As Christians, we know that the Bible should be like honey to our lips, its words sweet and powerful, compelling us to seek God and follow him. If you’re like me, there have been times in your life when the Bible did indeed feel this way, where you were swept away by its words, captivated and even intoxicated. I think those moments help me remember that when I don’t feel that way about the Bible, when I don’t want to read it, when the words of God feel dry and flat, it’s not indicative of scripture—it speaks far more about me and the condition of my heart. God’s word is eternal and never-changing; I, on the other hand, can drift from godly to devilish in an instant.
Still prone to sin on this side of Heaven, I need more of the word, not less of it, especially when I’m struggling. But how do I get there? How can I turn my passion and love back toward Christ? Well, there are many ways, which is fantastic because I can use all the help I can get, even through means less expected than community and prayer—even when that help is manga.
I believe in the power of creativity to spur us toward worship of God. After all, God is the creator, the being whose ability to develop beautiful and awe-inspiring works is infinitely greater than our own:
How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
– Psalm 104:24-25
While the ability to create nature is beyond us, we as humans are constantly making other works: music, literature, and yes, even anime. As beings that are made to worship God, we sometimes reach out to him even when it’s unintentional. Your Lie in April has nothing to do with Yahweh on the surface, and yet I contend it’s all about his grace and mercy. Other series are a bit closer to the vest, like Haibane Renmei, which very purposely examines sin and forgiveness, even if it’s not specifically about Christ.
And then, there’s Manga Majesty.
Like the previously mentioned works, Manga Majesty is authentically a Japanese work, developed through partnership but created by Japanese artists in manga-style. But unlike the others, it, along with the titles that preceded it, is purposely and fully about God from beginning to end. Illustrating the Book of Revelation, the manga dynamically and beautifully (and sometimes fearsomely) adapts the final book of the Bible.
There was though, I admit, some trepidation on my part when considering whether to read the manga. I generally run from creative works developed by and for Christian audiences—they usually lack the “creative integrity” that those produced by non-Christians do, and at my most critical I would say are an affront to the Creator in that way. But as I mentioned in my review, Manga Majesty does well as a creative piece: well done, and well done.
But the other reason I hesitated was that it led me to ask myself, “Shouldn’t I be reading the actual Bible instead?” I was reminded of a story a friend’s father once told me: In his youth, he went to a movie at the local cinema. As he walked outside after the showing, one of his fellow theater-goers gave a succinct review of the film they just watched: “The book was better.” The name of the movie? The Bible.
Yes, funny and silly, but there’s something to that assessment: Indeed, the book is better. That’s the point. And media, as we enjoy it, should point us to worship God. After all, that’s the point of everything, to bring us to worship the one who deserves praise with every breath and every action we take. Manga Majesty is a wonderful work that does exactly that—it fills my mind with scripture and leads me to praise and worship the Creator, the Alpha and Omega.
And lest you think I’m all bluster, I’ll conclude with a quick story. This past Sunday, my turn came up to be a substitute at Sunday School. The lesson was a review of previous chapters in a unit about the names of God. Among those I would be covering was “Alpha and Omega.” I think you see where I’m headed: Manga Majesty made for a wonderful resource as I talked about the wholeness of God, about what we would experience in Heaven and what it might be like.
But that’s not the whole story. In truth, I didn’t want to substitute for the class, even though my own son was in it and he was excited to have me there. I sound like a terrible Dad and terrible Christian, right? But just as I mentioned in the introduction, there are times—many times—where my passion and obedience are lacking; those lows come to full throttle when it involves teaching. I was a public school teacher for several years (like our man, Samuru) and further, I helped out biweekly in nursery for years, the only parent who would hold and play with the most troublesome kids. In other words, I felt I had done my time.
But as they say, God’s not through with me yet. For as much as Manga Majesty reverberated with the kids (and it did), it was me that was blessed the most. Through this wonderful manga, my passion rose and I turned from grumpy Twwk to excited Twwk, and went far over the allotted time for our lesson as we discussed all sorts of things about God. Through manga, I gave God worship I otherwise wouldn’t have. I was blessed, for he used this work to keep me from robbing God of the praise he deserves and redirecting me (an old teaching method being used by THE teacher!) back to him.
No, Manga Majesty isn’t better than the Bible, but it points toward the word with beauty and artistry befitting of a people who worship the LORD. And I can’t possibly ask for more than that.