Monday, November 24, 2014

The Furry Fandom, and some comments.

Furry is a subculture--a wide group of people who utilize a world of anthropomorphic animals to create different types of artwork. The artwork varies between drawn or painted works, written stories, or even crafts like making mascot suits by oneself, but that’s more of a rarity, despite the publicity that the mascot suits, or “Fursuits” get. “Furries” as they are called, generally hang out in Internet Relay Chatrooms (IRC) or on forums, at which they exchange their works that they’ve created. Some like to roleplay within their respected IRCs or forums as a means to play out their own furry characters that they’ve created, also known as “fursonas”. If Furries get the chance, they love to meet up and hang out together. This is generally because the subculture isn’t all of a big thing, and it’s exciting for them to meet with another Furry, or “Fur” for short, due to how rare it is to see one.
Some Furries are really big cartoon buffs, and gear their artwork more towards a cartoonish style. Others are intrigued by realism in the Furry universe, and incorporate that into their works.

Here are examples of some of the artwork:

I may or may not have given it away with the above links, but Furry art generally utilizes anthropomorphic canines and felines. You normally won’t see a “Furry” turtle or something like that… unless you watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when you were little. Those count.

Here are a couple examples of the fursuits:

Fursuits take a LONG time to make, months even, and are VERY pricey (800+ to 2000$+). Others don't have the funds to express their “Furriness” with suits, so they just make tails or ears, or wear collars (so, it’s not always the Goth kids!). The suits are generally worn at conventions, where a large number of Furries can congregate and show off their work to each other. Never been to one myself, but they generally have lots of fun from what I’ve been told.

What else are furries into?  If you look at the Chronicles of Narnia, Ms. Brisby and the Rats of NIMH, or Redwall, those would be considered pieces of Furry literature (albeit in varying degrees) by the subculture. Most old Disney movies or Don Bluth films (All Dogs Go to Heaven, anyone?) had a whole host of talking cartoon animals.Video games? How about some Star Fox, Banjo-Kazooie, or Dillon's Rolling Western?

Now, there are a very large range of misconceptions about Furries; I’ll rattle off a few.

1.) Furries seriously think that they’re animals. Why else would they wear the suits?

No. People, in general, who believe that they’re animals, or believe that they possess the soul of an animal are known as Therianthropes. Some Therians happen to be Furries, but those are a minority (Wikipedia Therianthropy for more info). 

Furries wear Fursuits for a couple of reasons. For fun, at parties, meetups, or even to entertain their community. Here's an awesome example of of that from TychoAussie:

Now come on, you have to admit that's awesome. This is pretty cool too!

2.) Furries have absolutely no life and just waste away online.

Again, no. Some furries do, but I’ve also met my fair share of very successful, and good Christian Furries. One Christian Furry I used to know works with NASA!

3.) Furries are sick, disgusting perverts who condone and perform zoophilia, or beastiality.

ICK! Sad to say, but there are furries that do this. HOWEVER, they are a minority and are known as “Furverts” within the subculture.

4.) Furries are sexually confused.

No. There are members of the LGBT community who happen to be Furry, but that’s not what Furry is all about.

Now, all that being said, there is a darker side to this that needs to be talked about. The online furry community is not one to be traversed alone--heck, sad to say but I wouldn't even Google furry. For the good, clean fun and art there is to be found, there is also a good chunk of perverse, nasty stuff too--most commonly yiff art (yiff is the furry term for sex). But in defense of the fandom itself (not the sin to be found in it), its community and the things residing in it are a product of its mother culture. We live in a sin-stained world.

It's sad to say that the darker side of the fandom gets the most publicity--and why not? We love to bring the dark and twisted to the forefront of our attention. Due to this though, there are many people who have an innocent interest in furry art and culture that feel as though they have to hide from everyone--families and friends alike. This secrecy in some cases in itself leads people down dark roads into deep patterns of habitual sin as they traverse the furry fandom alone, and any innocent interest they had goes out the window.

People, regardless of their age or background, should not have to hide. The world needs to see brighter examples of purity as a whole, especially in places like the furry fandom--and I'm crazy enough to believe that it would make a difference. Parents should be coming alongside their children and helping them cultivate their love for furry in a pure way instead of forcing them to shun it due to all of the darkness that they could get into. Older people should share their interest with their friends and family and be a force for good--like our buddy TychoAussie up there. I don't encourage that people presently in bondage to sin that's directly tied to furry to maintain a presence in the fandom, but I beg and pray for people that would help protect the innocence of people who presently have a healthy interest in it.

For those of you who read this that are struggling with sin in the fandom, I encourage you to take a step back. There may be things about the fandom that are good and you may love those good things with all your heart, but if sin is tugging at your heartstrings (like it's been at mine), for the sake of what good is left, step back. Seek God with all you have, repent of the sin that's been tugging at you, and hear out others around you for good, godly counsel--and for goodness sakes, get some accountability going. Don't try to do it alone.

If you're looking for a resource to help you break free from sexual sin, take a look at Fight The New Drug. I would also recommend talking to a pastor or ministry leader, or a strong Christian that you trust.

If you're looking for a safe community where faith and furriness collide, check out Christian Furs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A spiritual high.

So, as per usual, I've been battling with my sin. I've been learning about a lot of my other weaknesses too as I've walked with the Lord, but despite how much I learn about myself, my issues with the past still wait for me at my doorstep with every waking moment. Nothing new there.

Unlike my other posts, this won't be some long story with a big call to action (or at least, I don't intend it to be). I just kind of want to talk this time.

I'll start with why I gave this post the title I did, "a spiritual high." I was battling temptation one particular night, and I had let myself slip into some weird mental state to where I didn't feel like myself anymore. I realized in the moment that I didn't want to. I whispered to myself, 'I just want that spiritual high...' without thinking about it, and something dawned on me. I want a spiritual high just as much as a sexual one. 

When I give in to my temptation to fantasize about becoming a werewolf, at times it has extended further than simply looking at pornography. In these moments I don't want to just appease a fetish, I want something more than that. I want to lose myself completely. I want to step into the fantasy of being a werewolf as much as possible in the moment of my lust--telling myself in my mind that that's what I am, and in the midst of it visualize myself becoming it as I jerk off. I try to go to the point of mentally becoming the object of my fantasy, to create a sense of an augmented reality and escape as far away from real life as possible.

In all those times, not once did it dawn on me that I don't simply have some sort of sexual fetish, but that I'm yearning to have some sort of spiritual experience. There's a God-sized hole that only genuine, consistent time spent in fellowship with and worship to Him can fill. It's easy to think that I'm trying as best as I can, but it's also just as easy to fail to realize that when that lust gets worse, it's because I'm looking for an experience that only God can provide.

I can't say that I have this sorted out yet. I still live in this state of battling dysphoria, of yearning off and on for this experience that I've talked about of getting to be a werewolf in some fashion. It hurts, it's confusing, and there's not a passing day that I don't wish for some sort of resolution. Each blog post I write here, I want it to be my last one. I want to be able to leave a final note to everyone who reads this and tell the world that I don't struggle with my past anymore.

But I guess I won't ever get to that day where it's not a struggle. I don't say that in a defeated tone, but I somewhat say that hopefully. I worry about a day where I would stop fighting because I don't want this to overtake my life. I want to live happily with my friends, and family, not letting this daunting struggle become a waking nightmare that deprives me of every ounce of joy that I have. It's never not going to be a fight to choose to find joy and satisfaction in knowing and loving God versus wanting to create my own spiritual experiences and attempting to find rest in that (which I never do).

I don't know how many people really read this, but if you can relate to any of this, or you're dealing with anything (and I do mean anything) that's become too much to bear, send me an e-mail. Talk to me. Tell me how I can pray for you. Or, if you don't believe in God at all and are just frustrated with everything I'm saying, we can work through that too.

My heart goes out to those struggling with sin, and while I may not be a shining example of how not to struggle anymore, I pray I'm an example that shows you that Christ is better. Jesus is better than the sin we choose over him, and I ask for prayer that I would believe that myself (because that's a battle in itself every day).