Watch the Urbana 12 PANA Lounge Talks

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?“

The IVCF AAM blog is posting a new video every day for the next 3 weeks. Watch them there >>

James Choung introduces the speakers-series and how Asian Americans can be redeeming our gifts.

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“Ethnicity Matters,” by James Choung

Heaven is not colorblind.

As the title suggests, in this short video, James Choung presents a compelling biblical case for why our ethnicity matters.

I agree with NG.AC contributor Helen Lee‘s note on James’ blog, “Boy, do I wish this video had been around in the 1990s when we were wrestling with this on our campus!” For me, this would have been really helpful while studying in seminary where, in retrospect, the amount of ignorance about race and reconciliation was staggering.

For many of us, whether it’s in church or on campus, it is altogether too common to hear phrases such as the following thrown around:

Race doesn’t matter in God’s Kingdom.

I don’t see race, I just see people.

Why do you people exclude yourselves?

As James notes on his blog, “Ethnicity Matters is a seven-minute reflection on the biblical foundations for ethnicity. In this short amount of time, it can’t cover everything. But I hope it’s a helpful conversation starter.” Keep an eye out for a discussion guide, which is on its way.

I’m seriously considering keeping this video bookmarked on my phone so that I can watch it with folks who raise the aforementioned objections (or, they can read the FAQs here).

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From Duty-orientation…. to Delight-orientation

[a guest post by Daniel Lee, Asian American Theology & Ministry Initiative Coordinator, Fuller Theological Seminary]

Many East Asian Americans suffer from a spirituality that’s oriented towards the fulfillment of duty. The Confucian heritage is organized in terms of duty fulfillment. If you want to be a good parent and not bring shame upon yourself and your family, you fulfill your duty by sacrificing for your children. If you want to be a good child and not bring shame upon yourself and your family, you fulfill your duty by sacrificing for your parents. Parental sacrifice is reciprocated with filial piety. Since the version of Confucian culture that people are familiar with is an informal, populist one, fulfilling our duty is considered good regardless of our inner disposition.

Think of the immigrant parent who says that they have come to America and have worked in the excruciating and humiliating conditions in the inner-city grocery store or dry cleaners for their children. Their sacrifice demands that their children respond in obedience, sacrifice, and maybe even outstanding achievement. (By the way, this is the larger context in which to understand the whole “Tiger Mom” thing.) This linking of parental sacrifice and filial piety means that the love of parents isn’t necessarily free. Their sacrifice comes at a cost to the children. What seems benign or possibly socially fitting in this familial context becomes pernicious in the spiritual realm.

The cross of Christ could be misinterpreted in this duty-orientation. The cross can be the great parental sacrifice, which requires a reciprocate response of filial piety. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the debt of filial piety. Ever wonder why for some Asian Americans the message of God’s great sacrifice on the cross is so burdensome? If Christ’s sacrifice isn’t really free, but obligate a reciprocating response, it can be most oppressive.

Some defend this way of thinking with their misunderstanding of “costly grace”. Even for Bonhoeffer, who coined this term, costly grace was still always free. He was correcting a wrong understanding of justification by faith; he was not doing away with justification. That would simply be apostasy to think that we must pay for grace in some way, as if the cost for grace comes from us somehow.

Biblically, this duty-orientation is the spirituality of the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son: Fulfillment of duty without the inner disposition. Most Asian Americans resemble more of the elder son and not the prodigal son. Like the Pharisees, they are upright, moral, even obedient, but they are only fulfilling duty, without really loving God. For these “faithful” committed servants, their service is burdensome and joyless. In their hearts, they make God into a demon, which command obedience and sacrifice while threatening displeasure, judgment and hell. They will not be able to serve forever if this is their foundation. Or they will continually have to beat themselves up with fear and shame in order to keep on serving.

Only when you know that you don’t have to take care of God like some elderly parent, can we really serve, worship, and obey freely and joyously. You can only fulfill your duty to God by going through the door of delight.

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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.

[Read more...]

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Who's Going to Hell?

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Pushing the Boundaries Together

David and I were approached by Emergent Village to write a post for their blog. It is reproduced below for our NG.AC friends. Enjoy (and critique):

http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/park-pushing-boundaries

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David: The joke goes something like this: when a Japanese person goes to a new city, he looks to start a business; when a Chinese person first arrives in a new place, he looks to start a restaurant; but when a Korean comes to town, he’s going to start a church. As my Korean immigrant father is a recently retired pastor who planted or shepherded at least seven churches that I can count, I can attest to the above punchline—Koreans love church. And we’ve taken to church planting and the Christian industry by storm, a sort of ecclesiological Kim Yunah phenomenon for those of you who watched the Winter Olympics. [Read more...]

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My interview with The Nick and Josh Podcast

Hey folks.

I was recently interviewed by Nick Fiedler and Josh Case for The Nick and Josh Podcast.

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I talk about Asian-Amergence. We met at Starbucks and so please pardon the “ambience”. I’d love to hear your thoughts on… my thoughts!

Dan

The Nick and Josh Podcast: Dan Ra and AsianAmergence

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