May 2012 is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to the NBC4 web page about the meaning of May being a month to celebrate Asian Americans:

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a month to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders have made to American history, society and culture.

… Why was May picked as the official heritage month? According to the Library of Congress, it was chosen “to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”

A few things I found about this month:

President Obama’s Presidential Proclamation — Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2012.

UCLA compiles this 2012 Statistical Portrait of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders

The U.S. Census Bureau will host a forum with the Asian American Justice Center on the Asian population at the Rayburn House Office Building. This event will highlight statistics from the American Community Survey and 2010 Census, providing a portrait of the Asian population in the U.S. Following the presentation, an expert panel will discuss the statistics and their implications. When: Wednesday, May 2, 2012; noon to 2:30 p.m. (EDT) The event will be broadcast on the Census Bureau’s Ustream channel at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/us-census-bureau. Viewers will be able to submit questions via Facebook and Twitter (#ProfileAmerica)

Asian American & Pacific Islander Christian women leaders are gathering this week for the 1st national conference May 3-5, 2012 near Los Angeles. This event will empower women leaders through a safe, honest and challenging environment for women to grow their voice and to learn from other women leaders.

And to our team of contributors here at NextGenerAsianChurch.com: what makes our heritage as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders worth celebrating? What are you and/or your community doing to celebrate?

Memories from Asian American Equipping Symposium

Fuller Theological Seminary served as the venue for the 3rd Asian American Equipping Symposium this week Monday and Tuesday (3/19-20), thanks to the tireless effort of Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC). With 100+ ministry leaders from the worlds of academia, churches, ministries, and Christian counseling, the presentations and responses revolved around the theme of healing memories, in reference to the pains, scars, and wounds that are particular to the Asian cultural contexts. I was delighted to hear 2 of our NextGenerAsianChurch bloggers–Helen Lee and Kathy Khang— cited in a couple of papers presented.

These gatherings are few and far between, and much needed as so many Asian Americans in the church and outside the church are basically the walking wounded, needlessly carrying more burden and suffering than they ought. Yes, the healing that ultimately comes from God was referenced numerous times. The resources of talk therapy and emotional discourse had its share of mentions. And, again, the lament of the seemingly insurmountable difficulties of bring emotional healing to personal (and collective) wounds amidst shame-based Asian cultures.

Other good points were raised, these are just a few: what can we learn of social harmony and incorporating that into our understanding of shalom? What can we do if immigrants are not equipped (by Confucian-influenced Asian cultures) for emotional discourse? Why does increased church attendance directly correlate to lower self esteem? What would it look like for Asians to experience healing apart from talk therapy? What do we do when the notion of “boundaries” is based on a western individualistic model of the self doesn’t readily fit in an Asian/ Asian-American context? … I’ve included a sketch of my Day 1 notes below so you can catch a few sound bites.
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I’d venture to say that a majority of those in the room were quite accomplished (yes, many letters behind the name were swirling around on business cards) and we already know much about these issues, and as such, to review what we’ve already experienced and known may have only been most helpful for those who are at the entry level and starting on their healing journey or beginning deeper ministry engagement. Much more is needed. Much much more. Nevertheless, events like these are notable and worthy.

How to have productive discussions about racism

What an impassioned discussion about race-based issues on ESPN’s First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless after the ESPN headline incident where a racial slur was used and employees suffered severe consequences — one fired, one on probation.

While I agree this was a productive discussion on a sports television network, I wonder what it’d be like to have this kind of productive discussion in the Christian world / church context? Why is it so difficult to have this conversation that’s obviously much needed in American society at large, which in turns implies that it is at least just as necessary within the church?

And if an Asian American were at the table, in addition to the African American and Anglo Americans at that table, what would s/he have said?

Where are you from? DJ Chuang

As we start a new season here at Next GenerAsian Church, our team of contributors have reconnected and been reinvigorated to continue this team blog as a place for stories and conversations about faith and culture. Even though this blog had been dormant for quite some time, its appearance in the Top 200 Church Blogs list signaled significant interest in this blog’s topics.

To launch this new season, we’ll have a round of introductions from each of the contributors. By sharing our back stories, we hope this humanizes and personalizes our voices as we drill-down into issues regarding faith and culture.

Most of us Asian Americans have been asked the question, “Where are you from?” And that’s sometimes followed by “Where are you really from?” when wanting to find out someone’s ethnic identity. This can be annoying or offensive for some.

Let’s re-frame that question. I’ll share where I’m from, and where I’m coming from.

My name is DJ Chuang and I’m from Orange County, California. Moved here 4 years ago from metro Washington DC. I came to America when I was 8 years old; my family immigrated from Taiwan; I’m the oldest of 3 boys. My parents are Chinese, so our family was fairly traditional and not religious. Our family ran a motel business in a humble small Virginia town. Life was practical, routine and mundane, and I thought that’s all there was to life: you go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have children, lather, rinse and repeat. A very predictable narrative. Intuitively, I yearned for something more in life.

I discovered this as I learned about the Christian faith during my college years. After working as an engineer for a few years, I sensed a disconnect between my (English-speaking) Asian American friends and the typical church — be it the ethnic Asian church or mainstream mostly-Caucasian church.

Thus began my life journey to see if God might use me to make a difference. I took a leap of faith and went to seminary. I pastored for 5 years — 2 years in an ethnic Chinese church and 3 years in a multi-Asian/multi-ethnic church plant. I started blogging. I worked with a private family foundation to develop Asian American leadership.

Now I’m well into my 40s, and the same issues keep recurring about the bicultural tensions of being Asian and American, both at the same time. The mainstreaming of Asian America hasn’t resolved this dilemma (cf. 20-something freddiew describing the sigh from his Asian parents).

Supposedly, there is a surge of Asian American participation in college ministries and American churches, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at Christian media and books and conferences. I’d like to think that being Asian American can be much more than just being Asian or just being American.

I believe how we live out our Christian faith is much more than prayer and Bible study and church attending and serving. There is a whole cultural and relational layer that’s has to be contextualized and incarnationalized into our lived theology. That is, an Asian American Christian marriage and an Asian American Christian family will look different in its practical theology because of its cultural and relational context.

More specifically, 2 issues I’m particularly passionate about (or, burdened for) are: 1stly, how we relate to one another. How can Asian American Christians better demonstrate reconciliation, conflict resolution, forgiveness, and restoring relationships? And, 2ndly, how we can accept and value the average Asian American person and the broken-hearted too. There’s an ugly side of Asian cultures that devalues those who don’t get the top grades, have superb performance, and/or attaining social status, not to mention those who are struggling with life, be it mental illness, addictions, hurts, and hangups. In Christ, we have nothing to prove and no one to impress. That’s good news! And we have a long ways to live that out as Asians and Asian Americans.

I’m glad there’s a place online like Next Gener.Asian Church to have these vital conversations to flesh out our faith in a richer and more fully-textured manner. There’s much to talk about — let’s get on with it!

6 Postures of Ethnic Minority Culture Towards Majority Culture

This very important article, “Six Postures of Ethnic Minority Culture Towards Majority Culture,” resulted from a collaboration of 4 Cru ethnic student ministries: Epic (Asian American ministry), Destino (Latino ministry), Nations (Native American ministry) and Impact (African American ministry).

Download the PDF or read each section on their blog:

 

How being Asian American affects theology

Andy Cheung moved to Seattle from Austin and is in the midst of seminary studies at Mars Hill Graduate School. He blogged some thoughts about how being an Asian American could and should affect theology, alluding to how theology is not cultural-neutral [ed.note: emphasis added] —
Andy Cheung
New Perspective

. . . Tied to the dynamics of cultural identity are my understanding of theology and the Church. Being of Asian-American descent, two things have become apparent throughout my coursework: (1) a western perspective dominates our theological conversations and (2) there is a relative lack of Asian-American voices. As a result, I have become increasingly convinced the Church needs to hear the Christian narrative through different cultural lenses. This includes an Asian lens.

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Can you relate to a nerd?

Tony Kim loves to go to Comic Con. This is his 5th time going, to celebrate all things nerdy. He made this audition reel for an epic documentary film that’s in the works about Comic Con, being done by the same guy that did the Super Size Me movie.

Tony mentioned that one of the many reasons he auditioned was because: “… hardly any Asians auditioning and I hope to represent”. Thanks for stepping up, Tony!

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