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Oh boy…first Pat Robertson…now this… March 3, 2007

Posted by peterong in Asian American, racism, Rants, SHIFT Conference.
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So, just when I thought I got over the whole Pat Robertson, Plastic Surgery and “Oriental” swipe

Here are echoes of Rickshaw Rally which was a horrific vision for VBS which featured a smorgsbord of “oriental” content(the website is still up!) …

here comes another episode but with a glimmer of hope and restoration to this story …well, kind of…there is a book out by Youth Specialties called “Skits that Teach” that has a horrible and just plain sad portrayal of Asians… I got an excerpt from the book from Dr. Soong Chan Rah’s xanga

“Herro, Dis is Wok’s Up Restaurant calling to confirm your order. . . . I think that, yes, you total is 14 dollar 95 cent.”

“Herro? This is Wok’s Up Restaurant again. We have drive and drive, and we can’t find you house. We don’t find you house soon, you pu pu get cold. Pu pu good when it hot.”

(Hostile) “Okay, we drive for long time looking for you house. I tell you, you go outside and I look for you. I am driving a red Rincon (Lincoln) Continental. You pu pu still getting cold. Bye!

“Okay, I drive for long time and I stil not find you house. So I am eating you pu pu! Ruckiry it still warm. I was hungry, so I eat it. Mmmmm . . . this pu pu is good. (Smacks lips a few times) You on my bad rist. You don’t call us anymore. Bye!

I am glad that there was a public apology that was issued by Mark Oestreicher at his blog here. I appreciate his contrition and taking this very seriously.

This pervasive element of “sin of commission” towards Asian American Christians is blatant and so ridiculous that there is no debate…but what is more subtle is “sin of ommission” that I have been thinking of quite a bit since blogging for the Willow Creek SHIFT conference this past week…

As I look through the Willow Creek SHIFT Conference roster, I found that there were not a single Asian American that was represented in the breakout sessions or even in the presenters. As I spoke to one of the organizers they stated that they felt that God brought them the speakers after much prayer and consideration.

I don’t doubt that and want to honor their process…but it makes me pause and wonder…how seriously do they consider the importance of representation of Asian Americans at their conferences…I am sure they consider inclusion from African American and Latino Americans…but did they consider an Asian American representation? Willow Creek are not the only to call out on. But in every major Christian conference (except for Intervarsity‘s venues which express an astounding commitment to the issues of race…just take a look at the sessions at Urbana and you will see such a beautiful and diverse tapestry of ethnic expressions of faith), you will find that it is mostly Caucasian with a handful of Latino and African Americans.

There is language in this…it is stating…Christianity has a face…it is mostly white…but one is to argue that as Asian Americans, we don’t have the kind of leaders that could participate in these conferences as “experts.” To that I have to sigh and say, “really?”

My hope is that there is an acknowledgement of our blind spots in terms of examining white privilege in Christianity…one of the most stirring sermons I have heard about this from Dr. Rah during Wheaton College chapel (you can download it here).

I am not angry…just confused and perplexed…how can we be so easily ignored? So simply looked upon as disposable and/or invisible?

Miller Time at SHIFT Conference February 28, 2007

Posted by peterong in Rants, Reflections, SHIFT Conference, Youth Ministry.
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The Don (I affectionately call him that) brings his much touted brilliance in this touch of humour and authentic approach to evangelism. He speaks of narratives and each of our yearning to be part of a story…and what is our story? I think that our youth ministries are not part of this big story of God’s call for redemption and justice…to free the chains of oppression…a spiritual activity that is beyond the maintenance of our youth models…He gave glimpses of being part of a larger story such as when Pastor Rick at Imageo Dei challenged his congregations to not go into debt but make gifts…to challenge our notions of what story we are part of…

I have seen so many of our youth ministry resources feed into this unhealthy and shallow narrative of comfortable surburban Christianity (A great discourse on this is Dave Goetz’s Death by Suburbs). Yet Miller hints as something more…something that goes beyond the mere pretense of worship, but a life that is infused into a narrative that involves conflict, sacrifice and ultimately points to a redeemer…

The Don is brilliant in taking pause for us…especially for those of us who have either been too consumed by the “methods” and the “formulas” or even worse the “sales pitch” of evangelism…that when it comes time for us to speak of God…we stutter through…and seem mute because perhaps our story is one of deep comfort and huddling in fellowships where we congratulate each other on being a Christian but not engage in a larger narrative of redemption.

What if we were able to create ministries can show the redemptive power of the gospel…to those who are poor around the world…what if we did 30 Hour Famines every month…what if we instead of buying Christian T-Shirts used it to give thirsty people drink…

That is why we are sometimes wondering why our kids are bored…their highlight in fellowship is…the free pizza, they will tolerate the friday night pep talks, or just catching up with their childhood friends…they are bored because we have presented an incomplete gospel…one that is insular and focused on being safe versus relevant…

I did wonder what the Don considers to be “good” community…He touched on it…but didn’t expand on it…any thoughts?

Blogging on Willow Creek’s SHIFT Conference February 26, 2007

Posted by peterong in Events, Rants, SHIFT Conference, Youth Ministry.
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Thanks to Jeremy Del Rio, I have been asked to blog on the speaker sessions for Willow Creek’s SHIFT Conference. Other bloggers from around the country will post their thoughts and reflections on their typepad blog.
As I look at the lineup it appears to be loaded with some mix of the old and new…but as I suspected, no Asian American representation to speak of…Not a single Asian as main speakers, breakout sessions, and/or public leadership.

 Makes me wonder who is the audience for the conference and what why the lack of representation in such a mainstream venue? Is it that we don’t have any major leaders in this field or rather no-one provocative enough to grant a slot for speaking some truth. But perhaps they just didn’t value this representation of a distinctive Asian American voice could bring to a mainstream conference such as this. 

 Regardless, it is exciting to see old faces like Jeremy Del Rio, Phil Jackson, Adam Durso and Efrem Smith up on the stage. I will be watching most of the sessions via a live feed and will share my thoughts on the main speaker sessions.

I am particularly excited to see what Donald Miller has to say…as you know, his works have made an enormous impact in my own life and I have heard some of him here via the Veritas Forum resource site…I wonder what he will bring to a youth audience. My main buddy Jeremy Del Rio will do a talk on “Activism: From Fellowship Hall to Full-Contact Faith.”

I look forward to this opportunity and to jumpstart some discussion on the blog…