Self-Representation and Cultural Expectations: Yogi Chen and Religious Practices of Life-Writing
Explores the differences in self-representation as found in the autobiographical writings of Yogi Chen, Billy Graham, and the Dalai Lama. While the latter two are widely recognized in American popular religious culture, the former is virtually invisible outside the immigrant Chinese American community. This invisibility is consistent with fact that the religious praxes of immigrant communities remain largely under-studied.
However, one additional factor appears to be the mismatch between the expectations of the dominant religious culture and the immigrant culture in terms of the ways in which religious leaders represent themselves. Both Billy Graham and the Dalai Lama present themselves in very humble terms, consistent with the expectations of the Pietist background to American popular religion. Yogi Chen on the contrary tends toward a self-aggrandizing style, which although consistent with the competitive nature of premodern Tibetan religious culture is not congruent with the expectations of American popular religion.