Friday, August 10, 2007

Miss Saigon and The American Dream

My daughter gave my wife and I a ticket to the musical play Miss Saigon a few months ago so we went to watch it. We enjoyed it very much, one of the reasons is that the main casts were played by several Filipino singers/performers! I am biased of course. We were quite pleased that they did very very well and our hearts were warmed. Seated to the right of us were Vietnamese folks and I thought they were touched by the story and by the performance. There were a few hankies drawn and sounds of sniffs after the performance. It was a very touching and real piece of a story. I hope the Vietnamese watchers considered the performance doing justice to that part of their history some 30-40 years ago. The Filipinos and the Vietnamese in some respect share a common experience, they both were colonized by western powers. Ours was with the Spaniards and then the Americans. We Filipinos are good colonial children. Colonized people live in a mixed cultural mindset. Everyone is superior to you and you are down there below. You are never happy with who you are and you wished your skin was white, your height tall, your nose pointy and your hair blond or fair. You wish you were rich and not poor. Everyone is beautiful except you. Ever felt like that? Then we got something in common.

Here is the conclusion I draw from seeing Miss Saigon, though the Americans retreated and lost the war, culturally they won! They won because that American Dream got embedded in that generation they touched and they are pursuing it today. That is what is going to happen in Iraq. The US may lose the war, but culturally they will win because their version of democracy and lifestyle appeals to the human psyche, it is right on the ball and in sync with human nature. The right to be "happy" and the right to pursue it, what could be wrong with that? Who would not like the nice life shown in Hollywood?

Some one like D. Gelernter's Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion says that America (Americanism) is a religion!(I got the book reference from Bill Cork's blog). In fact if you look at the way Evangelicalism has developed today, Americanism is mixed in there too, right there in that form of Christianity which, ironically has very little trace or connection now with the original Evangelicals, it is there too. Fortunately thinking ones are reflecting and are waking up.

Over at the restless reformer blog, I got this poem

i repent, i repent of my pursuit of america’s dream
i repent, i repent of living like i deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburb where we’re safe and white
i am wrong and of these things i repent

~ Derek Webb, “I Repent”

Same here, I repent of it too.


Steve Newell said...

Don't you know that the USA is God's gift to the world? Just ask many American "Evanglical" Christians.

L P Cruz said...

Hehe Steve,

It is the fastest growing religion too! Now should we be happy about that? Perhaps God can still use a half correct clock to tell people the time? I don't know Steve at this age I need to stop taking things too seriously because if I don't I will have to cry, my people think that thing is Biblical Christianity, they actually think Christianity brings a warm nice life style seen from American Evan-gelians.

I am not getting some brownie points from my American brothers/sisters due to this post but they should know that I was a good colonial boy who drank Coke and whose grandma sang Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America, with tears in her eyes each time she tells us about General MacArthur.

We loved those PX goods (American stuff bought from American military bases).

whose ancestors were called "little brown Americans"

Steve Newell said...

Of the "gifts" that Lutheran theology has given us is the doctrine of the two kingdoms. This understanding of God's two kingdoms has been very helpful in understanding the role of the Church and the Christian in society.

L P Cruz said...

Very good point Steve, kingdom of the left and kingdom of the right. Absolutely correct, thanks, I have forgotten that.

Do you think the two kingdoms doctrine have very good principles to commend in the area of missions, I seem to think so...

Any thoughts on this? I shall be interested if you do.

Gary Sweeten said...

The more I travel and discus culture, Christ and conversion the more I see God'sinitiative not ours. In Singapore Christianity is Singaporean not American or Hebrew.

I have ministered in Norway where over 90% of the population is Lutheran and it is Norwegian; in Sweden it is Swedish even if the Scandies think it is Lutheran. The two Kingdom theology can not rescue people from their cultural captivity. American Scandies still eat lutefisk at church dinners!

Many American missionaries are Scots, Norwegian, Swedish and German not particularly Yankee. We need a deeper conversion than the Germanic Lutheranism we need Jesus the Eastern Jew.

L P Cruz said...

Uncle G,

I think what the two kingdom theory teaches is that we need not over power the culture but transcend it with the Gospel, for some aspects of church life are cultural by nature. It need not be junked off because culture is also a gift of God, that variety is also part of his plan after Babylon.

I guess in agreement we should show that Christianity is not a white man's religion.

Thanks for commenting.