Linsanity! Part 2: Ex-Ruff Ryders Rapping & Asian-American Christianity

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More Linsanity!  Last night Jeremy Lin led the Knicks to a stunning victory over the Lakers–featuring the NBA’s second-best player, Kobe Bryant–and Lin scored 38 points (!).  I don’t know if you care about sports, but that is truly astonishing.  This is a player who was just about to be waived two weeks ago.  That would have been his third cut of the year.  Instead, he is igniting Madison Square Garden, dropping unreal numbers on the vaunted Lakers, and inspiring people all over the place.  Here’s more, by the way, on his strong evangelical faith (it’s a few years old).

This is truly Tebow-like; what is the Lord up to with sports these days?  As the culture turns its back on him, I suppose he may be testifying of his world-overcoming greatness in the unlikeliest of people, including forgotten athletes.

The rapper Jin tha MC, formerly of the DMX-led hip-hop collective Ruff Ryders, is a professing Christian who just recorded a song about Lin, the Knick wunderkind.  The song is linked above and is very good (with thanks to my Boyce student Danielle DeVault).  You can see Jin’s natural rapping talent, and the lyrics are quite good as well.  Here’s more on Jin’s very strange transition from sharing the stage with DMX, one of the biggest rap stars of the 90s, to evangelical.

See this if life to me to you it’s entertainment
its quite intricate and only I can explain it
to say I’ve come a long way would be an understatement
the moment of truth every single one is savored
chasing greatness not the pressure that it came with
far from picture perfect observe as I paint it
dealing with the games highs and lows
you win some you lose some yeah I suppose
but when the sweet smell of victory is by my nose
I see whats goin’ on even when my eyes are closed
guarantee you’re not stoppin’ me or blockin’ me
all I need is one shot promised you’ll be shocked to see
the outcome I don’t just play to win
everytime I lace up yeah I play for Him
doin’ my all to make sure that Your glory is known
while they fighting for the title see the King on His throne

John Starke just pointed me to a nice article from the NYT on Lin’s effect on Asian-American Christians.  Here’s a funny snatch that relates as much to gender as to ethnicity:

Many of them were not even basketball fans. Jay Kim, 29, had not watched the Knicks since they were in the N.B.A.finals more than a decade ago. Greg Wong, one of the night’s organizers, admitted to falling asleep when he watches sports.

“I don’t even follow football,” one woman said. “Wait, this isn’t football.”

I certainly can’t speak for Asian-American evangelicals, but I am thrilled that an athlete from this heritage is thriving and capturing the nation’s attention.  It is my earnest hope that this little ripple in the culture leads to a greater voice for Asian-Americans in evangelicalism.  That is a very needed development, in my limited estimation.  I would love to hear more from Asian-Americans on this point, so if you’re inclined, sound off in the comments.  Is “Linsanity” a good development on this front?  What can be done to give Asian-American Christians a greater voice in the church?

In the meantime, may Jeremy Lin only continue to thrive.  This is thrilling for sports fans in general and Christian sports fans who love an underdog more specifically.  From every tribe and tongue, we are the people, after all, who have in God’s mysterious grace left all we have to follow the ultimate underdog, Jesus Christ, God in human flesh.

  • Riley

    Had an international student party at my casa last night and several of the Chinese folks left early to go watch the game with other Chinese friends. I think the Lord could really use this guy for awesome gospel purposes.

  • owenstrachan

    Amen, Riley. I hope you’re right. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you helped facilitate that, knowing your evangelistic skill/leaning.

    An addendum to my post. Just saw the specifics of how incredibly close Lin came to being cut just a week or so ago. From ESPN:

    “Sources told Stein that the Knicks, given Lin’s unguaranteed contract, were leaning toward releasing him before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. deadline and had begun targeting replacement point guards to take Lin’s roster spot, with veteran guard Mike James from their affiliate in the D-League (Erie BayHawks) chief among them.”

    That’s outrageous! One week later he’s torched four straight teams. He’s scored more in his first three starts than any other player since the NBA-ABA merger four decades ago.


  • Erik

    Having grown up with friends that knew him (from the Bay Area), I am constantly being amazed by the gospel-impact he is making among my Asian-American friends.

    I appreciate the fact that even though he was cut twice this season, his faith did not waver–continually thanking God and quoting the Scriptures through his outlets. In the Asian-American community, where strands of the prosperity gospel resonates heavily, Lin’s CJ Mahaney-coated humility and gratefulness deliver a doctrinally sound wake-up call to those who confuse the gospel with the American-dream.

    There is more that could be said of Lin’s impact, even on the perception of Asian-Americans. Unlike Yao Ming, Lin is the product of Asian immigrants–a true second generation Asian American. In that sense, his stardom in the NBA is beginning to crush the long established image of the “model minority” of Asians–the cubicle working, math geniuses. As an Asian-American, I can only be more hopeful that as Lin continues in the NBA (Lord-willing), he will continue to exemplify the blend between humility and excellence for all Christians, not just the Asian community. And in the process, he may also bridge the gaps of subtle racism.

  • owenstrachan

    Great comments, Erik. Thank you for them. Very helpful, and that’s interesting that you’re personally connected to him.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Owen Strachan: “What can be done to give Asian-American Christians a greater voice in the church?”

    This question might actually be better served by breaking it down into two parts:

    (1) What can be done to give Asian-American Christians a greater voice in multi-ethnic (i.e., predominantly white/caucasian) churches?

    (2) What can be done to give Asian-American Christians a greater voice in their predominantly ethnic churches, i.e., Chinese Christian churches, Japanese Christian churches, Korean Christian churches, Philipino Christian churches, Vietnamese Christian churches, etc….?

  • owenstrachan

    Good thoughts, Truth. I like that. I think there may be a couple of posts up at TGC next week on this sort of thing. Look for them there.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    “I certainly can’t speak for Asian-American evangelicals, but I am thrilled that an athlete from this heritage is thriving and capturing the nation’s attention.”

    Here are two Asian-American evangelicals who are utterly thrilled with Jeremy Lin’s breakthrough in the NBA:

  • Blake

    This is fascinating. Now I just need cable to follow the Knicks!

    Pre-Christ, I looked forward to Fridays for BET’s freestyle battles. Jin was by far the best of the best.

  • owenstrachan

    I know, no kidding. They played on Sunday on NBC. That was nice.

    Jin has some serious flow. That song is for real. He’s also way underrated. Is there a theme here? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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