Archive for the 'culture' Category

22
Oct
08

A Coffeehouse Theology Brew

A few weeks back I mentioned a new read titled, “Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life” by Ed Cyzewski. For readers of this blog and any student of scripture I’d recommend you picking up this book.

Today the Coffeehouse Theology Blog Tour makes a stop at ABCpastor. What a privilege!

Theology is one of those words that seem to just belong to the professionals and the spiritual elite, not for the average person in the pews. The thought of doing theology could simply be intimidating to the average church-goer. Perhaps it’s the suffix –logy (the study of) that makes it seem like something you go to school for and major in or maybe it’s just the idea of studying something that makes people want to stand at a distance from. Oh well. Coffeehouse Theology as the title suggests helps us see that theology is really for everyone, anyone and is something we can and should do especially if we are seekers of God. Everyone has an opinion of God and live accordingly to what they know or believe. Instead of dialogue we’ve drawn lines that separate us. The question we need to ask is what has shaped our particular view of God and theology. Then moving forward what should shape it? As I was reading through this book as I read everything else I’m constantly looking for how this fits into my Asian-American context.

We must consider that we all have lenses for how we view the world and God. Arriving at this self awareness is not easy. I deeply appreciate Ed’s focus on adopting ‘Contextual Theology’ so we become aware of our unique perspectives as well as limitations due to culture. Many Christians may believe they’re not affected by it but we cannot escape culture. We’re shaped by it. I think this is where doing theology becomes dynamic connecting us with our personal history, the historic and global church as well as other spheres of life. Ed illustrates this interconnected dynamic more concretely with a contextual theology web diagram. With Ed’s permission I recreated it here to help you.

Theology requires great humility from us. For those who have long held onto their beliefs and convictions the task of theology requires their willingness to be pulled out from the comfortable warm water they have been wading in and squirm out in the wide open sea. As we discover the weight of God’s truth and glory, submit to his values and mission I believe we experience transformation. Theology is far reaching and much more influential than we may realize. It must serve the mission of God and not simply fill our heads with more knowledge or just satisfy our questions. Then we may begin to embrace those different from us, become a little less homogeneous. Perhaps less White, less Chinese, less middle class or what have you. Instead what gives way is a new humanity as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:15 to a diverse church comprised of traditional Jews and Gentiles. Consider also what we find throughout Acts on the tensions between these two groups and the Gospel renewal we see in and through the life journey of Paul the Apostle.

In considering the culture of the Chinese Church: Ken Fong, Sr. Pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church in LA once told a story that conveys what we often experience in the Chinese Church as he had confronted his parents in their expression (maybe even wishes) of their family as one big happy Chinese family. The thing is, Ken Fong is third-generation Chinese-American and he barely speaks any Chinese if any at all. Additionally the changing racial dynamics of his family necessitates that they can no longer call themselves a “Chinese” family. Likewise, at what point do you stop calling yourself a Chinese church when those who come are increasingly less Chinese in appearance and understanding? I understand the pride and sense of heritage but is culture shaping us more than our theology then?

Ed recounts a story of an encounter he had with an Asian seminary student discussing the difference in how they each relate to their pastors/elders. In the Asian church we just don’t spout off to our pastors/elders. He writes,

“…neither culture has a corner on respect for elders, but each culture will inevitably read the Bible through a different cultural lens. And both cultures present opportunities for sin. In extreme cases, the Asian approach could be used to ignore younger generations, while the American approach could be disrespectful to elders and leaders. This raises an important point about culture. Every culture has opportunities and challenges.” – Thanks Ed!

We need other voices to confront our blindspots. Ed makes a good point that we tend to think that our American theology is “theology” while we give every other form of theology a qualifier, such as “Latino theology” or “Asian theology”. Again we need to step outside of ourselves and swim out into unfamiliar waters. Ed consistently helps the reader consider other voices in the Global Church be it through his own experience or through some other source. This is such a critical component in theology and it will be ongoing as culture changes. What I find most fascinating about this is that theology becomes a communal activity. Other voices may help deepen our love for God and help us better navigate through our faith journey. Amen to that. BTW Charles Lee has a great post (Changing My Religion) about processing our faith journey. I love the discussion that is happening there.

As I mentioned before any book that contains the word “coffee” in the title should do remarkably well. It has an instant cool factor. Truthfully the cover is also pretty cool looking. There’s even napkin sketches. Praise for Coffeehouse Theology and Ed Cyzewski!

Links
Ed Cyzewski Blog
Ed Cyzewski Writing Blog

Introduction at the OOZE
Post on Emergent village
Blog Tour Schedule

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01
Oct
08

Victor Lin Trio Concert in NYC, Oct 3

Catch another fine upcoming performance by The Victor Lin Trio at The Calhoun School: 433 West End Ave (at 81st St) New York City.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3RD
Showtimes at 7pm and 9pm

Featuring
Victor Lin
, piano
Phil Kuehn, bass
Joe Saylor, drums
and special guests!

Tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors
RSVP here: www.calhoun.org/page.cfm?p=1953

Related Post:
Victor Lin CD Release Party

26
Sep
08

Fringe Quote On Guilt


I love this quote from the new J.J. Abrams show (Alias, Lost), Fringe

“I want to take a shower from the inside out”

– Fringe, FBI Agent Olivia Dunham

Doesn’t that describe guilt and sin well?

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately since I’ve sorta been on vacation with a newborn. Logan is officially a month old tomorrow. Can’t believe it’s been a month. How convenient does this coincide with all the new season premieres.

Related Posts:
J.J. Abrams on Mystery

23
Sep
08

Gen Y and Heroes

Monday nights have been revived for me. You’ll find me glazed over watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Heroes. I’m still eagerly waiting for new episodes of Battlestar Galactica (ETA: Jan 2009). NYTimes reviewed the new season of Heroes and gives us some great insight into Gen Y. If you don’t have a clue about Gen Y then here’s a good way to start. It’s important to know the things that shape a generation and their attitudes towards the world. Unfortunately, the church tends to be years behind the times and still trying to minister to generations before. I deeply appreciate James Chuong‘s approach to tell the Gospel in this context. Check out, From Four Laws to Four Circles. As you read and understand Gen Y you’ll see how well the Four Circles works to convey the story of God today.

Insights From Times Review
The current economic crisis confirms Gen Y’s worst fears that their baby boomer parents are leaving them a world convulsed by war, drowning in debt and melting down under global warming.

And Generation Y has more special abilities than any previous one: these are people who came of age taking the Internet, BlackBerries, cash machines, Facebook and iPods for granted. They also take the taking for granted. They are the most coddled, indulged and overprotected generation ever. Swaddled in safety and self-esteem, they have all been assured that they are special. They don’t rebel against their parents or even seek independence; they welcome an electronic umbilical cord that stretches through high school and college and even the post-graduate return to the empty nest.

“Your mother, my father, God knows what else they’ve done. How much longer are we going to have to clean up their mess?” – Matt Parkman, Telepath on Heroes

Every Generation Has Heroes
Each generation thinks less of the next generation. The Boomers were the hippies. Gen X were the slackers. I can’t help but have some of my own criticisms as I have worked with Gen Y over the years. I do get frustrated with many of them but I know it is unfair to make sweeping statements of an entire generation. Generally they are certainly driven individuals. Especially among Asian-Americans, talented, privileged. Demanding? Who doesn’t want work-life balance? They want to be CEOs by their mid twenties but only prepared to work 35 hours a week to get there. Wouldn’t that be nice? Big rewards with little or no effort? The old paradigm used to be work hard and eventually you’ll make it. Now it’s be famous for doing nothing. They want the life of heirs and heiresses. I want to just say, grow up! — Er… or more spiritually say, we need to leave room for God to disrupt our lives. We’re all ordinary people called to be heroes who have all of God’s resources to fulfill that calling. But if we really want to be real heroes, we have to decide if this seemingly impossible mission of God is worth giving everything up for. At some point, we need to confront our hypocrisies – what do we desire more?

The Post Gen Y Generation (11-13 in 2008, born in 1995-1997) is in formation right now. We’ve yet to know what they’re attitudes will be as they are being shaped by a world that offers no easy answers. I think they will be a conservative generation. They know their world has limits.

How will we shape theology and minister to them?
Have we even started that discussion in the church yet? Oh, I’m 10yrs too early.

Related Posts
Apple Love and Gen Y
Links
Gen Y Myths Debunked

19
Jun
08

NT Wright on The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert Surprised By Hope

First of all, I love Stephen Colbert. It has become a nightly ritual for me and the missus to watch The Colbert Report in our zombie-like state before we haul ourselves up a flight of stairs to our bedroom.
Colbert with sharp wit portrays an ultra-conservative pundit. He has great guests as well. Tonight, NT Wright, the Bishop of Durham who served as the Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey. He talked about his new book, “Surprised by Hope, Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.” Colbert made this comment that Hillary Clinton was thinking along the same lines for her next book also… I was rolling. Yesterday I was delightfully surprised by Wright’s appearance. But the whole episode was one of the best Colbert reports ever.

Wright is one of the most important theologians of the 21st Century and he is funny. His new book really addresses having a truncated eschatology particularly in the Western church a theme we’ve been trying to wrestle through in my message series, “Heaven On Earth.” Most Christians have an inadequate and incomplete view of heaven, that it’s merely a future happening or simply what happens after you die. That deeply affects the way we live out the mission of the church as well. Wright’s response is that heaven is God’s “kingdom” that has already been inaugurated by Jesus and that the Church needs to live the resurrection now joining God in his re-creative work.

Links
Check out the full streaming episode here.
Episodes are available the day after they air.

Jake Bouma has posted the entire transcript of the interview on his well-designed site.

19
Jun
08

Chinese in the Mainstream: Three Delivery? Sigh.

three delivery wallpaper
Next week (June 27) Nicktoons will premiere “Three Delivery“, a cartoon about three Chinese teenagers saving Chinatown from evil one delivery at a time…
I don’t know about this one.
Is three delivery a play on “free delivery”?
Why do Chinese always have to be associated with take-out and kung fu?

The artwork is somewhat nice. The clips off the site were so-so. Not as funny as The Notorious MSG. It hasn’t grabbed me. I’m still a little taken back by how it all seems very backwards in these times. We’ve come so far from this image.
Please, just don’t suck.

Links
Three Delivery.com
Official Nicktoons Site
Also check out…Why is TV so White? Entertainment Weekly pulls out a very interesting article on the topic of why there is such a lack of diversity on TV.

Related Posts:
Chinese in the Mainstream: Learning from Kai-Lan

16
May
08

National Bike/Walk to Work Day

Sweden Bike Culture

Just Do It.

I just hate it when it rains on days like this. It’s a real challenge to my convictions.
Am I serious about making a difference? Am I willing to do this despite the inconvenience?
May is National Bike Month as well as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and today, May 16, is National Bike/Walk to Work Day.

Since my undergrad days studying urban planning at Rutgers I’ve been an advocate for less cars on the road and more bikes. I’d like to see that cyclists be given more preference than motorists. I’m actually OK with the fact that gas prices are going up as a way to discourage our dependency on cars as they attempt to do in Europe. They have parking lots full of bikes. Imagine that!? European cities has a good record of creating initiatives to encourage bike culture. Many places of employment encourage it by offering locker rooms for showering. There’s places to store your gear and equipment at train stations for longer commutes. Get around the city using bikes and bike taxis. We could do that. We’ll even be a healthier nation.

However, every year I’ve become more dependent on our highways and my two cars.
Inches have also been added to my waist. One child too.

The issue according to experts like Bill McKibben is to cut CARBON to 350 parts per million. That’s the most important number in the world right now he says.
http://www.350.org

So one way to do this is promote bike culture. Perhaps instead of choosing to go to that big church miles and miles away that you drive that gas guzzler to, invest in a faith community closer to home so that you can together impact where you live and bring a new vibrancy to smaller churches. Bike to church together.

Paris Bike Culture




abcpastor
[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
[i]
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
[ii]
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
[iii]
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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