Hello all. I’m new here. My name is Matthew Newman and as this is my first piece, I’m here to tell you a little about myself. First, let’s get in some details – I’m an environmental engineer who lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland. I’m 32 years old, a beard aficionado, married Dad of four wonderful children (ages 6, 4, and twin nearly 18 month old girls). I’m a more casual anime viewer as noted by my previous introduction point – I have 4 kids (see below)
As this is a site dedicated to discussion of where anime and Christian faith intersect, let me tell you a bit about my faith in Christ as well as my introduction into anime. We’ll begin with the more important, my Christian walk.
I’m currently a member of a tiny Southern Baptist church just outside of Baltimore, Maryland (Edgemere Baptist Church). I pray without ceasing, read the Bible daily, and I’m active in our tiny church currently teaching our youth Sunday School class. But, that was not always my story.
I was raised in a Christian household growing up in a lovely congregation of believers who preached a Gospel message, at least when I was little. As a kid, I had faith which appeared strong to those looking from the outside, but inside it was weak. Entering college at 18 made me realize my weakness and by the end of my freshman year, I openly questioned scripture including the divinity of Christ.
When I was 19 years old I began a romantic relationship with a woman who was wrong for me on many levels. First, she was much older than I. Secondly, she lived hundreds of miles away and I had no vehicle. Thirdly, and this was of utmost importance, her faith was some odd mesh of Christian and pagan values. There was no cohesion in the faith she had, she just kind of had some general faith in something. This relationship only lasted a few months, but in this short timeframe I strained my relationship with friends and family; continued to doubt the Lord; seriously impacted my grades (I was able to fix it before the end of the semester, thankfully); and detracted from all the important aspects of my life. I had allowed what I valued to be tossed aside and put her up above all those things; in short, I was worshipping her as my idol. It was awful and I do not blame her, but myself. I made these decisions, I made these choices, I did everything. Out of this terrible situation came something amazing.
It was at this low moment when the idol and world I created for myself came crashing down. I realized I needed to end my relationship, end this false worship. This led to the awful situation of breaking up over the phone with a girlfriend hundreds of miles away who drove to see me in person. Again, it was awful, but not the important part of the story. In that moment of fallenness, of weakness, of complete and utter failure, I found the Cornerstone waiting at the bottom for me. I found Christ, truly found Him. I came to the sudden realization that my priorities were out of wack and needed to be changed. I needed to remember that which I valued, that which truly had value – not a false value I placed upon it. I needed something more than myself. I needed someone bigger than myself to comfort and protect me. I needed Christ. That’s where He came to me, while holed up crying in my bedroom of my apartment as my then ex-girlfriend was driving to berate me in person. That’s when the I was filled with the Holy Spirit and provided the strength to move forward, to persevere.
Of course, there have been ups and downs since then. I’m an imperfect and flawed human being like we all are constantly finding myself falling short of the Lord. But, I’m fighting back against myself and the world. The Lord isn’t done with me yet, and I thank God for that.
Now, let’s talk about my entrance into the wonderful world of anime. For me, it all started in college. I had never watched anime before I got into undergrad. I had been kind of the “token geek” in my 96 student graduating high school class. I was the valedictorian, played Dungeons & Dragons, read comic books, was way into Star Wars, and just generally geeky. As I noted at the beginning, I’m an engineer – so I attended a science and engineering school for college (RPI). I was finally surrounded by people like me, huge nerds. As such, I made a lot of new friends and I let myself indulge in different aspects of “geek culture” I had previously ignored, such as anime. I had friends who attended an anime club on a regular basis. I went along once and immediately got hooked on the stuff we were watching at the time – Cowboy Bebop, Love Hina, Neon Genesis Evangelion. I lapped up what I could in early undergrad. It was fun, different than anything I had seen before, and I was really enjoying myself in the animation, music, and immersive storytelling. But, like all things we get into in college – eventually my free time began to disappear as college became more intense (including research projects and eventually my Masters thesis work, feel free to contact me if you want to know more), my active involvement in student government. Then, immediately after graduate school came first job, marriage, first home, kids. So, free time faded away from me and I wasn’t really watching much anime. Then…my Mrs became pregnant with our twin girlies.
She had trouble sleeping when she was very pregnant and only really found herself comfortable on the couch, which meant I was in bed alone some nights and…I also had trouble sleeping. So, I looked around at some of the On-Demand options. On a whim, I checked into Adult Swim and a Funimation option I didn’t know existed at the time. That’s when I found Fractale and Blue Exorcist. Loved Blue Exorcist, mostly enjoyed Fractale. But it was that which brought me back into anime again. Not a lot I mean, I still have 4 kids all ages 6 and under, but it’s become more of a part of my life.
I am currently a blogger at my primary blog MDMRN.com (and a few other political sites, if interested). There I talk about my faith, my political leanings, parenthood, and pretty much whatever nonsense comes to mind. So, that’s me in a nutshell. Looking forward to joining this great community here at Beneath the Tangles, writing for you all, and interacting with everyone!