Who’s To Blame?

When someone does evil, who is responsible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m in a Christian group on Facebook where anime is discussed. That’s just one interest of the group, but my wife has a great interest in the genre, so it’s something for us to do. Anime for those who don’t know is more and less a Japanese cartoon. Today, someone shared a story about an 18-year-old boy dressing as an anime character and chasing a 9-year-old girl.

All of us commenting thus far agree this kid has a problem. You don’t go around chasing a girl that you don’t know. I emphasize that last part because an older brother could obviously chase around his younger sister in play for instance, provided they both know it’s play. Go to the article and what do you see in comments? Before too long someone is blaming it all on the anime instead.

Now let’s go with the claim that a lot of animes out there contain things that are wicked and evil. Yes. So do a lot of your shows on Netflix. To be fair, so does the Bible. Of course, the Bible condemns it, but it’s still in there because the Bible shows the real nature of humanity. Not everyone is pretty and nice. Even in many Christian films you have some sort of villain or evil that has to be overcome.

The early Christians lived in a world surrounded by far greater evil than we can imagine. The wonder of Corinth was that there was even a church there. The city was rampant with prostitution. Gods and goddesses would be depicted in extremely sexual terminology. What does this tell us?

Culture does no doubt affect us to some extent, but we have to decide what is going to be the greater force in our lives. Those of us who are Christians have decided that Christ is greater than the culture around us. We also know that we can’t insulate ourselves around us entirely from the world around us.

Of course, I’m not suggesting throw caution to the wind entirely. I will not watch anything with pornography. I have a woman who I love and whose body I treasure and I don’t want to risk putting before my eyes and other image that would be a temptation to me like that.

On the other hand, many people would advise some Christians against reading atheistic literature. For a young Christian starting, that could be right, but for me, I regularly read material that argues against Christianity. It’s what I have to do and many times, I enjoy it. It keeps me making sure I’m still on the right path and it can be amusing to see the bad arguments and to argue against atheists and know their literature better than they do. Sometimes if I buy the book, someone might say I’m giving money to the authors, but I figure the little they get from me is nothing compared to what I’m able to do with the information.

The big problem with all of this is that we look at someone doing something sinful and we’re able to blame what influenced them. There’s no doubt, something can influence someone anytime, but that is not the main culprit. The greater problem is the individual himself. Some individuals have limitations that others don’t have to be sure, but ultimately, the choice comes down to the person.

Whenever you commit a sin, there is only one true cause. That is yourself. You are responsible. You have to own it. Other people could have done things that got you further in that direction. Others items in culture could have influenced your thinking, but the responsibility comes to you. When you stand before God, you will not be able to blame culture or other people for what you did wrong. You will only have yourself to give an answer for.

So what’s the key to living in this culture then? Wisdom. Learn to discern. Understand what you put in your mind. Learn what is real and what isn’t. Of course, it doesn’t mean only watch what is real. Christians have long been people of the imagination. It means to know that just because it happens in a book or on the screen doesn’t mean it will happen in reality. Fantasy should cause you to look at reality in new eyes.

By the way, I say this as an avid fan of fantasy, namely through TV shows, movies, and video games. Fantasy can inspire us to be better people and look at the world with wonder, but we must remember that that is not the real world. Again, learn to discern.

And could this be the real problem here? We don’t spend enough time teaching our kids about how they should behave and then when they want to misbehave, we blame it on everything else instead of realizing we didn’t bring them up right. Even in the story, the parents are sadly thinking that it’s no big deal. Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

From there, we follow a Romans 14 kind of attitude. Something may be wrong for one other person, but not for another. An alcoholic should not try to go and witness in a bar most likely due to the temptation. I could walk in and find zero temptation by the alcohol due to my lifelong vow to not drink alcoholic beverages.

Hopefully we will learn to take more responsibility for oursleves instead of blaming everything and everyone else around us. Our culture is part of a blame game and this has been going on since the Garden of Eden. (This WOMAN that YOU gave me.) We as Christians need to learn to submit our wills to God. God will not force us to not sin, but He will give us the strength to avoid any temptation if we will learn to rely on Him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

AWA 2016

What were some observations I made at AWA 2016? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last weekend, I was with my wife Allie at Anime Weekend Atlanta. Anime for those who don’t know is a style of Japanese cartoon, usually based on their form of comic books called Manga. At these conventions, you’ll find many people of all ages. Many of them are dressed in costumes as their favorite characters called Cosplay.

A lot of the Christian world looks down on this form of entertainment. To be sure, not all of it is good. There are pornographic animes and ones with heavy occult themes. That’s the same with our cartoons over here. I am not going to say everything in the anime world is good, but I am not going to say it’s all evil either.

What I will say is that there are plenty of people in this world who don’t care about the occult or anything like that, but just like to enjoy a good story of good vs evil and other such material. Since my wife likes it so much, we will often sit on the couch and pull up YouTube on the TV and watch an episode together. I prefer usually one episode at a time of a series. I really don’t care for binge watching.

I’m also thankful that there are Christians in the field. You can find an excellent interview with voice actor Vic Mignogna on this. (Incidentally, Allie and I enjoyed meeting him this week and I also enjoyed meeting Johnny Yong Bosch, the second black power ranger in the series and yes, he did say for me “It’s morphin time!”) Vic points out what it’s been like interacting with people at these conventions and he’ll even have worship services there. He also has defended them before street preachers, which you can see here.

There are of course non-Christians. One actor at an event told about getting started in the acting field by doing a job where they played as a gypsy giving fake readings at a business meeting for fun. Later on, she talks about getting into Tarot Cards and giving readings and about thanking the universe and how your thoughts attract things to you. I was trying to be respectful, but it sure was difficult sitting there hearing this and Allie and I just looked at each other and we knew what each other was thinking. If I could have asked something it would have been “What were the Jews thinking about that led to the holocaust?” Of course, I didn’t. I still admire their work, but not their worldview.

Something else revealing was a panel that we went to called Ask An Anime Character. There’s a screen upfront and listed on it are fifteen anime characters. Their voice actors are off to the side and you get to ask them questions and then they’ll be a lot of interaction after that. It’s quite humorous, but there was something that happened that showed me what was going on.

A lot of people, notably women, would ask a question like “Would you go to prom with me?” or “Would you tell me I’m beautiful?” or “Could you call me your Princess today?” I told Allie that I thought it was awfully sad, but at the same time I wonder if these girls are asking for this because they have been rejected by so many. They just want someone to publicly tell them they’re beautiful.

That’s something you see at these conventions. A lot of people are there who to others are rejected and not accepted. At an anime convention, they’re more free to be themselves. My own wife even was happier at the convention. I wonder why these people don’t feel as free and safe in a church? Now of course, the church should be a place where people who are living sinful lives won’t be coddled, but look at Jesus. How many times were sinners afraid to come to Him? He never coddled them either. He never said sin was no big deal. He spoke the strongest words against it of all, but He had the greatest love for the sinners. If Jesus visited AWA (And people knew it was Him and not a cosplay) would they be scared of Him or would they actually want to be around Him?

It’s my sincere hope the church will find ways to interact with people everywhere. If Paul can go to Mars Hill, can’t we reach people here? We should also celebrate Christians in the field and hope that they can reach many more people. People at these conventions are people who also need Jesus after all. Who will bring Him to them?

In Christ,
Nick Peters