I was honored to be able to spend time with the incredible community at the Megacon Fan Days this weekend. What a wonderful and diverse cast of characters, and yet it’s a place where everyone was accepted and welcomed as fans, friends, and family. I was asked to speak at a panel titled Religion in Anime and it was a wonderful opportunity. Everyone was super kind, respectful, and we had a great discussion about God and giant robots.
I appreciate the art and story telling of anime, and I love the passion of the otaku community. Anime is not, however, my personal platform for geeking out, so I still have a lot to learn. During my panel, I let the audience know up front that I was still new to anime. Even though I was very well studied on the particular television show and movies I was referencing during my message, I worried that my credibility as an orator on the subject would suffer. To my surprise, however, it had the opposite effect. The fans in the room, during our Q&A time at the end, used that opportunity to share with me the anime they thought I would enjoy, or from which I could find religious themes.
While some fan bases might see that as a chance to be arrogant to the uninitiated, to gang up and use their fan knowledge as a pedestal from which to look down on an outsider and a noob, this crowd did no such thing. My naivete was instead seen as an opportunity and invitation to share their passion and to open the door for someone to come unto their circle. I immediately wished the church could be more like that.
Christians, or perhaps a better way to say that is Church People, can sometimes (not always, thank goodness, and hopefully not often) be seen as elitist, aloof and even judgmental when presented with someone who does not live by or share their values and beliefs. I wonder if, and more reasonably how, the world would be different if followers of Christ would extend the same level of passion and inclusion as the anime fan community. Their passion is not just to experience the art, not just to consume the culture, but to “evangelize” to those who have not yet heard. To share, not with condescension, but with conviction. To invite not with disdain but with a genuine desire for others to experience the wonder of the thing they enjoy.
It’s a wonderful thing to make someone want to love the thing that you love simply because they’ve seen you loving it. (click to tweet)
Let’s really think about it, church. It all really comes back to loving God with all your heart, soul and strength, then following it up with loving others. That’s what Jesus did. And he didn’t even have to dress up like a green haired warrior with a giant sword and cat ears to do it.