Eugene Cho

god’s politics

I’m exciting for the opportunity to contribute to the God’s Politics blog on Sojourners.  I started last month and plan to contribute at least monthly if not more.  This is all part of my master plan to take over the [blogo]world:  become a mega-blog celebrity, go multi blog-o-site, go on a blogging tour, utilize multi simultaneous synchronized satellite blog-o-videos, get some bloggie groupies, and then finally, sell this blog to Robert Murdoch for 30 million dollars.  Bam!

What is Sojourners?

Our mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world…

In our lives and in our work, we seek to be guided by the biblical principles of justice, mercy, and humility. [more]

I’ve been a longtime reader of God’s Politics and Sojourners.  The President and CEO of Sojourners is Jim Wallis – author of God’s Politics and The Great Awakening.  I met Jim once here in the Seattle area and had a brief conversation.  I like him, don’t agree with some of what he writes, but appreciate him.

I know of folks that dislike Sojourners because they feel that they have an agenda.  Really?  Isn’t that obvious?  Of course, they have an agenda.  We all have an agenda.  And while I’m certain some folks might be upset that I’ve chosen to “affiliate” myself by contributing to the God’s Politics Blog, I would just encourage these folks to relax. 

“Just focus on the Bible, Eugene.  Focus on Jesus…” 

That is what I am occasionally told and my response:

“Of course. I am focusing on Jesus…”

If you believe in Jesus, you can’t help but involve yourself in the muddy affairs of politics – for better or worse.  Faith compels us to engage our context and culture.  If you believe in Jesus, you can’t help but attempt to articulate and incarnate the biblical call to mercy, justice, and humility.  And this is why I am a fan of Sojourners.  It’s not because I agree with them on all matters but they encourage the christian faith to engage those very issues of mercy, justice, and humility.  I so much appreciate both the idea and active movement of justice, mercy, and humility not being peripheral but central to the gospel of Christ.  Salvation is beautiful, profound, and deep.

And of course, my closet critics will see my contribution to God’s Politics and my “politcal” posts on this blog as cryptic support of the Democratic Party.  Trust me, I have no party affiliation.  I am registered as an independent.  I have voted previously for candidates from both major parties, admire the first Republican president, got serious about John Anderson in 1980 [anyone vote for him?], wore my Ron Reagan in his cowboy hat shirt this week and got some interesting looks, loved Jimmy Carter after his presidency, grew tired of Bill, do great impersonations of Howard Dean’s yelp, won’t vote for Jesus for President [sorry Shane], and will not disclose who I’m voting for in any current elections [for various reasons]. 

What I’m saying is that I value politics but see politics in the larger context.  Politics is a process, structure and medium by which we can do much good as a society rather than much harm but many, I believe, can fall astray in thinking that politics, policies, and politicians can provide the salvation for the nations. It certainly has its purpose and must be used accordingly and wisely.  But our faith must engage it…not hide from it.

In short, my loyalty isn’t to a political party, to politicians, or to stagnant policies.  My ultimate loyalty is to Christ and it is my faith in Christ that informs how I engage with the larger structure and system of politics and not the other way around.

That’s a long answer to…”Hey folks, I’m blogging at God’s Politics.

Questions:  Thoughts about Sojourners and God’s Politics?  Other sites you read that inform your faith about politics or justice?  Anyone want to buy this blog for 30 million?  Random thoughts?

**********************************************************************

If you haven’t done so, I’d encourage you to check out God’s Politics.  Here are a few entries I enjoyed recently:

  • A Transformational Moment by Jim Wallis | When the historic legislative milestone of the Voting Rights Act finally passed in 1965, I was still a young teenager. Until then, black people in America didn’t have the right to vote. And until the Civil Rights Act passed the previous year in 1964, black Americans had to drink from separate drinking fountains, eat at separate lunch counters, ride at the back of buses, and watch movies only from the balconies of theaters…
  • The Church and Lost Innocence by Gabriel Salguero | Child prostitution and human trafficking are a global problem. The Caribbean is no exception. Just last week my wife, Jeanette, and I were asked to speak at Cigua Palmera’s fundraiser for their Inocencia project (www.ciguapalmera.org). Inocencia, is the Spanish word for innocence…
  • ‘FootPrints’ Marches into Courts by Becky Garrison | Some days the material writes itself. As reported by The Washington Post , Mary Stevenson’s son claims that as his mother penned the infamous poem, “Footprints in the Sand,” he seeks any royalties earned from said literary work.

Filed under: politics, religion,

19 Responses

  1. David Ker says:

    Cool. Keep riffing on politics. The fact that people don’t like it should tell you something.

    P.S. You’re already on my list of blogstars so you can relax on that count.

  2. Matt K says:

    Years ago Sojourners was a welcome relief for me as I was looking for voices to articulate my concerns about social justice, but in recent years I’ve found Sojo drifting more and more partisan and I’ve become dissapointed in the magazine and blog content. There is too little biblical and theological refleciton and too much sloganeering and setting up the religious right as a straw man. I think Jim Wallis has done much to awaken the evangelical Christian conscience to important issues, but if the conversation about social justice is to continue in churches then Sojo really needs to move deeper into theological reflection and embrace a more genuine post-partisan outlook.

  3. 3mily says:

    i read god’s politics a couple of years ago, it was OK. i love sojo magazine. they’re a welcome break from a lot of the “let’s feature my megachurch on one page and promote the latest Top 10 Christian title on the other” publications out there. ya, you have to be careful mixing politics and faith so as not to miss the *transcendent* reality of faith and Christ. I mean, God isn’t a Republican or a Democrat because he’s far, far greater than either one (not because he’s neutrally bipartisan, you know?)

    i think the strength with sojourners is the call to justice in its writing- over and above the electoral stuff. but definitely we are called to be engaged in the world and to influence for justice, and that means participating at the ballot box and, yes, seeing beyond tired party lines and the same 3 tired “christian” political issues according the the tired, expected, simplistic lines that we’re “meant’ (by the media, not the Lord) to see them along. wallis did a really good job of articulating that. and he does a good job of being an ambassador to the media and the larger world that we’re not all just obsessed with the same three issues in the same uniform, divisive ways.

    woo-hoo, i think it’s awesome that our pastor is going to be on their site. way to go PE!

  4. 3mily says:

    oh yeah, and people should check out “Man from Plains” the documentary about Carter. It’s really good.

  5. Terry says:

    Eugene,

    I think it’s cool that you’re contributing to their blog but it’s inevitable for people to associate that with “liberal” leanings.

    And I completely agree with Matt K. It was refreshing but no longer. It’s true that everyone has an agenda but their current agenda has veered off. My hope is that your voice doesn’t add to that but rather is a refreshing evangelical voice still calling people to the gospel.

  6. beattieblog says:

    I met Jim Wallis a few years ago and liked him – he’s a very captivating speaker. I don’t agree with everything he says (he claims non-partisanship but I find that pretty thin). At the same time, he’s a welcome counter-balance to the almost blind over-identification many evangelicals make with conservative politics – he ‘comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable’. Congrats on being invited to write for them.

  7. Bob says:

    Wallis and friends are slick spinners of truth.
    Who are they going hate once Bush is out. Steal from the middle class to give to the demagogues.
    I sorry you are going this route

  8. Janet says:

    Goodness gracious.

    We don’t live in a world where everyone agrees or should agree. Sojourners is doing thieir part to raise conversations that were RARELY ever raised. That in itself is worth celebrating.

    I think it’s great that you’ve been invited to join that blog collaboration. Not that this was the reason you were invited but they were seriously lacking in Asian-American voices.

  9. I am always fascinated when people reduce dissent to mere “Bush hating,” as if the great majority of the world and our country decided to distrust the president long before and regardless of his actions.

    Eugene- this is a very cool opportunity. No organization is perfect; Sojourners is doing more far more good than harm. It doesn’t really matter if people label and dismiss you for it. That’s a shallow and insecure reaction and is their loss. We can’t spend our lives listening only to the camps of thought that make us comfortable. Go wherever people are listening…

    -ian

  10. Congrats on the new writing gig! You might be just what they need it you can provide a strong gospel message- with large doses of Christ-centered teaching and minimal amounts of “Christian right” bashing.

    “And this is why I am a fan of Sojourners. It’s not because I agree with them on all matters but they encourage the christian faith to engage those very issues of mercy, justice, and humility. ”

    I just wish they would stop confusing government coercion with Christian charity. I find it odd how many on the left find themselves so enamored with Sojourners. After all, does the sacred cow of separation of church and state only apply to pro-lifers and those advocating prayer in schools? It seems that out of the convenient agreement between the secular and religious left about the end of wealth redistribution (for former for political reasons, the latter for religious reasons), many on the left have forgotten the wall of separation they had so meticulously built. But I shall digress. Once again, congrats on the new opportunity to work for Christ.

  11. Tyler says:

    this is great eugene. you have wonderful things to add to their blog.

  12. eugenecho says:

    and just for clarification, i should add it’s just contributing to the god’s politics blog. it’s hardly a writing gig. no pay. no free magazine. no free airplane tix to DC. and no pressure to produce weekly but the occasional contribution.

  13. “it’s hardly a writing gig”

    Well a writing gig in the broadest sense- a chance to write and get it published in someone else’s space. Sure would be nice if it were paid though, eh?

  14. DanW says:

    So do we all get to be groupies once you hit the bigtime?

    and on a personal note – yes, Karina got some great pictures. I just posted a few of them.

  15. eugenecho says:

    no groupies allowed unless i become a hip hop emcee.
    and that’s very unlikely.

  16. ninglun says:

    Sojourners is truly inspiring.

  17. ryanbd says:

    Eugene, just make sure you read Fox news, newsbusters.org, and the 700 Club blog over at CBN.com every day and that will keep you spiritually and intellectually balanced. 🙂

  18. Randall says:

    PE: “no groupies allowed unless i become a hip hop emcee. and that’s very unlikely.”

    Not if you had Garage Band…

  19. […] This past month, there’s been some heavy increase in traffic due to my contributions to Sojourners’ God Politics blog, an article written for the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and blog mentions in the Seattle Times, […]

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One Day’s Wages

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As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory) May our hearts break for injustice and exploitation - whether abroad or in our own backyard. Spending a few days for @onedayswages in Thailand. Along with one of our board members, I'm traveling with a group of 10 others to learn, listen and visit a few NGOs including one of our partners, @thefreedomstory. Couple days ago, we spent an evening walking through Soi Cowboy. On a given night, about 10,000 people are in the ring of prostitution in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Patpong. Much of this is driven by the consumer demand. Approximately 70% of male tourists go to Thailand for the sex industry.

Human trafficking is complex. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or selling you something. 
To reduce it to simple terms, or simple problems, or simple solutions…cause harmful consequences. While we can all agree that it is sinful, egregious, evil, and wrong…there are many nuances and complexities. It would serve all of us to grow deep in the awareness not just of the larger issue but the nuances and complexities.

When people speak of human trafficking, they tend to be ‘attracted’ to the issue of sexual exploitation. Dare I say it, human trafficking has become trendy as a justice issue.

Clearly, it’s evil and egregious. But to reduce the entire issue of human trafficking into one form is not helpful. Because the mission is to fight the entire injustice of slavery. And if that’s the commitment, we have to not only combat sexual exploitation but engage in issues of poverty, forced labor, commercial exploitation in tourism, land rights and power abuses, organized crime networks, cultural and economic realities, etc.

Oh, it's so complex but we have to be engaged whether in Thailand or in our own backyards. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God... More thoughts to come.

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