I really do not have it all together; I suppose to be fair to myself, I am in the process of getting it together, of starting a new discipline of writing weekly. [This blog posts on Tuesdays. This is the discipline.] And by “writing,” what I mean is reflective writing, writing more my style, from my heart. Writing that is honest to me. (Not that the other writing I do on asianamericanchristian.org is not writing. Though it is of late mostly editing and organization. Okay, some would not call that writing at all.)
Writing that is honest to me is what I very much want to do—but it takes forethought and a lot of time. And a degree of inspiration, of “good fortune” I’d say if I wasn’t a Christian. I am still figuring it out.
In the interest of partially keeping my discipline, here are some of the semi-thoughts I’m mulling that I intend to hone:
- On my very act/discipline/process of writing, and how I am having a hard time prioritizing. I am realizing that I need to, because in this season, it is literally my prayer, my intercession, it is literally my “Quiet Time” and how I hear and meet God.
- My thoughts on “work.” Related to me having a hard time prioritizing writing, I have a knack at turning almost everything into “work” in a forced sense even if I really want to do something. I am hesitant to call it “Asian” even though I know this comes from my upbringing.
- A Milosz quote about how thinking is hard work. My own hesitancies to reflect; a pastor friend’s reflections that “Asian American Christians are not reflective/introspective” people; how Paul Tokunaga might think otherwise. Which is true and in what sense, and what does that mean, what are the consequences?
- My intent to write out my basic premise (is this my basic premise? Yes.) regarding Evangelicalism practiced on the ground is that we do not draw out the line of faith/truth/the Gospel enough. God has given us everything already; He is truly enough for us. But we just need to draw out the lines from the Gospel into all the hard areas of our lives…
- For some reason, very few people (if any) talk directly about how Asian American Christianity is a hard topic. It’s a hard topic because it hits directly at home, at the things that we most value, at who we most are, at things we take for granted—and in many cases, rightly so. It’s hard also because it is depressing—-depressing in that hard things happened, but depressing mostly because we don’t know what to do with those hard things.
- I want to make a case for the church being culturally-aware, while not discounting race. Race is too hard of a topic to grasp, and most of us have no power to effect “systems” on the ground. But we all talk already about culture, and we can do something there. Soong-Chan Rah talks about this in his latest book, but I don’t think he goes far enough to illustrate what this would mean. It’s always been strange to me that the missions culture stuff doesn’t get applied in an everyday sense in the life of the church.
- I want to make a case for piety, a relationship with God. Certain circles who care about race, culture, ethnicity etc. really put this down—even in Christian circles—and this is just not helpful because not only do you dismiss the very point of life (relationship with God), you miss out on connecting yourself (and others) with the Source who can really empower us, who can really effect change.
- Schooled by Paul Nagano and others. I just read Helen Kim’s honors thesis about three Nisei pastors whose theology changed because of their personal experience with Japanese internment. Her argument is that that though AAStudies tends not to focus on religion, and see “religious” folks as anti-AA Studies—-these 3 pastors very much were in line with the Asian American Movement. These three pastors were affiliated with Mainline churches and a sort of liberation theology—I think I heard that Paul Nagano’s theology kind of went off the deep end in his later years—–but still, there’s a story she shares that gives me pause. Nagano makes the point that though a few of his white pastor/church friends visited him while interned, and it was agreed pretty much on a church-wide level he and all the other Japanese were being unfarily interned, no one spoke up. No one said outright it was wrong. (I want to research if this is true; surely someone said soemthing.) But Nagano (I think?) makes the case that his Christian pastor-type peers didn’t do anything because they did not have the theology to do so. This is what gives me pause. A lot of pause.
- Asian American Studies. I’m doing a crash course with my friend Justin on the asianamericanchristian.org right now, and it’s been eye opening. I took AA101 back in the day, but this has been so much more helpful to me, because it gets at heart of things (I suppose because I am the one asking the questions). If AA Studies goal is to get folks to resist orientalization, and to do so by “empowering” students by knowing their history—-this explains ISAAC’s TEE program, and ECC’s Mosaic program also. Both these programs tour Asian American physical sites, and these Christian programs got the idea from AA Studies. I love history—I’m all for knowing your history, but it always struck me as a little strange. How does this empower you? I could see how this would deflate you, depress you to go to Manzinar, a Japanese internment camp especially if you have not known about these things before. To be empowered— you’d have to identify with it (or in AA-Studies speak, find solidarity with it) which means to really wrestle and feel the horror and injustice that happened. You need to get a bit angry—and then know what to do with that anger. If you are not a Christian—and you have a strong inner will—sure, by all means, I can see how this would be motivating, how it would get you to align with your fellow Asian Americans to fight orientalization. I honestly all for that—-and VERY MUCH appreciate AA activists who have done so. They really have paved the way for all Asian Americans here in the United States. Life would be so much worse for us otherwise, and perhaps we wouldn’t immigrate here in such numbers if they had not done such a great job. But as a a Christian—-we’re not suppose to be motivated out of anger. God is gracious and he does use this, but this is not suppose to be our primary motivator. So what is? Also, more obviously, even though you are empowered by history, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily empowered socially, mentally, physically, or in a practical skill-based way to resist orientalization. Knowing history is not enough.
- Lack of unity in Christians is the thing that is most preventing our witness. My friend Justin just wrote an article, soon to be published any time now in Converge Magazine (a Canadian Evangelical publication based in Vancouver) about this. Well, this is what he thinks. I’m mulling it about it my head.