Monthly Archives: July 2011

Life Changes

I really don’t like talking about my blog on my blog, but I feel this post is a necessary evil.

I’ve had two main changes in my life the last couple of weeks (in fact, they happened within a day of each other).  First, I moved to a new job.  My new position requires a whole lot more work as I’ll be coordinating a program which I really believe in – in generalities, it emphasizes the need to educate individuals about genocide.  I’m really excited about fulfilling this mission.

Secondly, we adopted a stray.  Of course, we’re now going through growing pains.

Anyway, this all means that at least for the short terms, I may be posting less frequently.  Typically, I aim for three posts per week.  That won’t be possible in the near future.  It could be far less or just a bit less – we’ll have to see.

I still am passionate about writing for this blog and haven’t nearly run out of ideas for posts, so this shouldn’t be the beginning of an end.  It’s merely a valley.  So please, if you’re a regular or semi-regular reader, keep reading.  And if you’re new to the site, expect more to come.

Hourou Musuko and Loving the Sinner, But Hating the Sin

One of my absolutely favorite series of recent years is Hourou Musuko.  I love the characters, the art, the dialogue, and especially how it made me think (see here, here, and here).  But going further than drawing connections to spirituality, the series challenged me and how I view my faith.

The series (and even more so the manga, from what I understand) touches on ideas that are certainly touchy when Christianity is brought into the picture – namely cross dressing, transgender, and gay issues.

I’ll be perfectly frank – I believe that the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin and I believe scripture to be infallible.

Condemnation, acceptance, or somewhere in between? (Art by 田仲瀧)

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“Please Rely On Me!” The Breaking and Unmaking of Promises in Ookiku Furikabutte

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

– Jesus Christ (Matt 5:33-37, ESV)

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

– King David (Psalm 124:7)

In this, my third essay of two on the baseball anime Ookiku Furikabutte or “Big Windup,” (the others can be read here and here) I hope to wrap up what I see as the overarching theme of the two seasons currently in existence. If a third season of this anime ever appears, my “two-part series” will probably expand further.  (rim shot)

An important but ill-fated transaction took place early in the first season between pitcher Mihashi Ren and catcher Abe Takaya, when Abe promised that he would never get sick or injured all three years he and Mihashi would form a battery in high school. In return, Abe gave the condition that Mihashi must never shake off a single pitching call of his. The condition Abe placed on the promise arose mainly because, unlike Abe’s junior high battery-mate, Mihashi could throw accurately. When Abe realized to what degree Mihashi lacked self-confidence, he calculated that promising to be his catcher in every high school game would ease Mihashi’s worries – and (by his later admission) deep down also enjoyed the feeling of power Mihashi’s dependence upon him would afford.

Apart from any ulterior motives, there was one glaring weakness with Abe’s promise to catch every game for Mihashi: the promise was by its very nature impossible to keep. Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Christianity

While many don’t have issues viewing anime, some Christians may.  Christians parents, particularly, may find it difficult to give anime a chance, especially when it conveys ideas and plots that are both foreign and devoid of Christianity.  Further difficulties arise depending on one’s perspective when viewing media.  However, there are very definitive bridges that can be built between anime and Christian spirituality.  Today, Chelsea Machiela, whose work I’ve linked to before, delivers a guest post about bringing together the two.

Anime, over the years, has created quite a reputation for itself. As the brush is painted too wide, and lines blur between happy magic and dark witchcraft, many don’t know what to do about the oncoming wave of an anime-obsessed teen generation. For some, that wave is small and harmless, for others it’s a deadly tsunami.

Legalism also sneaks it’s way into the balance. Many of the things, it concludes, originates from something evil. One must not forget that God can redeem anything as His. Many people have fought a winning battle to prove this.

Although it can sometimes be overlooked, there are many Christian references in anime, if not a complete, blown out exhibit. Just like C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia” series, there are some animes that use nearly the same representation.

Fruits Basket

Connections between Fruits Basket and Christianity are plentiful (Art by ゆや)

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Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Apples, Magical Girls, and Eden

Few anime series have contained such thought-provoking Christian themes and symbols as Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  From the heavy presence of a Christ figure to Adam and Eve references, the show uses these ideas in an intelligent and artistic manner.  Although I briefly discussed the symbolism of the apple in episode seven of the series, A Day Without Me, who is no stranger to analyzing Christian symbolism in anime, goes into much further detail than I in a terrific post about Madoka Magica’s “apple scene.”  If you haven’t read it already, do yourself a favor and dive in:

Apples and Devil’s Deals: A Religious Analysis of the Apple Scene in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica | GAR GAR Stegosaurus.

Christian Spirituality in Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 02

As many of us are, I’ve been totally captured by Mawaru Penguindrum.  It’s been quite a ride into Kunihiko Ikuhara’s imagination, as he stretches the limits of anime while still creating a series that’s enjoyable.  Episode two was as interesting as episode one, and also like the premiere, episode two features scenes and ideas that I think are worth discussing, in terms of Christian spirituality.

Ringo Penguindrum

Schoolgirl, stalker, holder of key to life and death (Art by 女臣ヱ)

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Aniblogger Testimony: Anime helped me become an atheist

Wouldn’t you know it?  Two weeks after I wrapped up this series, I received a request to add another post to it.  Ashita is new to the world of aniblogging.  I encourage you to check out his site, Ashita no Anime, and to read his wonderfully-written piece below.

How my religious life (now a lack thereof) relates to anime is a bit complicated.  I promise you I will get to the point, but I feel there needs to be some background introduced first for this to all make sense.

I was born into a Roman Catholic family and went to a private Catholic school for my elementary and junior high years.  But despite this upbringing, I never felt that I had religion forced on me.  Mostly I feel my parents went along with the whole church thing because they wanted me to grow up around a higher class of people and so I could go to a school with smaller class sizes.  A lot of things the church taught me didn’t make sense, even then.  I was encouraged to seek the answers however I saw fit and never met any resistance to questioning my faith, but I was too young to really understand what was going on.  Once I started high school, my family and I slowly stopped going to church.  But at that time I still felt that I was connected with god.

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Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Casey Anthony and Death Note

Casey Anthony fever, anyone?  This terrible story came to a climax last week, with Anthony’s acquittal on murder charges.  Across the country and through the many forums available on the Internet, many let their displeasure known.  Many cried at the lack of justice – some in an angry voice, even calling out death threats.

One of the most popular and controversial anime of recent years, Death Note, also involved the themes of violence and vigilante justice.  Tommy of Anime Bowl has drawn parallels between the series and the Casey Anthony backlash, while connecting it to Christian ideas of sin, punishment, and grace.  It’s a wonderful post, and I recommend everyone to go have a read:

Casey Anthony & Death Note

Mawaru-Penguindrum Episode 01: Cruel God

God is cruel.

That one phrase is repeated several times in the first episode of the most unexpected show of the new season, Mawaru Penguindrum.  They’re also words that are repeated daily, in various incarnations, by many people.

As spoken in the show, the idea is that how can God give a good person a fate that is tragic?  Indeed, it’s tough to reconcile the idea that a “good” person could end up with a terminal illness that takes her life at a young age with the picture of a merciful God.  And part of that answer has to do with the idea of an eternal focus.

Art by Cha (Pixiv) and containing text that I hope isn't saying something weird

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Manga Review of Paul: Tarsus to Redemption

Paul: Tarsus to RedemptionPaul: Tarsus to Redemption
Volumes 1-3
Story by Matthew Salisbury
Art by Sean Lam
Published by Manga Hero

Did you know that lifelong bachelor, the Apostle Paul, once had a love interest?  And that his protege, Timothy, had a childhood friend who encouraged him in a most tsundere-like way?

No?

Well, that’s fine, because this is all part of the creative license that writer Matthew Salisbury took in crafting the OEL manga, Paul: Tarsus to Redemption.  And it was a most excellent decision.

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