I am currently preparing and writing the first few posts for a series which will be titled, Catholicism in Anime. As a practicing Catholic, I see many values and truths in anime that are applicable to my own life and rest gently and soundly within the Truth offered by the Catholic Church. I have been personally challenged to grow in my humanity and faith by many anime I have watched, and many more offer beautiful stories that reflect the Truth on what it means to be human and to be alive. Is this practical? Is it possible?
This connection not as far fetched as you think, and here’s why. Let me begin with a little background, that is, some Catholic theology. In 1965, the Pope Paul VI released a document entitled Nostra Aetate (In Our Age), a document detailing the relation of the Catholic Church to other religions.
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”
This quote explains the authentic Catholic attitude to everything in the world: we ought to accept everything that is of the Truth, no matter the form. Who are we to limit the way in which God may reveal himself? This theology, originally applied to world religions, is applicable to life on earth in general. Perhaps it is a bit arrogant of me to be using Catholic theology in this way, but the way I see it, anime is just another medium through which I can understand aspects of God.
It’s not a substitute for prayer or Scripture, but the best anime (those which are ranked highly in my personal rankings) are ones that explore the depth of the human person. As Catholics, we believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and that the Holy Spirit dwells within our very souls. To delve into the depths of humanity is to search for God; to understand humanity , even in part, is to understand God. Anything that works to this end is good.
Those of you familiar with the Bible may have heard this verse before: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life […]'” (John 14:6). To encounter the Truth is to encounter God. The Truth is the Way and the Life. To find Truth is the see the Way to salvation and Life.
EDIT: For further explanation on my thoughts behind this, check out this podcast. It’s specifically related to literature, but the themes, ideas and theology can be applied to anime, as well. Listen to the episode entitled “Under the Painted Veil.”
All I ask for as I begin this project is open-mindedness. I would be delighted to hear feedback on my upcoming posts, assuming it is respectful and logical. If you want to keep up, please follow the blog on the left side of the page. You can follow through wordpress or by email.
When it comes out, the first post in the series can be found here.