Eugene Cho

race. racism. racialization.

well, it was a very interesting sunday.  very exhausting.  obviously, the content of the sermon (issues of faith and racism) contributed to the exhaustion.  i also made the mistake of checking email on sunday between services (which i should not do); just the number of hits and comments on this blog in the past 24 hours, emails, and comments after the sermon is verification enough that the church (including quest) doesn’t speak enough about ‘faith and race.’  as i shared yesterday during the sermon yesterday, our faith cannot be contained for a sunday or a 90 minute service.  if faith in jesus is real, it must engage every aspect of our lives.  ultimately, it invades, affects, redeems, and transforms our worldview.

so, some of the interest comments from yesterday:

“are you saying that white folks are racist?” my short answer: of course not.  i’m not saying that YOU are a racist, i’m merely speaking about ‘systemic’ or ‘institutional’ racism.  and yes, i again want to affirm that the core of the issue is human sin and depravity.

“are you saying that all churches should be multicultural?”  my short answer:  they already are.  are you asking should they be multiethnic?  for the majority, yes.  i’m a big supporter of the ethnic church but believe that predominantly anglo churches need to be stretched and english speaking ethnic churches need to be stretched.  you can wrestle with the definition of ‘stretched.’

“will you talk about faith and gender inequality?”  my short answer:  yes.  when?  not sure yet.

“who made that video?”  the video, entitled, ‘silent racism’  was done by five folks who attended the 2006 faith and race class this past summer as a homework assignment.  if you missed it or want to see it again, you can see it on youtube here.

“you said you support affirmative action.  why is that fair?”  my short answer:  yes, i support affirmative action.  is it fair? you’re asking the wrong question. 

“so, do you dislike white people?”  my answer:  (laughing) of course not; i pastor quest church and i’m called to love and serve all at quest and beyond. 

my favorite question (i think asked jokingly): “are you racist?” my answer: no, i’m not racist.  like many others, if not all, i struggle with the subtleties of my prejudice.  although not a racist, i now understand the realities of what it means to be ‘racialized.’  perhaps cornel west (professor of religion at princeton) says it best: “It is impossible to be an American and not racialize how your feel.”

this past sunday was also more interesting with a) a professor from dallas theological seminary visiting.  he teaches issues dealing with culturally diverse congregations (i think) and  b) a nobel peace prize nominee and others visiting from burma  who intimately know oppression, racism, suffering,  and genocide because it is happening NOW.  a question that emerged from the group, “what do you say to those who are oppressed?” 

finally, a powerful image for me yesterday was looking across the beautiful congregation at quest where i feel so privileged to serve and lead.  i appreciate so much the attentiveness of each person as we engaged a difficult conversation and even more humbled, that many different people (across different ethnicities, stories, and age) have chosen to disceringly sumbit themselves to my leadership and teaching.  yesterday, i was taken back to see numerous asian and african-american questers in tears or near tears. 

looking forward to this upcoming sunday.  although several have expressed disappointment about quest in regards to our ‘superficial approach’ to multiculturalism, my goal has always been to gather people so that TOGETHER we can grow in Jesus, and through LIFE and COMMUNITY TOGETHER, we’ll have the opportunity to share our stories together – in hopes of learning, teaching, modeling, embodying, deepening, caring, loving, and ultimately, experiencing a new kind of worldview or life which i believe jesus referred to as ‘abundant life’ in the gospel of john.

Filed under: asian-american, culture, emerging church, quest church

7 Responses

  1. elderj says:

    interesting post…i wish i could have heard the sermon. I don’t know what to say

  2. eugenecho says:

    joshua, thanks for the post. it wasn’t that great of a sermon imo but you can listen to it at: http://seattlequest.org/sermons/2006.10.22.m3u

    blessings to you.

  3. Nancy says:

    Hi,
    I was one of those priviledged to participate in this summer’s series on Faith and Race – and it changed my life. I struggle with the definition of what it means to be a racist as I am gradually expanding the definition to include me, since as a white woman I have participated in and benefited from a racist system. That awareness now demands response.

    I moved about an hour north of Quest as the series was ending and have sought out a church closer to home. I’ve been attending a growing church in Kirkland the past month and can say that for the first time in my life I am in an all white group and feel uncomfortable (thank you Quest). The discomfort comes both from missing my brothers and sisters of color and from having an awareness not shared by others. So maybe, Eugene, you have unintentionally launched a Quest missionary into the suburbs to start more difficult conversations about race there. As I said, the awareness now demands a response.

    A big part of the conversation about race and our history of racialization involves moving through various stages of denial, anger and disillusionment with what you’ve been taught and who you are. That doesn’t happen in a Sunday, doesn’t happen in a month, may take years. The important thing is to keep having the conversation.

    My time at Quest was bracketed by the Faith and Race series – I came with the first, and ended with this last one and is a beautiful picture of the gift I continue to receive from you.

    Keep having the conversation!
    Blessings,
    Nancy

  4. eugenecho says:

    nancy,

    it is so good to hear from you. thanks so much for your post and your encouraging words.

    we miss having you here but rejoice in knowing that you continually seek to honor jesus through your life and responses.

    e

  5. Timothy Arthur O'Brien says:

    Hello,

    I want to pass along some advice I’ve gotten over the years. In the post, you are quoted as saying “that is the wrong question” to a hypothetical person who asks whether affirmative action is fair. I think that as a pastor you should know that there are no wrong questions. We try to speak of questions being valid or invalid in the context of constructive discussion, but to call a question wrong is to disdain the person who asked it. I think that most people agree that asking whether affirmative action is fair is a valid question.

    To call the question “wrong” is kind of like a shorthand for you to access a certain emotional response, like a father might get from a son. Like saying, “that’s the wrong wrench, you need the 5/16.” The response hoped for is, “thanks dad.” Fortunately or unfortunately the conversation about racism and affirmative action is not as simple as picking the right tool or the right measurement.

    I can imagine an invalid question being something like, “don’t you think he’s an idiot for believing in affirmative action?” Asking whether or not it’s fair definitely isn’t a wrong thing to do, and it isn’t a wrong choice among a list of possible questions either. A satisfyingly varied group of questions are asked in a complete discussion, and none of them are wrong.

    Best Regards,

    Timothy Arthur O’Brien

  6. […] is important because the church’s viability is at stake.  There’s also the issue that ‘Race Matters.’  Huh?  Just check out the whole painful fiasco with what is referred to as Jena 6.  Society is […]

  7. […] which was next door. Pastor Eugene Cho raises important questions on his blog about everything from race and racialization to the recent crisis in Burma. Eugene will be speaking at our conference next […]

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One Day’s Wages

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It. Still. Hurts.
#TamirRice Incredible news: @onedayswages is projecting to have our most impactful year as we grant out $1.3 million dollars! Thank you so much for your prayers and support...please read on to learn how you can join in our work.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones for Thanksgiving and the holidays, I wanted to share an opportunity. Often times, when I speak to people about the privilege of generosity, I remind them, "You don't have to but you get to." It's so true.

My wife and I (and our three kids) started ODW in 2009. We felt the Holy Spirit convicting us to give up our year's salary. It wasn't an easy thing to say "Yes" or "Amen" to but we made the decision to obey. As a result, it took us about three years to save, simplify, and sell off things we didn't need.

It's been an incredible journey as we've learned so much about the heart of God and God's love for the hurting and vulnerable around the world - particularly those living in extreme poverty. ODW is a small, scrappy, grassroots organization (with just 3 full-time employees) but since our launch, we've raised nearly $6 million dollars to help those living in extreme poverty: clean water and sanitation, education, maternal health, human trafficking, refugee crisis, hunger, and the list goes on and on.

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You can make a one time gift or make monthly pledge of just $25 (or more). Thanks so much for considering this: http://onedayswages.org/give (link in bio, too) Don't just count your blessings. Bless others with your blessings. Here, there, everywhere. Be a blessing for this blesses our Father in Heaven and builds the Kingdom of God.

#ReThinkRegugees #WeWelcomeRefugees
@onedayswages Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply.

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