Self-Segregation in Religion

So I was out having dinner with a few friends and the topic of religion came about. One of the guys basically invited us to his church and the question came up on whether or not the church accepted mixed races. The reason actually was because the gal whom my friend was asking for had a mixed little one, and wanted to know that they were in a welcome place instead of facing what I would imagine would be some racial scorn.

All the while, I poked at my buddy and asked him how many Asians there were in his church. Now, I knew the answer here being that the congregation was brand new and a very small number, but he replied with “you’d be the first.” Boy, like I haven’t heard that one before.

What was interesting about this entire conversation was that it got me thinking. How many churches actually are fairly welcome of mixed couples or even are pretty diversified? Most churches that I’ve ever been to had an overwhelming majority of one side or another but never anything that was similar to what you would see as diversity in a college class or what not. I’ve also been to a few Asian churches in my day and I have to say that it’s really no different. It seems that we self-segregate for faith and diversity is hard to come by.

Now I have to admit, I haven’t been to as many churches recently and this is purely based on my personal experiences, but is it the same elsewhere? Different?

The Working APA Actor: Bobby Naderi

The Working APA Actor is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander American actors in the entertainment world, whether it be theater, film, television, or commercials. It is an inside look at these actors exploring their passion in their craft and how they balance their personal lives with their work. But more importantly, this column is dedicated to knowing these busy actors a little better as individuals.

Over the past few weeks The Taqwacores (directed by Eyad Zahra) opened in various cities across the nation and in the UK after premiering at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It is a film that will be dubbed as “that film about punk Muslims” but it is so much more than that. At the heart of it all, it is a film that explores the concept of identity and truly expressing oneself without any restraint. The film also opened at the 2010 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and swept the awards as it nailed Best Film, Best Director, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Script, and the Audience Award.

Starring in the leading role is Bobby Naderi, an Iranian American actor who I had the pleasure of meeting when the film first premiered at the 2010 LAAPFF. Bobby will take the honor as the first person to kick off our new column, The Working APA Actor. Continue reading “The Working APA Actor: Bobby Naderi”

Vacation Bible School: Faith and APA Stereotypes

I just finished a week of chaos and insanity, which happens every year during the summer. If you walk into pretty much any church, Asian and non-Asian, there will be signs up for the upcoming Vacation Bible School (VBS) with themes on everything from Egypt and heroes to ranches. A lot of Vacation Bible School is painfully cheesy, but the kids seriously love it all. Still, it makes me question what we use to teach kids about faith and spirituality, and of course, I was appalled by the video, Jesus Loves the Little Racist-Puppet Children. It reminds me of the nightmare that was Rickshaw Rally, a VBS program promoted as: “Far-out Far East Rickshaw Rally: Racing to the Son is a VBS race that will have kids dashing through the streets of Tokyo, climbing Mt. Fuji, and diving for pearls!” Oh dear God, that was painful, and sooo messed up. (I didn’t really know anyone that actually ended up using this curriculum.)

Continue reading “Vacation Bible School: Faith and APA Stereotypes”

Sunday’s Coming Trailer Spoofs Christian Worship Sermons and APA Leaders

This video that spoofs Christian worship services has been popping up back on various Christian blogs, Facebook and Twitter, and cracks me up. Depending on where one is on the “contemporary-traditional” worship service spectrum, it may or may not be funny to you. I passed it on, of course, and got various reactions – some that surprised me because those who actually do like this kind of expression of Christianity laughed at it as much as those who think this is what gives Christianity its unappealing reputation. I heard from a couple of people who were mildly offended by it: I do cringe a little at the reality of it in many places.

Why post this on 8Asians? I especially enjoy the APA guy that showed up a little less than a minute into the trailer as a representative of one of the “leaders” or ministry staff. From what I remember in my time in various more Evangelical Christian circles, it’s pretty spot-on in terms of the cool-hipster APA that had an “in” with the white, male Christian leaders because he was funny or different. Still, I would take this guy over Joseph Prince any Sunday. I think.

Young Christians Try to Convert Indian Girl on YouTube

When I saw this video off of one of my Facebook feeds, I just had to say… “wow.” While I respect religious beliefs, if this is what we’re teaching our children, then sometimes I just don’t know what to say.  I have to wonder what it is that children are actually being taught, whether  they understand that you can still be friends without having the need to save everyone; it’s like trying to convince a Republican to become a Democrat or vice versa. Beliefs are there for a reason, be it Christianity, Hinduism or whatever, and convincing people to convert is just like what one of my good friends told me once:

“I can beat it into you with a bat, but in the end, I just end up with a bloody bat.”

Personally, there’s some truth in that statement; each person is responsible for finding their own way. But I can tell you that this type of behavior is one of the reasons why Eastern and Western cultures clash: when one side doesn’t view the others’ perspective and instead tries to deduce their reasoning through their own eyes, there’s a serious failure in communication. It’s the same reason why Matteo Ricci was one of the most successful Jesuit priests in China, due to his explanations of Christianity using concepts that stemmed from Confucian beliefs.

Sometimes, it’s a miracle that there are not more bloody bats in this day and age.