As many of you know, several Asian-American leaders and I have been in dialogue with both the authors of Deadly Vipers and the publisher, Zondervan, over a controversy I’ve written about here and here. I know that many who have followed along have been frustrated by the [perception] of the lack of progress and movement but there have been a lot of things going on behind the scenes and I’m thankful to share that we recently received this official statement and apology (and concrete actions) from Maureen Girkins, the CEO of Zondervan.
In short, they have decided to pull the Deadly Vipers book and curriculum from stores.
While this decision pleases us, I want you to know that no one is jumping up and down. I have no desire to revel or bask in “victory” for the simple reason that I don’t see this as a win or lose, us vs. them, Asians vs non-Asians, etc. I never saw it that way. We are part of the larger body of Christ. We are your sisters and brothers and while Asian-Americans are not a monolithic group, many of us shared our pain and hurt over the presentation and marketing (not the content) of the book and curriculum.
In the official Zondervan statement, I was also very encouraged that they are reaching out to the authors, Mike and Jud, to “come up with a better presentation of that message.” I intend to reach out to them as well. I’ve met Mike and have had some interactions with him; I have yet to meet Jud, but believe in their leadership and presence and hope to work with them in the future. [update: their website has been taken down now…see below for their message and my hope that it will be raised up again in the near future].
My prayers remain with Mike and Jud as I’m sure this entire situation has been incredibly difficult. They are brothers in Christ and good leaders and I sincerely hope that things will converge in such a way that we can share in face to face conversation and fellowship in the future.
The other leaders and I have contended from the beginning that this isn’t a personal attack on the authors and that we wholeheartedly support the elevation of the subject matters of their book – ‘character’ and integrity -‘ for all Christians, especially female and male leaders.
I’m certain that the dialogue won’t end here..for reconciliation and unity need to be steadfast and intentional pursuits. For example, Zondervan has asked couple folks to consider joining an advisory board to consult with them on future materials. And I certainly hope that our interactions with Mike and Jud will not end with this situation. As I’ve shared before in an earlier post, I do not want my relationship with them to be defined by this “controversy” or be content in being “Facebook friends.”
Lastly, I want to thank Zondervan for hearing us, engaging us, and ultimately, doing the right thing. I acknowledge that it wasn’t an easy thing to do…but they did the right thing. Apologies are never easy. But acknowledging and correcting require humility, leadership, and courage and we commend them and the authors, Mike & Jud.
Thanks for your support and prayers.
Here’s their official statement:
November 19, 2009
Zondervan Statement Regarding Concerns Voiced About “Deadly Viper: Character Assassins”
From Moe Girkins, President and CEO
Hello and thanks for your patience.
On behalf of Zondervan, I apologize for publishing Deadly Viper: Character Assassins. It is our mission to offer products that glorify Jesus Christ. This book’s characterizations and visual representations are offensive to many people despite its otherwise solid message.
There is no need for debate on this subject. We are pulling the book and the curriculum in their current forms from stores permanently.
We have taken the criticism and advice we have received to heart. In order to avoid similar episodes in the future, last week I named Stan Gundry as our Editor-in-Chief of all Zondervan products. He will be responsible for making the necessary changes at Zondervan to prevent editorial mistakes like this going forward. We already have begun a dialogue with Christian colleagues in the Asian-American community to deepen our cultural awareness and sensitivity.
Zondervan is committed to publishing Christian content and resources that uplift God and see humanity in its proper perspective in relation to God. We take seriously our call to provide resources that encourage spiritual growth. And, we know there is more to learn by always listening to our critics as well as our advocates.
It would be unfair to take these actions without expressing our love and support for the authors of this book, Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. Both gentlemen are gifted writers and passionate about their ministry. We do believe their message is valuable and plan to work with the authors to come up with a better presentation of that message. We will jointly ensure we do our due diligence on the appropriateness of the creative side. This will include reaching out to a broad spectrum of cultural experts.
Finally, I want to personally thank Professor Rah, Ken Fong, Eugene Cho and Kathy Khang for their input and prayers during this discussion. We appreciate everyone’s concern and effort and look forward to working together for God’s kingdom.
[update] And the Deadly Vipers website has been taken down with the following note below.
I sincerely hope that the heart and content of their ministry, book, and website will re-emerge in the future.
The form can change but the content is what formed the crux and heart of their ministry. A believer of the People of the Second Chance…
To our Friends and Family:
Due to an unfortunate conflict that arose around our use of Asian American themes, we have decided to close this chapter of Deadly Viper Character Assassins. This decision has been a very difficult one for us and one that we did not take lightly.
For the past 2 years we have had the honor to be part of an incredible movement of advocating for radical integrity and grace. We have been deeply humbled hearing your stories of how Deadly Viper has impacted your life, family, and relationships.
We and our team will continue to commit our lives to the message of integrity, grace, and most of all becoming People Of The Second Chance.
We thank you for your prayers, support, and kindness through this season.
We love you.
Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite
149 Replies to “zondervan’s statement, apology, and actions regarding deadly vipers”
Eugene – Thanks for posting this update and for your gracious leadership in all of this. I would love to see you join an advisory board for Zondervan (not that you have much leftover time these days!!). Yes, let’s continue to pray for Mike & Jud, Zondervan and for the ongoing Kingdom work of reconciliation.
This is good news and I applaud Zondervan for making a difficult choice to do the right thing. Maybe there is hope for racial reconciliation after all.
Let’s hope we can all learn from this.
Excellent news! 😀
This is great news. My sincere thanks to Prof. Rah and many of you who had worked on this. Also my thanks to Zondervan for willing to admit mistake and making needed corrections.
I’m grateful to God, and to the four of you for your good hearts, the articulate and passionate leadership which was always full of grace. If the authors need/want help with editing for gender language, I am available and would love to do so. http://logicandimagination.wordpress.com/
This cannot be easy for the authors but I applaud Zondervan for doing what was right and pray for continued learning in all aspects of gender, culture and message.
wow! that’s crazy. Big props to Zondervan for making such a big move. I hope that the two authors can republish something that shares the same message in a different way.
1) I’m glad I got the book before this went down.
2) I hope the publicity you gained with playing the race card was worth losing the people who were seeing the love of Christ displayed through the People of the Second Chance.
@ Billy . . . I’m really sorry to hear that you don’t get it.
And this is a white sister in the Lord playing her own “race card” here. The Gospel is a Gospel of reconciliation. Zondervan absolutely did the right thing. If God means for it to continue (and the author of this blog seems to hope that the MINISTRY does continue, just not with racist packaging), then they will find a way to present it that is not overtly offensive.
@billy: i think the love of christ shines just a bit brighter now with their humble act of repentance. so you really don’t need to worry too much bout that.
billy, shame on you. what is the ‘race card’ exactly? the love of Christ still stands, has not been taken away in this situation, and has been exhibited through people taking a stand on (even unintentional) bigotry.
@jeff: The love of Christ shines brighter because why? Because a community unintentionally offended someone? Because a community was seeking to reach the lost and accidentally hurt someones feelings? I would have to pray about that.
@melody: The point I’m trying to make is this. We live in such a racially charged politically correct society that many things get taken to a racial level. This wasn’t bigotry. Per the definition of bigotry: “The correct use of the term requires the elements of obstinacy, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing devotion.” The thought process says, “if one person is offended it must be changed” (understand that in this case I know there was more than one offended) But every time someone is offended do we stop what we are doing and change course?
Also, read this comment by a C.A on another blog…
“I wonder what the outcome of this will be? This appears to be not about reconciliation, but about power. The “winning” side has exercised it’s power and “won” by getting Zondervan to drop the book and the website to be taken down. But the more likely outcome, rather than understanding and reconciliation, is a sense of proud victory on one side, and a quiet anger and resentment against excessive political correctness on the other side (it has to be quiet or else it would be seen as racist). I don’t think the Kingdom is advanced by these kind of battles, nor is racial understanding.”
Wow, there are some unfortunate conclusions being made here. I don’t hear/read the authors, the professor, pastor and leaders, or the publishing company referring to winning and losing. This wasn’t a competition. I haven’t heard/read anyone strong arming another to “get them” to do anything.
The more likely outcome could be increased understanding, humility, true partnership and maturity for everyone involved. This is good for the Church. The Kingdom is actually advance in these situations because the power of Christ is revealed when dividing walls of hostility are torn down.
What is a C.A.?
This makes me sad.
Those guys really helped me.
I do hope that can find a way to bring back the material in a non-offensive form because they had some really good things to say.
“I hope the publicity you gained with playing the race card”
*shakes head in disappoint*
Thanks Pastor Eugene for your work on this issue and your courage is seeking reconciliation for everybody in the Christian community. Don’t sweat the hate.
Darn, just when I was getting into the whole thing. I do hope that there is a resolution in the matter because; personally, I felt that here was something that I needed to be involved in – Integrity as a Christian man.
@billy: i have a lot of respect for those guys, and i was bummed they were the authors. they’re not the kinda folks that should be vilified, and i really do admire their work. but i’d say the love of christ shines brighter now because they (unintentionally) made a mistake and they owned up to it. very impressive to me.
finally, i’ll just say that they didn’t just “hurt someone’s feelings.” hope you can see that the problem ran a lil deeper than that. my sense is zondervan and the authors recognize it — otherwise i don’t think they would’ve agreed to pull the book.
@jeff: I guess the difference then is I fail to see how they made a mistake. Maybe I’m the blind one. I’m not sure.
What about the people who are offended because the community is gone (at least for now, who knows if it will return)? What about those people?
I just can’t shake that this is nothing more than over zealous political correctness. If I’m wrong I pray that God will show me that much.
Oh no! Now we have even more confusion, hurt, and division! I’m watching the conversations break out on twitter and it is very discouraging. I did *NOT* see this coming!? Should blog posts have been pre-written in advance for this? Is it to be expected?
Christians of all color and background are now becoming aware of this issue, and rather abruptly I might add. Which isn’t helping.
I know reconciliation when I see it, and this isn’t it!
peace | dewde
just done with a mtg and checking comments.
i posted a comment someone sent earlier via email. getting some intense stuff but realized it’s best not to fan the flames.
this is bittersweet. if anything, i’m reminded that we are indeed the larger body of christ. i rejoice w/ the decision but mourn with the ‘loss’ that the authors are likely feeling.
but i believe in the big picture, we can move towards reconciliation.
One word comes to mind: “gotcha”
Reconciliation does not begin with shots fired. The mistakes made by the authors and publisher are regrettable, but this makes it not better at all. Very sad. Very sad day for the Christian community in America.
I would have rather heard that the reaching out happened before the ironic nature of the character assassination of these authors.
“character assassination of these authors?”
What are you talking about?
“Reconciliation does not begin with shots fired.”
Yes. The character assassination here is ascribing “motives” and judging the integrity of the authors when really were are talking about bad judgment on their part–not intent or motive. It is one injustice played on another to call these guys bigots. It is not a path to reconciliation.
True reconciliation is not “I am a victim” it is that we ALL are victims. How this played out is a case in point. Scapegoating was easy here. The issues however are not as simple in that more than race is at play in all of this. We have a diversity in not just ethnic culture but in politics, methods and theology.
Church – 0
Satan – 1
I don’t mean this question flippantly or tendentiously, so please graciously file it under “there are no stupid questions.”
Will you be Asian in heaven?
I’m honestly curious about your perspective on this.
!! I totally wondered about that too while I was growing up…mostly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an Asian American and a woman in heaven/eternity (i.e. it’s not been easy). Your question is a good one, especially as Scripture suggests (that at least from Jewish perspective) people won’t be married in heaven; instead we’ll corporately be the Bride of Christ.
I’ve found helpful insights from Revelations (7:9 in particular) as it gives us some pictures of what will happen when Christ returns, whether they’re literal or figurative, I don’t know. But most notably, the 7:9 verse and others like it in the book have the phrase “every tribe, tongue, and nation.” I’ve heard of cultures & nationalities, not sure about race (since race is sociopolitical construct – try to wikipedia that one someday!) as tribes and nations…
I think a read of Revelations will eventually beg another question, namely: what exactly does the bible say about heaven? I haven’t learned much eschatology formally yet (though I’m in seminary) but something I personally understand from Scripture is that when Jesus is back, He’s coming back to reign on Earth as King…and God will make His dwelling place with His people…that’s us! 😉 And whether Jesus will decide to obliterate all diversity from differences in sex, nation, race, culture, personality, etc…or keep every single detail the same (except that it’s fully redeemed & glorified through His power so it won’t cause division), I don’t know.
I’m personally a big fan of cultural diversity (b/c I hope the Wedding Feast of the Lamb is literally a big ol’ international cuisine buffet!) so I’d be happy (now, after much healing & growth) to find that I’m still going to be a loud, healthy, and proud of how-I-was-made Korean American woman post-return of the King! BUT…if I find myself glorified into some other kind of human being (a la South Park’s Goobacks – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goobacks), that’s all fine and well too…just as long as I get to be near my Lord.
I know your message was directed at P. Eugene, but I just wanted to chime in as a woman – hope you don’t mind. Hope this helped broaden perspective and also put a smile on your face, blessings to you brotha!
Will he be “Asian”, well I don’t know if he will fit under any label that categorizes him into “Asian” but I think I can confidently say that he will be distinct and unique because of how God made him to be.
We like to classify people into categories, but God doesn’t usually seem to do that. The part of this question that I feel strongly about is that if the answer to the question happened to be “no”, then does that mean that he will be just like everyone else, in looks, in thoughts, in passions, talents, etc? While I don’t imagine that I know much about what God’s ultimate kingdom will be like, I don’t think that God will just create instant uniformity in all of us. God created us with distinct personalities and characteristics. I believe it biblical that we will continue to have distinct personalities and characteristics, though perfected through Christ.
Good for Zondervan!
And while you’re at it, can you answer this question:
What truly is your agenda?
y’all. forreal? like, FORREAL FORREAL?
okay, i know some of y’all are having a hard time feeling compassionate, i know it’s hard to understand a pain that you feel is illegitimate but let us reflect upon the robust metaphor offered to us by the Good Word: we are the BODY of Christ.
ONE body. sure, some of us are hands, some of us are hair follicles, we got some legs some vocal chords, etc etc… but we are all parts of ONE body.
now say for example a toe gets deeply severed and the ear goes, “i don’t hear you toe. i don’t get your toe pain. i’m doing MY job, listening and what not so toe, you’re just gonna have to get over yourself.” while it is the option of the ear to ignore the pain because the ear doesn’t necessarily FEEL the pain, if the bleeding in the toe is never resolved, THE WHOLE BODY HURTS and ultimately, THE WHOLE BODY DIES. you might say, “you’re JUST a toe! i can do the work of the ear without you toe!” but again — untreated, ignored, and left to fester the WHOLE BODY WILL DIE. in the end there are no toe problems, ear problems, eyeball problems or nose problems — it is the problem of the ENTIRE body.
i know my illustration of this metaphor is a bit elementary but the point is this: whether you FEEL my pain or not, whether you UNDERSTAND my pain or not — my pain IS your pain because we are ONE body. you can resist that as much as you like, hate on me or anyone else who felt hurt till you’re blue in the ear but brothers and sisters — MY PAIN IS YOUR PAIN, and know what? YOUR PAIN IS MY PAIN! that is the beauty, the pain, the glory and the burden of the body of Christ.
we’re in this together, homies. let’s start acting like it.
I firmly believe that while this may not be a “win” (I don’t think anyone was trying to win) it is a step forward in reconciliation in the kingdom of God. Why would we as the church want to bring pain or hurt to anyone while we are bringing the message of freedom and healing through Jesus? I think we all know the not-so-distant history of race in the US is a painful one and we can only see continual healing and reconciliation from this past is we recognize that sometimes we mess up and there is grace from the side of those who were wronged. I think this is what is being displayed. We are called to be in right relationship with each other and this is a step forward in a painful and joyful walk toward shalom.
PS – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” [Romans 12:15]
PPS – haterade is poisonous. put that drink down, friend.
PPPS – you can speak in tongues of men and angels but if you don’t have love, all anybody hears is a clanging cymbal. love is patient, kind, doesn’t boast, isn’t proud, doesn’t count wrongs… always perseveres. so make your points, exercise the wisdom God gave you but don’t just come at me with your CLANG CLANNNGGG CLAAAAANNNNGIN’, mmkay?
PPPPS – i love y’all. i mean it. especially YOU.
will be praying for this continued road towards reconciliation. may it be spirit filled, and may we wrestle and learn to feel each other’s hurts and our frustrations.
Jeff>”What truly is your agenda?”
I don’t claim to be the mouthpiece for Pastor Eugene, but anyone who follows his blog knows his heart for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ministry of love, grace, and reconciliation.
The sympathize with our Christian brothers out there who feel they’ve lost a resource with the protests against the Deadly Viper book, but my question to all of them who are flooding Pastor Eugene (and Prof. Rah’s) blog with your comments – how do disdainful messages that imply that there’s some sort of sinister plan at work glorify Christ and testify to the redemptive power of the gospel?
way to go guys. you were successful in getting a great Christian book out of publication. that’s what we need…less Godly information out there.
Which is why we’re all hoping and praying for a repackaged version of the same Christian content, bro. If it was a simple matter of redoing the book cover, that would have been great for everyone, y’kno? It’s obvious why it looks like the baby was thrown out w/the bathwater, but is it that hard to see that the baby is still alive and just needing to be placed somewhere more edifying and life-giving?
To be offended by something is a choice. The choice was made, and a book and movement that was helping men live lives of honor and integrity was cut short. That is very, very sad.
Better it would have been to make the choice to not be offended and let the book and movement continue to make an impact in the world. I have to make choices every single day whether I’m going to let something someone says or does offend me. Sometimes I make the wrong choice. Most of the time I let God vindicate me if necessary.
It’s a false choice to say you can have something either Godly or culturally sensitive. Why can’t you have both? To tell others arrogantly that they should get over it or that they shouldn’t be offended or that being offended is a choice, sadly, just reinforces the presence of white privilege in the Church.
joe c, the argument is not about the godly information. No one is saying that the helpful material in the book can’t/shouldn’t come back repackaged in a more appropriate form. Note in zondervans statement they have said they’d like to work on how to better present the material. I hope we do see it back in a form that doesn’t cause our Asian brothers and sisters pain.
@Art – to offend someone is also a choice. the 1 dimensional viewpoint of losing a community that undoubtedly impacted you and many others CANNOT eclipse the trivializing of the lives and cultures of a race of billions. this really is sad mainly b/c the insidious racism that exists in the church is playing out right before our eyes.
You are a racist. not b/c you choose to be, but b/c you choose not to put down your perspective as a white man. You see… you as a white man may never understand what it means to advocate for your culture or race.. b/c you don’t have to… thats the White privilege you have in this country. Transplant you in a country or culture where you’re the ‘stupid american,’ i guarantee you’ll be fighting for your life.
you’re right, you can decide whether you get offended or not… i choose to be offended b/c i choose to seek justice against all those things you think i am as an asian man. I suppose i could also let God do all the work and vindicate me if necessary, but thats lazy man. We are His hands and feet on this earth. God’s people pursue reconciliation, we pursue justice, we pursue understanding… just as He pursues us.
here is a comment left by a white man on djchuang.com. sad that most cant be as submitting as this brother is… admirable.
“That trend (interesting that it preceded all this) met this debate and revealed a blind spot: how little I understood how Asian pop-culture imagery was perceived by Asian Americans. I feel like I’ve spent lots of time with African-Americans and Latinos (the dominant groups when we think of race relations in the US), and have at least a basic “map” of sensitivities and cultural pressure points. But, my understanding of how Asian-Americans (a very broad & diverse group, like any other) think about themselves, each other, and other groups is pretty absent.
My feelings on the outcome – pulling of the book & site – are mixed. I was really surprised at the depth of offense and feeling when reading some of the comments. This could be a product of my “blind spot”. As a designer & communicator, I missed the potential for offense entirely, perhaps because I’m deeply fond of “kung-fu [pop] culture”. I know, I know: that’s a caricature, a pale shadow of real Asian culture, but it’s just way more interesting than my dried out, boring WASP-y culture (to a degree, the target audience of the DV concept).
It’s made me want to get to know my Asian-American brothers and sisters more. My world is missing their perspectives.”
@joe c – there may be less Godly information out there, but whats more disappointing is that from the looks of the comments like yours, there’s obviously less Godly people out there as well.
While I am not Asian, I can complete understand how the images and marketing of the book was offensive to the Asian culture. Thank you for your humility and willingness to state the truth in love. I am praying that this will be a learning experience for everyone and that we all will begin to see the beauty of different cultures. Sorry that you are receiving all these negative comments on the blog. Keep you head up!
I am offended therefore the book should be pulled…
I am offended therefore I am correct…
I am offended therefore I will speak….
I am offended therefore I put another notch in the belt of “if that’s what it looks like to be a Christian, I want no part of it…”
@erica – sadly, what it looks like to be ‘Christian’ is to be lazy and passive to the injustices of this world, so we can let God do all the dirty work for us – i want no part of that.
I’m so sad that this PC crap has spread within the church. It is pratically impossible to publish anything without offending someone, somewhere, and somehow. Your time would have been better spent feeding the poor or helping old people get heat in the winter.
This just makes me sick.
i’m sorry, what was that? i couldn’t quite hear what you saying above the CLAAAANNNGG CLAAAANNNGG CLAAAAANGGGGGGG!!!!
listen i feel your pain, brother. i feel sick too. but my ears are ringing with cymbal crashes and i hear nothing about your love for your co-laborers in Christ. cute that you’re trying show to love the poor and the old people [we are too: http://onedayswages.org, http://seattlequest.org%5D but REALLY friend? you’re not gonna extend kind, patient love that isn’t rude or proud to your brothers and sisters in Christ? that’s fine. express your opinion, make your point but all me or anyone else hears is CLAANNNGGG CLAAAANNNGGG CLLLLAAAAAAANNNNGGGGGGG!
You are right that it is difficult to do much without offending someone. The question is if we must choose whom to offend, are we going to offend people who are offended when we challenge something they’ve justified in themselves? Or do we offend a people group who have been marginalized and mistreated for hundreds of years?
Example, if I write a book condemning consumerism, then I am going to offend people who make tons of money from it, or the people who don’t want comprimised their ability to have everything they want at whatever expense. But I choose to offend them because of the benefit of helping people who struggle with consumerism and debt. But to offend a whole people group, even accidentally, just because we simply wanted a particular pop-culture theme for our book, that doesn’t benefit anyone, it only hurts those people.
And how do you know that anyone is being kept from feeding the poor or helping old people because they are trying to be sensitive to other people’s feelings? I see no reason to believe that one is connected to the other.
If to be so belittling of the pain our brothers and sisters often face is what it means, i’m not sure i want a part in it ether. I can’t imagine how painful it would be to be constantly coming up against stuff that was demeaning to your culture.
jhong: Thanks, I used your comment for my devotions, just now. a little lightness and light and truth!
Denial is one of the sneakiest and most effective tools of the enemy of the body of Christ. If you don’t get it, and you are not willing to have your brothers and sisters in CHRIST show you, then you are truly blind. If the blind then try to lead the blind, who will avoid the ditch?
For the record, i am a wasp, and can say like another wasp a couple of centuries ago ( check out John Newton’s Racial activity) ” I once was blind, but now I see” and I can tell a number of YOU who Jhong loves, that you, my brothers are blind.
I love Mike and Judd and I love the DVCA book and website community. I had never heard of Eugene Cho or his blog before this all started.
It is my opinion that Eugene Cho has been a balanced and compassionate voice of reason. He’s been a bridge-builder and I think it was short-sighted and premature to jump to the word “agenda”.
peace | dewde
Don’t be disheartened, brother. Very rarely do people in power recognize the injustice of their own privilege. There were Christians who cheered the use of dogs and fire hoses during the civil rights movement of the ’60s. But the heroes of the faith have always been those who managed to disentangle their culture’s values from their Kingdom’s priorities and stand up for those whose voices were vilified.
Zondervan has done a noble and wise thing at great cost. I sincerely pray that the ministry of Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite will ultimately be blessed for this decision. They are in a powerful position to help other Christians understand just how radical their integrity and character have proven to be.
My previous comments were a knee jerk reaction. What I should have said is this … Eugene Cho welcome to The People of the Second Chance. We all screw up and we all make mistakes. I’m your brother regardless. You are a good guy and God loves you.
okay. dang. so i should’ve scrolled down a ways… i mean, i still mean what i said in theory — but yeah. my bad. i hear you a little better now.
love you too, brother.
Understood and not a problem here.
I guess what bugs me about this whole thing is this … our citizenship as believers is in heaven. Our identity as believers should be in Christ. It does not matter at all what our ancestry/heritage is and where we come from. I understand the world getting caught up in this type of thing but I don’t understand Christians doing it.
I won’t disagree that perhaps I can’t see the whole picture. I will say that the whole picture does not matter. What matters is our identity in Christ. Who are we at the end of the day? We are his. All this PC stuff is just a distraction from serving the poor, feeding the needy, helping families of prisoners, serving at church, being kind to strangers, etc.
And while I am on that … I guess I need to live up to my own words and let this thing go. There are more important things for me to be doing with my time. This is really God’s issue not mine and I should have come to that realization a lot sooner.
Keep doing what you guys are doing with the fighting poverty ministry … that is an uphill battle and I don’t envy you at all.
Dean, I agree wholeheartedly that our identity as believers should be in Christ. And what a beautiful identity that is!
But, while this is true, as a 31 year old Chinese American man, I still struggle with my identity in Christ. The years of taunts of “ching chong” and eyes pulled back have affected me. The ways that society views me and has subtly spoken inadequacy into my life and the ways that society indiscreetly looks down on my short stature and non-white skin color have affected me. I hate to admit this. I think that I should be stronger than that. And Christ is stronger! But the reality is that I am still in process. I need to be affirmed that it is okay for me to be Asian (most of my life I did not truly believe this). Racial stereotypes speak the opposite to me. After decades of their subtle negative impact, their combined power is much greater than I could imagine. Satan is so deceptive. I am still working with Christ to get out of his traps. I am thankful that Zondervan and the authors (whom I have great respect for) are working to repackage the message of the book, in part for me. It is not just about “being PC.”
Also, there are countless Asian Americans WHO DO NOT KNOW CHRIST! This breaks my heart. And these stereotypes hurt them as well, which in turn hurts our witness as the body of Christ.
Lastly, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to reach out to the poor and needy and families of prisoners. I am working towards this to the best of my ability. But, have you stopped to consider the disproportionate number of minorities that are in poverty and the disproportionate number of minorities in prison?
Is it possible that the issue of race plays a larger role than you may think?
Dean, I don’t understand why one’s identity in Christ cannot include being from a certain ethnic or cultural group. When we come to Christ, we come to him fully as we are and we only get to grow up & be more of who he intended us to be. This does not equate with putting aside our ethnicity (or gender & many other things) to take on Christ. We have all been fearfully and wonderfully made. It seems to me that being in Christ includes living into who we were made to be and, that includes ethnicity and race.
I just don’t think that our identity in Christ mean that we drop the other parts of our created being.
Nothing like taking down a couple of guys trying to make a difference in the world. That’ll show em! Congrats.
My mind keeps coming back to Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I’m scared that we are focusing on the wrong issue here. This entire discussion about race and stereotypes and who has been offended has taken the focus off of the content of the book and has drawn attention to something the authors never intended. This is unfortunate, because the book is powerful and has helped many people to change and become more like Christ.
While I can empathize for the ones who felt misrepresented and offended, I did not come to the same conclusions after reading the book that they did. I pray that we will not see people policing every book that is written looking for stereotypes that may be offensive to someone somewhere. Let’s look for what unites us instead of what divides us.
you are ABSOLUTELY right. we should look for what unites us. and though you didn’t see it, though you didn’t personally feel it, this book [unwittingly and unintentionally] DIVEDED a large number of Asian Americans from other members of the body of Christ.
unity is not homogeneity. i don’t think God’s invitation into the body of Christ was about erasing the differences HE ordained but rather to baptize those differences into the Kingdom, to be used as one of the many facets of the body of Christ. a body would not function if it was all hand, all toe, all eyebrow — our differences are IMPORTANT not because of how they make us so special but because of how God PURPOSED them to reflect the height, depth, breadth and width of His love for us.
so again, not to harp on my own illustration from a few comments back but if you, as a member of the same body, treat my GAPING PAINFUL WOUND like it’s a papercut, hand me some neosporin and call it a d-a-y — HEALING will not come and THE WHOLE BODY SUFFERS.
to anyone who is asking me to hurt less and be offended less, i am asking YOU as your sister to HURT MORE be OFFENDED MORE! not just for me, but for ANYONE in our world that experiences injustice.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.” [Amos 5:21-24]
The question goes back to you…
will you be white (I am assuming that you are white) in Heaven?
Lets not forget that Jesus is not a white anglo saxon male that has blue eyes.
I’m not really thinking of physical appearance: what you or I or Pastor Eugene or Jesus will look like in the Resurrection. I’m thinking more of cultural things. Will we carry those cultural marks with us into eternity?
I believe that we will. Revelation 21:22-26 — people will bring into the city all the glory and honor of the nations, which includes what is good, beautiful, honorable, wonderful and different. It will be glorious!
Interesting. Do you think we can know in the present what elements of a particular culture are “good, beautiful, honorable, wonderful?”
Or deeper still: once we start making those kinds of judgments aren’t we already applying a standard that transcends culture entirely?
Admittedly, I’m slow to say, “yes, we can know right now absolutely what is good, beautiful, honorable and wonderful” among the nations. But, that doesn’t keep me from believing that there are distinctives and specifics in each culture that will be preserved.
I am pretty sure that I don’t understand the conclusion of your deeper comment. Please help me.
My stance is that we wade in slowly with any kind of judgment. But, we do wade in. We recognize that people are different and seek to honor those differences. We relate with honest-to-goodness people. We study the Bible. We learn.We grow to celebrate and honor our own identities. We count on the abundant resources from God.
It’s a dance.
Well, that second question was a little opaque. Sorry. I really just wanted to ask questions here, but I’ll share a little just so you can see what’s behind my queries.
I’m really wondering if our thoughts regarding Christianity and culture aren’t radical enough. The Gospel transcends culture, it penetrates through any and all barriers of language and tradition. But the Gospel also subverts culture, dethrones it in a sense. Jesus calls us to forsake any other allegiance – to family, to tribe and to nation – and to re-identify ourselves (or recognize our true identity) and to confess that we are now aliens and strangers – and that confession might mean estrangement or outright hostility from the ones we love most. We might be expelled from the tribe we were born into – but what loss is that when we have Christ?
I’m just trying to work out how this all fits with the present concerns.
Scott, thanks for your response. Thanks for clarifying.
I agree that the gospel transcends cultures and barriers. I agree that the gospel also subverts aspects of culture. All things are submissive to the Lordship of Jesus. Our allegiance is to Jesus and the gospel. This means at times that followers of Jesus forsake family and tribe for the gospel but, that doesn’t mean that everything in them, that came from that family or tribe, is automatically erased (or, should be erased). I think it’s a great loss to assume that everything we received from family, culture, and tribe is without significance because that has given shape to who we are. And, as I see it, there are riches in each culture that will be paraded into the new city and displayed for all to see. This shows me that culture matters to God.
Where I see this fitting in the current situation is that there seems to be an effort to neutralize culture in the face of “finding our identity in Christ.” There are some that are focusing on what we all have in common (Jesus) and wanting to celebrate that instead of seeking to celebrate and honor differences. With this, I believe, there is a spiritualization that I don’t agree with. We are called to live in this world with real people.
Melody, is your comment/question to me? If so, I am having a hard time understanding what you are asking. Please clarify. Thanks!
@chad: i think almost every christian would support the authors’ essential message. who wouldn’t want them to make a positive difference in the world? that’s not the problem.
but there’s another message embedded in their book that’s much more insidious. the images and promotional materials have communicated that it’s okay to hijack asian culture and use racially insensitive imagery.
@art: i think i’d agree with you (to a certain extent) that being offended can be a choice. and indeed, i hope that everyone WOULD take offense when a racial group (especially within the body of christ) is hurt. isn’t that worth choosing to be offended over?
Since you brought it up, I challenge you.
How about you donate one month’s salary to fight poverty if Pastor Eugene donates one year’s salary to fight poverty.
He just did it. It’s your turn.
I never mentioned money. I said, “Your time would have been better spent feeding the poor or helping old people get heat in the winter.”
TIME is what I was talking about not money. Personally I believe time is more valuable than money … many would probably disagree though.
And thanks for telling me what he did with his salary … it supports my point in my second comment … he is a good guy.
Abd BTW it is not my turn unless God tells me to do it … and as of yet … he has not.
This is GOD.
I’m telling you and have been telling you for a long time. Give it all away and follow me.
Wow. I can’t believe Zondervan pulled. I confess that I never thought of this (Deadly Vipers) as offensive and racist, but I see where you’re coming from. Thanks for posting this and bringing to light an issue in the Church that I wasn’t entirely aware of.
I think Mike and Jud should have kept their website up to teach and explain why it was wrong. Instead, they just shut it down due to “an unfortunate conflict around our use of Asian American themes.” Based on that statement alone you would think that they were innocent victims of the PC movement…
I’m in total agreement with you Tony Lin. Perhaps, hopefully, they will be able to get back online and talk about what they learned through this process. I felt their statement made it sound like they were somehow innocent victims as well. I’ve managed a web “community” before and Mike/Judd can easily keep that going, and lead with integrity, bringing in various voices, so that the huge rift that is occurring here and elsewhere could be carefully and lovingly led, rather than all this visceral reactionary stuff.
I’m really stunned, and embarrassed by my fellow white’s — men mostly who seem to be so angry and defensive and accusatory.
If we have hurt others, and we’re in positions of leadership, we have a huge responsibility to care and change. It seems so obvious. How can any of this vitriol help? Awareness and appreciation of beauty and differences of race, ethnicity and culture is not PC, it’s godly. And putting it in terms of winning and losing is just so wrong.
I am very sad about all of this ranting, although there are glimpses of mercy and peacemaking, and listening mostly this is becoming divisive.
There’s a danger to the mediums of blogs and such, ….
Need to mull on all this…. but I hurt for my new Asian American friends that I’ve met around this. I hurt for the authors because they surely are grieving and it is difficult and surreal I am sure. I hope they will come back and get back up online and begin the process of walking forward. That’s what good leaders, people of integrity which I have heard they certainly are, please pastor this community through this.
@Jin – I’ve been called a lot of things, but never a racist. However, I choose to not be offended.
I believe your opinion, however valid you think it may be, is misguided by your own cultural prejudices. You are welcome to your opinions, as am I too mine. If you are a brother in Christ, I love you. However, I believe more harm than good has been done to the body of Christ with Zondervan pulling the book, and the website going down. Satan has won a victory over the church. Once again, we cannot get along.
Wow. well let me be the first.
it is painfully obvious to me that you surround yourself with a homogenous group of people who don’t ever care to call you out on your racial views. the sad thing is… you don’t even know what youre doing wrong. You probably have no idea what im talking about either.
Be well man.
Thanks for trying to engage in a civil, honest, and edifying conversation.
I’ve enabled the ‘REPLY’ feature so that you can better engage certain comments.
Believing and praying that we’ll all grow deeper, wiser, and more unified as the body of Christ.
Repentance is not just saying one is sorry and then continuing to hurt others. True repentance involves turning around and changing what you are doing. I appreciate that Zondervan didn’t just give a hollow “we’re sorry but we’ll continue to make money off of your pain” but instead said “we hurt you, we are sorry, and we are going to stop.” Choosing to repent is a sign of character.
If this content does resurface in some form, I hope that commitment to respect others and be models of good character continues. I hope that men can be encouraged to be strong and whole without having to mock other races or demean women in order to do so. Strength and character are not developed by positioning oneself as better than others, but by in humility putting serving others before oneself.
Perhaps one of the reasons people are riled up is the fear that, as a person of the dominant culture, I might have the best intentions but still unintentionally offend someone. Once that happens, you may have a permanent “racist” label applied to you and the things you have accomplished. This might even lead to your livelihood being taken away, as it likely has been with these DV guys.
It sounds like Eugene has done things right, eg. spoken with the authors first rather than the publisher, avoided assumptions of character. But if I were the authors, it would take some time before I could accept all of my time, hard work, and emotional investment in my project being thrown out and dismissed based on an unintentional, though real, mistake.
No one wants that label and I can reassure everyone that Mike and Jud are wonderful people. I will defend them. They are not racists and far from it.
We all have blind spots. I have blind spots.
Their character and livelihoods are important matters. And I will certainly try to do my part to support them over the coming months.
The book will be republished. Their website and ministry will re-emerge.
But it will take some (as you shared)… There needs to be more dialogue, healing, and reconciliation.
This is not the end.
I just hope Mike and Jud share their thoughts soon here on this messageboard or on the blogs so people can stop hating.
If you find yourself new to ethnic reconciliation but open to learning more, there are some really great Christian books that you can read. “Being White” by Paula Harris and Doug Schaupp and “The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change” by Brenda Salter Mcneil are two of my favorites.
Nicely said. I agree. Understand yourself as a white person with power.
There’s also “The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community” by Eric H. F. Law. It’s a really great book.
@Art: I think it was presumptive of Jin to call you what he did, that is frustrating. I doubt he knows you from Adam. But if Jin can have cultural prejudices, then so can you, the authors, and all of us really. Perhaps there is something that you or the authors themselves are blinded to. Trust me, I know offenses can be petty and trite. There is always a risk in airing them. But they can also be very real and sincere, and if you can’t air them in the intimacy of the Body of Christ, where else can you air them?
We can choose not to be offended, but I don’t think that’s the issue here. Somethings are just in poor taste. ‘All things are lawful, not all things are beneficial.’ There are things I can’t say in front of my mother. She could choose not to be offended by them, but if I know deep down inside, I’ve curried anger or dishonored her name, why continue to pursue? After all its not all about me needing to say what is on my mind (blunt honesty), rather its also about others and God (edifying).
Zondervan can choose not to publish, the authors can choose not to write, something that they think distracts or detracts from the faithful message they want to impart. They can choose to write a Better book. I hope they do because I value and I need their efforts at trying to build integrity in the body. I mourn at what has been lost here, but also have hope in the greater understanding that can be achieved. I pray everyone prays and thinks and prays again before hitting “submit”.
2 thoughts…if Zondervan had said “Guys, the content is great but the context you put it in will be offensive to people. Let’s find another way to package it before we put it out” would ANYONE have cared? You probably would have said “good thinking Zondervan. We want to make sure the content is consumed without having to apologize for issues like race. The cross is offensive enough and we don’t need to add anything to that.” Right? Right.
Other thought, what if they did “Character Drive-bys: these guys want to drive by and put bullet holes in character killing your family and ministry!”? And they used black and latin gang imagery. Put Craig Groeschel in a bandana throwing up a cross like a gang sign. Would you think that would be offensive? Would you think it would perpetuate stereotypes?
I read and loved DVCA. I thought the Qi Qi Ri line was overboard, I never found the stuff to be offensive. Other people did. I don’t think the authors meant harm, it was accidental. Unfortunately, their accident and Zondervan’s oversight of their accident cost them. I hope it comes back repackaged…just not as character drive-by :0)
What is interesting/ironic/funnybutnot’haha’ to me is that a majority of the people who are questioning Eugene’s responses to this or ways he went about addressing the issue.. are white.
and. While this certainly shouldn’t be a one-sided conversation and opposing thoughts shouldn’t be edited or censored out, do they really have to be presented in a mean, attacking spirit? Come on.
A few years ago one of the pastors at the large church I attend had an affair, and our senior pastor addressed it with the church in a sermon called “Living Faithfully in a Dangerous World.” He, and the elders/pastoral staff, displayed an example of how we lovingly approach conflict/problems/unintentional hurt. The following weekend, I saw that former pastor talking to our senior pastor and I watched our senior pastor put his arm around him and walk out of the chapel with him. That was the moment I knew the pastoral staff at my church was solid. Not because they were amazing teachers (though they are) but because they demonstrate for us how to be people of grace and compassion even when your name/reputation/hard work is at stake.
How does our, as people not involved in the decisions that occurred, response represent our faith? Does it show that we are people of grace and compassion? Does it show that we are allowed to burn with holy anger and still love those who have offended us? Does it show that we are a unified body who has died to self for the sake of Christ and entered into new life as a people of love?
Sometimes it just feels like people aren’t so concerned about the decisions as much as they are the response.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). Keep that in mind regardless of where you stand on the issue. I’m sure there’s a lot of room for forgiveness and reconciliation, but that all can only come through humility.
Stephanie and Steve,
just wanna say, great comments. Y’all make me feel better and hopeful about this.
lets bring this home a bit…
lets call ourselves a ‘race’ of Christians for a minute.
what if i decided that i wanted to manufacture and sell toilet paper. Good stuff. we all need toilet paper…. and b/c i love God sooo much, i decided to put warm and fuzzy images of the cross, Jesus, and the church on it. and sold them with the tagline ‘simply heavenly’
all good until, you realize that you’ll be wiping your ass with the face of our Savior.
Im pretty sure y’all would be offended or at least taken back that someone would use such sacred imagery to push a product.
as a ‘race’ of Christians we would CHOOSE to be offended b/c the imagery of the Cross, Jesus is NOT a joke. we understand what those things symbolize and to use those images in any other ways then intended would be a foul.
yet, i am absolutely appalled at how some think that use of ninjas, and arbitrary Chinese characters, and stereotypes are any different. All these things used to market this book are things that are important to the asian cultures of the world… if you can’t relate b/c you don’t understand… im with you.. i don’t claim to understand all the peoples of the world… but I AM NOT AN ARROGANT MAN/CHRISTIAN, who thinks that b/c its not important to me, its not important, period. a few of you who have commented are… NOT ALL.. but a few, and you must be rebuked.
Stephanie’s observation is spot on. The dissenters of this book pulling are mostly, if not all, white. Im not drawing the white vs asian lines.. y’all did that pretty well on your own.
racism today is not about segregation, jim crow laws, internment camps, or lynchings.. it more insidious than that… its about assumptions and apathy, arrogance, and ultimately the refusal to understand.
bottom line – we watch our own backs
asians fight for asians, blacks fight for blacks, latinos fight for latinos, women fight for women.
I pray for the day when a white man will fight my fight not b/c he’s my friend, but b/c its right.
Jin>”I pray for the day when a white man will fight my fight not b/c he’s my friend, but b/c its right.”
Jesus calls us to advocate for others, but especially those who are suffering or oppressed. For many Asian American Christians, it’s been encouraging to see non-Asian Christians chime in and sympathize with the struggle of our community even as they admit that they have a lot to learn about the stories and perspectives of the Asian American community.
On the flip side, every time a (white) brother or sister in Christ flippantly declares that “being offended is a choice / GET OVER IT” is another discouraging reminder of just how pervasive and subtle racism is in our society… even among “Christians”.
I’ve commented before and I’ve commented above. I am white. I do not understand the reactions of my white “brothers” and I’m mortified really.
It shows how long the journey will be, how high the climb, to a time when we will all have an awareness and appreciation of the beauty and differences of race, ethnicity, culture and gender. It is not politically correct, it is right and Godly.
Mike and Judd need to pastor their community through this and I trust they will.
thank you sister!
Mike and Jud will repackage their wonderful work and it will be back, but i also believe that they are being called to minister to their respective communities about this.
It’s been quite amazing to see this all unfold.
yes, let’s pray that God gives Mike and Jud a “second chance” indeed. It’s unfortunate that their content got tangled in the complications of race in America. Integrity in leadership is definitely an important message that is needed in today’s culture. May this experience *enrich*, not hinder their quest to raise up the value of integrity in today’s multi-cultural church.
Perhaps that should be the title of their re-worked book- “People of the second chance” It definitely has a powerful tone to it…
Sorry for not being very engaged here.
Drove down late morning from Seattle to Portland to speak at a conference. Will try to read some of these comments later tonight.
Thanks for listening and sharing.
I’m glad that we continue to chip away at the “White Man’s Burden.” Next, we Christians should go after the Sarah Palins and Rush Limbaughs of the U.S. I’m also glad to know that, as a White Male, we’re the source of just about all the problems in our society. No matter what I say or do, I’m privileged and racist and only if and when my white brethren and I repent, we will see a reconciled society where there’ll be no more dysfunctional families, cheating on spouses, general disregard of respect for elders, pornagraphy, drug problems and the like.
But blogging about those other issues just doesn’t stack up to racism. It’s funny how the Christian Right aren’t the only ones to prioritize which sins are worse…..abortion or racism, homosexuality or greed… dumping one’s family for another sugar or degradation of creation…Let’s see: Who will be the one to cast that first stone.
@danderson: can you clarify what you’re trying to say?… maybe after you calm down?
White man’s burden? Throw the first stone?
The war’s over, and y’all won.
1654—Possibly earlier, slavery is established as an American institution.
1865—Death of slavery, birth of discriminatory Jim Crow laws.
1885—Local gov’t forcibly removes all Chinese from city of Tacoma. Similar pogroms against Chinese enacted elsewhere.
1888—US President Chester A. Arthur passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, enacting ban on all Chinese Immigration.
1890—The west was largely “won.” Native American had been “civilized” into assimilationist schools, or confined to reservations. Massacre at Wounded Knee. America was uncontestably white from sea to shining sea.
1893—US gov’t helps private US citizens to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy.
1898—US annexes Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian language is banned from schools and public institutions.
1899–The US gains control of the Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines as result of Spanish American war. Puerto Rico is still held today as a territory.
1904—The Samoan monarchy is forced to cede their islands to US control.
1907—US reaches “gentleman’s agreement” with Japan, preventing further Japanese immigration into the US.
1935—The practice of redlining begins, marking out neighborhoods by racial makeup. Minorities, by definition, created lower property values. In effect, this prevented minorities from building up housing equity.
1941—Executive Order 9066 imprisons all Japanese and Americans of Japanese decent in concentration camps without trial or due process. Many lose their farms and businesses and never return.
1964—Congress finally outlaws discrimination on the basis of race.
So you see, your portion of the white man’s burden is actually quite light. Unlike whites of the past you haven’t had to commit massacres, pass discriminatory legislation, set up Residential Schools and hire pedophiles to staff them, or conduct pogroms against minorities to evict them from lands and stores.
In fact, white privilege in your day and age, to a large extent, has become fully automated. You might not be an active racist, but you do benefit from the racist policies of the past and you don’t even have to think about it.
The land you live on? Indian Land.
The railroad your supplies are brought in on? Built with Chinese labor.
When a white man commits a crime and the news reports him, he’s a man.
When a black man commits a crime and the news reports on him, he’s a “black man.”
White people are the assumed, the standard, the normal. Everyone else is the lesser other.
And yes, no matter what you do you will be privileged, if you are indeed white. Not because of what you do or what you say, but because other white people are more comfortable with you than with us coloreds.
They will give you a loan they wouldn’t even mention to us.
They will stop their taxis when they won’t slow down for us.
They will not assume you are a criminal, or an illegal immigrant, or that you don’t speak English and can’t qualify for the job.
But that’s not your fault right? You’re just you. An individual. Ah, but you are an individual with a voice.
And the same people who wouldn’t give me a loan, who wouldn’t stop their taxi for my brother, who won’t consider my sister’s resume because she “looks illegal” will listen to you.
The very filters that keep us out let you in.
You can keep buying into the inequality and shrug your shoulders when you see injustice, or you can speak up & cast off the robes of privilege. None of us will solve racism on our own, but we can pick a sphere of responsibility and start there. Is there a story of racial injustice that motivates you? Learn that peoples’ history, their anger, their pain, work towards their equality until you can’t see a difference between their standing and your own.
Will solving racism solve murder, lust, jealousy, etc? Probably not. No one here said racism was more important than those other sins. But just because we can’t solve them all, at exactly the same time, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try solving any of them at any time.
I’ve heard mention of “The Race Card” in this and other discussions surrounding Deadly Vipers: Character Assassins.
If speaking out against racial injustices is what is meant by “playing the race card” then we don’t have any other choice. We’re writing our pleas on cards and waving them in the air.
Can you hear me now?
What hurts more: getting hit with a rock or a card? Cuz the truth is white people have been casting lots of big, heavy, race-stones for a long, long time.
When white people commit acts of racism, those acts are powerful. They look like national legislation, they look like forced internment, they look like denial of voting rights, they look like compulsory assimilation or segregation, they look like dead minorities.
Them be stones alright. And when they hit, those wounds last a long time.
We’re playing cards and you’re playing medieval catapult.
Stop stoning us.
Stop looking away when we get pelted.
Stop asking us to “get over” the stoning as your people wind up to toss another rock.
Stop telling us the rocks you’re throwing “aren’t that big” and “can’t hurt that bad.”
The question isn’t which of us minorities is going to throw the first stone because we don’t have any stones to throw. All we have are cards. And yeah, we’re waving ‘em like crazy because that’s all we got to stop your rocks.
The question is what are you going to do with the stone in YOUR hand right now?
I’m asking you to put down whatever rock you find there. You’re not gonna be better off for throwing it and, brother, neither am I. Put it down and start reading those “race cards” people on this blog are holding up.
Each one is a different story. A story about how they got here, how they’ve been hurt, and how they’ve survived.
When you find a story of injustice towards a minority group, one that hits you right there, like you’re on the receiving end of those stones. Like you’re angry. Like you’re hurt. Like you want to do something about it? then you’ll be starting your own journey.
Grab a card and write down the story of that journey. It might not be about your race, but it will be your story. It’ll include your hurt and your anger, your joys, and your pains. Maybe you’ll take on the story of that minority group from before, the one whose story hit you so hard you felt like screaming, crying, and denying all at the same time. When you have your card and start waving it at the people throwing rocks at you, you’ll know how we feel and you’ll know why we do what we do.
You’ll see how far we need to go to be the community God wants us to be. But you’ll also find us next to you, and in so doing, catch a glimpse of what it means to be a community that collectively reflects Him.
It’s worth the view.
2009 – Many many many many many many many white people who don’t have a racist bone in their body. Let’s not forget there are A LOT of people on your side.
Thanks Erik. 🙂
I do hope that this isn’t about a divisive taking of sides, but a collective pursuit of justice towards a common vision.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. MLK, Jr.
And DF: whoever you are, you are brilliant. Thank you.
Go on and PREACH IT! Boy that was just… good.
Or shall I say goooooooood. That’s more like it.
eugene, I sure wish you would have posted this update without keeping the comments ‘open’ – hosting this type of dialog is unfortunate. it makes this situation sound like a ‘win’ vs ‘loss’ …
What are you afraid of? Not all dialogue needs to be cheery.
yeah, “PK”, it’s got to be about fear doesn’t it? that had to be what was behind my comment…
I don’t know.
But it was the
that was interesting.
Im gonna challenge you with your own blog.. your own words.
in this blog post you write:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Yes, perhaps my inspiration for this post has something to do with the NEW MacBook Pro that I’m typing it on. But, honestly, this ad resonates in my heart on many levels! I want to change the world… I’ll start with the world around me TODAY!
Thinking different & Living different,
your blog entry above seems to suggest that one should move against the grain… rock the boat.. to change the world. BUT your comment of
“eugene, I sure wish you would have posted this update without keeping the comments ‘open’ – hosting this type of dialog is unfortunate. it makes this situation sound like a ‘win’ vs ‘loss’ …”
seems to suggest that keeping quiet is best for everyone.
– Lets use the very worlds that you felt so passtionate about in your blog.. the very words that resonated with you these many months ago.
the status quo: is to pretend that racial objectification doesn’t exist. I have no respect for this status quo.
I am the troublemaker b/c i choose to make issue of something that could easily be ignored.
You can quote ME, disagree with ME, glorify or vilify ME. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore ME.
are those of us speaking out against this ‘non-issue’ crazy? misfits? it seem apparent that you think so.
“…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
you say – “this ad resonates in my heart on many levels! I want to change the world… I’ll start with the world around me TODAY!”
“prove it” … the way you want me to prove it? here on someone else’s blog? no.
my life speaks for itself. I don’t see a conflict in my original statement. maybe you do. it’s ok – you don’t know me.
I accept your challenge. but, I’m sure you’ll be disappointed with how/where I choose to ‘prove it’… that’s your choice.
where do you blog? minister? what’s your last name?
Relax man. @Chilly wasn’t saying that this shouldn’t be made ‘open.’ I see his point about ‘closing the comments.’
I certainly thought about it but have to trust that people will engage in a dialogue that moves us forward and not backward.
So, let’s be civil and respectful.
Here’s my challenge to everyone: Don’t write something you wouldn’t share with someone FACE to FACE.
The anonymity of the internet doesn’t give us license to say whatever.
needless to say, this dialogue has had me thinking and speaking up more than i normally would. just continually disappointed at how people are just focusing on the wrong things.
@chilly – please understand my perspective and accept my apology for misconstruing your comment. it seemed like more of the same things others have been saying to try and keep things quiet. i stand corrected.
lets choose to change the world in the small ways, you and i both.
no worries Jin.
there’s work to be done (offline) – let’s do it.
Thanks man. My desire was never to stir things up (further). I was simply frustrated to see all the anonymous venting (that had little to do w/ the topic at hand).
I’m excited for Mike & Jud’s new venture: People of the Second Chance @potsc – they are obviously mature, humble & genuine guys!
I appreciate your heart through all of this Eugene.
I came to this conversation late. I’ve been at the conference that PE spoke at down in Portland.
As an Asian-American who grew up in Hawaii, I’d like to offer my perspective as one who has, in a way, been on both sides of the privileged fence.
When I lived in Hawaii, I was a part of the privileged group (stat). Asians make up the majority in Hawaii and there were lots of people who looked like me, talked like me, ate the same foods as me, took their shoes off when they walked in the door like me. I saw faces that looked like me in store ads in the newspaper and on TV.
And as a part of the privileged group, I was in the position to tell jokes about those who didn’t look like me – in my case, the white man.
I’ll come right out and say it. I was taking advantage of my position of privilege. Basically, I was a racist.
But here’s the thing.
I didn’t realize I was a racist. I didn’t understand how hurtful telling white jokes could be to white people. I didn’t realize I had privilege. I didn’t realize it because that’s what what it is to be a part of the privileged group – you don’t have to feel anything. I didn’t understand what privilege was because I didn’t have to understand, because understanding wasn’t forced on me, it wasn’t a part of my life, it wasn’t asked of me.
No, let me take that last bit back. It was asked of me but I didn’t get it and so when issues of my racism and/or privilege were pointed out to me, I attributed it to political correctness run rampant. I dismissed the idea because, well because I could.
Peggy McIntosh talks about privilege as an invisible knapsack but here’s the thing that I’ve come to see. Even though a bunch of the privileges that used to be in my knapsack are no longer in there now that I’m in the mainland, growing up with a knapsack heavy with privileges has given me an inner strength that remains with me. And that’s why sometimes it’s still hard for me to understand and to see instances of racial injustice that happen to Asian-Americans (and other minorities) around me.
I wish I didn’t have this strength because it’s not a strength, it’s a tremendous, shameful weakness. And I wish I could cast it off because I’m blind and I’m unable to help fellow people of color as well as I wish I could.
But I can’t just cast off a part of my DNA.
What I can, and am trying to, do is to educate myself about the issue of privilege.
And this conversation around Deadly Vipers has introduced many who were previously unaware of the issue of privilege and I have to say that I know where the defensiveness that has shown itself in the comments comes from because I used to think those same things. There’s a part of me that still thinks those things.
But here’s the the thing.
I’ve seen firsthand the damage that stereotyping does. I’ve seen firsthand what it’s like to be without privilege.
Real people get really hurt.
I didn’t understand before. I still don’t understand completely. But I can’t remain blind and ignorant anymore.
Well, actually, I can remain blind and ignorant. I can choose to continue to rely on the strength that growing up with privilege has given me. It would be the easy, comfortable, natural thing to do. And it’s tempting.
But I choose not to.
I choose to learn, to educate myself on the issue of race and privilege.
And it is a choice.
Passively ignoring the issues of racism and privilege will not make them go away.
They will only diminish as people with privilege actively learn about their privilege and use their privilege to advocate for and support those without it. It will diminish as people with privilege continue to patiently educate others who have it and don’t realize it.
It’s a choice and I choose to change.
My daughters are Chinese and Ethiopian. My choice is for them to not submit themselves to the victimization mentality that so many people want to be part of. My Chinese daughter was left at the front door of the health clinic when she was born. Perhaps it was because she was a she; perhaps it’s because she had a club foot. My Ethiopian daughter lost her birth dad to malaria. Her mom makes the equivalent of 25 cents a day. Both daughters are in a far better place than they would have been in their native countries. So we will celebrate together how good God is and to be thankful for our freedoms, and the fact that both will grow up without a defeatist mentality and knowing that they live in a nation where they’ll get a good education no matter their skin color.
Thanks for sharing that @danderson. Beautiful stuff.
No one is promoting the victimization mentality. What you might interpret to be VM, one might see is as a pursuit of Justice.
As your precious daughters grow and you encounter that they there are stereotypes about Chinese or Ethiopian girls, surely you won’t encourage them to choose to be victims of these stereotypes, gossip, ignorance, etc.
I’m sure you won’t.
But I hope. I really hope that as a father (as parents), you would take steps to educate, discourage, protect, stop…the promotion of these hurtful words, actions, and stereotypes against your daughters.
I was a comment reader until you dropped your above bomb.
That posture, the one you demonstrated with the comments above- to make those claims of American Exceptionalism is the arrogance that America is known for around the world. That America is always better. That the American way is always better. It’s a cultural PRESUPPOSITION.
Do you know the American adoption system has some very disproportionate statistics on adoptions of a white child vs. a black child? why do you think that is? Is it because of our values of freedom? of colorblindess? is it because we are so exceptional?
I grieve not because I am a victim, but because the posture in which we engage to have this conversation is extremely dishonest. It’s ironic that Rah writes an example in his book, exactly referencing the fact that as middle class people (I’m assuming that you are middle class) (not just white, but ALL middle class people. His examples were actually Asian American MIT/Harvard students) we believe we are the heroes in missions, that the posture we take into missions and into the world is a reflection of our OWN American Values and not Christianity. “That we are right and we’re here to teach everyone what Right is!” The MIT/Harvards students were humbled that they thought they would be teaching, but they found themselves learning from the very people they came to serve. This is symbolically referencing what Henri Nouwen speaks about when he writes “The Wounded Healer”
The cultures we stick our nose up at; are still cultures God has a heart for, they are just as ugly as America. Every culture fails to live up to the Gospel. The church should have the posture to boldly paint a picture of social change, but also humbly walk and learn/live among a different people. the cultures we think are deviant or defunct or backwards are possibly ones that can teach us about the Cross.
I want America to be what you write it to be, but its history shows that it justifies itself through its exceptional-ness – in colonialism, in imperialism, in empire, and of course in genocide. ‘We are right because we are the best and we are best because we are right.’
I want the America that you want to bring your daughters into. I want it, it’s beautiful, it’s an ideal but it’s not HERE yet! and it’s going to take a little bit more effort than minorities please stop your ‘victimization mentality’ for all of us to move on.
Lasty, Patriarchy doesn’t only exist in China, The church as it should be, has been a prophetic voice for Women in China from the days of foot binding. (100+) Chinese indigenous churches have been ordaining women pastors since the 1940s. Whereas many of the American evangelical denominations/churches still hold a “separate but equal” stance on women pastors. (Eugene Cho is pretty big on making women leadership a staple of the church, if I remember correctly)
I pray that you & I continually question the postures in which we look at cultures. Your daughters will need that from you. As people of faith we should always humbly acknowledge our own presuppositions about our own culture in cross cultural contexts. This is the integrity I hope that the DV legacy will leave.
Wow. Where to begin with your diatribe. Actually, I won’t even try. I guess you know everything there is to know about me. So, I’ll let you have your day. I hope you feel better now, because you just distorted most everything I said.
not interested in debating you, although i could. trust me. 😉
as a parent, my 7 year daughter is why i stand up against this crap. i can watch my own back, but the love of the Lord has surrounded me with people who will also watch my back. My daughter has and will continue to be called names and be made fun of b/c she’s different. there are many asian kids at her school, but still they are ridiculed.. she doesn’t know enough about it to feel angry or hurt, but she knows its not right.
Your daughters will grow up in the american culture, they will walk and dress like everyone else.. they will speak and behave like everyone else… but they won’t look like everyone else. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, YOU CAN’T CHANGE THAT OR PROTECT THEM FROM THAT.
i pity you that you had the heart and vision to diversify your family with such beautiful children but cannot see enough to know what a life here in america holds for them.
My goodness. I’m sorry you have such a chip on your shoulder. Name one country where your or my children will have the opportunities that they have here in the United States, where a minority can be Secretary of State or even President, or better yet, a doctor or a professor or any other great things.
I remember an old Home Improvement episode where Tim the Toolman told his wife that men should wake up each morning and say, “I’m sorry for whatever I’m about to do today.” If you’re a white male in a politically-correct society, that’s a strike two.
No wonder people like Rush and Sarah Palin have such popularity.
And please, pity me not. (BTW: I’m currently attending a bilingual Spanish-English church and teach in a bilingual school).
i don’t pity you because you asked for it, friend.
your children will be called chink or nigger in their young lives… kids will make fun of your daughters eyes, they will be treated as outsiders at times… im saddened that you will not know how to sympathize with them when they come to you.
you should carry that chip too brother.
btw.. as a home improvement fan i wouldn’t follow that tim taylor too closely. 😉
It truly saddens me to think that one day your daughters will come to you with tears in their eyes and pain in their hearts and you will have neither answer nor comfort for them. And when your students come to you traumatized by the racial epithets and attacks they will no doubt receive, that you will not understand their pining for a sense of belonging, as they are.
Do you really believe that our experiences will be so different from those of your children? From those of your students?
None of us questions the existence of the opportunities for advancement that you speak of. Please don’t take our search for justice to somehow be unpatriotic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But I say to you in full honesty that the hands which openly gave such educational and occupational opportunities to you will not be as open or as free to your daughters. You may choose to look in the family photo and ignore the differences you see, but others will not.
Some day, your daughters will venture out into this world and find that the world has already decided who they are and what they are good for, partially based on the color of their skin and their physical features.
When your Ethopian daughter comes to you with balled fists and a tear strained face because someone with half the experience, half the intelligence, and half the melanin was selected for a job instead of her, what platitudes will you spout then? Will you accuse her of having a victim’s mentality as you have accused us? Will you rail about political correctness and how she doesn’t understand all the opportunities that are open to her?
When your Chinese daughter goes into her room, shuts the door and won’t come out, when her friends come over and tell you that she was rejected by a boy because he “doesn’t date chinks” what comfort will you provide? Will Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh be relevant then as you believe them to be now?
The racism that falls on all our houses will come to yours in time, like a storm in the night, unwelcome, unabated. Do you not wish to build a roof over your daughters’ bedrooms while the earth is dry and the sun still shines?
Your daughters are not you. They will face different challenges, challenges that we in this thread have already passed through. Challenges that we, on this blog, seek to overcome, for all, for all time.
If you knew what obstacles your children would face in the future, would it not be wise to prepare? Moreover, would it not be wise to prepare yourself to teach and understand so that when the time came, you found yourself with a full lamp of oil?
I believe that you could go on minimizing us, scoffing at our concerns, belittling our desire for justice, and finding humor in our expressions of pain. But know that ultimately, the penalties for our collective failure to create a free and equal society, and moreover a loving and understanding Body of Christ will be paid first by your daughters, then perhaps by you. I pray that when that day comes, you will not find your children as trivial as you find us.
Again, I ask you to join us, understand us and in so doing, come to better understand your own daughters and their own journeys. I humbly ask you to join us in working to build a world where your daughters will be “judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
And this is why I let the comments stay open.
Through the shouting and crude comments, you get a chance to read something like this that compels me.
thanks. beautiful stuff.
Actually, what I’m most concerned about with our Ethiopian daughter is that she is such a bookworm at age 5, and when she’s older she will have to confront many African American peers who will call her names because I believe she will be a top-notch student. BTW: Did you know there are more Ethiopian doctors in the US than in all of Ethiopia?! Why might that be? Of course, they did have that communist govt from 1973-1991 that ravaged the country and forced many people to abandon their patria.
As for my Chinese daughter, again I’m more concerned about black racism toward Asians than anything else. Care to comment?
I just read Jin and DF’s posts above and felt a need to quickly chime in with some validation of what has been said: A good friend of mine and brother in Christ were talking about race issues a couple weeks ago and he intimated that his experience as a person of color with a white father was precisely that which Jin and DF have described. He had experienced the racist epithets, had been attacked and chased simply because of the color of his skin…and his white father could neither relate nor understand–he didn’t try to either. This has resulted in a relationship division that has only recently begun to be healed because his dad is now trying to get it. I’d urge you, for the sake of your future relationship with your daughters, to please try. I’m sure the last thing you want is for your daughters to begin to resent you for your skin color and lack of empathy for their life experience.
For the Record: I speak fluent Spanish, teach in a classroom of Native Spanish-speakers and have lived in a Central American country for two years. My daughters know that, as well as the fact that I’m determined to worship in a multi-cultural church; right now it’s a bilingual Spanish church where my daughter also goes to school and is greatly enjoying being with African American, Asian, Latino and White Children. My Chinese daughter goes to a school where at least one-third of the population is Asian.
My God, is America the ONLY country where racism exists?! I really do fear for our future, and not just because of the Rush Limbaugh crowd. As Pogo said: we have met the enemy, and he is us.
I sense a consistent fear of African Americans in your description of both daughters.
Perhaps I can assuage some of this fear.
In your first example your daughter would be made fun of because of her pursuit of academics. Anti-intellectualism is not a characteristic of any one race or ethnic group.
If your daughter is made fun of for furthering herself academically and professionally, then it is because her objectors are anti-intellectual, not because they are African Americans. Now, possibly they could be African Americans, but I have no cause to believe they will be exclusively, or even mostly African Americans.
I am curious as to why you feel African Americans would be more likely to do harm to her (or your Chinese daughter) than ignorant examples of any other ethnicity?
An important distinction must be made here between racism and prejudice.
Racism is distinct from prejudice. Racism requires the power to take action. It is possible that we are all somewhat prejudiced against each other. However, we are not all able to carry out racism against each other.
Please do not misunderstand me on this: Whites are not the only ones inherently capable of racism. And not every white is a racist. But those who wield the power are the ones who may commit racism. In this setting, it is the whites who sit firmly entrenched, on that throne.
An innocent black man who, from the inside his jail cell, rails against all police officers everywhere is prejudiced. The legal system that locks that innocent black man away for life because he is easier to convict than a white man is racist. Do you see the difference?
Were you to find yourself trapped in a room with a mouse and an elephant, which roommate would you be more concerned about stepping on you? Both have the opportunity, but only one has the power.
It was not African Americans who passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1888. It was not African Americans who issued Executive Order 9066. It was not African Americans who exterminated Native America. And it was not African Americans who illegally overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy or colonized the Philippines. I would say that you have little to fear from African Americans if for no other reason than they lack the political power to move against your daughters, and certainly not in the way that whites have.
In light of who has power in our society, I ask you whether you feel that it is possible for fellow whites to move against your daughters based on the color of their skin, and their physical features?
You seem so ready to accept that African Americans will act with prejudice against your children. Such is possible. But do you not believe that whites are also capable of the same intent but with far greater power and reach?
A foe that has proven itself more pervasive, more persistent, and much more powerful than any African American prejudice waits, just outside your current awareness, ready to marginalize, mischaracterize, and traumatize your daughters. For their sake, I urge you to recognize this threat of racism, which overshadows both us and your daughters. Hear our words and our stories. We are not necessarily higher, or better than you, but the road your daughters will travel is one which bears our footprints. In our experiences and our fellowship will you find some of the understanding and compassion which will be required of you on that day when racism visits your own house.
So, let’s be civil and respectful. Many of us share a collective faith in Christ.
Do no forget that.
Here’s my challenge to everyone: Don’t write something you wouldn’t share with someone FACE to FACE.
The anonymity of the internet doesn’t give us license to say whatever.
DF- To be blunt, I’m sick and tired of the attitude of people like you who think they know it all, like they know what’s going to happen to my daughters just because of their color. Because, you know, America is just such a terrible place to raise a minority daughter. I really feel sorry for people of your ilk who think there is only one way to look at a problem. I used to be that way; used to think that if one votes Democratic and believes all the “politically” correct things, plus wave a magic wand, society will somehow change.
But then I found Jesus, who is greater than anything in this world. So you can keep harping on your racism mantra, but like Juan Williams, the African American NPR reporter, I hope one day you’ll say “Enough” like he does in his book by that name. I challenge you to read his book.
I am sincerely regretful that my words could not reach you at this time.
If you change your mind, even be it years from now, feel free to ask Eugene for my email.
May the grace of God go with you and your daughters, where ever His will takes you.
im 34 and i’ve know for a while now that being idealistic isn’t enough in this great nation.
i know that what DF and I have been saying is not meant as anything other than to provide you some insight on what You, your girls, and your family will CERTAINLY face in your lifetime.
if the society you live in affords you the luxury of living idealistically, than more power to you.. you live in a better place than i.
i echo DF’s comment above. I know you will feel differently when your kids feel the sting of society.
To DF and Jin,
I live in Madison, Wis, the pc-capital of the Midwest. I hope that’s “enough said.”
One more thing: Over the years, when I attended the University and afterwards at a church with a ministry to grad students, I got to know and become friends from: China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos, as well as various countries in Africa and Latin America. I found that I had more in common with these brothers and sisters — or at least colleagues — than the surrounding liberal White culture so pervasive at land-grant U’s. And I begun to realize that so many of them were appreciative and thankful for being able to study in the United States.
I also occasionally ride a bus that goes through some tough areas of town, and the bus stop is rife with problems. What’s so fascinating is I rarely see any nicely dressed White people on those buses; I’m talking about the [olitically-correct professors and other professionals who like to talk the talk but wouldn’t be caught dead “mixing” with those unlike them.
So, perhaps we can agree on one thing: Racism isn’t determined by one’s ideology. My dad’s a racist and he’s been a life-long Union-member and Democrat. And many conservatives are on the forefront of working on issues of racism and poverty — but unlike those on the Left — also realize that personal responsibility is part of the equation. They’re not PC, but following the example of Christ of putting principle over politics.
My neighbor had it. I borrowed it to see what you were all writing about. My .02: this book made my skin crawl.