Meaning of can.
I am not a native speaker of English, that’s why I will check whether I understand the question correctly.
As I remember, we, Soviet pupils, were taught, that can means ‘ability‘, while may means ‘permission‘. But I sense that in this question can, due to the context where it used (see the quotation of Theresa Christina’s words in my previous post), means the same as may does, namely: permission.
I looked can up in Concise Oxford English Dictionary:
n modal verb (3rd singular present can; past could)
1 be able to. [with negative or in questions] used to express doubt or surprise: he can’t have finished. used to indicate that something is typically the case: he could be very moody.
2 be permitted to.
Old English cunnan ‘know’.
The use of can rather than may to request or express permission, as in may/can I ask you a few questions?, is not incorrect in standard English, although some people object to it. May is, generally speaking, a more polite way of asking for something, however, and is the better choice in more formal contexts.
So, I make conclusion, that ‘Can Christians watch anime?‘ means ‘Are Christians permitted to watch anime?‘ .
Meaning of Christian.
There are many Christian denominations in the world. The members of them are called Christians. There are various Christians. Who does the question refer to? Of course, to modern Christians (there was no anime in the first century AD).
There are also true and false Christians. Greek word Χριστιανος means ‘a follower of Christ‘. Only true follower of Christ is worthy to be called Christian.
So let’s rephrase the question: ‘May genuine Christians as true followers of Christ watch anime?‘ or ‘Is watching anime morally appropriate for genuine Christians?’.
Meaning of anime.
Simply: Japanese animation.
Final rephrasing of the question:
‘May genuine Christians as true followers of Christ watch Japanese animation?‘
THE ESSENCE OF THE QUESTION
Below I quote from Theresa Christina’s post How anime drew me closer to the Lord:
It all started in high school… as most epic stories do. I was 17 and obsessed with martial arts. Iwent to the dojo almost every day of the week. There I met a friend who I bonded with over our martial art and Star Wars (my second nerd love, my first being Lord of the Rings). Then a crazy idea popped into my head. I asked her if she would go to a Star Wars convention with me in LA. I sewed our cosplay and together we choreographed a light saber routine to do flash mob style at the convention.
As we practiced our sword training in my back yard, my friend mentioned, “Hey, there is thisanime that I really liked about swords. It’s called Sword Art Online.”
“I dunno,” I replied, “Anime is some scary stuff.”
“Oh come on, just try one episode.”
When I saw her next I looked her in the eyes, “I WANT MORE!!!!!”
And so the obsession started.
As I got more into anime, I remember wondering if my parents were going to stop me. I satdown on the couch and googled, “Can Christians watch anime?”
For Theresa Christina watching anime is obsession. Asking the question “Can Christians watch anime?” she wanted to know if she will be allowed to continue her obsession. For her it was personal question (not abstract or merely theoretical one): ‘Does God approve my obsession?’.
In my following posts I plan answer the question “Can Christians watch anime?” from purely theoretical perspective and then analize how it can be applied to a particular cases.