Not sure if you’ve seen some of the dialogue happening around this issue, but here’s a quick summary of what the whole ruckus is about.
Zondervan Publishing and the authors Mike Foster & Jud White have a book out, since 2007, called, “Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung-Fu Survival Guide for Life & Leadership”. It’s essentially a book on character building and integrity keeping for Christian leaders, which no one doubts the contents of. But what’s caused a stir is their marketing and apparent exploitation of Asian stereotypes.
Brought to the forefront by Dr. Soong Chan Rah (North Park Theological Seminary), the issue surrounding Deadly Viper’s misuse of Asian stereotypes is alarming. Catch up with the conversation by reading this interaction between Dr. Rah and one of the authors of the book, this open letter to Zondervan & the authors, and this response by Mike & Jud.
I just thought I’d share a few quick thoughts on all this.
some caveats: I don’t know Mike or Jud personally, so please don’t take my remarks as lambasting them and their character. I realize Mike & Jud’s marketing of the book was all in good intention and I scarcely see how they were being racist or are racist. I also recognize that Mike & Jud are brothers in Christ, who share a passion to develop godly Christian leaders.
My surprise with this whole issue is the seeming unawareness of both the authors, Zondervan, and many of the book’s readership. How could anyone overlook the blatant racially charged stereotype of Asians for nearly 2 years since publishing the book? How did it get overlooked for so long? Did it have to take an Asian to point out the obvious flaws? Are we so blind to issues of racial stereotyping? I thought not, but this makes me rethink. I mean, do we really need “Kung-Fu Fighting” as intro music (click on Deadly Viper at Catalyst) to anything remotely Asian? Do we need images like this one to promote a Christian leadership book?
Do we really need random Kanji characters to authenticate our Kung-Fu theme? Don’t we realize that Kanji is a Japanese use of Chinese characters and that Kung-Fu is a Chinese martial art? I wonder how different this would all be if it was a book on character with pictures and themes depicting Native-American Stereotypes, or maybe more poignantly, African-American stereotypes?
It all just confuses me and mostly saddens me. I thought the people of God, the multi-ethnic multitude, were to love and encourage one another, not exploit and sell each other out. It saddens me that in 2009, we deal with issues like this, where there was no obvious malicious intent, but still a lack of awareness of different cultures and peoples. I know we’re all works in progress, especially me, but I hope that we can all work toward a respectful unity that exemplifies the Body of Christ and its beauty in diversity.
Can Twitter become a tool for global conversation or is it just a sounding board for one’s own thoughts?
I think it has the potential for the former, but is realistically the latter.
I recently de-followed John Mayer. I love the guy’s music, but the dude just tweets ridiculousness and does it often. His Friday night shenanigans are of no interest to me. Now that’s a trite example, but in the same manner, do we not dwindle down our lists of people we follow by how much their message fits into our narrow perspectives? Do we not follow people just because they say what we want to hear (i.e. celebrity gossip)? Or ought we to use this sort of medium to increase our awareness of the global voice? voices outside our own kingdoms.
I’m not too sure I do a good job of this, but beginning to think this is a perfect tool to hear & maintain a global conversation. Maybe it’s not, but how can we redeem this medium of technology?
I’ll be honest, I’m the most guilty party of this, but I’m recovering…
In fear of discounting the Grace of God, the conservative evangelical church often dismisses good works as anti-Christian, as something left for our catholic or liberal brothers and sisters to do.
Early on in my faith, I was just elated that God would love me so much that I couldn’t help, but to respond in worship. I would read my Bible, pray, serve others, & do as much as I could, because I was just utterly thankful for the Grace of God in my life. Somewhere down the road, I began to understand more of the intricacies of the faith and study more of the Bible. As my head started to grow, my hands seemed to have limped. I began to think that I couldn’t possibly earn the Grace of God, so therefore I need not to do anything for fear of discounting it. What resulted was a life that was completely devoid of any “doing”. I did absolutely nothing, in hopes that I might lift up the Grace of God. But in so doing, I’ve come to realize, I have ironically discounted God’s Grace in my life. For grace leads to good works. Works are a sign of faith, and not a credit in order to buy faith. They point to the very real and powerful work of transformation that is occurring in the invisible places of my soul. I had the arrows all jumbled for a long time. In pursuit of delight, I forgot about my duty… I was created to display the works of God in me, not just keep it hidden under a jar.
Lord, help me be a light.
If I were living near any wooded areas or remote parts of the country where men from Northern Georgia frequently come to hunt, I’d get the heck out of there. Bigfoot’s family is pissed.
Sensational? Doing it for the money? Hungry for their 17 minutes of fame? (ever notice how youTube immortalizes the stupidest people) Or is it the real deal, after all they have pictures to prove it. Whatever way you take it, I’m telling you. It’s not real. You can believe me or not, but you can’t tell me there’s been a pack of 7 foot gorilla-like human beings roaming around the U.S. and no one has ever seen them? I’d rather believe New Kids on the Block’s gonna have a #1 single.
This just goes to show how skeptical we all are in this society (I admit, I’m living proof). We are beings of doubt. We are driven by skepticism, criticism, and general pessimism. Call it a reaction to the countless broken promises, immoral failures of respected leaders, and a general deviance and half truth from our most authoritative figures. But the truth of the matter is, our culture will count you guilty, until proven innocent. Innocence is a long ago myth. Purity is no longer popular. Therefore, Christians are by far the moral minority. No one wants to believe that anyone lives a pure life for a God they can not see. No one is willing to stake their life any more on something that’s never been quantifiably proven. Christianity, in the eyes of popular culture, is nothing more than a label for those that swing the popular vote one way or another. We have been dwindled down to nothing short of just another club that meets in large buildings on Sunday mornings.
Why is that? Why are people so skeptical of the Gospel? Why is it so hard to believe that God would come down in the form of a man, live sinlessly for 33 years and obey His father’s desire to go to the cross and die an excruciating death? And all this out of a love for us? And now we can stand blamelessly before an all holy God, without shame?
I can’t believe it. Even to me, it sounds strange and unreasonable.
But I do believe it.
Our generation is doubtful that the Christian claims are real. How will we convince them?
If you’re interested, listen to Jim Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy.
What’s the Experience Economy you ask?
The Experience Economy is a new stage of economic offering. It began with the agriculture based economy that dealt mostly in raw materials: wheat to bake ones own bread, wool to knit the family garments. Then came the industrial revolution, where millions of people moved from countryside to town, from field to factory floor. Free time was short and so not only did the factories produce steel and iron, engines and ships, they also produced canned food and knitted clothes and the corner bakery produced the daily bread. The era of mass manufactured goods had arrived.
Further economic prosperity and increased automation increased wages and decreased the hours worked. But rather than use the increased non-working time to return to making our own bread and knitting our own clothes, we (in the advanced industrial economies) have chosen to spend our time purchasing services. Restaurants now cook and serve our meal and clear the dishes; personal shoppers advise on suitable fashion garments and then they spend time making the purchase.
This Service Economy has become so rooted and so prevalent that in many instances it is becoming commoditized in the same ways that raw materials such as wheat and oil certainly have. Now we find ourselves in the next form of economy, where in seeking to differentiate themselves, many companies are moving beyond services into experiences. Thus Chuck E Cheese offers more than a meal; it will host your child’s birthday party, complete with a candle lit cake and amusements. The Experience Economy has moved beyond merely selling raw materials, or providing services, but into selling experiences.
Take Starbucks for example. What’s with the proliferation of the coffee shop these days? It seems like you can’t go more than a block without taking in a whiff of the sweet aromas of brewing beans. (I bet heaven’s going to smell like fresh brewed beans). So have you ever thought of why Starbucks is so popular? Think about it for a second. Why the heck are we willing to pay $3-5 for a cup of coffee, when we can make a perfectly good cup at home for a fraction of the cost. It’s because of the experience you have when you enter a Starbucks, not just the service. How do we know this? As Jim points out, look at the percentage of square feet dedicated to actually making coffee in a Starbucks cafe. It’s miniscule! A huge majority of the space inside the cafe is taken up by chairs, couches, & tables. Why? Because they’re selling an experience along with the coffee. They want you to sit, enjoy the music, enjoy a good conversation, all the while, sipping on their brand new Pike Place House Blend coffee. That’s why they charge $5/cup. And that’s why we pay $5/cup. It’s no longer about the actual commodity or good, nor is it merely the service of producing a good that’s being marketed, but it’s the experience of consuming that good or commodity that’s being sold.
The ultimate example of the Experience Economy? Medieval Times! $40 to eat roasted chicken & drink Pepsi? No thanks! But wait a minute…Are you saying I can eat the chicken with my fingers & drink Pepsi out of a medieval goblet?! I’m in!! And not only that, but you get to cheer for your colorful knight in shining armor as they joust before your eyes. Ultimately, it’s not about just the chicken and pepsi. It’s not about watching a simulated joust. It’s about transporting you to another place and time for 2 hours. (all you need is a major credit card).
Why bring this up? Because our generation is hungry for experience. They want to feel something. They want to be immersed in something. They’re no longer “buying” Christianity, they’re wanting to experience it. There’s tremendous implications if we understood the mentality of our generation. Let us be the living example of Christ, so that our hungry generation can be fed by the life transforming power of the gospel!
The audio and video are up! Go get Dr. John Piper’s “Why I Trust the Scriptures”
He’s coming for the following Veritas Forums. I really wish I could go… But if any of you out there can make it, I highly suggest you go.
THE VERITAS FORUM AT NORTHWESTERN
Thursday, March 6 | 6:00PM – 7:30PM
THE VERITAS FORUM AT U. CHICAGO
Friday, March 7 | 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Kent Chemical Laboratory
1020 East 58th St.
TED2008: Day 2 in Quotes: “‘A lot of religious people prefer to be right, rather than compassionate.’ – Religion scholar and TED prize winner Karen Armstrong”
(Via TED | TEDBlog.)
It’s obvious, the world wants to see that we care more than it wants to know if we’re right. But for Christians there’s such a tension in whether to love people or keep the law, because for us it’s due to the truth of God’s word that we care. And eventually, we care so that others would know the Truth. So in many instances God’s Word & the world are seemingly in paradox. For example, how are we to love homosexuals? Since the Bible is straight forward on the subject (Romans 1:18-32), are we to love them to the point they change and repent of their sin or accept them for who they are?
The real question is how are we to love the world without compromising the Word? I think again, it’s simply holding fast to doxology (the truth of God), yet being committed to missiology (reaching people). What a challenge to the church.
Lord, let me not lose hold of your Word, nor lack love for the world.
In response to Pastor Min’s sermon last night on “The Mind & Culture” (1 John 2:15-17), I had several thoughts and convictions, but I’ll share just one.
In the beginning, he referenced Niebuhr in his book Christ & Culture by noting the many different trends of Christians in response to this subject of Culture & Christianity.
1. Christ against culture – Jesus was in opposition to the world
2. Christ of culture – Jesus was with the world and was one in the same
3. Christ & the culture in paradox – Jesus and the world are mutually exclusive
4. Christ transforming culture – Jesus was in the culture and changing it
Where are we today on this issue? Whether we know it or not, what we think about this issue and where we stand will greatly effect our life’s choices. Because depending on what your stance is, your attitude of missions & the Word of God will be effected.
But ultimately, I believe what’s lacking in our world is not merely relevance, influence, or even intellect, but it’s simply a lack of spirituality. Our lack of spirituality is the impotence of the Church. We don’t merely need greater insights into culture, but deeper intimacy with Christ. We often tend to lean toward one side or the other on this issue of Christ and culture, don’t we? But when that happens you lose hold of the other. Have your nose in the Word and you lose sight of the world. Have your ear solely on the world and you’ll never hear God’s voice. It’s not so much a delicate balance between the two as it’s a firm grasp on the Word and a loose grip of the world. But again, as Pastor Min poignantly put it, “Cultural change should be the result, not the aim of our Spirituality.” We are first in love with our God, then we are to love people. It’s the volatile mix of “Doxology & Missiology” (the rigid right hand & the loose left hand).
I hope that Christians would never lose relevance in our culture (though it may seem so at times), and that we’d be diligent students of culture, but even more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.