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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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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