Many years ago, my dad and I were driving cross country, and while we were in the state New Mexico, being tired and famished for food, we stumbled into a Chinese restaurant. How wrong a decision that was! Foolishly we ordered dishes like “Chop Suey” and “Egg Foo Young” and they tasted nothing like Chinese food that we knew — the food was just barely bearable for us.
It was quite a culture shock for me when I first came to USA and saw the Americanized Chinese food — all battered up and fried, with an emphasis on “sweet and sour”, etc. And no American Chinese meal would be complete without fortune cookies at the end. However, it’s not only the food itself that felt foreign and funny to me, but also the way the food was served. Growing up, I used to think buffet was for Western food only, but here in USA I saw Chinese buffets everywhere. And when I was little, I never saw people buying takeout Chinese food because Chinese food was supposed to be eaten hot and fresh. I was even more appalled later to see that Americanized Chinese food was enfranchised into chains like P. F. Chang’s.
I had these thoughts because I’ve been reading the book “Jesus Made In America”. I thought, would we sometimes attempt to fit Jesus into our own world like we americanize Chinese food? Dickson said that evangelicals sometimes make Jesus look so lovey-dovey, like a “teddy bear” or “Barney” the dinosaur. Would the evangelical emphasis on “having a personal relationship with Jesus” degenerate into “having a relationship with your personal Jesus“?