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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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