rudybusto - A MERASIAJOURNAL 2 21 1996:133-147 The Gospel...

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AMERASIA JOURNAL 221 (1996):133-147 The Gospel According to the Model Minority?: Hazarding an Interpretation of Asian American Evangelical College Students RUDY V. BUSTO Then he poured out to God the anguish in his heart: the sorrow for his sin, the rebellion against his parents, the arrogance of his philo- sophic mind. . .his desire to run his own life. He yielded his mind and heart to Jesus the Truth and the Life. Then he prayed the Lord’s Prayer as best as he could remember it. ”Come to me, ‘‘ Jesus said, “and I will give you rest.” Bob believed that would happen. And it did. And more too. Joy. Chris Chrisman Goes to College’ In James Sire’s fictional account of freshman year at Hansom State University, Bob Wong, a Chinese American student from Mendocino, California, is ”born again” after a year of intensive prayer and prod- ding by his evangelical Christian friends. Born in Taiwan and raised in the United States, Bob Wong is caught between the Chinese Bud- dhist culture of his immigrant parents and his desire to ”be rid of his Chinese roots.” An avowed atheist when he arrives at Hansom State, by the end of freshman year Bob’s newfound Christian faith presents him with one final challenge: facing his parents. ”What to say? He knew he had to somehow begin to see them as his parents, to ”honor” them, to show this in a way they with their Chinese and Buddhist heri- tage would recognize. How was he to do this? He didn’t know.” Lots of questions for Bob Wong. Sire’s story intersperses the de- tails of Chris Chrisman and his friends’ freshman year with discussions of the philosophical traps of relativism, individualism and pluralism RUDY V. BUSTO is assistant professor of American Ethnic Religions at Stanford Uni- versity. 133
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AMERASIA JOURNAL awaiting evangelical students in the college classroom. It comes as no surprise that Sire includes an Asian American character in his plot, as Asian American students in the 1990s have become central players in American evangelical Christianity. His characterization of Bob Wong- hard working, philosophically tenacious, and troubled by his Asian- ness-hints at larger issues about Asian American identity in the con- text of evangelical Christianity. This essay rephrases Bob Wong's ques- tion, "What to say?" about Asian American college students and evan- gelical Christianity. With a long history and numerous traditions, evangelical Chris- tianity is one of the fastest growing religious / social movements in the United States? Depending on sources and definitions, evangelical Prot- estants comprise upwards of 20 percent of the nation's population; or somewhere between thirty to fifty million believers? As part of the late twentieth-century American spiritual reawakening since the 1970s, large numbers of Asian American college students are turning to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the encouragement and support of national and local prayer and Bible study organizations. On
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rudybusto - A MERASIAJOURNAL 2 21 1996:133-147 The Gospel...

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