Something More: Revolutionary Jesus Utena, Dehumanizing Titans, and My Soul, Your Idols

I recently had a discussion with an old friend over Facebook. He’s a person I dearly care about and who I once discipled, but who has since left the faith largely because of his debelief in the miracles in (and writings of) the Bible.

Are we in a more skeptical day and age than ever before? I think probably we are. But the faithful Christian must not forget that God is God and not everything can be explained.

Our own Medieval Otaku, on his self-named blog, dives into the miraculous a bit as he compares the character Amami from Re-Kan to a prayerful Catholic. He dives into the topic of saints and angels and how we might connect to them through prayer. Amami, like a Christian, is open to the unseen when others may be skeptical or downright hostile. As Medieval Otaku states, “Anything touching upon the supernatural, whether souls, ghosts, miracles, the saints, the sacraments, or even God, is usually treated with distrust or contempt.”

I’m reminded of a lunch I had a week or two ago with a friend. We discussed how one should approach Genesis, and in the midst of all our talk, I had to reiterate this: while it’s important to approach the Bible with intellectual honesty and to examine it carefully, we’ve also all been convicted by the unseen God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and are being transformed as we commune with God. In our rush to dismiss mysticism that might intrude on our faith, we can’t forget that God is God, and things impossible with man are possible with Him. We cannot limit God because we’re limited – doing so ultimately negates the grace of God and our faith entirely:

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

– 1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Read Medieval Otaku’s wax more eloquently on the topic (and in a different direction than I have) at his site:

>> How Re-Kan’s Amami Reminds Me of a Prayerful Catholic

Naoi’s painful childhood as show in Angel Beats! reminds of poor fathering by Isaac in the Bible, and our model for perfection through the story of the Prodigal Son. [Old Line Elephant]

In the same episode, Naoi declares himself God, reminding us of how we, too, develop idols in our controlling, imperfect manner. [2]

In the next episode, we find Otonashi’s life had revolved around a different kind of “idol worship” – that in which we worked for temporary things of this world. [3]

The way Utena loves Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena reminds us God’s concern for “the other,” with the other also representing all of us. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

The blurred lines between humanity and the inhuman in Attack on Titan and XenoBlade Chronicles points toward the way we often dehumanize others, and what the cost of doing so is. [Geekdom House]

Finally, I would be negligent to not mention that one of our dear friends, Tommy, has opened a Patreon account. If you enjoy his critical analysis (particularly of Toonami series), please pledge to support him! [Anime Bowl]

As part of the Something More series of posts, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK to be included. 

8 thoughts on “Something More: Revolutionary Jesus Utena, Dehumanizing Titans, and My Soul, Your Idols

  1. Thanks for linking to my article! As you say, one of the great modern heresies is to confine God within our understanding, which can only know infinitely little about Him. For example, because most have never witnessed a miracle, they deny the concept entirely even though God obviously has the power to do that. This modern error can be traced back to David Hume, and if you want to read a good treatment of Hume through an Aristotelian/Thomistic lens, I recommend Hume Meets Socrates by Peter Kreeft–a very readable book written as a Socratic dialogue and very illuminating on the errors of secular thought.

    It’s always sad when a friend falls away from religion. I have one who tries to paint Christianity as evil through picking on troublesome lines from the Bible, contorting the meaning of Biblical passages, and refusing to acknowledge any good in Christianity–as if he should be converted against his will should he say that Christianity is good in even one respect! But, many people fall away for moral reasons and adduce philosophical ones to cover for the fact that their weight of sin has overwhelmed their belief in the mercy of God. But, human misery is the seat of God’s mercy, and we can always hope that God will be especially merciful in converting those who were once devout to Him.

    1. I’m so looking forward to reading your article. I can write all day on the supernatural, it fascinates me. I’ve seen many, many miracles in my life, in friends, church, read/watched many real life testimonies of healings, deliverances (exorcisms), miracles, etc.

      If you remove the supernatural from God, you have a religion. A religion is only about rules, and trying to please God through methods and works, while Christ already paid for all our good works. There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation or forgiveness, and that in of itself is supernatural. The Resurrection was the greatest miracle to have ever occurred.

      1. I hope that you like my article. It was mostly a series of observations on how reality includes so much more than matter. Reports of how God has saved and helped his people through miracles and in other unexpected ways bolster faith like few things can.

        You slipped when you wrote “Christ already paid for all our good works.” It was our offenses he paid for on the cross. But I know what you mean: most religions differ from Christianity in that placing the responsibility on man to ascend to the divine. In Christianity, God took on our weaknesses and suffered for our transgressions in order to give us the kingdom of God, which no amount of good works on our part can merit. God’s forgiveness of sins earns us heaven, while our practice of repentance and good works through God’s grace prevents us from straying onto the broad path which leads to destruction.

        1. Yes sir you stated it much more eloquently than I, which is why I enjoy your writing. Its like I am reading a Christian classic like Andrew Murray or A W Tozer 🙂

  2. Love, love, love that Utena article you shared! It pretty much sums up why I find such her such an inspiring character in spite or or even because of her flaws. She’s naive, stubborn, and has a bit of an ego at times, but she has a very compassionate heart. I’m not even a Christian, but I like reading analysis from a Christian perspective because it’s the sort of perspective one doesn’t often find in anime fandom, a perspective that tends to focus more on moral and ethical issues than mainstream secular reviews. I was active on the Christian Anime Alliance for a while a few years ago for that reason, but I was dismayed that Utena, one of my favorite series, was on the “Do Not Discuss” list, which I felt was a shame because it’s a title that has a lot of material to chew on from a spiritual perspective, I always felt treating it as just a yuri series does it a disservice because it’s about so much for than that. I’m liberal, I support gay rights, even had a rainbow filter on my Facebook profile pic for a while, but I prefer to think of Utena and Anthy’s relationship as something much more unique and special than just plain ol’ romance, a sort of sisterhood of two women reaching out to each other and helping each other become better people, it doesn’t have to be sexual. When I make AMVs about those two, I tend to choose songs that could be interpreted romantically but are not overtly sexual so could be used for deep friendship too, stuff like “For Good” from Wicked and “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson.

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