I got a chance to talk to Pastor Steven Chin after the Easter service, and though it was harried because my kids were wrestling and a lot of stuff was going on he gave me some good insights. The first thing I really asked was why did he think that BCEC has so much success? I mean crowds and crowds.
So Steven said that he actually was not raised Christian. In fact, most of the people that I know from BCEC were not raised Christian either (though Le from my last post was)
I'm afraid to put quotes here because obviously I can't remember exactly what Pastor Steven said.. but the gist of it is that Chinese people are actually not that religious. That people ask what most Chinese people believe in are the Buddhist or what have you but actually know they aren't any of that, and what they worship is actually money, career, and the here and now.
So again, these are vaguely what Pastor Steven Says from HIS experience growing up. I asked him if his household had an altar etc. and he said no, that there was words you couldn't say around Chinese New Year and certain superstitions but that's it.
Now I have actually talked a lot about religion from MY perspective on my Kung Fu Dad blog, but let's talk about what Pastor Steven thinks for now and then maybe we'll add stuff for another post.
So basically Chinese have a spiritual vacuum. They are told to work hard make money get into MIT get a good career and they will be happy. But a lot of them make it and then they aren't happy.
Now I will bring up another thing Pastor Steven said which is that the assumption (again from his perspective) is that a lot of people who would be attracted to Christianity are "weak minded" or "superstitious" people.
The weak minded thing I have read from the original reactions Roman and Greek Philosophers had to the early Christians... but you only read about that stuff from Christian literature .. so that's why I wasn't surprsied to hear him say that. I mean you won't hear that Christians are weak minded if you went to Nativity, then Groton, then Stonehill. You will hear other arguments but not that one.
In any case Pastor Steven continued that, the case for BCEC was that they had a lot of young MIT students scientists Doctors and that type of people joining. I.e. not weak minded.
So why join?
Basically there are a lot of these people who are unhappy even though they have everything their parents told them to get.. so they go through a spiritual crisis and turn to religion. I say turn to religion instead of turn to God. Pastor Steven said turn to God, because from his standpoint and the stand point little pamphlet he handed me, there is only ONE God and one way to that god and that's Christ... but that is something I think I'll leave alone for the conversation I have with him later.
But what are the spiritual options in Chinatown? New York has a big Buddhist Temple. But Boston? No. There is a Buddhist Temple in Cambridge. But overwhelmingly the option for organized religion in Chinatown is Christianity.
Some people turn to the Kung Fu schools. I know this because I taught at one for so long and people came to me for Spiritual guidance even though they were older than me. In this respect I was not so spiritual because I always tried to rationalize everything from an atheists and scientific perspective as well. Mainly because I viewed religious fanaticism as dangerous back then, especially when tied to Kung Fu. I still think fanaticism is dangerous... but everyone at BCEC seems so nice. So they would not be labeled as fanatics. However I will admit that I am already out when I see the word "ONLY" on the pamphlet. There are some pretty close minded Catholics as well but Pope John Paul II had a good relationship with other religions.
Abrahamic and otherwise.
And there are some pretty close minded Buddhists as well. However I don't get a lot of literature with the words ONLY right on it. But again I am friends with a good number of people from BCEC and it seems to be providing a good service to the community. There is another Church over by Bay Village too that I went to one Easter, and I think I have to write about them as well, because these churches all together are a huge part of the Chinatown Community.
But the point is, for people who go to BCEC, they have found their answer to happiness and have found that spirituality within Chinatown and a community to be a part of. I picked up some literature with testimonials and all that. I even took a New Testament Bible because I thought the idea of it was cool. I have to tell you, people think I'm not Christian because there is a lot I don't buy into. But even before I decided that I could actually consider myself a Christian, I had studied a ton of Abrahamic scripture (as a Buddhist) and I totally made decisions based on the whole "What would Jesus do in this Situation" and frankly it got me into a lot of trouble. More on that later (or hidden between the lines in my other posts probably mostly in Kung Fu Dad)
So basically I have been some kind of Christian my whole life and now I would say yes, I am a Christian. But I think most Christians would see me as a non Christian because , guess what? I'm also a pagan, and I follow the Chinese folk religion (loosely) and I have my own interpretations, and I follow Buddhist philosphy and draw from a lot of sources. The reason why I say I am a Christian is because that is the story that is most engrained in my mind. The question was whether or not I could accept Christ, the answer is yes, but my Jesus behaves and says different things than BCEC's or even St. James's for sure. (Of course everyone has a different interpretation and mine is molded primarily from Fr. Cullen's teaching though again I have a very Buddhist interpretation of the Gospel)
But I don't think that means I'm not Christian.
Well I got off topic...
But what I really need is BCEC members or other Chinatown Christians to chip in with posts. Also Chi Gung adn Falun Gung and Taoists and Buddhists around Chinatown too. And let me know where you practice your religion I would love to come to some services if I have time.