Archive for the 'review' 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

29
Sep
08

Coffeehouse Theology

Just received my copy of a newly released book, Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life published by NavPress by my buddy Ed Cyzewski [inamirrordimly.com] from Biblical Theological Seminary. I heart Ed and you should too. I don’t deserve it but I get a nice little acknowledgment in it. Thanks Ed! And thanks Marla [coffeeshopjournal.com] for letting me know before I got my copy. Check out her blog for thoughts on third spaces.
I’ll be doing a review of Coffeehouse Theology soon. There will be a blogging tour of his book [link for schedule]. I think it’ll be a great resource to help the Christians apply theology to everyday life. Ed’s already written two study guides. Christians need to think or perhaps think harder but very often they don’t know how to when it comes to everyday issues.
Regardless anything containing the word “coffee” is cool and sells well.

I recommend picking up this book and reading it with a cup of fine coffee from onevillagecoffee.com, a socially conscious roasting company started by another abcpastor friend, Scott Hackman.

07
Apr
08

the fortune cookie chronicles

fortune cookie chronicles

Are Chinese restaurants more American than apple pie?
Jennifer 8 Lee thinks so in her new book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the world of Chinese Food. Here’s a quick review.

Did you know that there are twice as many Chinese restaurants as there are McDonald franchises. Somewhere around 40,000 in the United States there are more of these than the number of McDonalds, BKs and KFCs combined. How about fortune cookies? Are they Chinese or Japanese? I guess that depends on who you ask. Whowouldathunkit?

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles is a fun and insightful read. A must-read in the ABC curriculum. If you thought Chinese food and what goes on in the kitchens of Chinese restaurants were a mystery before….

We’d break open the fortune cookies for the message inside, rarely eating the cookie. The cheerfully misspelled, awkwardly phrased, but wise words of the Chinese fortune cookie sages gave me comfort. My parents’ bookshelves were lined with Chinese philosophical classics like Confucius’s Analects and the I Ching. For a girl who could not untangle the thicket of Chinese characters in those opaque and mysterious books, the little slips of insight represented the distillation of hundreds of years of Chinese wisdom.
Then came a shocking revelation.
Fortune cookies weren’t Chinese.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles Official Site

26
Nov
07

Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings

Shortcomings

Just picked up Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings Graphic Novel as an early Christmas present for myself (amongst many). It’s a frakkin piece of work. I thought American Born Chinese by Gene Yang was the piece (it’s still getting awards). As an Asian American artist, Adrian Tomine is badass. You can also see his work in the New Yorker as well as Rolling Stone and Esquire but he’s most noted for his stuff in Optic Nerve. I was a little sad that I missed him here in Philly at the Free Library. Hunting for another opportunity (as well as trying to see MIA in concert tomorrow and the NYC Giant Robot Art Show also featuring Tomine but alas ministry responsibilities…)

Shortcomings just became one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year selected by The New York Times Book Review since it’s release several weeks ago. To me it’s just one Asian American male telling it like it is. Give it to me raw baby.

[Caution: The contents of this work may be offensive to some]

25
Mar
07

american born chinese – the graphic novel

american born chineseabc strip
here’s a can’t put it down graphic novel that you must pick up now! – american born chinese by gene yang published by first second. it is intelligently written with three different plotlines that converge to make one great expression about identity. — All Jin Wang wants is to fit in…

i found myself reading about myself really. it’s a funny way of visualizing the asian american experience. it has won several awards for children’s lit. amen. it definitely won my heart.

09
Jul
04

will to live ::. pop culture and faith

film and theology ::. (warning: a king arthur analysis)
there have been several good movies released since the passion that christians ought to go check out. the wife and i saw king arthur last night. now, i’m very into the king arthur legend and the order of knighthood, so much that i will probably fire-brand all our kids as a result. going into this movie i purged all my childhood notions of knights, sorcery and love triangles and put on an analytical hat. the movie attempted be a historical epic about arthur and stayed close to some of the assumptions made about this mysterious king but the truth is no one really knows who he is. there’s just too little information to establish it as fact. the tale here is demystified and placed in its possible historical context close to the fall of the roman empire circa 5th/6th century.

i think there are many things that a uninformed viewer would miss about this film. you may be asking at this point if i liked it. well, honestly, i think it’s braveheart ultra-lite with all the cries for “freedom” but there’s more here than meets the eye here. interestingly, there were some rather strong references to faith and the roman church. arthur himself prays for his men and most often finds himself at odds with the church and his pagan knights throughout the movie.

there is a thread that holds the story together. that is, the strong relationship between arthur and pelagius, the brit monk that was at odds with augustine and teaching declared heresy. in church history, pelagius held different views of man, original sin, and grace all of which are depicted here. what we end up with is a humanistic view of man and of the will that cries, “win your freedom” even if it means laying your life down for an unjust cause.

we do need to observe the felt angst of the world against the roman church in the film and in our world. it is a grievance not because of the Gospel but because of power and greed. all these themes still resonate today and should alert us to wake up. if anything, we ought sense the desperate need to indeed share the Gospel and let our actions declare His glory, that is, testify to the risen Christ, more than ever.

it seems like director, antoine fuqua (tears of the sun), has found a niche for long movies about questionable missions and men of interesting morality. however, king arthur is enjoyable and like tears of the sun, could have been taken much further. someday, we should watch a bunch of these contemporary epic war movies in chronological order — troy, gladiator, king arthur, braveheart, saving private ryan, tears of the sun etc…

01
Jul
04

go get em’ tiger ::.

saw spiderman2 today. didn’t think i would like it because i’ve gotten so weary of all the cgi in movies these days but afterwards i realized that i needed a movie like this. to me, movies are enjoyable and good when the story resonates with my own story. there are times when i need a hearty feel good movie but most other times it’s the art of telling a story. i was utterly suprised at how much i enjoyed spidey today. it did bring back childhood memories. i tried to remember if i had spidey underoos. but more than that, this spidey story is one that reflects the life of those — with a “higher calling”. i’ve had my share of struggles and times where i question, “when do i get to live my life?” so often, my heart is on the floor especially as i see my mother grow more frail, forgetful, alone. i want to love my wife more but so often duty calls. there’s a fear and sense of overwhelment as monthly bills encroach. i get tired. i’ve been in school long enough to become a doctor yet my degree will be lackluster to those desireable three letters phd. my grades aren’t that great but my scholarship depends on maintaining a B average. is it all worth it? then there’s the hypocrisy of living both a private normal life and the public life of ministry. sometimes i feel like i can help others through just about anything but wonder why it is so hard to help myself and those i love most. i wonder if i have a superhero complex?

this sunday at service, i sat in my father’s house. i sang his songs. i stood with those who loved him and not just our voices but our hearts were melodious. i heard his voice, his truth that brings wholeness. i looked then to see the faces of those who are called his beloved. i remembered. i love my God. i love his people more than my own life.

to the pastors and heroes of our churches, to the everyday saints that wonder whether or not it is all worth it. remember you are beloved, chosen. may God send you that touch of love that you so desperately need. the touch that may even save you. look at the cracks, holes, uneveness, the pure junk on the inside of our hearts. that needs to be dealt with and God wants to heal us. Jesus’ healing touch must be the dominant reality of all our lives. so…go get em’ tiger.




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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