When I started Beneath the Tangles several years ago, I came in with a very direct, but ambitious and broad mission. As the years have passed and as I’ve learned more and more about the community I’m engaging, and as it has changed, my approach and goals have changed. My purpose has especially been in the forefront of my mind lately as Beneath the Tangles expands into the Tumblrverse and other outlets.
But some things haven’t changed. I was reminded of that through a wonderful email sent by a reader whom I’ll refer to as Jessica:
I discovered this site recently and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the work you’ve done. I’m a Christian, an anime/manga fan, and, in addition, a fan of a lot of entertainment that’s not specifically Christian, and your articles really echo a lot of my own feelings. I think, on your Christian lenses for anime (which I also use for other things) I tend to take the redemptive approach, and I’m uncomfortable for reasons both religious and philosophical with works that are so nihilistic as to offer no hints of redemptive themes at all!
Jessica refers to the broad spectrum in which Christians view entertainment. I’ve adhered to one specific approach from the beginning (though I’m currently exploring another one, well-known among many Christians). Our blog falls into one of several categories, depending on the post, and maybe several at once. But we never fall into the extreme, separatist category – we engage the culture, and particularly anime, as something we can learn from, enjoy, and embrace (or sometimes decidedly not). We’ll always talk anime, as long as the blog lives on, as we explore the Christian ideas that are important to us and to many of you readers.
In addition to those kind words, Jessica added some more thoughts – and these particularly touched me:
Also, specifically to TWWK: I just wanted to mention that as a bisexual Christian, I found your past handling of same-sex issues in manga/anime very thoughtful and sensitive. Even if our interpretations differ, I believe your approach–and hopefully mine as well!–allow us to better understand each other and find common ground in Christ.
And this, too, is something imperative for our goals here. Even if we disagree (this may be the post that Jessica refers to), even if we’re on separate sides of the coin, I hope that this place provides an environment where we can all feel safe to explore, discuss, and relate. Too many times, Christians engage culture by either running from it or attacking it. We don’t want to do either here. Instead, we want to explore it by loving you, which we do by listening to what you have to way. And I hope that we’ll learn from each other as we go – I certainly know I’ve learned a lot from you all.
So thank you, Jessica, for your kindness. And thank you, readers, both for bearing with us and for being part of a unique community in the anime blogosphere. I hope that we, the bloggers, will keep our part (and improve) in making this a place that you’ll always find warm and engaging.
Medieval Otaku discusses homosexuality in terms of nature v. nurture as he investigates No. 6. [Medieval Otaku]
Guardian Enzo analyzes Shinto and Shugendou elements of RDG: Red Data Girl in his review of episode 2 of the series. [Lost in America]
D.M. Dutcher uses an example from Little Busters in his plea for mention of the sacred in media as something good and normal. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]
Mr. A finds the Saint Young Men OVA to be humorous and inoffensive. [Deremoe]
A year ago…I was watching (and loving) Mawaru Penguindrum…
…as well as Usagi Drop, about which I wrote one post…
…no, two about the fourth episode.
A year ago…I was stirring debate when talking Hourou Musuko and homosexuality…
…and finding a Christ figure in Eden of the East.
A year ago…R86 was sharing some of what he enjoys about his favorite show at that time, Ookiku Furikabutte.
A year ago…Chelsea Machiella guest posted about Christianity in anime.
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.