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baby band aids and good friday April 10, 2009

Posted by peterong in chinatown, Reflections.
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Yesterday, I went to the pediatrician for the first time with Jamie to get to know our doctor and also to just get used to the idea of bringing Nicolas there. For the last six months I have avoided it because of this poor and embarrassing confession that I am afraid of seeing my son cry. Jamie have endured it for the last several months and she has supported me in this very particular weakness of mine. But yesterday, I decided to “man up” and just go. 

As I pushed the stroller through the streets of Chinatown, Jamie and I discovered Eldridge Street was covered in lanterns and found out that they are filming “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” there. But as we got closer to the doctor’s office, I calmly told myself to not be such “weak sauce.” breathe. it is not as bad as you think. So, when we walked in, it was crowded, maybe from it being the beginning of Spring Break for the NYC kids or just a lot of sick kids. It was great to see so many Chinese grandparents caring for their grandkids, I saw a newborn crying and reminded me that Nico was that small once. There were unapologetic gazes from toddlers who looked at Nico in curiosity. It was quite a wait but Finding Nemo dubbed in Cantonese really made the time pass. Then the call came…”Nicolas…” 

As we walked in, the wonderful pediatrician greeted me and she was sweet in making comments about Nico’s hair. Oh you not happy Nicolas, is that why your hair sticking up? Our little boy was measured and checked on. We found out he has two teeth buds (to our surprise). He has some eczema and we had our conversation then it came time for the needle. Nico was just staring and enjoying his time. Jamie handed him to me and my heart started racing. I can’t watch this. 

the needle went in (more…)


Paradox of Becoming Reformed March 17, 2009

Posted by peterong in Rants, Reflections.
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I am writing this partly because I had to do an outline for Bavinck’s “our reasonable faith” for a seminary class, and as much as I pride myself in being truant in my studies, which perplexed me because I love scripture. i love theology. but somehow the whole experience of writing this outline made me reflect on this journey towards being presbyterian and what is there tension in my heart. one of my tension has been that I find the intellectualizing of this gospel narrative to be so excruciatingly sterile to me (I know that I sound judgmental but please give me some license to share my heart). The picture that I can’t get out of my mind is when I watch csi and they are picking apart the body and looking at it with such forensic acuity but don’t take into account the corporeal aspect of this body that they are examining. who they are? what made them happy? what were their fears? who did they love or loved by? it is about solving a crime. it is to about solving a problem. to recreate a story without affection or adoration. that is what i felt when i outlined Bavinck. it was cold. it was filled with theological acuity. it brought something that is so bloody. the cross is put as a vocabulary of atonement or the fulfillment of the messianic vision of the suffering servant. so the cry on the cross becomes something to exegete and not receive the profound humanity in that moment. 

theology has been such a wonder to me. it has been a gateway of seeing the grand picture of the unfolding story of redemption that we are participating but somehow, what i am wanting is what Peter Ahn, pastor of metro community church, shared today at our PaLM meeting, that we often preach the theology of resurrection at easter sunday but we don’t recognize that good friday came before easter sunday. in the little exposure that i have been to reformed folks and also from what i see and experience  is that there is a lot of layers removed from the pain of this fallen world. god is sovereign. when people struggle to figure out how to passionately pursue god. it is futile, we are depraved

i have tension. and i never felt so ashamed of this affection i have for god. i question if i really know what i am in love with. as if it is infantile. as if a cloud of calvinists are scribing their theologies and guarding the intellectual property of scripture and look at me with such disgust. i suspect that i have not capture true reformed culture but i can’t shake this feeling that i am become a part of an infantry that is guarding a fort of our leader but i am not eating at the table with my lord. i am not communing but guarding. even the sacrament of communion is a theological creed. i love the creed. but they are not jesus. they are words. 

and right now. i am yearning for the the first chapter of john. the word became flesh and dwelt among us. I am putting down Bavinck for the time being…and I am going to worship…and hoping that this deep affection i have for this wonderful Jesus is not a source of an outline.

Chinese New Year Mourning January 27, 2009

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how i miss these days

how i miss these days


It is the year of the ox and as I walked the streets of Chinatown, I watched the cleaning crew sweep up the multi-colored confetti. I watched tourist swarm around corners with their guides pointing at destinations yet to have been arrived. I walked and there is such a feeling of loss of this tradition in New York City. When I grew up, we were able to celebrate with fire crackers. for the most part, this section of the world was ours. my family and those other chinese people who shared something with each other. i remember watching with excitement as the dragon danced closer to me and I would hold my ears as the firecrackers exploded just inches from my feet. feeling exhilarated from being so close to danger. being engulfed in the sea of red collateral firecrackers. 

now, chinatown is so different. there are still dragon dances but mostly by non-Chinese youth. the firecrackers are replaces by these air pumped confetti makers, there are just as many people from Ohio as there are Chinese people, the restaurants are now filled with more people wanting General Tso’s instead of jelly fish. 

Chinatown was formed as an ethnic ghetto but when I was a child, it was a haven for me. To being able to have place where i am not “the other.” it was a place where i was reminded that i wasn’t alone. that when i saw other kids, we understood something. there was something about those unhurried Sunday’s when i entered this world. a world that i barely recognize anymore.

a response to “how to stump an anti-abortionist with one question.” January 22, 2009

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I came across this entry by one of my most visited blogs “unreasonable faith” and it really required me to respond on his newest entry called “how to stump an anti-abortionist with one question.” I thought it is unfortunate that for so many of us, we want to have the question that stumps instead of engage the conversation. We want to be winners of arguments instead of moving towards really engaging each other and mutually growing together. I think this is the fault of both sides…leaving both of us isolated and preaching to the converted. Here is my response that I posted:


thank you for pointing this out and in some reflection I think that the question you pose is so reasonable and affords us as a community to think through. I think that the language in the abortion debate has been unfortunate in its divisiveness. Words like murder and killing mutes the conversation to pervasive silences. I do think we have a long way for us to transform the conversation to look at the value of life include those who are unborn. what troubles me is that the women’s choice movement is not about choice but about one choice–abortion. I think that in reality it curtails choice because of the burden of having a child in our country is tremendous and instead of reframing the conversation on how can we as a society provide options for women and families to bring a child to term. I think that life in essence is filled with incredible value and we should wrestle together on this issue. But to just try to get people in these video situations to get a laugh or to point out a fallacy as an ends is narrow and mean spirited. I think that we have to take it further and think about this issue. One question in response is “how would feel if your mother had an abortion of you?” I think we often don’t think of the possibilities of an unborn is and when we ponder on this question it makes us pause that each of us have a life to be worth living and life is a miracle. Life is what God has provided for us to unveil the splendors of His creation, of our invitation to fellowship with Him and with one another. To move us from self centered worship to worship the one that prevails over the brokenness that is evident…but not without the promise of hope. Of redemption.

Lastly, I do think that as an evangelical community need to examine our true commitment to sanctity of all life. Including those who are being massacred around the world. For us to engage with issues of poverty, AIDS, and war. We often focus so much of our rhetoric around abortion but not committing ourselves to a larger pursuit of bringing value to life.

I do want to thank you for your words and your blog, it has encouraged me and made me (re)think my faith and what I believe.

Rick Warren’s Prayer January 21, 2009

Posted by peterong in Uncategorized.


Yes, I have my issues with the big man but I have to say that his prayer at the inaugural was awesome…and to end it with the Lord’s Prayer just clinched it. Thank you brother Rick Warren: 
Almighty God — our Father. Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story. The Scripture tells us, ‘Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.’ And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Gated Communities, Groceries and Restaurants December 29, 2008

Posted by peterong in Asian American.

I  just came across this interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about the growth of Korean Americans in the Fullerton Area. What struck me and got me thinking was the Asian American culture is often seen as one of upward mobility and a pursuance of comfort. It is not surprising why there are so many churches (according to the article, two of the largest Korean Churches in California are in Orange County) in the area to minister to them as well as food conveniences. 

But there is very little said about our connectedness to the gospel that reaches beyond the creature comforts of our lives. I write this in the comfort of a pretty nice church office, but my heart yearns for more of a discipleship that requires sacrifice. Not out of duty because it is part of our immediate transformation by the gospel. 

I come across conversations with so many Asian American Christians and what is always pressing on their minds are where to live, where to eat and where to shop. I find it hard to bring up anything else. I remember asking a person at church this Sunday, “how is your marriage?” and this person looked at me as if I asked them what is their preference for pornography. But if I asked where do you want to eat, I would get a catalog of restaurants and the choice meals. Or if I was to ask where we should live, I would get a series of answers of schools and parking rules. 

I wonder if the gospel is simply a purpose driven life to enjoy the comforts. To live out like that song “Heart of Worship” says, it’s all about God but the irony of that  song it is not about God but all about this person’s struggle. 

As I read the article I thought about perhaps it reflects a bias from the contributer in how he sees Asian American culture or it is a dangerous reality…and if it is so, does it reflect our gospel community the same way. It ends with this summary: 

As a student in 1979, Ahn lived in Garden Grove but became turned off by what he said was an unsafe area. Like many Korean Americans who first got their footing in Garden Grove, Ahn was lured to some of the more posh areas of the county.

“A lot of people did what I did. Young couples look for a job in the Garden Grove area and live there for three or four years. Then their children grow up and people are looking for bigger houses,” Ahn said. “They don’t have a choice in Garden Grove, so they move to another city like Fullerton or Irvine.”

Ahn now lives in a gated community in Anaheim Hills but still drives to Garden Grove every weekend for the grocery stores and restaurants.


sabbatical (of sorts) December 14, 2008

Posted by peterong in Reflections.
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I fighting a cold and getting out of bed with certain aches and pains. it has slowed me down and as usual, it frees me to understand that there are limits and boundaries of what I am to do. Yet, I am compelled to write and to get these thoughts on and it reminds me of the days when I wrote more when I was living in Syracuse (when demands of ministry were less and the blog world were a new and exciting way for my soul to find nourishment from the wilderness of Syracuse). 

It was a sabbatical time for me; those two years in Syracuse and I as sit in my bathrobe, with a cup of green tea, I reflect on this past year and returning to New York City has been such an enriching time. For me to reconnect and yet remember the humility of just being present in the lives of others. To hear people just wrestling through faith and finding comfort that I am not a lone doubter of this experiment of worship. 

As I write this paragraph, my little son is grunting and making “body music” my thoughts return to him and how I want words to be part of his discipleship. For me to chronicle some of my journeys for him to know that this encounter with the cross is explicitly violent and yet, it is transformed into something so glorious. That atones us. That restores us. I want him to recognize that the cross is not to be censored or sanitized but to enter into the brutality so that he can know the depth of love that comes from it. So I pray. 

I know that this blog has been an oasis of sorts for others and for some others it is just another blog among thousands/millions. But I have this corner that exposure has been somewhat assured that people are moved by it. but I write with a heaviness and responsibility that I am to maintain it. To write so that God can be reflected in this journey. I have found myself more and more regularly returning to orthodoxy and how much more I trust it. Seminary has taught me the paradigm of orthodoxy as a groundwork of engagement in a new generation who needs to understand the message of the cross. We are all born with a theology, the question is which one is it? 

I miss this place. of creating words. of jaunting through the world where people who are becoming fellow pilgrims. I have met so many good people through it and I miss the diversity, the passion and the distinct approach towards faith. I miss it but I also found refuge from it, from the constant insecurity of my blog stats, my feedback, my referrers, etc. I just want to write because my heart is full and it overflows into words. I do miss the people. from the atheist who discovered with me a gospel that is so close to being beautiful to her. to the seattle pastor who continues to stretch people towards encounter out call to those who are poor, to the asian american brother who I find we are living in parallels of having a child and going to seminary, to the teenager who thought that pro choice is really having a choice and her choosing to have her child adopted, to the young man who lost his faith in the Asian American church and found that there were places in his life that was crying out for freedom and to the one woman who lost her child to suicide who is slowly stumbling back into faith. 

this is my story unfolding and with each word, I pray that I remain in worship.

a new arrival October 2, 2008

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the day arrived a bit premature but He is sovereign. our first baby, nicolas ong arrived on monday, september 29th in unexpected joy. read more about it on our family blog here.

convergence September 12, 2008

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on this day, is a day with its four syllables. nine. e. lev. en. a day that carries such gravity. it continues to haunt me. today was an absent day, filled with hollowness in new york. there was much activity, but inside, people were poured out. grief. melancholy. reflection. as the streets felt its first chill of the fall, i found it appropriate. the four syllables repeated through out. nine. e. lev. en.

i am taken back. of the silences that will remain. the empty chair of friends who once occupied them. voices that i can’t recall what they sound like. yet, it is the images of their faces that has marked clarity. today, with its four syllables, i am still stunted by grief. i wanted to remember but also on moments like these, i want to forget. but memory does not like cooperate. at least not consistently. it holds. it breathes. exhales moments of such profound release of mourning and inhales moments of hope. for another cycle (more…)

A Quote I Found on the Blogosphere September 5, 2008

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“…someone needs to remind Sarah Palin that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.”