Is Eastern Culture Demonic? (a commentary on Mark Driscoll’s allegation that “yoga is demonic”)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been incensed about something like this and so I wanted to weigh in on this issue from what I think might be a little different slant:


A recent article in the Seattle Times details how a few prominent evangelical Christian leaders have sketched the practice of yoga as something “demonic” – says Mark Driscoll, a prominent mega-church pastor in Seattle: “Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic… If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.” Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological adds his voice to the mix in an online essay last month: “Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding… Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God” (there are so many theologically jacked-up things about this statement BTW that it merits a separate blog post – won’t even get into Mohler’s distorted views about the human body and the logos, although I am seriously tempted to. In the least I don’t see at all how this statement incriminates yoga at all).

So, to summarize, the issue is the demonization of yoga. Continue reading “Is Eastern Culture Demonic? (a commentary on Mark Driscoll’s allegation that “yoga is demonic”)”

On Being Asian: Bellingham’s History of “No Chinese Beyond this Point”

Wow. Angryasianman has just called attention to a part of Bellingham, Washington’s past (and mine own too), which was the Chinese Exclusion Act of the early 1900’s, which systematically expelled, discriminated, and drove out Chinese-Americans up and down the West Coast. As a former resident of the town, I frequently walked past the plaque on Harris Ave. that read:

“Chinese deadline, no Chinese allowed beyond this point, 1878-1903.” (any ‘Hamsters got a pic I can upload and post?)

Well it appears that mayor Dan Pike has issued a public apology on behalf of the city of Bellingham, which has in the past rioted against Hindus, exploited Japanese, and driven out Chinese. I say “good for him.” But he says one thing that irks me:

“A lot of times an apology can go a long way toward helping healing and helping people understand that we do know there were things that were done in the past that were inappropriate… It doesn’t mean that I’m personally guilty… It means that things were done by the government and by the people in this community that were wrong.”

I don’t know why he had to say that; “It doesn’t mean that I’m personally guilty.” Why apologize in the first place if it’s not your fault? I think one of the glaring errors in the whole re-dress movement is that we think we can apologize for things in the past, separate ourselves (historically) from the incident, wipe our hands clean, forget about it, and move on. But the point is not “getting it off your chest” so to speak; but rather engaging in a continuous dialogue about how Chinese-Americans relate to the public sphere today; how the “model minority” is perceived, engaged, ignored, dismissed, contained, empowered or silenced. Here are some thoughts from a past post that convey just what I am talking about:
  1. The “model minority” is a patronizing term. Model in who’s eyes?
  2. The perception of being coy, or demure – this asian fetish thing. Sure our women are beautiful but can we stop objectifying Asian women as commodities?
  3. Be proud of your heritage damnit. It’s a double-sided coin. While we need to get out of the ghettoization of our ethnic communities to see a larger “America”, at the same time we can’t ever forget where we came from. Nor can we ever look down on our ancestors who first immigrated to this great country.
  4. We will work for the man but never be the man. Glass-ceilings are tough things to break through and very subtle, systemic things…
  5. It’s an uphill battle, folks. Asians in society at times feel the need to lose our “asian-ness” in order to make it. It’s almost a reverse “white-fetish” where we hope we won’t get noticed for the fact that we are asian, but we can blend right into white society with perfect intonation, no accent, dressing the right way. This just makes me cry. My black brothers educated me on a term used in black circles: “The Bourgeoisie” – when a person of color completely assimilates into white society and never looks back. It’s a derogatory term for someone who refuses to identify with the color of their skin or their ethnic heritage. The bourgeoisie think they’re better than the rest of us.

I feel sad. Sad that making it in this world so often means losing a bit of myself. Sad that we are playing by another man’s rules that benefits his own. Sad that at the starting gate I am placed a few steps behind. I’m not asking for pity, because I will work my ass off to get to the same place as others. But I just want to tell my story, and that of countless others.

Art and Incarnation: Mako Fujimura

We had a discussion among our staff about the art of Makoto Fujimura this morning. He’s a New Yorker. He’s a Greenwich Village artist (my old haunting grounds back in the day @ Parsons School of Design). He’s asian (yay!) And he’s a Christian. So it intrigued me to watch an emerging figure who represents two worlds I inhabit, as an Asian-American as well as a Christian within the arts. So I did some homework only to find this little endorsement here to the left that he receives from CT mag, and to find out that he’s received some accolade from some great sources. See his blog here and professional page here. So I’m thrilled for this guy who is making a statement in numerous ways – as an urbanite, a religious person, an ethnic person – just thrilled. But the one question that seemed to echo in our group was: Continue reading “Art and Incarnation: Mako Fujimura”