Mob Psycho 100 and the Limitations of Perspective

Mob Psycho 100 is perhaps most known for being written by the same author as One Punch Man. The second season started this January, and I was all ready for another season of senseless fun and action. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the season this time around seemed to be more interested in pushing actual serious topics more than the first season. In episode 3, Reigan and Mob are asked to exorcise an “evil” spirit. However, after confronting the spirits and talking to them, Mob finds that they are a peaceful family who are only trying to complete the regret of not being able to be a happy family together while they were still alive. As such, Mob does not think they need to be exorcised like the usual spirits he eliminates. However, the clients (who can’t hear or interact with the spirits) don’t care what they or Mob have to say. The mere concept of spirits is that of evil and fear, and so to them, it is necessary to exorcise them regardless of any other reasoning. In this way, Mob is confronted with two different sides: the human side and the spirit side. Although the problem is resolved peacefully, Reigen realizes that Mob is someone who interacts with spirits on such a regular basis, that there is nothing abnormal about spirits to him. Rather than being a “fearful unknown,” spirits are simply a natural part of everyday life. It is a perspective that only Mob understands because of his affiliation with the spiritual.

So the natural comparison to draw here is that as Christians, we perceive the spiritual in terms of morality, sin, and mercy in ways that others do not comprehend as instinctively as we do. But rather than focusing on a holier-than-thou approach, I really want to focus only on the part that Christians perceive and think about things differently, without assigning any implication of that perception being better or worse. One frustration I have with Christians is that we tend to leap to judgmental assumptions about people who don’t share the same values or sense or morals as we do. Morality is a very tricky and sensitive subject because it is by definition a topic of right or wrong, good or evil. So it is understandable that people, especially those who believe in an objective morality determined by an all-powerful God, are so insulted by those who disagree with their sense of morals. As such, Christians get so upset when they see or hear about people who are not following the morals of Christianity. There are two problems with this. The first is that just because people are not following Christian values does not mean they are bad people or intentionally breaking any sense of moral code. There are probably hundreds of millions of people who, by any reasonable standard, are “good” people despite not believing in Christianity’s morals. I personally know many wonderful people who I strongly disagree with on certain topics. But they still care for others and try to be understanding about others’ feelings and perspectives, such as my own. They may be perceiving morality differently, but they are still striving to be people of respectable morality. These people are very different than those who actually lack a sense of morality or actively break laws for their own gains. The second is problem is that we Christians should not even be getting so judgment in the first place. The entire crux of Christianity is that we are all sinners; there is not one infallible person among us. Yet somehow Christians who sin are more acceptable to us because they “repent.” If anything, I would imagine it to be the other way around; Christians are the ones who should know better than to sin.

Reigen recognizes how different Mob’s perspective is compared to others. It’s not a matter of being special or more knowledgeable. It is nothing more than a statement of fact. He sees the world differently, and as a result, has feelings regarding things that completely contradict how others feel. It is not necessarily a matter of being right or wrong. Certainly, one can argue that Mob was in the right because the spirits were determined to do no harm. Even when tempted into anger, the father ghost resists and would rather be exorcised than harm a person.  However, the real point of contention was not who was morally correct; it was the contradicting perspectives of the characters at no fault of any of them. Even if we are to assume Mob was morally correct; even if we are to assume Christians are morally superior, the lack of perspective of the other side makes it so that they are not choosing to be wrong. They are simply unable to even perceive the “right” choice as a potential option. Therefore, rather than judging and becoming “morally” angry at people who do not follow Christian morals, what we should be doing is conversing about our different perspectives, why we believe them beyond “because my pastor says so,” (and I could rant a whole lot about the differences between morals described in the Bible versus morals described by “Christian” leadership)  and broadening perspectives of both parties – because as much of a perspective as others may be missing out on compared to Christians, Christians are missing out on the perspectives of others.

Therefore, let’s flip this moral superiority assumption Christians love to talk about and listen to. What if Christians are the ones who are morally wrong? What if we are the ones who simply don’t understand the reality of the world? The only way to prove otherwise is to go out and learn everything about the perspectives of others and then still decide Christianity to be the most moral option. As long as Christians don’t understand the perspectives of other beliefs, then we can’t say we are choosing Christianity or Jesus –we have not considered any other options. The fact of the matter is Christians rarely argue in good faith. Whenever they debate other perspectives, they always enter with the belief they are right; to be fair, opposing parties tend to do the same. Regardless, the point I want to make is that Christians all too often fail to understand or even consider other perspectives. Even when they legitimately attempt to, they can’t help but let their beliefs dye their interpretation of other perspectives with bias. And no wonder this happens when we are indoctrinated with beliefs from before we know how to speak.

No matter how much we want to believe we are being open-minded, we cannot fully escape from beliefs that have been repeated by everyone we know for our entire childhood. It is so difficult to truly approach a new perspective with an unbiased point of view. Sure, this happens to everyone, but when your belief is that you are on the side of an all powerful God who has decided the moral objectivity and superiority of life, that’s a far more powerful influence than anything else. And so, we become like a normal human who believes spirits exist to terrorize the living and demands an exorcism of innocent and peaceful spirits. Christians are so bad at actually learning about other perspectives. Not only does this prevent us from successfully reaching out to other people, but it also hurts our own spirituality. Because if you haven’t gone out and learned about other beliefs and made a real, unbiased choice to be a Christian, then you never chose to be a believer; you only followed the path that your limited perspective allowed you to make.

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Nana Concerts and What That Even Means

I’m not dead! I haven’t actually written anything in forever, again. This seems to be a recurring problem. To be fair, I did participate in NaNoWriMo (and failed, naturally), and then I’m always lazy in December, and then I went on vacation to Japan yay, and now it’s February, wait, March.  The main reason I went to Japan was of course to attend Nana Mizuki’s Live Gate concert! This time, with 7 days at Budokan, of which I went to 4 of them (+the birthday live streaming at a theater). I no longer have the patience to write out a report for every concert I go to, but I’ll say it was once again one of the best times of my life. The best part was probably finally getting to hear Brave Phoenix live after all these years of waiting and always missing the ones where she did perform it. Then there were all the special guests and duets that I would probably regret not hearing if I didn’t go to all of those concerts. I’m already sad I missed the duets at the concerts I didn’t attend.

As I told people about my trip and 4 (5) concerts I went to, everyone always asked if the concerts were the same. Because going to the same concert isn’t worth it, right? Then I have to explain how Nana changes a few of the songs, but there’s a core setlist. I get different kinds of reactions to that. Even if it was their favorite artist, people wouldn’t go to the exact same concert multiple times in such a short period of time. Who does that? I kind of felt like people weren’t really as big fans of whomever they said they were. Then again, I’m a crazy person who flies to the other side of the world to see Nana. I’m definitely the anomaly here; I’m fully aware of that much.

But eventually I finally realized a major difference in perception. Probably, when most people think of going to concerts or listening to singers, they think of enjoying the music. You go to the concert to enjoy music you like and the experience of hearing it live. Going multiple times, especially if you have to pay money each time, isn’t exactly as appealing as the first time. You might want to hear different songs, but the same set list would certainly be less alluring. But I realized I don’t go to Nana Mizuki concerts for the music. It’s definitely a high priority, but in reality, when I think of Nana concerts, I think of spending time with Nana. Being in the same place as her, listening to her talk, and interacting with her through all the wotagei, all of this is what makes her concerts so fun for me. Spending time with Nana and building a stronger connection with her as a fan is what I really care about. Especially with her MCs, where she always has something different to say, and being able to hear her thoughts on the concert or just her daily happenings is really important to me. In the end, as a fan, I just want to spend as much time with Nana as possible and the music is second to that. There is just a completely different interpretation and understanding of why someone would go to a concert. Indeed, for other artists, I would go to listen to a select few songs I want to hear live and after that, I wouldn’t want to go again so soon. But for Nana my motivation, expectations, and hopes are different.

And that difference in perspective is similar to the difference in understanding what Christianity is about. Christianity is supposed to be about a relationship with God through Jesus. It is about mutual love and wanting to love others because of a love for God. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t view it this way. They view it as being forced to live a lifestyle without fun or being under the rule of a man in the sky, among plenty of other twisted misunderstandings. Even Christians often misunderstand it as a religion where you must follow a set of laws or a relationship based on fear of being sent to hell. But that’s not what it’s supposed to be about, and that’s not what many Christians think of when they think of their relationship with God.

It all comes down to understanding this difference in perspective, and in another way, a difference in definitions based on that perspective. Lately, I have found myself plagued more and more by people simply using and defining words or ideas in completely different ways than I understand them. It makes communication nearly impossible, and it is arguably a dangerous thing to think we are speaking the same language, when in reality, we really aren’t. When I talk about a Nana concert, there is a disconnect between what I think of and what others think of. Of course, that’s natural because I’m a crazy Nana fan and others aren’t, and that influences how I think of a concert. In the same way, people have vastly different experiences and understandings about religion, Christianity, and God. Christians may truly have a beautiful and desirable relationship with God, but we’re still the crazy ones. In fact, even trying to explain Christianity as a mutual relationship can fail because people do not all view relationships the same way. Some people have very negative experiences with relationships or some people view them as mutually taking advantage of each other. I have found even explaining Christianity as love can backfire as people view love as a fleeting, fickle emotion no better than infatuation. I have argued before that Biblical love is far greater and amazing than how we as a society view it today, and that surely has an effect on trying to explain God’s love to others, as oftentimes arguments arise from a difference in what it means to be loved by God.

So what is the solution to this problem in perspective? Well, I don’t have one per se. There are probably a hundred different methods you could try and get a hundred different results with a hundred different people. However, the one commonality to any solution is to first understand the depth of this problem. This is something that does not only help in explaining your perspective on Christianity to others, but it helps in having empathy for others as a whole. The fact that a person’s experiences can so largely affect how a person views not just life but also ideas and the very definition of words is something that is lost on pretty much anyone who doesn’t think about the limitations of language. When we consider that Christianity is such an abstract and spiritual topic, it’s no wonder that it is understood so differently by many kinds of people all around the world. Before we even consider if it’s true, there is the problem of establishing a consistent and mutual understanding of what it even is.