Mike Duran mentions about a hashtag on Twitter called #MyUnpopularOpinion. He lists some of his, so I figure I will mine.
1. I can’t stand One Piece.
I’m not really a fan of any shonen anime and manga any more. These days it seems to have become a genre that can’t end a simple story. Naruto has 62 volumes of manga in the states. 62! It, like Bleach and One Piece, have substituted endless plot complications and repetitive stories for knowing when to create a happy ending or make a new series. Even Negima?!, which I eagerly waited for because I liked Love Hina, I had to drop due to hitting 24 volumes and the “real” story only starting to unfold then. But out of all of them, the worst is One Piece.
I won’t bore you with all the reasons. I think mostly though that the reason is the characters and situations at first were designed for a lot simpler story with a clear resolution that has been prolonged and complicated to eternity. Luffy and his crew simply aren’t deep enough characters to last over hundreds of episodes; they really needed to gather their crew and accomplish the goal they started out with; seeing the grand line and becoming King of the Pirates. Instead, we get an endless holding pattern of stories that just reinforce how one-note the characters are and exhaust the patience of many people. Ichigo and Naruto at least have some measure of depth or potential growth to them, even though they suffer the same problems.
2. Video Games are perfect at tranquilizing boys.
Mike mentions they cause violence in society. I think the opposite. I worry games are really, really effective at tranquilizing young boys into inaction. There’s way too many moms who are okay with letting their homeschooled or regular schooled boys spend 3-4 hours a day on Minecraft because it keeps them quiet and in their room so they can have a break. Games nail boys weaknesses in the same way bad romance novels nail girls; they create a substitute for things we crave that’s very effective at hooking people for long periods of time.
Some games do so perfectly enough to destroy lives. MMOs can have players sink real life years into a single game and account, and in the US often create pseudo-hikkikomori who devote their lives around a game’s schedule. I’m not arguing outlawing them or anything, and I am talking as someone who has been a fairly hardcore gamer in the past. I think we need to really consider how games affect us as boys and men, and be honest about their potential to sedate us and steal time from our lives.
3. Increasingly, I’d rather read a bad Christian book than a good secular one.
This is ironic since I talk about anime here, but let me explain. While I like and enjoy secular media, I am constantly smacked in the face with the knowledge that at best, I can expect it not to talk badly about Christianity. If my faith is mentioned, more likely than not the author either gets it wrong, or attacks it outright. It’s impossible to expect reasoned, significant works of art about the Christian faith from the current secular world.
A bad Christian novel though at least gets the Christ part right. It assumes I believe in my faith and care about how God moves and works, or might be interested in plot threads and ideas that weave into what I believe without any bad agenda to it. I don’t think people get sometimes how little Christians are considered as Christians in society. If any other religion was treated the way we were, like if there was Niall Flanders the atheist on the Simpsons being mocked, people would be up in arms. Since fundamentalists seem to be two steps beneath stoners, strippers, and pimps on the societal approval scale, we don’t get this.
So because of this, I find I’m longing more and more for works of art for Christians, regardless of quality. I’m surprised at times how comfortable believers are with their recreational media life being dominated solely by the secular world, and I wonder how much of our present difficulties are influenced by this.
4. Christian music doesn’t suck.
No, it doesn’t.
If anything, secular music sucks. Christian music didn’t give us autotune, T-pain, One Direction, Fergie, the Spice Girls, Macklemore (yes, he sucks too,) Psy, and the endless horde of forgettable pop music that seems to have a shelf life of two years before the next trend comes in. Who seriously listens to Norah Jones now? Do Christians make bland pop at times? Yes. Does the secular world make it? Oh hell yes, to the point we have entire stations of easy listening designed around it.
The problem is that a lot of Christians have bad cases of self-hatred and a sense of inferiority when compared to the world. We don’t factor in the tons of crap they make, but try and compare against the very best. This is dumb. While we need to improve, we have to be honest and not set unrealistic goals. We don’t always have the support network and infrastructure that secular artists can take advantage of, and with the budget and resources we possess, we need to work from there. A Christian film with a budget of one or two million may suck, but ANY film with that budget has an uphill climb not to.
5. There is no fix to make Christianity more palatable to unbelievers.
There’s no magic way to make us appeal to people. If the Christian right dies completely as a force, this will not make the USA a hotbed of revival. If we all make perfect art that beats out the secular world, it will not make Christianity more effective overall. If we are wonderfully polite and somehow manage to not offend others, that still won’t make them amenable to the faith. There’s this idea that if we can only do this thing and be nice, somehow we’ll see a renaissance of faith.
I don’t think can happen.
At some point, we have to realize that Christianity is fundamentally at odds with the world, and we cannot resolve this by technique. That trying to do so can actually harm it rather than help. This isn’t saying to be apathetic or insular, but I think a danger is to fall into works as a way to prove Christianity. That what we can do can fix it’s bad perception. The apostles never did this though. When Jesus sent them out to the various cities of Israel, they were to preach, and leave if not listened to. Jesus didn’t go and think “Hey, if I just act more cosmopolitan, maybe the people in Nazareth won’t be so offended a local boy is saying this.” He did what he could in a place of unbelief.
It’s a hard thing, and in a way it makes us hope for mercy more. I think the modern church is obsessed with somehow finding the right technique that will force a revival, be it megachurches, emergent churches, social justice, homeschooling, family churches, house churches, or what have you. It just doesn’t work this way.
I’ll stop at five. Feel free to list yours in comments.