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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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.

 

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.

 

Record number of Indian students in American Universities November 18, 2009

Filed under: College,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 1:16 am

Foreign student enrollment from India exeeded 100,000 for the first time in USA. Over the last eight years Indians were top of the international student category. Number of international students at American universities increased by 8% to an all-time high of 671,616 in the 2009 academic year and students from India made up 103,260 of the total.

Here is Open doors 2009 report from Institute of International Education. See also news report in Times of India. 

China remained in second place, although there was a sharp 21 per cent spike in students from China, going up from 81,127 last academic year to 98,235 this year. South Korea (69,000 to 75,000) remained in third place. International students contribute $17.8 billion to the US economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses.

Universities in California hosted the largest number of foreign students with 93,124, up 10%, followed by New York with 74,934, up 7%, and Texas with 58,188, up 12%. The New York City metropolitan area continues to be the leading city for international students, with 59,322 enrolled in area schools, up 8%. The Los Angeles metropolitan area is in second place with 42,897 international students, up 11%.

The top ten most popular fields of study for international students in the United States in 2009 were Business Management (21% of total), Engineering (18%) and Physical and Life Sciences (9%), Social Sciences (9%), Mathematics and Computer Science (8%), Health Professions (5%), Fine & Applied Arts (5%), Language (4%), Humanities (3%), Education (3%), and Agriculture (1%).

Another interesting trend is the 20% rise of number of American students studying in India. The number of Americans studying in India rose from 2627 in 2006/2007 to 3146 in 2007/2008, making India the 17th in the list of countries for US students. The top five spots went to UK, Italy, Spain, France and China, the last of which had more than 13,000 American students. Flow is happening both ways.

 

Monogamy – Is it Realistic? November 6, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Family,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 3:40 pm

A friend recently asked me, “Is monogamy realistic in 21st century?” That made me thinking. In an age of divorce, hookup culture and widespread infidelity, “death do us part’ seems nearly impossible. Celebrities are flaunting openly their extra-marital exploits! With people constantlymoving from place to place and change jobs like they do with clothes, the ‘use and throw’ attitude is creeping into our thinking of how we view relationships like that of marriage.

Some recommends serial monogamy – a model in which people move from one committed long-term relationship to another and choose partners for different reasons at different stages of their life. But what kind of commitment is that? Do you consider 3 month as long term? Then what about children through all those marriages? Imagine someone saying, “these are my kids born in my 20s, then these in 30s, these in so and so country, these after retirement!”

The duplicity (or should we say multiplicity) of polygamy – in relationship with many women/men at the same time, does not have any commitment at all. All the time, both are thinking who else other person is flirting with. They never really give themselves to each other, without which they will never achieve deeper intimacy in the relationship. Suscipion, jealousy and mistrust are deterimental to building fulfilling marriage.

Then there is the concept of “open marriage” in which couples stayed married but were free to date other people. Now there is a dating site of married men and women, that claims profiles of over 5 million, has a tag line – ‘Life is short, Have an Affair.” Researchers have proven multiple sexual partners robs the real joy of sexual intimacy and fulfilling deep relationship.

More recently, polyamory — the practice of having romantic relationships with multiple people at the same time with the full knowledge and consent of all involved — has been getting a lot of attention. According to Newsweek magazine researchers estimate there are more than half a million polyamorous families in the United States. Dinner everynight with different people in different places, can sound very exciting, but it will drain your emotional vitality. It is not variety or number of partners that ensures pleasure or fulfillment, but it is exclusivity.

“Till a tempting partner do us apart” is symbolic of the Western cultural liberalism. A generation who have not seen marital fidelity and does not know how to spell COMMITMENT. Marriage is designed to be an exclusively relationship between a man and women. Attempts at reframing the basic equation to satisfy human selfishness and sinfulness will cause Western civilization to implode. Where goes the marriage in a society, there goes the nation!

 

Pricetag to Raise a Child September 24, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Family,News,United States — Sam George @ 8:13 pm

A middle-income family can expect to spend $291,570 including inflation to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood,  This was reported in a new study by the  US department of Agriculture.  It is slight up from the same figure last year. If you have three kids, you will spend nearly a million bucks on them! See this report on Reuters.

The estimate covers food, shelter and other necessities for a child to age 18. The figure does not include the cost of childbirth or college. I also assume it does not incude private schooling or technotools like iPhone or laptops. Last year, the USDA estimated it would cost $269,040 to raise a child born in 2007 to age 18, including inflation. The USDA has made the estimates since 1960, when the estimated cost was $25,300. 

Average Indian American household will spend way more than that for their kids. Indian American household income is the largest among any ethnic groups (also highest educated) and they are keen on spending it on their children. They even save up to pay for the college education and wedding!

The growing cost of childrearing is another reason, families in the west are limiting number of children they are having. More children also mean more cost of raising them, which they do not have. parent become more preoccupied with saving up for their retirement and do not want to keep incurring expenses on their children. No wonder children per household is lagging behind the replacement need of 2.1 per family. Population control policy is imploding on western civilization leading to demographic winter.

 

Sexuality & Spirituality of College students August 28, 2009

Filed under: Culture,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 4:08 pm

Summer is over. Fall session has begun in most colleges in the country. Many parents have send off their sons and daughters to college for the first time and are yet to recover from the shock how their ‘baby’ has grown up so fast or how he/she is going to survive in the college!

College students are more sexually active than previous generations and there is growing fascination to spirituality. How do these young people reconcile their spiritual longings with sexual freedom on campus? Do they connect the dots at all? Why not?

Recently, I came across this book (Sex and the Soul byDonna Freitas) and added it to my ‘to read list.’ Read some reviews here – USA Today, Amazon. She is professor of religion in Boston Univeristy and has extensively researched across American university campuses. Check it our for yourself.sex soul cover

Indian American teens who have grown up in very traditional homes and parents who shyed away from talking about sex openly, are generally confused about sex. They have only heard “don’t do it … no one is going to marry you then.” Parents are harder on girls than boys. Media and peers often holds to values that contracdict their parents’ values and what is really good for them. The new found freedom and lack of accountability in college dorms only makes it worse.

Especially it is harder for girls who repress their sexuality until they go away to college have not developed a conviction about sexual ethics. Getting pregnant or catching sexually transmitted disease are not the only reason why young people should abstain from sex.

Quoting from the book, “Teenagers usually follow their parents’ religious preferences until college. Then, students shift to an uncertain and lonely spirituality, which doesn’t give them the resources to deal with demeaning sexual practices. Young women come off worst: They’re expected to conform to pornographic masculine fantasies, but also achieve academic success and self-confidence.”

The profound connection of sexuality and spirituality are often overlooked. Deep longing of the soul lead them to experiment with sex, but often left unfulfilled. Passion when finds its expression in casual sexual practices leaves our young people more confused than before. Jumping from bed to bed or dorm rooms to another is a poor solution to  deep longing of the soul.

Not to mention how the baggage of premarital sex affects married life and fulfilling sexual experiences. Many of marriage problems I see among young Indian American families could traced back to their college lives – inadequate relationship skills, past relational blunders, premarital sexual involvement and dysfunctional childhood homes. Momentary pleasure lead to lifetime of pain. It surely is not worth it!