What I watch influences me. Each anime has an important story to tell, if I’m willing to listen.  Is this not magical? [Awesome post plus a link to awesome excerpt]

skeevy

We live in a skeevy, modern, globalized society.

It’s easy to program our minds with commercialized entertainment.
if you read all those things vlcsnap-2013-09-10-21h52m36s201

It’s easier to memorize advertising jingles rather than laws, doctrines, or even your friends’ phone numbers.

It’s easy to regard porn as normal media.

I subscribe to a rather “occult” or “mystical” viewpoint.

I believe that if I put garbage thoughts into my subconscious mind, my life will turn into corresponding garbage. “As above, so below.”

Some people might castigate this as shockingly un-Christian occult thinking, but a lot of famous Christians have written the same idea. (The supposed dichotomy between “Christian” and “occult” will get its own post later.)

Recently, I was delighted by one anime blogger’s analysis to a text posted at Patheos, and I will quote said blogger herein:

http://annalynspot.blogspot.tw/2014/01/is-it-okay-to-use-anime-as-escape.html

 

This semester, I’ve begun reading Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Godawa. So far, I’ve only read the preface through the first chapter. I agree with a lot of things he says. Still, Godawa makes some big claims, so I think over his points before I nod my head.

Both of these books, as well as one of my favorite professors, encourage Christians to be discerning while they watch movies and TV. They don’t say we shouldn’t watch anything with “bad” stuff in it – far from it! But they encourage us to avoid “cultural gluttony,” as Brian Godawa calls it. Basically, don’t consume loads of movies and other pop culture without thinking.

Just from personal experience, I can think of four reasons to keep my mind engaged while watching anime:

1. What I watch influences me.
It might take months of repetition, but eventually, sexual “humor” will make it hard for me to look at ordinary objects and activities with the purity I once did. Words I don’t want in my daily vocabulary will seep into my mind. Activities God calls sin won’t seem as bad, and the human need for redemption won’t seem so urgent. My mind must be alert, so I can process things rather than let them influence me negatively.

2. Each anime has an important story to tell, if I’m willing to listen. 
Even the most banal harem anime tells about human nature, our needs, and our desires. That doesn’t mean such shows are worth my time, but if I decide to watch them anyway, I reflect on how they may appeal to some viewers. Other anime clearly present stories and questions that are worth thinking on. Clannad After Story shows me a precious perspective on love and family. Attack on Titan follows characters in a world full of violence, and I can choose to just enjoy the action… or I can take the opportunity to ask the same ethical questions some of the characters begin to ask: it it okay to become a monster (not like Eren does, but like some of the commanding officers do) in order to defeat the monsters?


3. I need to pay attention to content, so I know what I’m talking about. 

I blog and talk about anime and Christianity. I want to be truthful and thoughtful, especially if I reference my faith at all. Even if I’m not directly talking about God, I’m talking about art – anime – created by His creation. In turn, that anime reflects perspectives on the world, on human fallacy, on brokenness and redemption. So I need to be thoughtful. How this looks differs with each post, but it always requires some level of awareness of my topic. Ignorance due to turning my brain off is not a good excuse for deficiency in a blog post. Even lack of time doesn’t give me license for carelessness (a fact, I admit, that I’ve forgotten on occasion, including in a few “Rewind” posts in the last six months).

4. God is with me, and He knows exactly what I’m watching and what goes through my mind. 
I don’t believe that He’s offended when I watch sinful actions – lying, stealing, even murder or rape. For one thing, if I’m paying attention when I read the Bible, God’s Word, I’ll find scenes of rape, incest, and murder (Brian Godawa reminds me of this in the first chapter of Hollywood Worldviews). There’s solid context, of course, but the Bible would need a lot of fade-outs if it were to stay PG-13 in a TV series.

It’s not new to God. He sees sin all the time, and it does offend Him, to put it mildly. But Jesus didn’t come to save perfect people. His ministry was to people who messed up badly, so when Jesus, God-as-man-and-savior, walked on earth, He hung out with harlots and tax collectors (who were apparently grouped in with “sinners” even more than corrupt IRS officers). He knew, loved, and ministered to these people. I, as His follower, am to do the same, with the knowledge that I am one of them, and would meet the same doom if it weren’t for Jesus. That said, when I start looking at evil as good, or my thoughts become corrupted, or I’m ignoring what God says about the actions on the screen, He knows. If I begin to objectify men, He knows. When I sin with my thoughts, He knows, and that sin offends Him. He doesn’t love me less because of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Thus, I want to be aware of what I’m watching and how I’m processing it, lest my negligence opens my mind’s door to evil.
 


Annalyn’s whole post is awesome sauce, but in particular I love the first two points:

1. What I watch influences me.

2. Each anime has an important story to tell, if I’m willing to listen.

I think these go a long way toward addressing the whole issue of “is it evil to watch/read stories which glorify the occult?”

Every story is putting suggestions into your mind – these ideas are like germinated seeds. Don’t put in suggestions that you don’t want to sprout and grow into big trees.


http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Cultural-Anorexics-and-Gluttons?offset=0&max=1

Our cultural psyche has been damaged by Hollywood’s defiant decadence and its relentless pushing of the envelope of common decency. But such sentiments suffer from a diluted mixture of truth and error. Not only do they miss the positive values that do exist in many movies, but also those who would completely withdraw from culture because of its imperfection suffer a decreasing capacity to interact redemptively with that culture. They don’t understand the way people around them think because they are not familiar with the ‘language’ those people are speaking or the culture they are consuming. A communication barrier results, and these cultural abstainers often end up in irrelevance and alienation from others. I call these artistic teetotalers cultural anorexics.

…Even though we are fallen, with our art partaking of this fallenness, we are still created in the image of God, and therefore our creations continue to reflect our Maker. As Francis Schaeffer was fond of pointing out, that image comes through even if the artist tries to suppress it. This is so because all truth is, in one sense, God’s truth, no matter who is saying it, be he prophet, infidel, or donkey.


But another individual occupies the opposite end of the spectrum, and this one I call the cultural glutton. This is the person who consumes popular art too passively, without discrimination.

While it is true that story is the foundation of movies, an examination of the craft and structure of storytelling reveals that the drawing power of movies is not simply that they are ‘good stories’ in some indefinable sense but that these stories are about something. They narrate the events surrounding characters who overcome obstacles to achieve some goal and who, in the process, are confronted with their personal need for change. In short, movie storytelling is about redemption — the recovery of something lost or the attainment of something needed.


My solution to finding a balance is straightforward.

I boycott Hollywood movies. I boycott Western best-sellers. I watch a moderate quantity of anime.

My dislike for Hollywood might make a decent topic for future posts, if I get around to grabbing some stills from some Hollywood movies. In the mean time, I have plenty of anime to write about.

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