February 12, 2012

LEARN THE LINBOW:

Lin's Appeal: Faith, Pride and Points (MICHAEL LUO, 2/12/12, NY Times)

Like Lin, I'm a Harvard graduate, albeit more than a decade ahead of him, and a second-generation Chinese-American. I'm also a fellow believer, one of those every-Sunday-worshiping, try-to-read-the-Bible-and-pray types, who agreed with Lin when he said to reporters after the Jazz game, "God works in mysterious and miraculous ways."

Being a believer can mean different things in different circles. In a lot of the ones Lin and I have traveled, it can mean, essentially, you are a bit of a weirdo, or can make you an object of scorn.

For me, as an Asian-American, the chants of "M.V.P.!" raining down on Lin at the Garden embody a surreal, Jackie Robinson-like moment. Just as meaningful to me as a Christian, however, is the way the broadcasters have hailed Lin as not just the "Harvard hero" but the "humble Harvard grad." His teammates appear just as overjoyed at his success as he was. Both seem to be testaments to his character.

Some have predicted that Lin, because of his faith, will become the Taiwanese Tebow, a reference to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, whose outspokenness about his evangelical Christian beliefs has made him extraordinarily popular in some circles and venomously disliked in others. But my gut tells me that Lin will not wind up like Tebow, mainly because Lin's persona is so strikingly different. From talking to people who knew him through the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Christian Fellowship, and watching his interviews, I have the sense that his is a quieter, potentially less polarizing but no less devout style of faith.

Lin comes across as soft-spoken and winsome; he comes across as thoughtful. He comes across, actually, as a distinctly Asian-American Christian, or at least like so many that I know.

An Asian-American Christian? What's that?

Many in this country have probably never even 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 what is emphasized in their churches and college Christian fellowships, including the one that played such a formative role in Lin's life at Harvard.


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Posted by at February 12, 2012 9:09 AM
  

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