Be careful what you imitate (and links to earlier comments)

It should be obvious that TV is not real life and so one must be careful about imitating the behavior seen on TV.


So let’s take that thought and apply it to religion/magic in anime.

I had meant to comment on these issues several days ago, so excuse my lateness.

I think the issue that several commenters are alluding to is – “How easy would it be to sin in real life by imitating the fiction we see?”

Example 1: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was cordially hated by several day-care workers I knew because the children learned how to kick each other from it. They didn’t execute the kicks well, but just seeing a few example kicks taught them enough to be dangerous to their peers.

The same day-care workers liked Dragon Ball Z, because the kids who imitated its “qi” attacks were absolutely harmless.

Example 2: Ouija boards have been associated with severe psychological problems in some users. Whether the board causes the problems or brings out inherent flaws is unknown, but many parents don’t want their children watching anything with a Ouija board in it, because they don’t want their child imitating that behavior.

Example 3:
Medieval Otaku wrote: “If something has people spreading fire from their fingertips or wiping out everything in several miles with spells like Dragonslave, then I feel no qualms against watching it. On the other hand, things with summoning circles, sacrifices, and dark incantations make me nervous.”

What is magic? Is it the belief that graveyard dirt can be used to power death-curse spells?

I think quite a few teenagers find death curses in old books, steal a bit of graveyard dirt from the local graveyard, and go through the steps of the death curse. Then I think that they all get very disappointed, because saying a charm over a pinch of graveyard dirt does not generally kill anyone, much less the intended target. Perhaps a tiny percentage of the intended targets die by accident, but I doubt that percentage is statistically significant.

Certainly a misguided youth could try to sacrifice a cat or a dog or a person. However, a youth who is far enough gone to do that is probably going to be a violent criminal no matter what.

I don’t know that imitations of summoning circles and dark incantations are going to lead anywhere, except possibly to severe disappointment when no observable phenomena are produced, or perhaps to a psychotic break when entirely subjective phenomena are considered to be “real.”

The key question is – what is “real magic” that should not be imitated? Telling fortunes with Tarot cards? Burning incense in front of a photo of your crush so that she falls in love with you? Wicca? None of these things seem to be terribly effective, so perhaps the major danger of magic is that its practitioners will over-rate their own effectiveness.

And similarly:

>Scripture is often quoted in anime in more of a magical sense than anything.

I should distinguish between magical use of Scripture in fiction and magical use of Scripture in real life. There are people who think that Scriptural magic, like every other kind of magic, is powerless, and thus they have no qualms about putting Scriptural magic into fictional stories. And then there are people who believe that Scripture should be used in real-life talismans, charms, etc., and that it is effective, even though science cannot measure it.

I find it hard to argue against people who believe in magical use of Scripture. I can try to point them to a more ethical, philosophical, or mystical use of Scripture, but I have a hard time justifying my counsel of a less-magical approach on rational grounds.

Even the various Christian congregations that take the trouble to study Scripture seldom can agree on its interpretation.

Within any given congregation, it is easy for the local authority to say, “Don’t use Scripture magically because I say so,” but in disputes beyond congregational boundaries, it’s not possible to argue thus.

I dedicated years to studying Hebrew and Greek, and it mostly convinced me that the so-called authorities know less Greek and Hebrew than I do. I don’t recommend deep scholarly study of dead languages. If I had the choice to do over again, I wouldn’t have done it.

One thought on “Be careful what you imitate (and links to earlier comments)

  1. Pingback: The real way to lose is to grow addicted to fear – and other thoughts from the manosphere – part 1 of 2 | vulture of critique

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