Cindy Wang Brandt
One significant difference between Eastern and Western perspectives is how we treat the elderly. Although modern society is eroding some of our Chinese traditional values, in general, there is still more respect and honor for the elderly than our Western counterparts. I hope this is an instance where the global church in the North can allow other cultures to speak prophetically into its faith community.
This happens often. Before someone quotes or highlights or refers to another person’s remarks, they preface it with, “I don’t agree with everything but …” then proceed to say something that they liked. I hear it in conversation with others, I see it on social media, and I read it in books. In fact, the sentiment has been systematized into a legal disclaimer: “the words and opinions expressed here are their own, and do not represent an endorsement.” When I was editing a chapter of my book, I noticed I had employed the same tactic.
I have never had the privilege of a faith community catered to my cultural background. Although born to a Taiwanese family, I was exposed to a Western education (at age 10); far too young to relate to local Taiwanese children. And yet with my dark hair and yellow skin, love for barbecued squid on a stick, and fluency in two Chinese languages, I was certainly a foreigner to American ways.
One of my favorite lines in the musical The Book of Mormon is from the song “You and Me (But Mostly Me).” The main characters, Elder Cunningham and Elder Price, talk about their upcoming mission. Elder Price sings, “Something I’ve foreseen, Now that I’m 19, I’ll do something incredible, That blows God’s freaking mind!” I crack up every time I hear it, its full intended effect sending me into a fit of giggles. For me, it’s funny in a self-deprecating way, because I was Elder Price at 19.