What is this blog, Incarnate Thinking, and what’s the difference between this blog and asianamericanchristian.org?
Perhaps too obviously and simply put, this blog is a place for my own thoughts, and my mine alone. Asianamericanchristian.org cannot be about me and should never be. Though no work is without its bias and I have editorial purview, this is not the point or the vision of Asianamericanchristian.org. Incarnate Thinking is for me, whereas asianamericanchristian.org is for the “we.”
[Incarnate Thinking thoughts will be in black, whereas ASIANAMERICANCHRISTIAN.ORG thoughts will be in green.]
Incarnate Thinking started before asianamericanchristian.org purposefully, as a sort of available outlet for me. It is here I can share my stories and my thoughts, and I have many that do not and may not ever fit with asianamericanchristian.org. Here I can be silly and as deep or as unsure as I want. I can be as unpolished or polished. It is my blog, it is my voice, it is me.
Asianamericanchristian.org is of course not me. It intones (hopefully) a level of approachable gravitas. It’s meant to be reliable and rigorous with quality, fact-checked content. It knows the limits of a source, and uses them responsibly,gracefully. It tries to learn from everyone. It gives the benefit of the doubt and goes out of its way to hear multiple perspectives (this will be more evident as content grows). Open to all, it’s friendly and approachable, using language and graphical elements purposefully to even out the playing field and to make things clear. I hope, I hope it models grace. The language is purposefully colloquial and nonacademic. The design is also intentional (though it also accounts for my technological limits). It is like its font, Helvetica—open and universal (see the Helvetica documentary), its rather large use of white space—emphasizing content and letting content speak for itself clearly, its green dot—simple, round, hopefully pointing to whole-ness and new-ness. It speaks not from the bottom up, nor as someone speaking down, but as a peer, as someone who comes alongside and is interested in knowing more. It believes we each can think for ourselves, it validates that we each have opinions and feelings at are worthy of respect. Asianamericanchristian.org is reliable and rigorous, a clear and approachable peer and open for more, for God’s more.
Sure, I think these things, I am its creator or God is through me I’d like to think. But I am prone to moods, to the ups-and-downs of life. I am limited in my ability to carry, to work, to listen.
With a name like asianamericanchristian.org, it must encompass the full diversity intoned as much as that is possible. it must continually strive to do so as it is an ever changing task as we are ever growing, ever-changing (and still immigrating)! It must represent everyone to the brainiacs, to the illiterate, to the ones who don’t speak English—-though it is an English language website. It will never fulfill this goal; it will never be enough, though we must always try.
I am a limited human being. I will fail. I need others. (I am trying to recruit others.) Asianamericanchristian.org is is about something much larger and more collective than me.
Though Asian American Christians are not a naturally grouping at the outset, others group us together, and many of us eventually group ourselves accordingly. Others group us, most notably and officially the US Census as “Asian Americans.” Unofficially, others see us together, lump us together, whether or not this is accurate or fair. This is human nature, and we are of course not immune to lump others ourselves. In fact, according to Sociologist Russell Jeung and others, we group ourselves accordingly. Jeung notes the emergence of Asian American congregations, particularly of Chinese and Japanese American Christians. In history, these two groups were not exactly fond of each other. SEAC (Southeast Asian Catalyst) is another example, of people groups once at war, now choosing to fellowship and work together.
Some Americans who are Christian of Asian descent, however, may choose not to affiliate with other Asian American Christians. In our trying to encompass the full diversity of Asian American Christians, we must hear from this crowd, acknowledge and even protect their choice to do so. We have much to learn from their stance, and this website is for them too. What it means to be Asian, American and Christian will vary by church, by region, by immigration story, by family. It encompasses complex sets of questions that will vary by person, by season. While there may be patterns, there will never be one way, one experience,
Asianamericanchristian.org is about God’s work in all of us and it demands openness to all Asian, American and Christian. Within those terms it cannot really take sides, though it can host the myriad of viewpoints of others, like Incarnate Thinking. Incarnate Thinking can challenge positions; Incarnate Thinking can take a side, which may become necessary for some topics and situations.
So much dynamic diversity and complexity requires organization, for clarity, discourse and understanding. Organization both in terms of thought, and of a gathered entity of people. That latter is a much longer term goal, a necessity really of asianamericanchristian.org. (The case for such is for another post.) First, however, a summary of what has been already thought, a re-discovery of who we already are is needed. We need to know what has come before, what’s others are thinking and who others have said we are. In that sense, in acknowledging people past, present and future, asianamericanchristian.org wishes to be a resource. Because of our aim towards encompassing our full diversity,we cannot take short cuts in rigor, in hearing from others their own stories, in hearing what they are learning from God. We can summarize the conclusions of others, but we cannot jump to conclusions or application or practicalities ourselves. Individuals and groups can pick and choose what would be helpful for them—as they should—but we as a resource will not have the luxury to do so. We as a resource need to be good primarily at listening. We need to model hospitality as Henri Nouwen defines it—making a place for each of us to come entirely as we are. We are the host: the ones drawing voices out, perhaps as they never have before. We invite individuals and groups speak on their own terms, with their own analogies and logic—-not necessarily in the convention or image of others—but to be as they are, in God’s rich image. We need individuals and groups to be fully themselves wherever they are at, since they have something to contribute and teach us.
Asianamericanchristian.org is sort of superhuman with its bar of rigor and listening, it attempts the due dilligence which is sometimes tedious. Such deep listening champions all of us, putting others in perspective, but it takes a toll with no outlet, with no analysis. After a while, I am prone to forget the big picture of asianamericanchristian.org and not feel like I am not myself, and this is not what God wants. This overall is the antithesis of asianamericanchristian.org, this kills my vision, saps my energy and keeps me from giving to asianamericanchristian.org. While not everything is worth articulating or sharing—Incarnate Thinking is my outlet when need arises. The discipline of weekly posting reminds me to touch home, to listen to God for myself.
With so much diversity and complexity, we need a firm place to stand. Our name obviously limits us as Asian Americans and Christians. And as “Asian,” and “American” can mean many things, and disagreements in meaning can inflame, so much more is that true by “Christian.” While it may seem more inclusive to leave this undefined, discourse is greatly limited by a lack of solid perspective, and we need something central and powerful enough to unite us in a lasting way as a group. We are choosing to be broadly Evangelical. While this may not be fair to our non-Evangelical Asian American brothers and sisters, we choose Evangelical because it can be broadly and centrally interpreted around Christ. It is a viewpoint that encompasses some Catholics and Orthodox Christians (and Mainline Christians) and numerically speaking, it also encompasses the most of us.
We are broadly Evangelical because we think that by focusing on the essentials of Christianity, by focusing on Christ, we can focus on the essentials of Christianity, on its core. Like anyone else, Christians are bound to disagree, but we are one in Christ. As Bonhoeffer powerfully proclaims early in Life Together, in Christ alone, we are one. In Christ, alone we are individuals. In Christ, alone we have life because Christ died for you and me on the cross. Evangelicalism, broadly put, is at best a revival movement, a commitment to knowing a personal God, to acknowledging Jesus as your personal Savior and because of such giving him your whole life. It is a movement that at its core unites such seemingly disparate groups as Charismatics and the Reformed. Asian American Studies may find its solidarity in the need for protest, for resistance, for justice—-but as Christians we are held together by Christ’s love, by what Christ has already done for us, and by what the living Christ continues to do in us.
I am bound to clash and disagree—and when that happens, I need something to urge me back to listen, to hang in there, to forbear or forgive if need be. I need to be reminded that this is my brother or sister in Christ—an eternal connection held together by Christ, made with his blood. Or I need to reminded that this person is made in the image of God, that each image-bearer (whether or not they have decided for Christ) has a piece of God to show me, is worthy of my respect and love because that’s how I was and am loved in Christ. Jesus reminds me, commands me to love my neighbor and hang in there and look for the blessing, look for Christ or the image of God in the other. It’s like what Randy Pausch says in his Last Lecture, that if you hangout with someone long enough, you’ll find something in them to impress you, to find something that indeed blesses and humbles me. In scenarios where clash fail to resolve, Christ reminds me that he has final say, that his blood covers me, that he indeed loves me. It is his voice and how he sees me that matters; it is him covering me.