Eugene Cho

reflections on virginia tech [months later]

weeks have now passed. perhaps, it’s become an afterthought for many. personally, a day hasn’t gone by without some thoughts of the virginia tech tragedy.  the tragedy exposed a great deal – it exposed what we all already know:  we live in a broken and fallen word.  it was never meant to be like this.  i say that not for it to be an easy exit or answer but to illuminate the deep nature of jesus’ redemptive live, death, and resurrection.  it also exposed the reality that “race matters” and that race is something the human collective will never fully understand, grasp, and elevate.

in addition, i was exposed.  one poorly written post attracted about 16,000 hits in a span of two days.  it wasn’t the kind of notoriety i was hoping for but this blog became one of the most visited wordpress blogs during that span.  local papers called [eventually had a chance to write a guest column for the seattle pi].  churchgoers called.  friends around the country emailed.  and like many, i found myself glued to the TV until i had to just pull the plug.  because of the high traffic through the blog, i received my share of some interesting emails – those that were thought provoking and those that were downright scary.  i sort of freaked out because of some of the emails which prompted me to go through the blog and delete all pics of the family and kids.

it also exposed my depravity.  this was a snapshot of the progression of some of my thoughts:

“wow, how could this have happened?  what a tragedy.  i must pray for these folks.”

“what?  they think an asian man did it?  that’s impossible.  asians don’t do stuff like that.  but just in case, i hope it’s not a korean person.”

s#@t.  it is a korean person.  why do the news keep insisting he’s a foreigner?!?  there’s going to be backlash.  do i send my kids to school today?

as i shared in the message i taught at my church the sunday after the shootings, amidst many things, the incident exposed my self-centeredness.  while i do still believe the concerns i raised are legitimate and important conversations, it’s so easy to park your thoughts on the SELF.  the truth is i am a selfish, self-centered, wicked, and depraved man.  thank God for his mercy and grace.  only through Him can i see hints of the beauty i was intended to embody.

anyway, i ran across this article from christianity today entitled, “nightmare of nightmares: virginia tech’s korean christians wrestle with the aftermath of a massacre,” and was particularly intrigued by the following quote:

In the meantime, Korean Americans continue to grapple with the massacre. Korean Baptist’s Chung quotes Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who wrote, “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

Kang said the fundamental issue is the problem of evil. “We ask, ‘Why does God allow these things to happen?'” he said, “rather than seeing this as the natural consequences of sinful society that Christ came to redeem.

“Western Christians struggle to make meaning of what happens in America because we’re insulated. It’s a dying and degenerate world. We’re [experiencing] the consequences of sin.” [read full article]

april 16, 2007…it’s been nearly two months. how are you processing the events of virginia tech?  any thoughts on the article or the quote above?

Filed under: asian-american, culture

6 Responses

  1. Jeffrey Hawkins says:

    I’ve appreciated learning more about the victims – minus the media frenzy. It conveys to me again that everyone has a story. One thing that is odd to be is the lack of conversations about mental health since that appears to be the main issue with seung hui cho’s actions.

  2. Drew says:


    First of all, I just started reading your posts regularly, and I have appreciated many of your reflections. You have an integrity which I greatly admire.

    This topic of VT hits close to home not only because I am a college student, but because I grew up about half an hour from Columbine High. When this news hit, I was absolutely stunned.

    As the weeks have gone on however, I have been mystified as to how we have responded to what happened. When NBC decided to release the tapes of Seung Hui Cho days after the shootings, I was fascinated to hear people’s thoughts. Everyone, including me, was glued to their tvs to see the footage of this killer. We watched, mourned, discussed, and then turned the tv off.

    I am fearful of how quickly we can process through this. I am scared that this is, like you said, “an afterthought for many.” Information is incredibly accessible to us, but in our consumerism, I believe that it is beginning to become less and less meaningful. What does that say about our society?

  3. Todd K says:

    hi pastor Eugene,

    added to facebook… ive been following your blog now for several months… amazing whats happening with the church merger… im sure the fruit will continue to be sweet

  4. e cho says:

    drew: thanks for reading and blah blah blah. but on a more important note: congratulations on graduation.

    todd: the merger is indeed amazing. so humbled by it. hope all is well with you and yours.

  5. Dennis says:


    The reality for me is that there’s so much other stuff going on – painful stuff in everyday life – that it’s really hard to really gather and process my thoughts.

  6. Johnna says:

    Hello Pastor Cho –

    So glad I came across your reflections on Virginia tech because just two days ago, I was reading the Covenant Companion on a train from one part of Belgium to another and I thought, “man, I hope they do a story on the Virginia shootings – we need a theological response to this.” Then, today I read your thoughts and especially your quotes from the Korean Baptist pastor. Well put. At this point, I just think, how much of this shooting was due to a mental illness and how much was due to the possibility that he had never experienced love in a real, concrete way from humans/God?

    I’m with you and your reactions to it having been a foreigner and the way the media emphasized that again and again. Obviously, if we look at all the shootings around the world, we can see that mental illness, depression, and evil actions do not discriminate against race.

    Now there’s been a shooting in Wisconsin, so on to the next thing. When did we become so calloused? And I’m the same way… when will I really mourn like I could/should when I read about the pain in the world?

    Anyway, great to read your blog and congrats on the merger!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

my tweets

  • Sermons aren’t just from pulpits. They’re preached around kitchen tables, on streets, in boardrooms…even on a bus: || 1 hour ago
  • In honor of Rosa Parks: Quiet, confident, strong, courageous, prophetic...and a follower of Christ. Preach, Rosa! - || 10 hours ago
  • Garrett Swasey: Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Pastor, & Police Officer. We see you. We honor you. Rest in peace: || 3 days ago
  • RIP Officer Garrett Swasey. We lift your wife, kids, church in heart & prayers. Thank you for your courage & faith:… || 3 days ago
  • RT @pastorbrady: We're so thankful today for all the first responders in Colorado Springs. You are heroes and deserve our respect and praye… || 3 days ago
  • Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Eat lots. Sleep lots. Enjoy your loved one lots. Thank God especially lots. || 5 days ago



Blog Stats

  • 3,318,555 hits

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,332 other followers