Belteshazzar Yang

nameMy name is Danny Yang. It is not Belteshazzar. I’ll come back to this, I promise.

That last post triggered quite a few generative themes. I’d like to narrow in on one thread in the comments: the need for Asian-Americans to understand the gospel in our context. (Here’s a great reason why this work needs to be done.) For this to happen requires us to fully understand our story, and how Jesus interrupts all our plans. Which brings me to our names, the most basic identity marker.

My parents did not name me after an exiled Israeli honors student in Babylon, but I never heard a lesson or sermon growing up that connected the experience of the exiles to the emigration of our parents. When Daniel and his buddies rose up the ranks, they were given new names, names more fitting for Babylonian culture like Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Sound familiar?

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are stories of displacement and the challenge of YHWH fidelity as displaced people. That sense of displacement manifests in dual names, a dual name like my own: Daniel Sing-Han Yang. We live similar, if not parallel lives as Asian-Americans, navigating between two different worlds. My parents gave me a Western name to ease assimilation (I’m named after Daniel Boone… seriously), but my history persists in the hidden middle name and conspicuous surname.

When Incarnation disrupts the narrative of GOD’s people, there is a new framework of election. By faith, we are now exiles scattered throughout the world. Our allegiance belongs exclusively to the reign of GOD. In other words, the good news– the gospel– calls us to displacement. This is a framework for hearing the gospel in a manner much more native to our experience, to our double/triple consciousness, and to our lives.

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  1. Thanks Danny, this was a very thoughtful post. While God had brought his people into exile because of their sin, we are called to voluntarily go into the world to help redeem this sin.

    I was named after the exiled Hebrew, but my middle name and surname remind me (and everyone else) of where my roots are. I am constantly reminded with the fact that I am different. It is others around me, who by their words and actions, tell me that I do not belong here.

    Ultimately I belong to this same God who brought His people into exile. I am called to be different (Romans 12:2) and to embody this truth to the world with the good news.

  2. jadanzzy says:

    HAHA Danny. A little Hauerwasian in your final statements. OP and the next two comments, all by Daniels.

    Anyway, I believe you’re setting a very basic framework for a hyphenated American theology. The voices of the diaspora through the scriptures speak of God in pain and in hope and longing. But Asian-Americans don’t want to go back to Taiwan, Korean, China, etc., especially if we were born here. But we are drawn to a kingdom not yet manifested before our eyes. Not only drawn, but chosen to help manifest it till Christ appears again (a little Tom Wright for you). That’s a discussion I’d love to participate in.

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