Oil in Your Lamp to Keep Your Literary Flame Burning

As a Chinese ‘paper American’ born in exile in America, unable to square the Chinese identity of my fathers with the American identity of my passport, I view matters of immigration in the West with a perspective different from those of natives.

There are things about America in its current state that I feel more keenly as an outsider of sorts, things that perhaps an actual American could not both notice and articulate. I have spent thirty years with the Americans, and I do not think them obliged to understand the habits of my people, sojourners in the land, as much as I feel myself obliged by Providence to understand them, the posterity to whom this commonwealth’s Founding Fathers wished to secure the blessings of liberty. Almost ninety years after Lin Yutang 林語堂 wrote My Country and My People (1935) in English for Anglo-Saxons to understand the Chinese, the need of the moment is not a new book explaining the Chinese psyche, but an understanding that both Americans and Chinese are under threat from the same globalism that first grew out of the West.

It is common enough to speak of a ‘Great Replacement’ of heritage Americans here, at turns treated by the Western mainstream media as a neonazi conspiracy theory and as an inevitable reality that ordinary Americans had better get used to if they know what’s good for them. I would not be the first to point out the two-faced nature of propaganda discouraging native Americans from having children – in the name of environmental sustainability, for instance – and then alleging a labour shortage as justification for importing truckloads of aliens to do the jobs White folk won’t do. All of these duplicities will already be familiar to those who read articles at American Sun.

Even aside from strictly demographic considerations, however, it is clear to me as a Chinese that American culture is dying, and will die unless urgently saved. Leave off demographics and look at language and literature, and still the picture is the same: ‘In the midst of life we are in death.’

I speak as a Chinese whose coëthnics in America largely watch their children grow up unable to express their own thoughts, opinions, and feelings in Chinese, often having at best an impoverished version of Chinese fit for washing vegetables. But the rich heritage embedded in the full use of the Chinese language, or languages, to these American-born Chinese might be well be a ‘light inaccessible hid from our eyes’, as the hymn says about the immortal and invisible God; yet they have no other rich heritage to call their own, even when they count themselves Americans. When I preach in English to suburban Chinese high-schoolers, it seems that I must not use much more than 10% of the English language if I am to convey my points in a way that will speak to them, because the upper-middle-class English they actually use in daily life is so impoverished. More and more, these children are left without much of any language, except maybe an Orkish patois whose pronoun usage is, they assume, the height of social progress.

For many young heritage Americans, the same fate is not far off unless their lives in and out of class partake of the cultural tradition of their forefathers. If American-born Chinese are generally cut off from the heritage of Chinese speech, fifty years of ever less exposure to the King James Bible (and the Book of Common Prayer) have chipped away at the foundations of Modern English. If the Norman Conquest ended Old English with just a few thousand Normans, this time there is no infusion of Anglo-French and Latin vocabulary to create a new English with a literature worthy of Chaucer, Langland, and the Pearl poet. If contemporary America is supposed to be a new diverse convivencia like that of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain), it has not shown itself able to produce any new poetic forms of the stature of the muwashshah songs mixing classical Arabic with Hispano-Romance, or classical Hebrew with Andalusi vernacular Arabic. Contemporary America is a sterile monoculture, not fertile diversity; it is ever babbling, but halt of tongue. Say what you will of al-Andalus, but at least it’s an ethos!

Even when I was growing up in the 1990s and 2000s, there was not much to assimilate to even if I wanted to assimilate, because an ethnothanatos (the death of a people) was already in progress. Perhaps many children did not notice; I did. While I was reading from the King James Bible along with the then-up-to-date New International Version (NIV 1984), others were seeing the King James Bible – and all Bible, truth be told – fade gradually out. Christian America, the only America that actually exists, was dying. And things were still much better then: I know my classmates in the state-run school still recognized ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’, because as a fifth-grader I once heard a few lines of it sung at recess by a group of girls on the playground. But that world was dying, and much faster than I could have imagined then. So it was that, for me, protecting my Chinese identity became intertwined with keeping my Christian faith, and all the more so from 2003 on, when sodomy was officially winked at by The Episcopal Church even while American troops invaded and occupied Iraq for ‘freedom’ and Colin Powell’s pack of lies. I could not recognize the whole farce for what it was, but clearly something had been rotten in the state of America at least since the year when the people had elected a ‘pro-choice’ President of the United States; all I could do was to dig in to whatever remnants of tradition I could, whether in my blood or in the foreign soil where I was planted.

Today, then, in 2023, we have a choice: to be victims of policies (of both church and state) that are genocidal in fact if not in intent, or to keep our flames burning like the five wise virgins till the Bridegroom returns from heaven. The threat of a genocidal death for the American people, and for non-Americans living or studying in America, can be turned back by the grace of God. We can choose to keep reading the King James Bible from our church lecterns and at our hearths and in our schools, and to be wedded by the classic words from the Book of Common Prayer. We can choose to keep creating new poems and (as needed) new words in our poems, to speak to today’s audiences. We can choose not to embody a culture of death in our own bodies, but to leave an inheritance to our children’s children while the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. May God save us all.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Scott Dinger says:

    “an actual American”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aeoli Pera says:

    FWIW I recognize a very Chinese spirit in this essay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, that is something more noticeable to others than to me. Being Chinese is just what I am.


  3. Earl Shetland says:

    >Atop the Cliffs

    real recognize real. 太好了。

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Muad’Dib-American says:

    You are exceptionally moving.

    “When I preach in English to suburban Chinese high-schoolers, it seems that I must not use much more than 10% of the English language if I am to convey my points in a way that will speak to them, because the upper-middle-class English they actually use in daily life is so impoverished.”

    From hell’s heart you stab at me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I can only speak from my experience, and this particular experience frustrated me. I adapted, of course, as I must, but it was sad to reflect on.


      1. Muad’dib-American says:

        You’re welcome, but don’t adapt, don’t habituate, don’t become benumbed. Struggle and fight. Holy war.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. sengssk says:

    ABC here – I do notice many Chinese American village associations that held weekly get togethers like fraternal orders (Moose, Elk, Knights of Columbus, etc.) are in decline as its memberships are aging out and their descendents are glued to their video game consoles and mobiles. There are many Chinese cooking groups on Facebook and see 2nd/3rd generation members trying to recover and learn the culinary traditions of their ancestors. YouTube channels like Early American and Townsends have many millions of views and are a good on-ramp for a reawakening of interest in that heritage.

    Upon reaching their teens, 2nd and 3rd gen Chinese are as vulnerable to “progressive” programming as anyone else so I focus my online copypasta efforts on that demo. This is my list of payload types and the target audience:

    Memes from frog twitter for highschool and college age spaces (games, sports, music, comics)
    Anti-affirmative action substacks for college alumni pages
    Race realist videos for breaking crime reports
    Libs of TikTok posts for PTA groups
    Chimpout videos for international travel pages

    Being only able to speak Chinese but not read or write proficiently very much limits my ability to attempt dissident entryism on networks like Weibo. There is also a folk cant of idioms and rhyming slang that my late grandparents and parents used but is lost on me. I must make do with what tools I have.

    The status-seeking social climbers are ostentatiously woke, much like the “hicklibs” in front of their cosmopolitan peers. There is no convincing them – I can only try to demoralize them, degrade their class symbols and accelerate their purity spiral infighting. If there is a sudden Thermidorian Reaction and regime change, I think most will instantaneously swap out their wokeness to keep their jobs.

    For now, I see most Chinese as politically unengaged. Those that are engaged fall into normie Democrat or normie Republican camps, still believing that their votes can hold the powerful accountable. I often invite disappointed voters to look into an alternate theory of how politics are practiced in liberal democracies known as “neo-reaction” or NRX.

    A Brief Explanation of the Cathedral by Curtis Yarvin

    Biological Leninism by Spandrell

    The Dark Enlightenment by Nick Land

    Democracy: The God that Failed by Hans Hermann Hoppe

    The Populist Delusion by Neema Parvini

    Leviathan and Its Enemies by Sam Francis

    Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy by Paul Gottfried

    Finally, for the best exploration of the culture of colonial America:

    Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from another ABC. My own literacy is very uneven: I can understand some classical Chinese (the language of Confucius and Mencius), but I have trouble reading newspapers because I recognize so few sinograms and also am somewhat unfamiliar with the register of Mandarin in which newspapers are written.


  6. Interesting insights you share here! Thanks for mentioning the journal Lue-Yee – to any American Sun readers down here, we take submissions for poems as well and hope you reconnect to the poetic tradition of your forefathers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to point people to Atop the Cliffs, and I hope more people submit poems. But I also hope it gets good enough SEO that the poems people have written come up in Google searches more. Right now, searching for the name of a poet is unlikely to yield an Atop the Cliffs page among the first results.


  7. miforest says:

    they are genocidal in intent too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stellabystarlight says:

    I feel the same way as I cling to my polish heritage and Catholicism.

    Liked by 1 person

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