an example. I thought that game went a lot into online and real life accountability and such. Good post!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree, for example, Geeks Under Grace is such a great community that I enjoy chatting with the staff and members of the group page daily. Yeah, I feel less pressured as well, I don’t have people analyzing me so much or overthinking something I said or gestured etc.

      There are definitely pros and cons on both sides. And yeah, SAO does that very well, more reason to love the anime.

      Liked by 1 person

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