Eugene Cho

partnership with dr. cornel west

cornel_west_bet_hha-thumb-473x315

After some thought and prayer, I’ve decided to move forward with a partnership with Dr. Cornel West. I really like the dude and enjoy reading his stuff and ruminating on his perspective of power, religion, politics, church, class, etc.  His book, Race Matters, is a must read but be warned that it’ll make you uncomfortable.

What’s the partnership?

Okay…I’m exaggerating a bit.  But I’ve joined Dr. West and a list of numerous others including John Perkins, Anne Lamott, and Walter Brueggemann as a contributing editor of Sojourners Magazine. There’s no salary, private jet perks, or other VIP benefits but just being listed alongside West, Perkins, Lamott, Brueggemann and others pretty much sold me.

And to be honest, Cornel or others don’t even know that we’re in this “partnership” since they have no idea who I am but hey, it just sounds great to say that I’m in partnership with Doc West.  Maybe, Jesus will love me more because of  my resume.  Maybe a perk might be to actually meet these folks.  Actually, there’s really not that much to the responsibility but to write couple articles for the magazine and that’s something I enjoy doing anyway.

Here’s one of the more compelling quotes from Cornel West.

Read it.  What do you think?  Reflections?

“I speak as a Christian- one whose commitment to democracy is very deep but whose Christian convictions are deeper. Democracy is not my faith. And American democracy is not my idol. To see the gospel of Jesus Christ bastardized by imperial Christians and pulverized by Constantinian believers and then exploited by nihilistic elites of the American empire makes my blood boil. To be a Christian- a follower of Jesus Christ- is to love wisdom, love justice, and love freedom. This is the radical love in Christian freedom and the radical freedom in Christian love that embraces socratic questioning, prophetic witness, and tragicomic hope.

If Christians do not exemplify this love and freedom, then we side with the nihilists of the Roman empire (cowardly elite romans and subjugated jews) who put Jesus to a humiliating death. Instead of receiving his love in freedom as a life-enhancing gift of grace, we end up believing in the idols of the empire that nailed him to the cross. I do not want to be numbered among those who sold their souls for a mess of pottage- who surrendered their democratic Christian identity for a comfortable place at the table of the American empire while, like Lazarus, the least of these cried out and I was too intoxicated with worldly power and might to hear, beckon, and heed their cries.

To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely- to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away. This is the kind of vision and courage required to enable the renewal of prophetic, democratic Christian identity in the age of the American empire.” -Cornel West

And for those that aren’t familiar with Cornel West, do yourself a favor and get familiar with him.  Whether you agree with him or not, his voice is important to both the church and larger culture.  Here’s his bio:

One of America’s most provocative public intellectuals, Cornel West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his “ferocious moral vision.”
Currently the Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University, West burst onto the national scene in 1993 with his bestselling book, Race Matters, a searing analysis of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, selling more than a half a million copies to date. In addition, West has published 18 other books and has edited 13 texts and has received more than 20 honorary degrees.

West earned two bachelor’s degrees from Harvard in three years, magna cum laude. Martin Kilson, one of his professors there, describes West as “the most intellectually aggressive and highly cerebral student I have taught.” After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he became a professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies program there. West has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.

In his book, “Democracy Matters,” West analyzes the arrested development of democracy both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. In his latest book, Hope on a Tightrope, he offers courageous commentary on issues that affect the lives of all Americans. Themes include Race, Leadership, Faith, Family, Philosophy, and Love and Service.

He also has produced 3 albums his latest CD, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations is a collection of socially conscience music featuring collaborations with Prince, Outkast, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli and KRS-ONE. West also offers commentary weekly on The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI.

West was an influential force in developing the storyline for the popular Matrix movie trilogy and has served as its official spokesperson, as well as playing a recurring role in the final two films.

Filed under: culture, ,

18 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Cornel West is one of handful of prophets in our age.

  2. Nourisha says:

    i love cornel west. i own all of his books and enjoy watching him on tv making people squirm because they are too cowardly to admit that it’s time for self reflection. haha.

  3. semaphoric says:

    Awesome opportunity Eugene, how did you get connected with West? West is totally right on with race issues. He was also pretty cool in Matrix 2. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him sitting in the council deliberating over Neo’s fate.

  4. Benny Salas says:

    I have grown to embrace and enjoy his wisdom. I think it’s great to see how God is also using you in a platform of such influence as well. Be praying for you bro!

  5. eugenecho says:

    hey folks: don’t get too excited. he has no idea who i am nor do the others. i’m just on a list but it sure does sound good to be on the same list.

  6. splinterlog says:

    Hey congrats pastor Cho – Sojourners has been and important influence in my life and I’m glad to see that you will be able to influence another generation of young Christians through the publication.

    … and if you do ever meet brother West give him a hug from me.

  7. queermergent says:

    CONGRATS! LOVE Cornel West whenever i see him on TV. i will have to read him someday. i always thought it would be cool to take a class with him.

    Adele

  8. minna says:

    hey PE ….
    congrats on the new “gig”!
    i heart cornel west. he’s is so profound in what he says … it always takes me a while to take it all in. i feel like he’s on fast forward and i’m in slo-mo. people will get a great intro to him in “call and response”. the interaction between him and justin is absolutely hilarious to me!!

  9. blackwasp19 says:

    Cornel West is an incredible prophetic voice. Although, you may never actually work WITH him, even working on the same project is pretty amazing.

    By the way, you are in some good company with John Perkins, Anne Lamott, and Walter Brueggueman as well.

    I hope that this brings Cornel West more into the fold of “Evangelical” Christianity. He has some important things to say.

  10. eugenecho says:

    all i know is that i need to get a picture like that one above.

    dang.

  11. jHong says:

    um, though it hurts me to draw attention to it, i’m afraid to say you already have one.

  12. gar says:

    I think I’ve already said this before, but getting Dr. West to speak at Quest would make for a pretty freak’n rad “Faith & Race” class…

  13. anne says:

    i have so enjoyed seeing your name pop up in the God’s Politics blogs. Selfishly, because I feel cool knowing I already read what you wrote because I follow you apart from Sojourners. But also for you to be out there and known.

    May you find encouragement as well as challenge amongst brothers and sisters striving for jesus, love, peace and justice.

    Going to the M2E?!?!?!

  14. Tracy says:

    I had the honor to hear him speak at the University of Washington and he was great. Cornel has grown over the years and I was glad for him. He is a man, that understands how racial ideologies in American christianity has harmed us and will awaken us. He has the right understanding of religion vs christianity. Some of his philosophies are on point.

  15. Aaron says:

    Wow… a partnership with Dr. West (whether he knows it or not) is amazing. Back at Whitman I had the honor to have dinner with him and a few other students and he is so humble and down to earth…came to each one of us, shook our hand, asked for our name and didn’t ask twice for the rest of the night. Incredible orator, prophetic voice, necessary message. His critique on Constantinian Christianity definitely speaks to us in America today. I’m so glad Quest will be showing Call + Response because Doc West drops knowledge.

  16. Tom says:

    Sorry to hear that somebody who creates fictional commentators and their responses on his own blog got a spot with Sojourners. Don’t think the editors there would be happy to hear that you may have made up some of the interesting ‘dialogue’ on your blog.

    Haven’t heard from ‘Jack Danger Canty’ or some of your other creative characters/responders recently :^)

    I really have no problem with a ‘magical realistic’ blog where real people and their responses mix with fictional characters and their responses. That’s cool if it serves, but you really should let everybody in on the method :^)

    Who knows? Maybe a lot of people would still be interested.

  17. eugenecho says:

    @tom: wow. you found out. :^)

    bizarre comment, tom.

    but i agree. i think it’s time to move on. there’s better stuff out there for you. blessings to you especially on your NP endeavor.

    e

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

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She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

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Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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