Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

The Silent Exodus of Syrian Christians and the Next Generation from the Indian Immigrant Churches in North America February 9, 2013

Filed under: Culture,Leadership,Ministries,News,Psychology,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 10:39 pm

A recent news report about Christians in Syria in the Christian Post and a seminal article in Christianity Today by my friend Helen Lee over a decade ago, stimulated me to connect some dots and make following two critical observations.

The common phrase between both reports is “silent exodus”, which has generally come to refer to defection of the American born children of immigrants from the immigrant churches in the US. More about it later, but first about ethno-religious cleansing of Christians in  Syria.

The church in Kerala (India) had long historical link with the church in Syria from ancient days and is obvious from thriving Christian communities in Orthodox, Catholic and Reformed traditions in Kerala.  Once Syrian church send their priests and bishops to oversee the growing Christian community in Southwestern India. Many of the Kerala churches still maintain ‘Syrian’ in their names like Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, Syrian Orthodox Church of India, Mar Thoma Syrian Church etc.Many in Kerala claim to have Syrian ancestry as some early Syrian Christians married Malabari Christians and settled in India. Except for few splinter groups, there are no official connection now between the churches in India and Syria, but for the face they are part of the Church of the East..
The ongoing war in Syria has decimated the minority Assyrian Christian community of the East. Many of them fleeing their homeland of their forefathers and historic Christian heritage, much like Christians in Iraq few years ago. The relatively wealthier Christians in Syria are being kidnapped for ransom or raped and killed mercilessly. This 2000 year old history of the Church of the East is being destroyed before our very eyes. The so called Syrian churches of Kerala have a moral obligation and responsibility to come to the aid of Christians in Syria. The Kerala Syrian Church must speak up against atrocities leveled against fellow Christians and the growing persecution of Christians in Syria.
What could Syrian Church in India really do? a) Establish a coalition of Syrian Churches in India and express solidarity with church in Syria, b) Put pressure on Syrian and Arab leaders for protection of all minority groups in Syria,  c) Offer help to the Syrian Christian refugees in the region (Can Kerala or India open doors for these refugees?), d) Indian Syrian Christian diaspora churches could  connect with the Assyrian diaspora churches and explore partnerships to handle this crisis in Syria and e) Indian American Syrian churches must put pressure on American and NATO forces to decisively handle the Syrian crisis and to protect its Christian population.
There is another “silent exodus” happening in diaspora Syrian Christians of Kerala that most seems to be oblivious or not willing to admit. It is the mass exodus of its young from its churches. In the 1970s and 80s, the Kerala immigrants in the West were quick to establish churches in their host countries with links to their respective denominations in Kerala and become bastions of cultural preservation. However, their children who grew in these community churches were quickly assimilated into the Western host culture and ended up losing much language and cultural competency. As they went away to college and got married, they began to drop out of their parents churches in astonishing numbers. Yes, immigrant churches are often viewed as parent’s church, NOT my own. This is true across language, denomination, doctrinal beliefs.or leadership styles.
In recent years, many scholarly researches have come out with studies on children of immigrants in the US and higher levels of assimilation among Asian Indians on account of professional education and higher household incomes. The growing influence of Evangelical groups in college campus and thriving multiethnic, multicultural churches can be obviously seen in a significant sections of immigrant church defectors. Not to mention a sense of disillusionment they feel about immigrant dynamics and unwillingness of the church hierarchy to accommodate changing needs of a new generation.
Youth leaders and pastors in immigrant churches often face a strange dilemma. When some active youth, newly marrieds or ministry leaders stop coming to the church they had grown up in and prefers to go to a local American churches, how would one respond. Whether to make them feel guilty of such eviction and pride in the rich cultural history they areabout to squander or let them find their place in their native land by breaking out of cultural ghetto. Whether allow them to plug where they feel at home and escape the dysfunctionality of ethnic churches, yet knowing that they will never feel the same way about the church no matter where they go.
Moreover most are not prepared to theologically handle churches of different kinds and baggages of having grown up in an Indian immigrant churches. But what is more disturbing to me personally is that majority of second generation who are dropping out are not going anywhere at all –  not their parents church nor any local churches. They are in fact falling through the cracks of cultural disparity and getting  dechurched and lost completely. Sadly, nobody seems to care, neither those who go or those who stay; neither parents nor immigrant church leaders. They simply do not seem to appear on anybody’s radar!
The Kerala Syrian Churches in India and in diaspora have an urgent task at hand engaging the people in silent exodus.
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Teens – Video gaming affects brian development November 16, 2011

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 5:47 pm

For some this is no brainer….every parents of teenagers intuitatively know this! But now scientific research is there to back it. This comes from European scientists and report appeared in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The researchers found that frequent gamers had changes in the reward center of  the brain. The discovery might connect gaming to addictive behaviors like drug use and gambling. Read the news report in Los Angeles Times. and WebMD.

Video and computer games have become a highly popular spare-time activity for children, adolescents and even some adults. Some report favourable and adverse effects of frequent video game playing. Studies have demonstrated that video game playing can enhance visual skills related to attention and probabilistic inferences. Furthermore, improvements in higher cognitive executive functions such as task switching, working memory and reasoning have been associated with gaming improvements in older adults. Complex visual simulation are used in warfare training, piloting and even surgery today depends on gaming technologies.

Kids who spend many hours everyday playing video games or computer games may be hardwired to behave that way; they may become impulsive and suffer from attention deficit. Studies find that their brains may have been altered as a result of all the gaming. Some argue that video gaming is addictive the way cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs are.

Arguments are far from over. Studies will continue to emerge on either end of spectrum. In the meantime, moderation and parental supervision may be more essential than ever before. Keeping them off from such influences may be nearly impossible. Video games continues to get more violent and morally offensive. Long terms effects of such behaviors are difficutl to predict. Teens might not have moral framework to navigate thro quagmire and parents better be more involved.

 

Radio Interview on Coconut Generation Families October 28, 2011

Filed under: counseling,Family,marriage,Parenting,Youth — Sam George @ 2:08 pm

This week, I was interviewed on Moody Radio for the program midday connection. It was a national broadcast and we talked about Asian Indian Youth and Families in America. Check out – http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=77492

Find out more about the Coconut Generation book – www.CoconutGeneration.com

Find out more about the Wedding Bells book – www.theweddingbells.org

What do you think some challenges of Asian Indian families in Amerfica? Listen to the program and send your feedbacks. Thanks.

 

Why Family Dinner is So Important? October 19, 2011

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 4:30 pm
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Do you have dinner with your family at least few times every week? I know life gets busy. Nobody is around at the same time any more. Everyone keeps their own schedules and eats at different times. But what does it take to do family dinners together? Read on to find why that is important.

It is not just about gulping down food or learning table manners. But dinner time is proving to be very critical family time and means to pass on values to the next generation.

Dinner time is where we share our values, what happened to us during the day, our hopes and fears. It’s where we ask questions and learn from each other. This is where we become real, vulnerable to each other, support and help each other copes with real life issues. This is where we do life on life from generation to generation.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University finds that teens who have dinner with their parents three or fewer times per week are four times more likely to smoke, twice as likely to drink, two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke marijuana, and four times as likely to say they will use drugs in the future as those who eat dinner five to seven times a week with their parents.

These findings mirror the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, which is the largest longitudinal study ever done on adolescents. This study has some amazing statistics. Of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t experience family dinners at least five days a week, 14 percent report drinking more than once a month. That’s kids twelve to fourteen. But for those who have family dinners, it’s cut to 7 percent! Also, 27 percent of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t have regular family dinners say they think about suicide, compared with only 8 percent of those who do eat with their families. Among seventeen to nineteen year olds, 68 percent without the influence of family dinners have had sex, versus 49 percent of those who have had family dinners.

Take time to have dinner with your family tonight!

 

Abortion – Morally Wrong January 26, 2010

Majority of American view abortion is morally wrong. Yes, you read it right. Almost six out of 10 american are now leaning more toward a pro-life stand. See here for details of Marist poll and the report in citizen’s link.

According to the study, millennials (those 18-29) consider abortion to be “morally wrong” even more (58%) than Baby Boomers (those 45-64) (51%). Generation X (those 30-44) are similar to Millennials (60% see abortion as “morally wrong”). More than 6 in 10 of the Greatest Generation (those 65+) feel the same.

On the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the United States, this is an major turnaround. America is turning away from a culture of death to embrace life. After whole generation who fought for the woman’s right to choose, the next generation seems to be swining to the other end.

Why is Abortion morally wrong? Because it is morally wrong to murder a person made in the image and likeness of God. From the moment of conception, an unborn baby is a distinct person made in the image and likeness of God. God forms a person in the womb, not a mass of tissue(non-person). Most defenceless, voiceless being in our society. How can anyone, especially a mother, choose to carry out such a cold-blooded murder and what happens to a nation that can protect its weakest citizens and in fact permits such attrocities to be carried out?

Why is this happening now? Difficult to answer conclusively. But it could be advances in medical imaging technology, and we are now know more about babies in the womb. Also women who had suffered as a result of abortion are speaking up more than ever. Seeing and hearing their stories are making next generation think again. Negative consequences of choice can now be accessed more readily.

Next generation’s moral courage is commendable.

 

Growing Up Too Fast? December 26, 2009

Filed under: Child Development,Parenting,Psychology — Sam George @ 9:23 pm
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I have heard from several parents and thinkers that today’s kids are growing up too fast. What does that really mean? Are kids missing out on childhood? Is childhood culturally shaped or due to the fact they are growing up in an advanced/western society? Does it matter?

Young people today process more information in a year than one generation ago had done throughout their entire adolescence. They are more exposed, more aware, more travelled, more skilled (especially with technology) than the previous generation. They think and express ahead of their age. Or, should we say we are stuck in the old way of thinking?

Marketers know this all too well. ‘Catch them young’ is their slogan. Winning brand allegiance early on can reap rich dividends not only in the future, but for immediate quarter sales as well. Young people in every stage of life today have more disposable wealth than a generation ago and are more flirtatious with it.

The rise in eating disorders, drug and alcohol usage, and violent behaviors are all seeping into younger kids. Deviant behaviors of college kids can now be seen among high schoolers and those of junior high can now be observed among middle schoolers. What was 18 is now 13!

Kids today are exposed to more sex than ever. Racy television shows, ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and explicitly naked images are freely disseminated to younger audiences. The puberty and first sexual experience ages are sliding downward. Pregnant sixth graders and scores of teens with post abortion trauma are becoming less of an aberration.

All of these and other reasons make kids ‘older’ than they really are. Kids might become independent early and even handle adult responsibility well, but this does not make them adults. Having adult like bodies or doing grown-up chores are not enough. Transition into adulthood requires a coherent sense of self, vocational commitment, moral conviction and emotional maturity.

Sometimes parents force children to achieve too much too soon. Parents try to live out their unachieved dreams through their children or they strive to make them even more successful than they are. Attempts in transforming their kids into stars and child prodigies, even though they are not naturally gifted, have disastrous consequences.

Fleeting innocence and early maturation isolates kids from their peers. Lack of friendship and a sense of belonging can adversely affect any person. Parental expectation or negligence further aggravates this crisis. ‘Hurried’ children handle enormous levels of stress and often suffer from early burn out.

Parent must maintain the delicate balance between protecting children from over exposure without intruding into their lives. Avoid ‘when I was your age’ talk and actively get involved their lives. Hurried intellectual, emotional and social development is unhealthy.

Parenting is a much harder job than what we signed up for. Nevertheless, it can be very fulfilling as well. Slow down. Take time to be with your children. Let them be kids. Stop rushing through parenting – our most important assignment in life! Perhaps our children aren’t growing up too fast, rather we are parenting too fast.

<First appeared in Sam’s weekly column in India Tribune.>

 

A new report on Teens & Sexting December 15, 2009

Filed under: Culture,technology,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 8:13 pm
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Youth once again is in the forefront of embracing a new technoculture – phone texting. Cell phones are becoming a constant companion of young people and texting is growing in popularity with the young. Young people with cell phones and unlimited texting also found to exchange not only simple text messages, but also nude pictures of themselves or others – a phenomena popularly known as ‘sexting.’

According to a new poll by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, About 1 in 7 American teens with cellphones say they have received nude or nearly nude photos by text message. Among older teens, almost 30%admitted to have seen sexual images on their cell phones. Researchers claim that sexting has clearly become a part of teen culture and may have unintended consequences .

See Pew report in its entirety at Teen & Sexting. See also news report on Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN.

What do young people really do? They send and recieve sexually suggestive photos or videos, provocative sexual comments or nude images they have downloaded from the Internet. Why do they do it? Some simply for fun, other who are in romantic relationships, expressing sexual intention or peer rivlarly or to defame somebody.

Sexually suggestive images are becoming a new form of relationship currency. Young people in relationships trade images to each other. What they do not realize is that images that you send to your friend can easily to forward to others or posted on Internet for everyone to view. Phones with camera, Internet connectivity and lots of memory makes this extremely easy thing to do.

When conflict arises in relationship or when it falls out, sexting message can be used to retalitate or blackmail and even seek sexual favors from old girlfriends. Some teens even took their own lives after being harassed and taunted by their peers for their naked photos starting circulating. This trend is becoming a doorway to porn addiction among teens.

But school and safety officials warn that parents should be vigilant in monitoring how their teens use technology. From time to time Parents must browse through your teen’s phone for saved images, videos or send/recieved text messages. Parents should concentrate on making their kids aware of the potential legal and emotional ramifications of sexting.