Friday, May 26, 2006

The Tiger in the Academy - Christianity Today Magazine

The Tiger in the Academy - Christianity Today Magazine:

By Tim Stafford

Tonight, three of the largest Christian fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, have arrived at First Presbyterian for a joint meeting. Hundreds of students, dressed in running shoes, jeans, and sweatshirts, spill into the sanctuary. A band warms up while students slap hands and hug. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has invited Campus Crusade for Christ and Asian American Christian Fellowship to hear a special speaker.

Excitement like this would characterize a large Christian gathering at Berkeley during any era. One fact, however, would certainly startle earlier generations. About 98 percent of this gathering is Asian American.

At Berkeley, California's premier public university, "evangelical Christian" and "Asian American" are almost interchangeable descriptions. Three trends come together. One is California's demographics: It is 11 percent Asian compared to 4 percent for the nation as a whole. Two is academic prestige: As the oldest and most selective campus of the University of California, Berkeley has an undergraduate population that is 42 percent Asian. (As a general rule, the more selective the school, the higher the percentage of Asian students.) Three is a national fact: Asian students are more likely to show Christian commitment than other ethnic groups, including whites. ...
Here is a fairly long and quite interesting article about Asian-American Christians in higher education. The above excerpt gives a bit of the flavor of this article, which goes on to discuss the factors that characterize this group, not the least of which are the family relationships that are so important in many Asian cultures ("Honor your father and mother" in tension with "I need to do what's right for me").

This also provides us a subtle reminder that European-American Christians are not the center of world-wide Christianity, which is difficult for those of us who style ourselves as "mainline" to accept.

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