The Conservative Silence on Race

How come conservative Asian American believers don’t want to talk about ethnicity and race?

In this conversation with Nate Lee, we explore the following:

  • Defining a conservative Asian American believer – 1) someone who is politically conservative – i.e. values limited government, lower taxes, and traditional values OR 2) someone who is theologically conservative – i.e. evangelical, literal interpretation of the Bible, gospel-centered, traditional view of Christian sexual ethics.
  • Nate’s experience with the “narrowness” of conservatism – how both ends of the political/theological spectrum believe they are correct and don’t want to listen to other people
  • Nate’s journey of discovery in seeing how culturally-defined his faith was/is based on mainstream white evangelical culture
  • How seminary caused me (Fred) to think more broadly about theology and culture and be more open to different points of views, especially concerning God
  • What is the role of “whiteness” for Asian Americans? Is it wrong or inappropriate that we, as Asian American believers, worship in ways influenced by mainstream white evangelical culture?
  • The importance of a group of people having a story – our person-hood, our history, our worship practices
  • Fred’s experience in the immigrant church that many Asian American Christians are fearful of beliefs that might threaten their faith values even though these values may be culturally-derived and derived from the gospel.
  • What we would recommend others do to have a more expansive view of the gospel that is open to other cultures and not simply what we have grown up in

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Face Palming The Force Awakens’ Identity Politics

daisy-ridley-and-john-boyega-as-rey-and-finn-in-star-wars-the-force-awakensSpoiler alert. I’ve read many film reviews of latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, but my friend Jonathan’s critique is brilliantly written but funny and incisive especially in regards to the farcical nature of its diversity politics:

The lack of Asian characters in the first Star Wars films didn’t prevent me and my brother from enjoying the story, admiring the characters, collecting the toys, and re-enacting the epic lightsaber battles in our living room when we were young children. It was always the story of Luke, Han, and Leia that captured our attention. No amount of “diverse casting” can fix horrific writing and bad story-telling. I don’t see any Japanese crying that they can’t relate to Naruto because he looks more Danish than Japanese. And I certainly don’t hear any African-American men complaining that Dragon Ball Z’s overabundance of Asian-looking characters is a hindrance to their aspirations of one day achieving Super Saiyan-level strength. In the West, it seems “diversity” has now just become another item to check off on an every-growing list of criteria for socially acceptable media. But realistically, who among us is really so pedantic about such things like the proportion of races in each film such that we desire “equitable representation” over actual substance? Again, how is this anything other than making slaves of ourselves to a ridiculous idea?

Diversity for the sake of diversity is not the gospel. We do not find worth in having a contrived role in a polyester world. Jesus, whom we would now regard as a white man, died on our behalf as a perfect representative of all humanity. The disciples were also twelve white men. Jesus’ breakthrough on behalf of women and Gentiles came in the context of actual alienation, oppression, and marginalization. Skin color matters not because it brings out the full range of the visible spectrum but because there is an embedded history of injustice that accompanies our heritage. Fighting injustice certainly isn’t about asserting the superiority of woman over man in the manner Rey disparages Finn and how she is able to perfectly wield light saber the instant she picks it up. Likewise, Finn is the prototypical bumbling male who needs to be rescued by the female heroine.

I celebrate the ascent Jeremy Lin because he is a real person. He, by his own admission, is not a perfect basketball player. I identify with him as a Christian Asian-American man who is flawed and faces adversity like the rest of us but has managed, through the providential grace of God, to enjoy worldly success that most of us will never achieve. His story is real. But when I watch Star Wars, the storytelling is hampered by the CGI diversity in the same way a Michael Bay blockbuster attempts to distract us from the absence of plot with loud and vivid explosions.

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Reparative Therapy and the Asian American Church

Summary: Making gay people straight is not the most important goal. Brian Hui (pronounced “Who-E” – one syllable) and I riff on the helpfulness of treatment efforts that aim to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. We talk about celibacy and its relationship with the gospel. Lastly, we segue into how Asian American’s cultural emphasis on family and belonging can help heal the mismanaged sexuality we all suffer from. Plus: a seemingly random connection with Weight Watchers.

No catchy intro music and it took us 5-8 minutes to warm up but we did our first podcast!

Happy New Year!

 

Related Links:

Mark Yarhouse’s popular book  on homosexuality

Christopher Yuan’s website

Robert Gagnon’s website 

Mark Yarhouse’s blog

Notes: 1) I highly recommend Christopher and his mom Angela Yuan’s memoir – cover above. It is ridiculously good and touches on some of the ideas we talk about in the podcast. 2) My upload speed at church is SO slow and it makes me sound like I’m a call-in guest and not the host. I will be working on this.

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How to Date an Emotionally Repressed Asian Guy

When I glanced at the title of Susan Walsh’s post How to Let Go of an Emotionally Repressed Man, my first thought was:

Wow. Sounds like most Asian guys.

And once I read it, that’s exactly who the emotionally repressed man turned out to be.

Here’s the advice I would write to the 29-year old presumably white woman who is dating a 30-year old Taiwanese American man:

My first instinct when I read about your situation is to tell you is to dump the guy and swear off emotionally repressed men forever.

But upon reflection, there may be hope for this relationship but change will require courage, humility, and trust by both parties.

I want to give some perspective about what it feels like to be an emotionally repressed Asian American man. Emotional repression is not my particular dysfunction (rage and insecurity are my modus operandi) but as an Asian American pastor in the Chinese church who has worked and counseled dozens of Asian men over the years, I can assure you emotional repression is fairly typical for Asian American men mainly because of cultural differences in the way Asians communicate. We tend to avoid conflict, be uncomfortable with emotional expression particularly negative ones like grief, pain, and loss, be self-deprecating, and have difficulty expressing our needs/desires/wants.

So this is what your man may be feeling when, in your words, you pressure him into responding emotionally:

Fear.

He’s afraid of how you’ll receive his emotional expression. He’s afraid of being vulnerable. He’s afraid of sharing his feelings and being rejected. He’s afraid you’ll respond the way his parents did when as a child, he expressed his needs or fears and had them dismissed in a cursory way, was ignored, or was patronized with advice-giving. He has a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look when you ask him how feels because he has never been exposed to a healthy model of healthy emotional expression. He feels tremendous pressure to appease you because that’s how he dealt with his family’s expectations and thus he is afraid sharing anything deeper because he senses it might threaten your relationship. He is afraid to initiate conversations about improving the relationship because it implies your relationship isn’t good enough and that threatens him. He is afraid to initiate dates because the fear of rejection or failure is so strong.

All this fear causes paralysis and a feeling like he’s being flooded and his instinct is to retreat into himself. In the end, his emotional repression is probably some amount of shyness and cluelessness but mostly fear.

What can you do?

Turn the pressure way down. If you understand the fear behind his actions, then you will make an effort to help him feel safe and secure. Give him time to think about what he wants to say. He may even need a separate conversation to compose his feelings.

Re-frame his emotional distance. This is, after all, the reason you were attracted to him in the first place. Statements like “I’m not a thoughtful person” coming from an Asian guy should NOT be taken at face value. In a shame-based culture, self-deprecating remarks are self-effacing comments meant either to elicit humor or demonstrate humility.

Be explicit and specific about how you expect him to be thoughtful. I think all guys are clueless about this. And we are afraid to ask at risk of appearing clueless. Fear of rejection and failure is big. Look for signs of progress and be pleasantly surprised when he’s more thoughtful than he gives himself credit for.

To temper your expectations, I’m not convinced that a dating relationship is the best place for an emotionally repressed Asian guy to work out his issues. You also need to confront the reality that on an emotional expression scale (10 being unrestrained emotionality), he’s probably a 3. He may someday move from 3 to 5 but he will never be a 7 much less a 10. You also need to accept he may always be a 3.

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Joining the nextgenerasianchurch chorus

YouTube Preview ImageMy name is Fred Mok and I’m the English pastor of Chinese Church in Christ – South Valley. My personal blog was supposed to be about issues affecting Asian American Christianity but I couldn’t keep it that narrowly focused.

I had been thinking about how to have a broader platform by which to address the gospel and Asian American Christianity and I’ve always admired this site. I found myself dissatisfied with the frequency of the posting. I felt like I was wandering in the wilderness and starved for regular sustenance.

I admire the work of more theologically focused minority blogs and the more activist but I was looking for something with a a bigger theological tent and something that could rebuke activist/liberal/progressive tendencies because I am secretly a white man, at least on the inside. Not really but I’m certainly sympathetic to how white people feel and skeptical of the “down with white people” feel of activist/SJW culture.

I also have friends that are better writers and thinkers than I am and I wanted them to join me in getting our voices out there.

At the Exponential Conference, I met up with DJ Chuang, who helped found this site,  told him about my idea to start a group blog, and he said:

Why not take over nextgenerasianchurch.com?

He offered to connect me with other co-founder, David Park and the video above is the product. I’m looking forward to what is to come!

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Christianity Today features on honor and shame in cultures

The March 2015 issue of Christianity Today had a cover story about the good news about shame,Christianity Today, March 2015 and that was followed by three featured articles at Ed Stetzer’s blog. Ed wrote [note: revised the grammar for better standalone flow here] —

Recently, someone approached me with a fascinating topic: the spread of the gospel in honor-shame cultures.

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, and executive editor of Christianity Today wrote a remarkable piece on the gospel and public shame.

Jackson Wu shared four keys to evangelism in an honor-shame culture.

Jayson Georges shared about social media and identity.

David Park hosts Next Gener.Asian Church and serves at Open Table Community in Atlanta, GA. David shares about the unity and reconciliation we must seek amidst honor-shame cultures.

Andy Crouch: The Return of Shame
From online bullying to Twitter takedowns, shame is becoming a dominant force in the West. Thankfully, the Bible is full of language about shame. It’s just that most Westerners don’t see it.

How to Minister to People Shaped by Shame
Honor and shame dynamics can shape everything from evangelism to fundraising to family relationships.
Interview with Joe Ho (InterVarsity) by Andy Crouch

4 Keys to Evangelism in Honor-Shame Cultures
Jackson Wu shares about how evangelism can happen in honor-shame cultures throughout the world.

Our New Virtual Face: Reflections on Social Media and Identity
Jayson Georges reflects on the ways in which social media can tempt us to believe one of the oldest lies in history.

Dogs and Honor-Shame Culture: Unity Amidst Brokenness
Amidst honor and shame culture, we must pursue restoration and unity above all else.
David Park

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Press Release: Fearless Tour in Virginia and Maryland 11/14-15

RE:NEW Co-Hosts Its First Concert with the “Fearless” Tour

With Asian-American Artists AMP, Mickey Cho, Gowe, Artifex, & MC Jin

ROWLAND HEIGHTS, Calif., Nov. 7, 2014 — RE:NEW co-hosted its first ever concert at Newsong Church in Irvine, California on October 25 with more than 300 people in attendance. The event featured artists from the “Fearless” Tour, including AMP, Mickey Cho, Gowe, Artifex (NAK and Nicholas Cheung), and MC Jin, with an opening act by Hillary Jane, and music by DJ Descry. The “Fearless” Tour is the first time these artists are uniting on the same stage with hopes of exemplifying the idea of being fearless.

renew-fearless-group-pic

“There are stereotypical barriers to get into the arts; people inside the church might believe that we need to compromise in order to become successful in the arts,” said Chung Lee, a member of AMP and also CEO & Co-Founder of Good Fruit, in an interview with Christianity Daily. “All artists take a risk in pursuing their passions … To live out any calling from the Lord, you have to be fearless.”

RE:NEW was asked to partner on this leg of the tour after an exclusive interview with the artists from AMP in November 2013. As a co-sponsor, RE:NEW received a percentage of the proceeds from the concert, which resulted in raising nearly $900 for the organization.

“Partnering on this tour was definitely new ground for RE:NEW,” said Phoebe Ng, RE:NEW project manager. “When we were first asked to partner, I was honestly a little hesitant because we have never managed such a large-scale event, but it was a great opportunity for our staff, as well as our dedicated volunteers. Not one person backed down from the challenge of making this event happen and ensuring that it was as successful as it was – that’s what I call fearless.”

AMP is a collective made up of East Coast artists including Lee (also known as CL), J.Han and Sam Ock, who seek to engage their culture through hip-hop with lyrical influences rooted in deep Christian tradition. Mickey Cho, Gowe, Artifex (NAK and Nicholas Cheung), Hillary Jane, and MC Jin composed the rest of the line-up for the evening. MC Jin was the last to perform, and has the longest career of the group since he became the first American solo rapper of East Asian descent to be signed to a major hip-hop record label. In 2009, he became a Christian and has since expressed his faith in his music.

Other event co-hosts included Good Fruit Co. and The Great Company, and co-sponsor Rapzilla. The “Fearless” Tour will be hosting two more concerts in Virginia and Maryland on November 14 and 15 respectively. Tickets are still on sale for its last two concerts, which can be purchased online at http://goodfruitco.com/fearlesstour/.

For forthcoming backstage interviews with each of the artists, subscribe to RE:NEW’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/RENEWtheRESPONSE, or visit RenewTheResponse.org.

RE:NEW a Presence movement

RE:NEW a Presence movement is the youth and young adult initiative of Presence Quotient. It aims to partner with churches to challenge youth and young adults to re:new their faith by equipping them with teaching, training and resources to learn more about Christ; providing a venue for people to use their God-given gifts; and mobilizing this generation to live with purpose. RE:NEW, which started in 2011, is based in the San Gabriel Valley area, and works alongside Presence and its initiatives. For more information, visit www.RenewTheResponse.org.

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