we’re a culture, not a costume?

Let’s be honest.

We love dressing up…or down. And most of us love dressing up in our costumes for Halloween. Heck, we actually spend $310 million dollars/year on costumes…for our pets. Wow.

In total, Americans spend between $6.5 – $6.86 billion dollars on all things Halloween: costumes, candy, and decoration. Wowzers.

The average consumer is projected to spend $26.52 on costumes. The holiday will see Americans spend $1 billion on children’s costumes, up from $840 million last year, and $1.21 billion on adult costumes, up from $990 million last year. Additionally, pet owners will shell out $310 million on costumes for their four-legged friends.

And while I don’t personally go ga-ga over my costumes, I love seeing the creativity at costume parties. But several years ago, the laughing kinda stopped because at nearly every single party (even at church parties), I’d see a costume or two that were either borderline or straight up racist.

Perhaps, you’ve seen them, too. Perhaps, you thought they weren’t a big deal. Perhaps, you thought they were funny. Perhaps, like me, you were offended.

What I try to convey to people is that despite their “best intentions,” these costumes really are not funny. It’s like this: You might think it’s funny, but my slanted Asian eyes are beautiful – not to be mocked.

I recently began seeing these posters as part of a campaign started by students and advisors from Ohio University and I was immensely encouraged by the message and the manners in which in they were trying to convey the message:

“We’re a culture, not a costume.”

While it’s clear to me that it’s offensive and in some situations, racist, the topic is difficult for many to broach for several reasons because the responses fall in one of these categories: Continue reading “we’re a culture, not a costume?”

a letter to my son [a guest post]

More good news: I’ll be hosting some occasional guest bloggers that I believe will enrich the readers of this blog. While I don’t have a list per se, I hope to invite some folks whose voices (and words) I personally appreciate because they challenge, convict, minister, and resonate with me – and it’s my hope that they’ll speak to you in some way.

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Brian Bantum. His full bio is below but this post got me all teary-eyed for various reasons. It’s “a letter to his son.”

I’d be amiss not to mention that Brian also attends Quest, plays the bass on our worship team, leads one of our community groups, is married to a Quest pastoral ah-jim-ah, and just released his first book called Redeeming Mulatto: A Theology of Race and Christian Hybridity. I’m not posting his blog here because he’s a Quester, or because he gave me a free signed book, or because he’s way taller than me and might be able to take me…maybe.

It’s just a worthwhile read.

Here it is. Please read it and let me know what you think. Continue reading “a letter to my son [a guest post]”

deadly vipers, mike foster, jud wilhite, soong-chan rah, chuck norris, joyluck club, angry asian man, wanna be ninjas and everyone else

I don’t know if I have the energy or bandwidth to write this but it’s important so here goes…

Some of you may have already been aware of the controversy over the marketing behind a book called Deadly Vipers. The full title happens to be: Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership. The book was supposedly published in 2007 (didn’t hear about it then) but I think their team have recently been making a more concerted effort to grow the vision & community known as Deadly Vipers.  The book is written by Mike Foster & Jud Wilhite – two Caucasian brothers. And I am intentionally choosing to use the word brothers because they are indeed brothers in Christ.

Let me first say this: I have not yet had a chance to meet Jud and I’m sure that at some point or another, we’ll cross paths and I’ll very much enjoy our fellowship. I only hear wonderful things about him and his ministry/leadership. As for Mike, I have actually had the pleasure of meeting him Continue reading “deadly vipers, mike foster, jud wilhite, soong-chan rah, chuck norris, joyluck club, angry asian man, wanna be ninjas and everyone else”

racism and reconciliation: why is it so hard?


Last week, I shared a post entitled “a nation of cowards” and asked if we’re indeed cowards when it comes to the conversation of racism and the continuous work towards reconciliation.

One thing that is clear to me is that the [C]hurch is quite silent.  We talk often of reconciliation that’s necessary between God and humanity but need to do keep pushing forward about how our faith informs and transforms our relationship with one another.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. [Galatians 3.28/the message]

Why is racism such a difficult topic and issue – including for Christians?  Well, here are some of my reasons:

  1. It’s hard work.  And people can be lazy.  And talking about racism is an exhausting conversation because it brings up some deep questions. Reconciliation is hard work.  The need for reconcilation assumes that something is broken; something is not as it was intended to be. Continue reading “racism and reconciliation: why is it so hard?”