Ask Sensei: Happy 2019 Edition

2018 is waning and 2019 is coming near as I type. It is also a few days before Christmas as I type, though you will no doubt be reading these words after Christmas. I am planning on travelling with friends over Christmas, and hope you enjoyed your time over Christmas as well. Meanwhile, I have about a month off before the start of the next semester. If things go as usual, I’ll actually be eager to start up again once the time comes.

It is fascinating that Joshua Rubley and Tyler Burnette, no doubt completely unbeknownst to each other, have asked (both via Facebook) entirely opposite questions. Joshua-kun asks, What stories from anime can you swear were ripped straight out of the Bible (even unknowingly, and having no direct reference to the characters in the Bible)? Meanwhile, Tyler-kun wants to know what is the Best Bible story that could be converted into an anime? I’m not sure I can come up with unique answers to either question, but one thing I’ve learned is that great stories are timeless and span across all genres. I am certain there’s a reason that I’m not the only one who found it life-changing to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, just to give one example. While reasonable people can have disagreements over whether the great Edward Elric is or is not like this or that Bible character, I think the majority of us would agree that there is greatness in this character, just as surely as there is in King David or the apostle Paul. I will also say that there is much untapped potential in the stories found in the historical books of the Old Testament, in terms of their retelling in any visual format. One such example is the account in II Samuel 13 of David’s son Amnon, and how he violated his half-sister Tamar, in spite of her compelling and extraordinary protests. It is just one of many particularly dramatic moments in the fallout that David endured after his sin with Bathsheba. Could it all be made into an anime? Should it? Maybe. But it is best to read it yourself first, for I know that there’s a Holy Spirit whose wisdom is further from my best efforts than the Milky Way galaxy is from a grain of sand.

Via Instagram, half_shade_ is brief and to the point: Why chemistry? If the question means “Why did I in particular choose to go into chemistry,” I’m afraid my answer is no more profound than “Because I knew in high school that it was something I was good at.” While in college and graduate school, I found I enjoyed explaining organic chemistry concepts to my classmates, so it seemed reasonable to plan to be a college professor. But if the question means “Why should anyone go into chemistry?” I’d say that it’s because the concepts in this field explore how particles at the molecular level interact and react with each other, and what forces affect these processes. We are told in multiple places in Scripture that God holds everything in the universe together, right down to molecules themselves, and even the more fundamental particles that comprise them. While I don’t think we’ll ever completely understand exactly how God does all this, I think we can catch the echo of a glimpse of it by studying chemistry. Of course I want to add quickly that chemistry is not the only field that offers this perspective, but I think it does offer it in a unique way.

Lastly, inusmasha85 asks via Instagram, Do you often help first time travelers to Japan? Before anything else, Sensei congratulates you on your brilliant user name. But to your point, I suppose I’d say that I’d be interested in offering such help if I could, but I’m seldom able. Probably most first-time travellers to Japan do what I did, and take a guided tour, which I think is probably the smart way to go about it. My tour guide was bilingual, having completed his college degree in Japan, and really knew his stuff. When I do go to Japan, it is usually with friends who are also seasoned travellers, who in turn often introduce me to their native Japanese friends, so I seldom encounter first-time travellers to the country. I do remember one time when I was in Osaka and I must have seemed lost in a train station, when a man roughly 10-15 years older than me took pity on me. He was clearly either American or Canadian from his unaccented English, and kindly put me on the right path in short order. Hopefully I will have similar opportunities to “pay it forward” on future trips in Japan.

In any case, Sensei will plan to meet with you all again at the end of January. Best wishes to all of you for 2019!

Featured art by 2tトラック (reprinted w/permission)

R86

R86 is a chemistry professor, which is the sort of job that probably made you stop reading already. He teaches at Texas A&M University, also known to Austin dwellers as "Enemy Territory." In his spare time, he enjoys music (flute/saxophone/clarinet and MIDI/Vocaloid synthesis), gaming, and watching anime.

3 thoughts on “Ask Sensei: Happy 2019 Edition

  1. Christmas,for me,ends on January 6 because of this thing called La befana that Europeans celebrate 🎉 (I’m Italian) (this witch brings candy and chocolate 🍫) she’s nice 👍🏻

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