Eugene Cho

What we can learn from Rick Warren, People’s Liberation Army, Humility, Listening, and Cultural Sensitivity.

Oh man. I don’t know if I should be writing this. I’m supposed to be busy writing the manuscript for my first book…which is already late. But hey, I need a writing break and what’s a better way to take a break from writing by writing. Ok, not really.

As I’ve checked my Twitter feed yesterday, there appears to have been a controversy surrounding Pastor Rick Warren and this photo below that he posted on his Facebook and Twitter (It has since been removed). The photo was posted this past Monday morning as a joke by Pastor Rick (or someone from his staff?) and was meant to make comparisons of his staff to the People’s Liberation Army aka Red Guard, aka Red Army, aka These Folks Did Some Scary & Cruel Stuff:

“The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.”

rickwarren

Before I comment on this, let me first say that I have much love and respect for Pastor Rick. While I haven’t been a huge fan of his Hawaiian shirts, let he that has perfect fashion sense cast the first stone. So, I’ll drop my stones.

Seriously, Pastor Rick has been influential to many; He’s been a mentor to many – locally, nationally, and globally. And with the personal tragedy of the death of his son, he has been on the hearts of many. Like many other pastors and leaders, I took a moment to pray for Pastor Rick and Kay Warren at my church on that Sunday morning (the day after news broke of his son’s suicide).

rickwarren2

Their vulnerability of both their pain and hope on a very recent Piers Morgan interview (CNN) was a source of deep ministry to many. It was raw, painful, courageous, and beautiful.

In addition, Pastor Rick has been a personal encouragement to me. While I’ve never had much substantive time with him, he’s always been kind and warm on the occasions we’ve spoken at similar events. He even took the time to write a personal tweet that very much encouraged me since he didn’t have to at all. I unashamedly retweeted it.

So, what’s the issue with the picture?

Well, I think it’s best for me to first direct you to others that have taken the time to craft up more articulate posts about why that photo was offensive and painful. Let me point you to three:

They are all important reads and  worth your time.

Some of you may ask, “Why are you bringing attention to this?” or “Why would you throw Pastor Rick under the bus?”

First of all, no one’s throwing anyone under the bus.  There’s no attempt to embarrass or shame anyone. So, stop with that. Let me explain to you three simple reflections for me in response to this situation. There’s more but I don’t have time so let’s just stick with three for the time being.

This is a learning opportunity.

We’re all learning.
We all make mistakes.
We all have blind spots.
We can’t possibly know everything about everything.

Even if our intent was to be funny, or honoring, or whatever…sometimes, we just don’t know everything.

I don’t question Pastor Rick’s  intent. He’s a funny guy and seeks to engage his supporters and fans around the world (particularly with social media) but the photo was a poor attempt at humor. It was a mistake but as I see it, we can also do away with the accusations of racism because I can’t possibly see how one can infer racist intent and motivation.

So, what’s the issue with the photo?

Well, consider these words from Dr. Sam Tsang that captures the essence of why this hit a nerve for me and many:

Imagine, Mr. Warren, the Chinese in your congregation both here in the US and in Hong Kong.  Do you know what narrative is behind this picture you just posted?  Has any Red Guard ever raped your mother?  How about having your joints dislocated and quartered by horses?  Oh, this is a great one.  How about having your arms hung up in an awkward position until they’re dislocated while being beaten merciless with all sorts of torturous devices?  How about being made to stand near naked in freezing temperature outside?  If Mr. Warren is trying depict the Great Leap forward by Mao, does he know that more than 40 million Chinese died in that campaign?  I can go and on but I won’t belabor my point.  From the above images, Mr. Warren needs to think about just the Chinese descent members of his church.  Why did they immigrate to the US?  They did to get away from that image you just put up, Mr. Warren!  You just reminded all of them the nightmare they left behind and for what? For a joke on Monday? I know your your intent is not to make light of suffering but the effect of your post has done exactly that, because you have no idea.

You see, we all have blind spots and in a fast changing society, cultural intelligence and sensitivity is a must – and especially so for church leaders.

I was speaking at Princeton Theological Seminary last year (my alma mater) at an event hosted by the Asian-American students and when I brought up the controversies surrounding Rickshaw Rally and Deadly Vipers, no one batted an eye. They had either mastered the art of sleeping through lectures with their eyes open or they had no clue what I was talking about.

Nope. They had no clue. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked and disappointed.

Yo listen. No one likes being “that person” that brings up certain issues but we can’t pass up these learning opportunities and we need to keep educating our children, our churches, and even our leaders.

We raise our voices because we love the Church.

When these sort of issues are often raised, the pushback is often swift and mighty:

Get thicker skin!

There are many more things I’ve heard over the years. One of these days, I’ll share what you should NOT say (and why) but I want to explain to you why the likes of Dr. Tsangs, Kathy Khangs, Christina Clevelands, and the Soong Chan Rahs take the energy and time to write and engage these conversations.

Let me be clear: They are not fun. They are not life giving. They might be good for some extra blog traffic but they are not good for our larger reputations. Every few months, I still get the occasional random angry email referring to me as a “book burner” because of my role in un-publishing Deadly Vipers. For the record, I hate being called a “book burner.”

But I want you to know that we share these things because at the core…we love the Church. It’s not just your Church, or their Church, but it’s also our Church and we love the Church because it is all grace. We are part of the Body of Christ.  And because we love the Church, we want to help the Church  – by God’s grace – to more deeply reflect, embody, and pursue God’s Kingdom.

We also share these things because we have deep respect for the likes of Rick Warrens and other leaders (notable or not) and we want to sharpen our fellow co-laborers and leaders. Why? Because if I make intentional errors, I hope folks would care for me enough to correct me. If I make unintentional errors, I pray that folks would care for me enough to engage me.

We engage these conversations – while admittedly at times with tiredness – with a spirit of love because we believe we’re speaking to family and because they reflect the values that are consistent to the thread of justice and dignity that run through the narrative of God’s story.

Take time to listen. Really listen.

No one likes criticism. No one. And when we receive them, it’s tempting to simply dismiss them, get defensive, or altogether ignore them.

I’m not suggesting that one needs to acquiesce to every concern, complaint, blogpost, petition, or request that may come before you but shouldn’t we prayerfully consider them – especially when they are accompanied with respect and care from folks in your larger family? What I’m simply suggesting is that we take time to listen. Really listen. And in listening, to truly consider the possibility of our blind spots.

It’s never too early and never too late to apologize. This is why I was so encouraged that after 2 days, Pastor Rick apologized to one of the bloggers above:

Thanks so much for teaching us! It was removed instantly. May God bless you richly. Anytime you have guidance, you (or anyone else) can email me directly.May the grace of Jesus be your experience today. Thanks again! Your servant, Rick Warren.

P.S. In 1979, Kay and I felt called of God to serve in China but we were prevented by the government at that time. I had already been a part of planting a church near Nagasaki, Japan where I lived in 1974. When our plans were blocked, we ended up planting Saddleback in California.

I concur with Dr. Sam Tsang and commend Pastor Rick in receiving what was shared.

“Today I received and accepted Pastor Rick Warren’s apology.  If you wish to see it, it’s still on my previous blog.  I think it speaks volumes about him.  I must admit that I didn’t expect a personal apology stated publicly on my blog. For that reason, I want to leave the blog up for historical record to show that a good man is good not because he is right all the time but because he owns up to this mistakes.  I think he’s doing the best he can in his response.  Of course, I’m still a bit confused about the joke in the original post…”

So, props and kudos to Pastor Rick Warren. That takes humility and leadership. Thank you!

…and it’s my sincere hope that he might take the time to share that apology publicly on his respective social media channels since that was the playground for the initial attempt at humor and explain to his fans/supporters why he chose to remove the posts. As you’ve been committed to mentoring and discipling thousands upon thousands of people around the world, may you continue that commitment.

Why is this important?

Because it needs to be a(nother) learning opportunity for many and we all have much to learn. This is part of the journey of discipleship and discipleship is something we should all be in agreement about.

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43 Responses

  1. Brenda Chance says:

    Reblogged this on Once Upon a Truth and commented:
    Remember when I wrote recently about how we need to get better at edifying conversation? Here is a great example of how to disagree in a way that cultivates love, growth, and the enjoyment of grace. What qualities in this letter can you begin to practice today?

    Thank you Eugene, for the example you set for us.

  2. Derek says:

    What I don’t understand is why you and others have to engage this publicly rather than contacting Rick Warren directly. This is why some question your motivation.

    • kateyhage says:

      I think the answer to your question is here: “…and it’s my sincere hope that he might take the time to share that apology publicly on his respective social media channels since that was the playground for the initial attempt at humor and explain to his fans/supporters why he chose to remove the posts. As you’ve been committed to mentoring and discipling thousands upon thousands of people around the world, may you continue that commitment.”

      It’s a leadership, discipleship, mentorship issue…

    • Jess Choi says:

      Transparency is good. This was first posted publicly, not in a private, closed door conversation. Let’s not twist it. I am comforted by the leaders who can communicate and agree to disagree. Such a respect to both Pastor Warren and Pastor Cho.

    • Jack Brooks says:

      Public comment always allows public response.

  3. Tina says:

    Applies to each of us on a private level, as well. How many times have I allowed my tongue to be loose in the spirit of humor? We are all Rick Warren, and we must all repent.

  4. Michael Nealy says:

    But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Thank you for the “raised” voice.

  5. Janice Ma says:

    While I appreciate the fact that Ps. Warren removed the post when he finally realized that no one from the Asian American community was amused, I am still perplexed by his minimal response. What he wrote on Dr. Tsang’s blog did not sound like an apology at all, and while Dr. Tsang was gracious in accepting it, I think he also alluded to this. There was no “I’m sorry” or even a recognition that he made a mistake. Ps. Warren simply thanked Dr. Tsang for making his points, and then he proceeded to attempt to defend his alliance with the Asia Pacific region by highlighting how he tried several times to set up ministries there. If he indeed felt a call to China all those years ago, then I can only assume that he had spent plenty of time praying for the country, researched the history & understood the struggles of the people. And he surely should’ve understood the significance of the picture he posted! I am surely a firm believer in the power of forgiveness & grace, and only pray that Ps. Warren comes to understand the hurt he has caused & take significant steps to restoration. But I can’t ignore that thus far in this instance, he has only come across as unapologetic, self-righteous & extremely ignorant.

  6. g says:

    Well said, Pastor E.

  7. DTL says:

    Agreed, DO NOT twist it!

  8. Ricky Ferdon says:

    But are we not way, way too analytical to any and everything? How sensitive was Jesus about His actions? Way overblown, this is, by a culture that sits on a hair trigger ready to pull it and pounce on the most minutely imagined transgression, especially if seen as committed by a celebrity-of-sorts. I see nothing at all moving towards the Kingdom work of our Lord Jesus in this blog post, “offended” folks ideas, or anything. If Pastor Rick Warren had posted a picture of ants as examples of the unending work of his staff, would some league of rights for ants responded somewhere along the line? Lighten-up people, and concentrate your energies on allowing God to work through you, and in the meantime, mind your own business. In His Name, ricky

    • mjforshort says:

      A Kingdom involves living as a group no? And can the Kingdom mean anything in this world of fierce and oft destructive selfishness if the Kingdom also lives stictly by the principle of “minding your own business”? What do you mean by “moving towards the Kingdom work of our Lord Jesus” such that this dialog and grace-saturated post are distractions? Was Jesus not incredible and superhumanly righteous in He ways that He reconciled ethnic rivals and showed mercy to those beaten down societally?

      We are way too analytical in the U.S. But I sense Ricky that that same defensiveness that you are asking ‘offended’ folks to toss out is very much like the spirit that leads you to write this comment. My hands tremble as I hear you tell me to “get over it” because your legitimate and corporate hurt at the hands of a leader-brother are not valid from a Kingdom perspective.

      Pastor Cho said it very well — None of these bloggers want to be attacked — least of all when they’re in the minority (if it be reasonable to link ethnic groups with the two camps) and going into such a vulnerable place emotionally and professionally. They are plaving themselves in the line of fire for the sake of the whole group. The Church – the massive Social Media-soaked Church and beyond are affected when leaders-at-large are growing. And this was a great opportunity to model reconciliation and humility and grace (as well as edifying dialog) for so many. It was a chance for sheep like me to blessed and welcomed by a well-known shepherd. It grows me and my peers to hear Pastor Warren acknowledge the effect of his small slight. It grows Pastor Warren and those following this discussion to hear Asian-Americans extend grace and share our history for the sake of grace-saturated relationships.

      Amazing Kingdom work takes place when people display their love for one another in spite of grave historical conflicts and deep personal distrust. That’s what this dialog is all about. And if you feel that these speakers have been militant JUST because they’re trigger happy – I would ask you to think back to what happened when Alexandra Wallace when she told all of Youtube that she hated being around Asians in the library. That is being angry for the sake of being angry. Dr. Tsang and Kathy Khang and Pr. Cho have been a light and Christ-proclaiming model in a larger community that really is bloodthirsty. This is Kingdom work. Please be kind and thoughtful if you choose to reply to me. Thank you

      • Ricky Ferdon says:

        Thank-you so very much for your response. My statement to “get over it” is a broad statement regarding the impulse by our society at large to stand ready to jump on the first idea of transgression that they sense has occurred. My point, perhaps not very well made, is that believers should be so focused and concentrated on advancement of God’s Kingdom that they barely have time for such. I would never, in any manner, deliberately single-out anyone, group or otherwise in any way negatively at all. Not even our enemies who we are taught to love. I confess that I do not know your point of view, nor share your history. I apologize for any of my words coming off as insensitive. I see your point, as well, regarding the “reconciliation and humility and grace” opportunity of the incident which is the beginning of the blog post. Thank-you for sharing and educating me.

    • Jack Brooks says:

      Warren’s joke was comparable to him posting a photo of Nazis herding Jews into the furnaces, and saying it illustrated diligence.

  9. Hyun Kim says:

    Let’s not get too offended over nothing. Currently, agitprop has a huge niche following worldwide as kitsch art — especially agitprop from the former DDR, CCCP as well as the PRC and even the DPRK. Also, the Cultural Revolution and the Red Guard, for all of their excesses, has been greatly exaggerated in the West as some sort of genocide. Well if that’s the case, then the American Civil War was also a genocide too, and we should be equally offended by any usage or display of any image related to the Confederacy, e.g., the Stars & Bars, Old Dixie, etc. Also, I’m more inclined to recalling 1 Peter 4:8 rather than getting offended or swayed by the opinion of others, mostly “because love covers over a multitude of sins…”(Also, fwiw, if Rick were to use this example of DPRK agitprop seen below, would I as a Korean American just as equally get all hot & bothered, as my own parents were once North Korean refugees? The answer is a big fat “NO”!)

    • Linda Yang says:

      The Cultural Revolution hasn’t been “exaggerated” by the West. My family lived through it; it’s not “nothing.” If it were “nothing,” my grandma who loved the Lord would have made it out alive and my grandpa wouldn’t have had to languish for years in a forced labour camp. What the Chinese Communists have done (and are still doing) may not be a “genocide” in the strict legal definition of the word, but it was (and still is) heinous. Please don’t minimize other people’s suffering simply because you didn’t bother to read up on the history. As for your not getting offended if a Korean image put up there, that’s your own reaction; no one can take that away from you. But why would that make it okay for you to tell me (and others of Chinese descent) how to feel? What does that say about actually taking the time to listen and learn?

  10. Lenore says:

    So appreciate this conversation, it’s edifying to many cultures in the kingdom. We all wish to reflect “values that reflect the threads of justice that run through God’s narrative.” Hope this is a chapter in your new book.

  11. randplaty says:

    Turns out that is not a photo of a Red Guard. Rather its a photo of a ballerina in the ballet Red Detachment of Women which depicts the involvement of women in the 1930s Revolutionary army in China. If you watch the ballet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imD79dFndyg it’s as clear as day.

    The Red Army during the revolution wore gray while the red guard generally work olive green and sometimes a light blue.

  12. […] Cho, a pastor in Seattle, similarly wrote on his blog, ”It’s my sincere hope that he might take the time to share that apology publicly […]

  13. Linda Yang says:

    Thanks Pastor Eugene for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and balanced piece. I really really appreciate it.

  14. […] – What we can learn from Rick Warren, People’s Liberation Army, Humility, Listening, and Cultu… […]

  15. […] Intervarsity Christian Fellowship staff worker and blogger Kathy Khang, Seattle church planter Pastor Eugene Cho, and Asian American evangelical blogger and compiler Grace Hsiao Hanford (click on all of the links […]

  16. This is so beautifully written. I was very saddened when I first read about the situation and about the response. It is encouraging to hear about the apology. There is such beauty in attempting to make amends and reconciliation.

  17. […] Asian American Christian bloggers and others deemed the photo culturally insensitive, calling on the Saddleback Church pastor to […]

  18. A Mak says:

    Dear Eugene,

    I hope you don’t mind but since I don’t have a blog, I would like to post this letter to Rick Warren on your site. I have also posted it on Saddleback Church’s Facebook wall, but since he has been deleting from his own Facebook wall opposition comments and comments asking him to apologize, I would like to post this letter on a few blogs, if allowed.

    I’m a Chinese Christian living in Hong Kong, and I would like to express my sentiments from the point of view of someone who is about to have Saddleback Church open in our city.

    ————————–

    Dear Pastor Rick Warren,

    Since you will be establishing your church in Hong Kong, I as a Chinese person living in that city would like to let you know how we feel about your actions this week.

    Your initial post of the Red Guard image was a foolish gaffe, but I had given you the benefit of the doubt by treating it as a mistake made out of momentary bad judgement. I decided to overlook it despite the unearthing of your previous speech regarding Maoist ideals, which indicated you probably understood the connotations of associating the Cultural Revolution with your staff’s work ethic (http://stevesrambling.blogspot.ca/2013/09/rick-warren-and-red-guard-photo.html). Of course, countless Christians were persecuted and killed in that same revolution, but perhaps you were not really implying that Christian persecution is a true characterization of the typical attitude of your staff, nor that you celebrate such acts. As for myself, I have also made awkward cultural jokes before that weren’t funny but were actually inappropriate. We all have. It is regrettable.

    However, what made me feel very sick was the condescending and seemingly dismissive attitude from you and your supporters, as evidenced by the responses of the ‘you need to learn to take a joke’ nature. This is compounded by the fact that Saddleback is planting a church here and hoping to draw the very people you offended and brushed off. Yes, Christians in Hong Kong also felt great offense at your insensitivity. We may not blog in English or we may not run blogs with a massive audience/following like Eugene Cho, but we do have feelings.

    Your brush-offs – and what I felt was a disrespectful attitude – made me realize that we Christians in Hong Kong don’t want that kind of leadership here. Neither would we want to be around a body part of Christ who feels that another part of the same body can be ignored, on the basis that we Asians are perceived as just being whiny, easily offended or thin-skinned. In fact, there were even accusations from your supporters that we were ‘being unloving by holding a grudge’ (posted on your Facebook wall), and one of your own replies inferred that we were being ‘self-righteous’. The truth is, we felt we raised legitimate concerns about your attitude and responses in the handling of the whole matter.

    For a dialogue on why the opinions of Asian Americans – and soon, Asians in Hong Kong – matter as a part of your congregation and on a larger scale, the current church scene, please refer to Tim Tseng’s blog post here: http://timtseng.net/2013/09/26/rick-warren-and-conversations-with-ones-feet/. We understand that you want Christians in Hong Kong (yes, the ones whom you hope will be attending your church in order to bring non-Christians to Saddleback HK so that it will grow) to feel welcome at Saddleback when it opens here, on the basis that they are also a part of the body of Christ. We hope you – and your supporters – will not suddenly disown that part of the body when we express our concern and opinions, alongside our Chinese-American counterparts. If you do so, it is my guess, but it’s likely the non-Christians probably won’t want to come to your church here.

    I, for one, was curious about Saddleback coming to Hong Kong even though I already have a church I am attending. In fact, I signed up to attend your wife Kay Warren’s seminar in Hong Kong, though it was canceled because of the personal family tragedy that occurred just shortly before the scheduled date. I wanted to hear what your wife was going to say on behalf of your ministry and why it would have any relation to Hong Kong. Now, I don’t intend to change churches, but we often refer people to local English-speaking churches, as we know of a great many expats and travelers that come to Hong Kong (I assume these are your target audiences for Saddleback Hong Kong). After this fiasco, I most certainly would not recommend Saddleback because the leadership has proven itself most unwise.

    That is the sad but true effects of your actions. It turns people away from your ministry. For you to have said such things, refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue, remain reticent on the matter, and then go on to promote your new church here is akin to feeding us spiritual food with one hand and slapping us with the other. We’re Chinese, but that doesn’t mean we’re in need of charity or stupid. We, too, need the gospel spread to us, but we can tell when someone is being disrespectful, even if our voice is very small. As Chinese people, we don’t always get confrontational. Our way of showing our loss of respect is to disengage. That is an Asian cultural nuance. It means that we stay quiet in some ways (I don’t have a blog nor will I be contacting any reporters at this present stage), but it also means we won’t be going to your church, nor will we recommend others to your church.

    Perhaps it sounds like we are being passive aggressive by disengaging here and quietly withdrawing any kind of support for Saddleback, but so far, bloggers like Sam Tseng, Kathy Khang et al. have by no means cut off dialogue with you. They have tried to engage you. But your silence is causing greater offense. I quote Sam Tsang in the article in Religion News Service: “But [Rick Warren's] silence is as hurtful as his link he posted today, as if to tell us to ‘get over it because we’re moving on.’ (http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/25/rick-warren-gets-backlash-asian-american-christians-posting-photo/)

    I am not a famous blogger nor do I have any sort of big influence in Christian circles in Hong Kong. But I do believe I am speaking on behalf of many ordinary Christians here in Hong Kong to say that we do not want to offer our support, endorsement, or positive opinion of Saddleback Church in Hong Kong or elsewhere, until we see that you make a genuine attempt at reconciliation in this whole matter.

    I have noted that you have deleted negative comments or comments asking for your apology regarding this matter from your Facebook page, including my comments and my friend’s comments posted yesterday. I will be taking a screenshot of this letter posted upon Saddleback Hong Kong’s Facebook page and will be posting this letter as a comment on other blogs too. We hope that you will not continue to handle this matter by censorship so that your supporters or other visitors to your page will have only a certain perception of you.

    Yours sincerely,

    A. Mak.

  19. […] widespread scrutiny by Asian-American Christian pastors and bloggers, Rick Warren eventually took the picture down from the page without much fanfare apart […]

  20. mike24680 says:

    First of all, I want to commend the bloggers and those commenting for what you believe is right. Now that Rick has taken off the entire thread concerning this matter I actually think that you should consider doing the same thing. The Huffington Post has brought a lot of attention to this and it’s viewed by lots of people. It hurts Rick’s reputation and name and I don’t think it’s a service in advancing the gospel. I understand that I might be the only one to ask you to do this, but I think it’s only appropriate given that he’s already apologized (though I don’t think he did anything wrong, but he apologized nevertheless to those who might have misunderstood him) that you delete this entry also. I believe this blog has hurt Rick’s name and it’s not profitable for everyone to know about these comments at this juncture. Thank you for your consideration.

    • Ricky Ferdon says:

      I agree with Mike – I regret posting anything here. What’s done is done, let’s move on. In His Name, ricky

      • mjforshort says:

        Hello again Ricky – My computer shut down suddenly as I was drafting a reply to your note back to me earlier. And I hadn’t gotten around to re-writing it. I’m sad to see that you regret saying anything on this blog (or matter?). Because I appreciated the exchange. I and my friends who are exceptionally reliable to engage in these topics with hopes of edification and healing appreciated the short exchange (particularly your reply to me and not mine to you). I felt that we had done as ambassadors do by engaging in this whole ordeal and approaching one another with a by-the-Spirit-alone kind of grace that glorifies God. I’m sorry that you regret being involved at all. I wasn’t and really I wish you were not. Your reply to my comment was both healing and more rewarding than the ‘loss’ spoken of. I and those like me are blessed and experience restoration when welcomed in by the majority culture. And I know that I’m making a generalization of your background – I do so b/c that’s the primary voice that AAs have been responding to. And as a semi-silly aside – The gospel advances in spite or b/c of our leaders’ mistakes! That’s what brought us Psalm 51! Pretty well codified that blunder … Anyways…

        You had listened to me and considered what I shared without being defensive or critical (e.g. “Lighten up” and “Be quiet/shred evidence please.” – the latter of which feels a lot like saying history should be erased…). You were very gracious and that is no small reason for me to be thankful towards God. Your listening is a reason to hope that people from my culture (and the many flooding into the US. yearly) can expect open arms here – so that second-generation Asian Americans like me can be raised in the Church while in numerous other parts of U.S. culture there is no such safety. Your considerate response and acknowledgement of misunderstanding/hurt … is what we had all been craving from Pr. Warren particularly as a figurehead and influencer for White brothers & sisters in the North American Church. It offers a corporate sense of reconciliation for those who I have shared this exchange with. It was appreciated Ricky and I hope you know that for me it was very … good – in the Gen. 1 sense of the word. I hope you find my words encouraging and genuine… and might consider that your input here was not in vain.

        • Ricky Ferdon says:

          Romans 12:5: “So we, being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Dear MJ, I am not unempathetic towards Americans of any origin who have struggles regarding the North American Church nor in any other areas of the society they find themselves in. I am in/from the American South, and do understand prejudicial behavior of some folks towards others, today and in history’s records. I am sad that this exists, particularly in ANY church that claims the Name of Jesus. Yet, one will find in Paul’s writings many such examples. I am afraid that there is never going to be total resolution of this. It’s an unfortunate element of human nature, it seems, and the only “cure” is through the hearts of people via our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My main point remains – and my prayer is that it can be accepted with love and no offense – is that ALL of us, EVERYBODY on whatever perceived sides-of-the-fences, may well be served to drop the constant looking-over-the-shoulder-for-offenses posture and concentrate on edifying ourselves in constant study of God’s Holy Word and living it every day (if these words seem brazen or insensitive, then so be it. They are not offered as such). Did Pastor Rick Warren purposefully post something to offend anyone? No, of course not. And so, please carefully consider the following: after the fact, someone’s/anyone’s label of it being offensive DOES NOT change Pastor Warren’s intention. People’s complaints, or attacks or indignity cannot reach back into time at the moment he hit the “enter” key and change his motive or color it in any way different than his true character. I love you, MJ, I appreciate you and I bless you in Jesus’ Name. ~ ricky

          • mjforshort says:

            Thank you Ricky. Though you didn’t state it explicitly – I think you understood my main purpose in that last comment as a message of blessing and appreciation. I also understand what you mean about labels & ad hoc intentions-inserting & actual intent.The same goes with our hypersensitivity and hyper-anxiety posture in this culture at large. I sympathize with your concern that its not productive or central to what we’re called to.

            The pride of Taiwanese-America – Jeremy Lin – was said to have “a chink in the armor” on an ESPN online banner during his breakout in the NBA. He publicly stated that he didn’t take offense and it was probably a mistake. He didn’t feel it quite right to fire the man who made the mistake. Nor do we (I am supposing) find Warren’s post to be the concern (though our teaching of world history may be? ha-ha). Thus – I would not worry about Rick Warren becoming a villain to Christians. We jump on this opportunity to dialog b/c it is a discussion we long to have – and it does not germinate easily.

            i have gained from this dialog and in practicing discernment and self-reflection. Thank you for your involvement once again :)

    • Melanie says:

      We need to hear these kind of dialogues and exchange because they communicate that civil conversation is possible. I’m grateful for Eugene because this is one of the fair and balanced posts. He brings up the issue of pain but also honors Pastor Rick and commends him for his apology. We need this kind of reconciliation!

  21. When we pray “Your kingdom come” we are asking for the return of Jesus Christ to set up the perfect kingdom here on earth. We are not supposed to be working, working, working to bring about the kingdom now. In this sinful age we believers should look at each other in faith and see ourselves as redeemed folk, but we are just doomed to a life of frustration if we keep trying to make each other perfect to our definitions of what it should mean. This incorrect doctrine of making the kingdom happen here and now seems to be at the heart of this diversity movement as well as the so called creation care movements and many others.

  22. Jess says:

    Urgh, no. You’re conflating different things. The Red Army is the People’s Liberation Army, or roughly the precursor to it as a ragtag militia. The Red Guard were the Maoist youth who rampaged China during the Cultural Revolution.
    The girl in the photo is not a Red Guard. And the photo is not of the Cultural Revolution. Yes, the Cultural Revolution was awful. And, yes, the Red Guard were awful. But this is neither. This is from a ballet from the 1960s depicting the 1920s, both of which predate the Red Guard and the Cultural Revolution.
    People who are offended by this imagery must be sadly ignorant of modern Chinese history.

  23. […] days this, this, this, and my own personal favorite, this, all popped up just on my own facebook newsfeed, and I’m sure […]

  24. […] Eugene Cho detailed the events of the photo’s posting and said the posting is “a learning opportunity” for […]

  25. […] of linguistic violence, Sinophobia, and anti-Asian/Pacific racism that leads to curriculum like Rickshaw Rally which reinforce negative Chinese and Asian-Pacific stereotypes.  We are able to detect White […]

  26. Donald says:

    How about you Mr. Cho and your racism. As a “white” person made in God’s image I find many of your opinions and comments to be racist towards me, a white man made in God’s image. I won’t quote any here. All one needs to do is read many of your articles. Plus, as a man made in God’s image my feeling and concerns do matter.

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