Category Archives: You’re Not a Clone

This guy isn’t Malayalee, but…

He probably speaks for a lot of us. Check out Shehan Jeyarajah’s editorial, “If You Knew Me, You’d Know I’m Not the Typical South Asian” in the Baylor Lariat.

http://baylorlariat.com/2014/10/21/viewpoint-if-you-knew-me-youd-know-im-not-the-typical-south-asian/

During Welcome Week at Baylor, I remember walking across campus back toward my dorm with one of my friends who was Indian. I had been on campus for a grand total of three days, and to this point, it was everything I had hoped it to be and more.

Some other Baylor students stopped us along the way to ask if they could pray with us. I figured this was just something people did here, and obliged.

They started praying and saying that they hope that my friend and I reject our false gods and instead turn to Jesus, the one true savior. Read more…

None of us perfectly fit into the “Indian” stereotype expected by non-Indians who see us as “others.”

We don’t fit perfectly into the Malayalee stereotype or even the [insert denomination here] Malayalee expectations. My parents never pressured me to be in medicine or other “typical” fields. They actually encouraged me to pursue whatever my heart desired.

We’re in a time when we each have permission and the luxury to be ourselves, to pave our own way. Other people paved the path for us, and we happen to be born in a time where opportunity of every kind abounds.

I know very few people my age worried about sending money back home or financially supporting siblings or other family like the generation before us.

I think I felt so different growing up, different from people at my American church, at my school, at my Indian church. But I didn’t have the language to describe what I felt or what I saw. I’m still trying to figure that out.

But I’m thankful to live in a time where it’s more OK to be yourself, whatever combination of environments that is. Where there’s a little more equality and access and freedom than there once was.

There remains this threat noted in the editorial linked to above:

The American experiment can never be considered a success until we get away from thinking that we understand people based off a cursory glance at their skin color or do a quick Google search to claim we understand their core beliefs.

We’ve got a long way to go; we’re each a walking combination of victim and perpetrator of the above. But I’m so thankful for where we are now.

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The Electric Pink Sari Vigilantes: Down With Abusive Husbands, Etc.

“Clad in electric pink saris, the all-female gang shames abusive husbands and corrupt politicians. Amana Fontanella-Khan talks to the woman behind the largest women’s vigilante group in the world.”

I love the concept of shaming abusive husbands (or abusive wives or in-laws for that matter). The quote above is from an article about India’s Pink Gang, the largest women’s vigilante group in the world.

When the police are paid by oppressors not to help victims and when the community looks the other way at injustice, these women ante up their own resources to find solutions. They collect food or money, organize protests and demand police action. Continue reading

“What Would People Say?” And Other Perceived Barriers

Can’t do this. Can’t do that.

What would people say?

Sometimes you’re at the mercy of a community that holds your reputation hostage. IF YOU LET IT.

My friends have two of the cutest dogs you ever saw. Every time I knock on their door, the dogs bark like crazy, excited to lick and paw at whoever comes their way. But they’re stuck behind a little indoor security gate that leans against the wall at the bottom of the stairs.

If these pups simply tipped over the fence with a nudge of their nose or even jumped over it, they would be free.

But fear and obedience keep them behind that weak little gate. That’s their routine, their sense of security. Continue reading

Will Our Generation Think Entrepreneurially?

When I told people I was going to major in communication in college, they looked at me like I was a fool.

“I thought you were smart,” said one uncle. “Why don’t you study to be a doctor?”

“You won’t find a stable job,” said another uncle. “You need to go into the medical field, and you’ll always find work.”

He later changed his mind and apologized.

My friends and I say our parents’ generation was about survival and stability. Work hard and put food on the table. They did very well for themselves out of faith and perseverance.

We’re starting our lives with huge advantages — access to people and information, familiarity and integration with the culture, access to money and education. Opportunities are everywhere.

Cloniness is the poison.

I hope this is not what we are. Someone tell me it's OK to have a personality, be aggressive and take life by the horns?

 

Continue reading

Why a Non-Believer at Your Church Would Throw Up a Little

Atheist Gina Welch faked a conversion, got baptized, went on a mission trip and attended Thomas Road Baptist Church for two years, taking detailed notes that she published in a book.

I’ve always struggled with the preaching-to-the-choir, inward-looking nature of the church.

I’m a believer, and though I attend churches and see good things come out of them, I also see how institutionalizing faith can lead to degenerating faith and advancing false teachings.

And institutionalizing faith also leads to clones, what I often call “stupid sheep,” who listen and accept their environment without thoughtfully questioning it.

This makes churches unwelcome places for people who don’t already believe. Plenty of times I’ve cringed in church at intolerant language, hoping that no non-believers were around to witness it.

Welch points out inconsistencies she saw in the church she attended and notes certain token phrases that don’t necessarily make sense to everyone.

“Evangelical language was a language of its own, where the rhetoric often didn’t mean what the words seemed to signify in English. Words were encoded symbols used to describe feelings evangelicals  understood. Sometimes I was able to understand these feelings and crack the code on a turn of the phrase. But not so with the personal relationship with God. With this I scraped and scraped for a more direct meaning, but each layer I revealed was just another picture of a picture.” (236)

When you’ve been in the same culture or environment for years, of course everything makes sense to you. But does that rule still make sense when you leave that context?

Non-spiritual example: I’ve met people who think women can’t understand computer science or make 3-pointers in basketball. In their world, they have observed this consistently. In my world, I’ve observed the opposite. Just because you’ve consistently observed something in one context doesn’t make it universally true.

Spiritual example: Some people believe wearing jewelry or make-up means you are pleasing your flesh or being materialistic. While others see it as a neutral activity that has no bearing on spiritual identity.

Doubt, Debate and Decide

It’s when you step outside your box that you begin to doubt, debate and then either reject your previous views, adjust them or fortify them.

Two Ways To Avoid Being a Church Clone Continue reading