post-tsunami order, asians in the library, and the multicultural church

there’s been more than one story talking about the calm and order in post-tsunami japan.  columnists are pointing out the lack of looting and lawlessness; kristof even prophesied the strength of japanese society when the earthquake hit.  the unspoken comparison, of course, is what happened five and half years ago in new orleans.  but the most memorable post-katrina quote, courtesy of kanye west, helps us understand why the social fabric of japan is woven differently:  “george bush hates black people.”

japan thrives because of its homogeneity.  and they’re not the only nations.  when the annual list of best nations is published, invariably, homogenous nations like denmark top the list.  and the challenge of the “other” has reached its breaking point all over western europe.  the leaders of germany, france, italy, and the united kingdom have all declared that multiculturalism has failed and is unwanted.

but america clings to the idea that our society is stronger because  of the melting pot salad bowl, or at least we say we do.  until the “other” starts to irritate us… like those asians in the library.

and are things really different in the church?  rebecca kim chronicles how campus fellowships experienced their own white flight when asians started outnumbering them in her book, god’s whiz kids.  church growth experts have consistently warned that the pursuit of diversity compromises growing numbers.  even the utopian church of acts 2 devolved into alarming ethnic strife by acts 6.

but the Bible (well, it’s mostly the new testament) stubbornly clings to this idea that the church should be comprised of all people—gender, race, culture, sexuality, and class.  it would be easier to be monocultural, but the apostles’ solution was not to divide into a jewish and gentile church, nor was it to force gentiles to adopt jewish practices.  if we could just ignore those that don’t look or think like us, it certainly would be more efficient and effective.  but our crucified and resurrected LORD rarely seems to take that route.

Key Series: Why we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans

Read this insightful series by DJ Chuang about why we need Asian Americans to be Asian Americans. It is a powerful introduction to many of the conversations we have here at Next Gener.Asian Church.

As DJ writes in his initial series post:

All to say that our American society needs more Asian Americans to be Asian American. It is to say that at this state of the union, we have too few. We certainly don’t have too many. We’d do well to have a few more to stand up and represent. We’d do well to think through and have more robust conversations about what it means to be Asian Americans. We’d do well to allow the richness of our Asian American’ness to overflow and not hide it under a bushel.

The disclaimers DJ writes at the outset are, alone, worth the price of admission:

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Laying down tracks

For those of you who have been reading NG.AC for the last year or so might know where I stand on issues of conservatism negatively affecting the Asian American church. And in a most real way, it’s taking a toll on me…

I feel pretty lonely, ecclesially speaking, but I feel guilty for it. And it might be the Asian conscience within me telling me to “put up or shut up” but I just don’t know where to turn to. Although I would feel more of a theological connection to a mainline church, I honestly feel no ethnic, emotional, and social connection to what is usually a mostly white American congregation. Although I would feel an ethnic, emotional, and social connection to an Asian American church, I don’t find much theological affinity with them.

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Can you relate to a nerd?

Tony Kim loves to go to Comic Con. This is his 5th time going, to celebrate all things nerdy. He made this audition reel for an epic documentary film that’s in the works about Comic Con, being done by the same guy that did the Super Size Me movie.

Tony mentioned that one of the many reasons he auditioned was because: “… hardly any Asians auditioning and I hope to represent”. Thanks for stepping up, Tony!

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Reclaiming Chinese religious identity

**If you don’t listen to Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett, you’re missing out on a top-notch podcast on religious faith. Highly recommended.**


I’d like to share the latest podcast episode from Speaking of Faith where Krista Tippett interviews Mayfair Yang, a scholar and director of the East Asian Center at UC Santa Barbara. Mayfair Yang speaks about the effects of modernity and Christian (how ironic) Western influence and its oppressive effects on the indigenous religious expressions in China.

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/chinas-spiritual-landscape/

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As untouched as the turn signal in an Asian woman’s car

The title of the post probably makes absolutely no sense to you, but once you see it in context I’m sure you’ll understand it. Some of you may even chuckle about it. However, I’m not sure it’s the laughter that I would find offensive. Most-likely, it is the fact that people still have the perception that it’s funny because it is rooted in truth. Before I get to explaining this further, let me take you back about 40 years. Let me share with you a tv commercial from the 1960’s about a baby that wants to eat some glape jerr-o. Again, you probably don’t get what I just described, but after watching the video below you will:

Was it funny? Was it offensive? Are your feelings neutral about it? Continue reading

survey on Asian American women and physical activity

Received this request in the inbox; help spread the word to qualifying women if you’re so inclined.

Research is being conducted by the School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, about the attitudes toward physical activity among middle-aged women (40-60 Y/O).

The internet survey is related to women’s health studying how different ethnic groups and socioeconomic classes view physical activity. They are especially in need of participation from Asian Americans and low-income Asian-Americans.

Dr. Eun-Ok Im’s work involves conducting an Internet study on the attitudes toward physical activity among diverse ethnic groups of middle-aged women (40-60 Y/O). All women will benefit from participating in this study and with more participation they will be able to make their data more complete.

In this study, each participant will be reimbursed with a gift certificate of 10 dollars per Internet survey.

Please note that the survey will begin with some eligibility questions to determine if our study has fulfilled our sampling quota for an individual with certain characteristics.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our study. Thank you so much for considering this study.

Sincerely,
e-MAPA Research Team
Hannah Lee, Research Assistantd
hannahlee0711@gmail.com
School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin
1700 Red River, Austin, TX 78701

ng.ac Tokback Thursday Jan. 14!

Alrighty, we’ve taken a break for the holidays and a couple Thursdays for good measure, so we’ll be back in the saddle with a couple of things to talk about on the docket.

First, I’m dying to hear a recap of Urbana, especially with DJ Chuang and ElderJ finally meeting face to face. Also, I really want to hear about the “Asian American” worship that led to the great discussion going on over at Joel Tang’s blog.

And although that might take up most of the time, for the upcoming Verge Conference (I’m very excited to attend btw), a question came to mind that I would love to hear your thoughts on. In Soong Chan Rah’s book, The Next Evangelicalism, he makes the point that immigrant churches offer a holistic missional approach (albeit to their own ethnic enclaves) that churches from the dominant majority can really learn from. So do you think that immigrant churches, your church can be classified as missional? Or do you feel like the have lessons to offer the missional church?

I don’t know if we’re going to get to all the questions, but I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of laughter, awkward muted silences, and eerie computer monitor light. The Tokback begins at the usual hour of 10pm EST / 7pm PST this Thursday night at DJ’s place, http://www.djchuang.com/tokbox. Put the kiddies down and get those webcams up as there’s no software or registration required. Spread the word and see you then!