White Feminists and Korean Fundamentalists
Published on: October 2, 2013
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  • Anthony

    “It is projected that by 2050 there will be 106 million Latinos in the United States and as Granberg-Michaelson observes, their presence will quite literally change the face of American Christianity…. Unlike immigrants in earlier periods of American history, those who come today don’t just put; rather they go back and forth….” So, does this extrapolate into American religious strengthening with a core Christian conservative populace looking decades ahead (though prediction failure generally stems from false sense of confidence).

  • Gary Novak

    I wonder if the feminist divinity students will find a politically correct way to organize against the “yellow peril.”

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    Propinquity (the state of being physically close to someone) is often important in who one marries. I wonder how many marriages of feminists and Korean men will transpire from seminary contacts? My guess is few to none despite propinquity. As Peter Berger and Hans Kellner once wrote in their paper “Marriage and the Construction of Reality”: “marriage serves as a protection against anomie.” Feminists embrace anomie and the Korean seminarians embrace the “nomos.”

  • Gary Novak

    I would agree with Lusvardi that we shouldn’t expect many wedding bells for feminist/Korean Fundamentalist couples. If marriage conversations fine-tune and individualize the typifications taken for granted in one’s social location, bridging the gap between radically divergent social circles is a bridge too far for marriage. I have nothing to add to his or Berger’s points. But the essay Lusvardi cites, “Marriage and the Construction of Reality” (1964), makes me want to take the discussion in a somewhat different direction. (Call it a Bergerian excursus.)

    At one point in that essay, Berger says that the [ready-made social] world “is in need of validation, perhaps precisely because of an ever-present glimmer of suspicion as to its social manufacture and relativity.” Might an individual, say, someone named Kierkegaard, avoid marriage with someone named, say, Regina– not because of incompatibility but compatibility? Could I Corinthians 7:32-33 be read as a precursor of “Marriage and the Construction of Reality”? The unmarried man seeks to please the Lord; the married man seeks to please his wife. The unmarried man talks with God; the married man talks with his wife. I don’t think it likely that Kierkegaard feared that Regina would distract him from God, but I think it is highly likely that he feared he would distract her from God.

    Could it be that the marriage “made in heaven” is the one most likely to be in bad faith? Martin Buber chided Kierkegaard for erecting a conflict of interests between the wifely thou and the Eternal Thou. Thou-saying, when made possible by grace, is always a good thing. Indeed, saying thou to people leads to God. But if one doubts the power of mundane thou-saying to break through the socially-constructed idols, one might feel an obligation to avoid participation in the sociolinguistic and marital construction of suspicious social “realities.” Did Kierkegaard consign himself to celibacy by defining marital bliss as sin?

  • Dagnabbit_42

    Well, hooray for the conservative Christians. They may keep the lamp burning in the U.S. after all.

    I was beginning to wonder whether there would be any American Christians left in a hundred years or so.

    For of course, the feminist and the “gay and straight unions are morally equivalent” modifications of Christianity are not, in fact, recognizable continuities with historical Christianity but cul-de-sac departures from it, along the lines of Montanism, Valentinianism, Catharism, the Shakers, and the Branch Davidians.

    Some such departures last for centuries, if neither Arnaud Amaury nor Janet Reno is around to cut them short. But the ones that diminish the fastest are, unsurprisingly, those which alter most radically the Judeo-Christian notions of family and sexuality (e.g. Shakers, though it’s increasingly fair to lump the rapidly-dwindling Episcopalians into this group).

    At any rate, one of the reasons American Protestants become Catholic — apart from the usual John Henry Newman/Scott Hahn “I read the Church Fathers with an open mind for the first time, and suddenly saw the Authority of the Church and the meaning of Scripture through new eyes” reasons — is because they know that…

    (a.) Either traditional Judeo-Christian sexual morality was grounded in truth and preserved in the hearts of men by God during all those centuries from Abraham until the 1960’s; or,

    (b.) Christianity is a fraud, a load of horse**** unrelated to any actual truths, let alone divinely-revealed ones.

    …and that if there are good reasons for believing (b.), then one must seek out a church which has shown some reliable capacity to not abandon its teachings when they become distasteful to the culture. And as issues like contraception — universally abhorred by all Christians until the 1930’s — illustrate, there’s really only one candidate for the title.

    Find me a faith community where family size is edging towards five or more, and I’ll show you something exhibiting signs of continuity with historical Christianity.

  • Jim

    We need a bit of logic here. These religious immigrants already reside in the US. Whatever effects they’re supposed to cause in American religion are already operative. Look around. Do you see any signs of immigrant-induced vitality in American religion? I see continued decline in church affiliation and attendance; I see increases among the religiously unaffiliated, the don’t cares, the vaguely spiritual, and the tag-along atheists and agnostics. A while ago I watched a program about the state of religion in Britain hosted by Anne Widdecombe. She made the same “religious invigoration by immigration” argument and pointed out that some Polish immigrants attend Catholic church. Has anybody detected religious invigoration in Great Britain of late? Importing bananas makes sense. Importing parishioners doesn’t.

  • Suburbanbanshee

    Korea’s Christian story is interesting. The first generation of Catholics evangelized themselves. They were Chinese-reading high status Koreans who met Catholics in China, bought Catholic books written in Chinese, and organized a study group back home among their friends. The Korean government found out, persecuted them, and killed everybody who wouldn’t apostasize.

    But some of the books survived as chest linings, which were found by the next generation. They also ended up getting Catholic books through China, but they also evangelized all sections of society by word of mouth. This time, they actually managed to get some Koreans ordained as priests over in China, so this was the first time they’d been able to go to Mass in Korea. There was another persecution with more people killed, but apparently they didn’t find everybody. Catholicism kept spreading.

    In desperation, the Korean royals decided to bring in Protestant missionaries and schools in order to cause dissension and thus prevent Christians from acting as a bloc. These were mostly from the UK and US, I think, but I’m not clear on that….

    And then the Japanese invaded again. Their attempts to take over Korea were before all this, and then after all this.

  • Suburbanbanshee

    Re: Korean Protestantism’s origins, obviously the Korean kingdom government’s Machiavellian motives were not those of the missionaries or Protestant converts. Also, a lot of the missionaries were medical missionaries too, which was how a lot of Western medicine got in there.

    Korean history is interesting. Now that we get so many subtitled Korean historical dramas on sites like Hulu and Crunchyroll, it’s something to look into.

  • Herb Suhl

    South Los Angeles is rapidly changing from Black to Latino. Among the Latinos it is (IMHO) almost 50/50 Mexican/Central American. Mexicans tend to believe in God and not attend church. Central Americans are feeling more at home in evangelical churches that are run by a guy who typically also holds down a full time job. These churches attract some pretty rough people who have hit bottom after a life of drugs/crime. I think they are attracted by the vibrancy of the church, which to me seems a kind of forced — (I guess the even the Holy Spirit has to take a break now and then). I also think they like the fact that they do not have to go to confession. The author is correct in that they feel that both God and Satan are very close. I think they focus on making feel Good more than discussing the fine points of theology. Some of the Guys (and girls) have not left the street to far behind. When asked by a young guy with gangster tattoos if I was a Christian, I replied that I was a Catholic. He took this as an act of aggression (gangster mentality is hard to shake). And told me I needed to not be a Catholic anymore. Confession — I look like a Soccer Hooligan and have an occasionally volatile Irish temper. We went chin to chin, and almost toe to toe until the men of the parish separated us. A little bit of the Belfast troubles flaming up in South LA.

  • jaybird1951

    I have a little quibble about the Korean Christian statistics included in the article. I understand that Catholics there have been growing faster than the Protestant churches in the past decade or so and now number over 5 million or 11% of the population. The last figure I saw had the various Protestant churches at 12-15 million or 25% to 30%.

  • Kepha Hor

    As a conservative, mostly white American Calvinist, I hope you’re right.

    However, as a professional swindler of the young–oops, public high school social studies teacher who values his job and hence uses the curriculum–my own guess is that the immigrant youth will largely take in the peer culture of American youth along with the dreadful misinformation masquerading as education that my job requires me to present first. I have taught a lot of immigrant kids both social studies and ESOL (most are from Latin America and Subsaharan Africa).

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