I went to go look at colleges this week and had an amazing time. I got to attend a Literary Criticism class that I found extremely interesting. What the professor was saying reminded me a lot of one chapel I attended a few weeks back and a theme that my biology teacher likes to remind us.
Art, in any shape or size is a form of communication. It’s an expression of emotion and ideas developed inside ourselves. When we have ideas that we can’t express with strictly words, art is the bridge of communication. As Christians, we believe that God created the heavens and the earth. Weather you believe that God did this through evolution, or just by speaking everything into existence, God is still agreed as the artist of creation. The world is a beautiful place filled with the wonder of nature. Everything God created is a reflection of how creative he is. The way the world grows and matures shows how genius and unique our God is.
Taking a look a nature and realizing that our God is actually a creative God makes his relationship with me more personal. I hear all the time from all sorts of people, “God knows your every though, God knows you better then you know yourself!” Sometimes, that can feel a bit creepy, but, I’m beginning to see that in different light. I’m an artist and I primarily work with the art of sketching and words. God not only understand me as a person, he understand me as an artist, on that deep level of emotion and desire that I dwell on when I create my art.
God is like a fellow artist who doesn’t only observe my art, he guides me as I make my art. As I write or draw, I pray, dedicating the time I have doing this, and every pencil mark and letter to expressing my love for God. That’s one way that I build my relationship with God to be more personal.
Just as I use my art to express my thoughts, emotions, and worldview, art is how God communicates with us. The primary way we Christians feel that God speaks with us is through the Bible, a piece of literature inspired by his spirit. The beautiful knit words, especially in psalms are still a form of art. But God is living and working around us as the trees grow and the sun sets. There are some things that can get lost in translation, or can’t be depicted in words that only nature can express.
Everything that is beautiful in this world is a reflection of God because God created the concept of beautiful. That even included that’s that aren’t directly glorifying God. Anything beautiful that isn’t glorifying God is distorted, but still beautiful.
One of the most beautiful things God ever created were human beings. Yes, we have fallen so far from where we used to be in the beginning as blameless creatures, but we are still created in God’s image, and since God is beautiful, we are beautiful. If you don’t think that you’re pretty, or worthy, or as good an anyone else, then you’re indirectly saying that God made an artistic mistake when he created you. If you don’t see your beauty and worth, then you don’t see the power of God. To understand our worth, we must try and understand God. Go to the source of our humanity – the all powerful God, and ponder how just like nature, how our existence reflects the excellence of God. As my science teacher says and has written on the wall, “You are beautiful and full of worth.” I pray that we can all someday be open enough to let the Lord whisper those words lovingly into our ears. And if you haven’t heard God tell you that yet, then I’m going to tell you right now, “You are beautiful and full of worth because you are God’s artistic masterpiece.” He did not make any mistakes when he made you.
God didn’t just create us beautiful, he created us to create beautiful things. In the Garden of Eden, he gave Adam the job of being creative – naming all the animals. God made the animals, but he didn’t name them. Letting Adam choose the names for his art is an example of how creativity is a gift, and even a desire for God to have us flourish in. God asked humans for input in his art, even though he’s God, the already perfect artist! How much does that mean that he loves us, that he would let us participate in an art project. I get very territorial with my art and I do not like to share until I’m finished. But God created art so that it could be a tool of fellowship, just as God fellowshipped with Adam through art.
Now how do I tie this into anime? I believe that everyone in the otaku fandom believes that anime, manga, and light novels are a form of art – unless you’re that person on tumblr who believes that all anime is trash…which, much of it is more or less. It’s very difficult to find anything in anime that directly praises our God, but by my definition, it’s still beautiful and full of a lot of worth. Not surprisingly, many views depicted in anime are not our own since this media comes from a completely different worldview and continent then most of us who are reading this. But still, God created the animators, he created the writers, the directors, and the fan artists even and he told their hearts “GO AND CREATE ART!”. What they’re doing when they contribute to otaku culture is part of the task God set for them, even if they don’t believe that God exists. God loves those who don’t praise him so much, that he still gives them a calling and a purpose.
I feel like one of the best examples of this is Bakuman. I love to watch anime with characters that are as intensely passionate as me. I resonated with this show very much. It was actually encouraging to me to keep down the path of writing I know God has set for me. Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi seam to be irresponsible at first in their decision to become manga artists in an unstable employment. But hey prove themselves with hard work and pure talent. It must have been very difficult to make that decision with so much pressure on their shoulders to do well in academics. No matter where you believe your purpose comes form, God, the universe, yourself, it’s our duty as humans to work in our talents. Why were we given them if we’re not going to use them?
Look at the stories unfolding in anime, and the very story that Akito Takagi wrote in his first manga. Anime depicts characters living in a world full of beauty (even the weird magical ones). They strive to find their calling or complete a goal (God’s purpose). This is still a reflection of Christian values even if it’s not explicitly Christian. I believe that anything and possibly everything reflects God when we’re following the longing in our heart, because everything God creates is beautiful and full of worth.
In conclusion, (how formal!) You can be a Christian and delight in anime. Please do! Anime can be a reflection of God even if MOST of the time it doesn’t seam like it. Watch anime and took for truths. Find God in the art, the script, the characters, the fan art on the internet. What are some anime’s you feel are especially beautiful?