Material World

While driving around neighborhood after neighborhood looking for a new house, the buyer's agent that we were working with decided to coach me on some real estate investing tips, as he knew I was interested in how he visually assessed a house. I learned a few very interesting facts:

  • Look for shiny kick plates and door handles, preferably brass. It lets you know that they care about the home and nice details. In other words, they care about home and how it looks.
  • Check the local schools. Values go up depending on the quality of education.
  • Drive back through the neighborhood a few times. You're looking to see if kids play in the neighborhood, if people jog, if people walk their pets — if they feel safe to do that, it's a good sign.
  • See what kind of cars are parked in the driveway and in the garage. It gives you some insight into the median income of the residents.

Thanks to that advice, my wife and I could just drive around and take a pretty good guess if we could afford a house in that neighborhood.

Funny enough, we were driving around looking for a church to attend not long after our agent gave us these helpful tips, and I remember we were driving out of the parking lot of one large church when my wife said, "Wow. Look at these cars, we can't afford to go to this church."
For fear of overgeneralizing, I know not all churches are like this, but I suppose it's a criticism that can and must be made if only to bring to the fore of how we worship with our money. How is it that as a demographic, we are consumed with materialism?

I was just hearing about it this weekend when a friend of mine was telling me that some of the youth she had traveled with over the weekend complained because they had to stay at a Holiday Inn, as though it were beneath their standards. She proceeded to tell me how they commented on everything, the restaurant they went to (a buffet place), the car they travelled in, etc. It was as if nothing that wasn't new and shiny was worth their time.

In reading the book, "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience", where figures ranged of Christians who gave 3% as tithe, I could only wonder what those numbers would be for the Asian American Church? Do Asian Americans tithe proportionately to our material and financial success? As a demographic, are we not better-educated and better-paid than the average American? Where is our success going? Simply to our cars and homes? Our college educations? Are we practical atheists? Christian in doctrine and atheist in practice?

I once heard a Christian apologist begin his lecture by saying, "If you want to defend your faith intellectually, tithe. Tithe. Give lavishly. Give to people who don't deserve it, who can't earn it, won't earn it, won't believe in Jesus, don't believe in Jesus. Nothing is a more convincing argument for the validity of your faith than to put your money where your mouth is."

Where is our Asian American Christian apology for that?

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