Please note: this Tuesday and Thursday blog will now post only on Tuesdays.
Forgive the untidiness of this post. I haven’t quite sorted things out, but here are 3 musings this week. I’m still working out if they are related, and if it is worth going there.
(1) Of all the thoughts to pop into my head last week, this long forgotten Urbana 90 prophecy is the strangest. If there’s a word I haven’t really used since my freshman year of college, it’s prophecy.
In 1994, I moved from New York to attend Stanford. I was scared, but excited as I was on the look out for God. My youth group leader told me to look for a college fellowship like Campus Crusade or InterVarsity, and they would explain Christianity to me, and I could know God. So I looked out for God and was amazed that I did not have to look very hard. Here, across from my dorm room was a Christian, and several others in my dorm! Here we all were going to fellowship and small group together. I did not have to look very hard at all.
And it turns out I did not have to wait very long either, as weeks into my freshman year I encountered God. It was during InterVarsity’s large group’s 40 minute worship set. I found myself getting, really getting on a gut level what “blood of Jesus covers all of my sins” and “the nails in his hands” meant. I found myself crying, my whole body convulsing. I found myself to be someone entirely and unconditionally loved.
I had never felt anything like it before—and it seemed to change everything about me. Everyone I saw and spoke to was a person whom God loved. Everything that I did had the potential to be for the Lord.
It was then that I heard about the Urbana 90 prophecy. An upperclassman must have shared with me that at the triennial Urbana Student Mission Convention, the intercessors had a word that Stanford and other colleges would experience revival. Revival, I thought, must be like what I experienced and continued to experience in times of prayer and worship, but even more, even more intense and global. Wow, imagine, revival—at a place like Stanford!
Fast-forward three rich, rich years. There were some all-campus-prayer and retreat attempts, but I seemed to have missed the revival.
Fast-forward to last week, when this memory popped into my head. I wondered what other schools. I’ve googled “Urbana 90 prophecy” and it’s turned up nothing.
(2) I’ve been mulling over the fact that many academics, I think starting with the Rudy Busto in 1996, note the increase of Asian Americans in the Christian scene at the elite colleges. This is backed up by lots and lots of normal newspaper articles, like here in 1999, and here in 2008.
Rudy Busto was an associate professor at Stanford at the time of his article, overlapping with my time at there. While I did not take his classes, he undoubtedly was studying me and my friends and not uncritically. Here we are in his oft-cited article’s footnote 39:
“Non-Asian students on the Stanford campus that I spoke with associate IVCF and CCC with Asian American students. Among activist, progressive non-evangelical Asian American students, the tendency for evangelical students to shy away from campus politics is regarded as complacency and assimilationist.”
He viewed our activity in these fellowships as a retreat, a way to protect ourselves from racial stereotypes and and the negativity of being Christian. Ironically, to Busto, our involvement with evangelical Christianity itself seemed to reinforce the very stereotypes of “model minority” and “whiz kid” that we should be combatting. Greater American evangelicalism, in its books and publications only seem to embrace these stereotypes, and especially more so as our numbers grow.
I think I’m reading Busto right. I’ll check with my academic friends, as I’m certainly not one myself. I’m still figuring out what I think.
(3) I’ve been mulling also on two pieces by Michael Luo in the New York Times and Carl Park in The Gospel Coalition Blog. Beyond excited by the ascent of Jeremy Lin, Luo describes what it feels like to have someone like him positively in the public eye, someone like Luo himself—a Harvard grad, a different kind of Christianity than those sometimes portrayed in the media, and an Asian American, and he posits a definition of an Asian American Christian:
“An Asian-American Christian? What’s that? / Many in this country have probably never heard of this subcategory on the religious spectrum. But if you are a relatively recent graduate of the Ivy League or another top-tier college, you will probably recognize the species. / Harvard’s Asian American Christian Fellowship, which started in the 1990s, is one of the most active student groups on campus. You will also immediately know it if you are part of a historically orthodox church in a major metropolitan center like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston or Los Angeles because your pews are probably filled with them. Like Lin, many Asian-American Christians have deep personal faith, but they are also, notably, almost never culture warriors. That is simply not emphasized in their churches and college fellowships, including the one that played such a formative role in Lin’s life at Harvard.”
Park builds upon Luo’s work, and spells out the implications for an Evangelical audience. He adds that in some parts of the country like at elite colleges and large metropolitan areas, “we’re majority—not minority Christianity.” Since we’ve had a different history than white Evangelicals sometimes its various conversations can feel “off” to us. We are “outsiders” coming in, and we continue to feel like “outsiders” once we’re in them. Park argues that Linsanity for Asian Americans is “about the outside experience being recognized by others and even further, evolving into inclusion.” Park wants to be included in the conversation of Evangelicals.
I am still figuring out what I think. Though their conception of “Asian American Christianity” rings mostly true for me, is it too obvious to say that it cannot possibly ring true for the 7.8 million of us?
And they both quote this phrase: ‘historically orthodox church.” I think they mean Redeemer Presbyterian Church and City Church of San Francisco (where I interned). I have often wondered about the connection of Asian Americans growing in numbers in the 1990s, and the growth of such ‘historically orthodox churches’ also in the 1990s. Can I add others like Mosaic and New Song in Los Angeles, and other Asian American churches that also began in the 1990s? It really can’t only be a coincidence.
What is this all really about? Is it about anything at all, and most importantly, is it worth going there?