Spoiler 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.
The March 2015 issue of Christianity Today had a cover story about the good news about shame, 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: 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.
During Urbana 12 (tri-ennial student missions conference), InterVarsity’s Asian American Ministries (AAM) hosted a Pan Asian North American (PANA) Lounge and platformed a speaker-series from leading Asian & Asian North American ministry leaders. Each talk was 8-minutes long, inspired by the short-form talks popularized by the likes of TED, TEDx, and Q.
One of the more provocative ones was Greg Hsu‘s intriguing talk, titled: “Asian North Americans: Divided by God?” or, more bluntly, “Why don’t non-Christian Asian Americans like our Asian fellowship?“
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?
there’s been more than one story talking about the calm and order in post-tsunami japan. columnists are pointing out the lack of looting and lawlessness; kristof even prophesied the strength of japanese society when the earthquake hit. the unspoken comparison, of course, is what happened five and half years ago in new orleans. but the most memorable post-katrina quote, courtesy of kanye west, helps us understand why the social fabric of japan is woven differently: “george bush hates black people.”
japan thrives because of its homogeneity. and they’re not the only nations. when the annual list of best nations is published, invariably, homogenous nations like denmark top the list. and the challenge of the “other” has reached its breaking point all over western europe. the leaders of germany, france, italy, and the united kingdom have all declared that multiculturalism has failed and is unwanted.
but america clings to the idea that our society is stronger because of the melting pot salad bowl, or at least we say we do. until the “other” starts to irritate us… like those asians in the library.
and are things really different in the church? rebecca kim chronicles how campus fellowships experienced their own white flight when asians started outnumbering them in her book, god’s whiz kids. church growth experts have consistently warned that the pursuit of diversity compromises growing numbers. even the utopian church of acts 2 devolved into alarming ethnic strife by acts 6.
but the Bible (well, it’s mostly the new testament) stubbornly clings to this idea that the church should be comprised of all people—gender, race, culture, sexuality, and class. it would be easier to be monocultural, but the apostles’ solution was not to divide into a jewish and gentile church, nor was it to force gentiles to adopt jewish practices. if we could just ignore those that don’t look or think like us, it certainly would be more efficient and effective. but our crucified and resurrected LORD rarely seems to take that route.