Forgiveness is a central tenet of Christianity, but more often than I would like, I’ve seen forgiveness weaponized against the victim, or used by the perpetrator and bystanders to absolve themselves of responsibility and complicity.
Hope cannot be found solely in this world, where cycles of violence repeat themselves, and the idol of a white imperial God-man has brought up killers, not fishers of men. We, as people made in God’s image, are the hope.
This deeply-held belief in the value of individuals, which is not held in a vacuum but rather a value held against the value of institutions and communities, has touched virtually every aspect of our society and indeed, our faith ... As the American church, and as a nation, we overly distrust institutions and overly trust individuals.
I have come to see vaccination as a reverent responsibility and duty to protect myself, my family, and my community. It is a promise to protect the most vulnerable as defined in Scripture — the widow, the orphan, and the poor. Each of these represent a segment of the marginalized in our current world, who might be at greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and other diseases.
The future doesn’t look great. But it’s also a little utopian: people rally together to create a different way of being community. They grow food, they build shelter, they make family, they establish ritual and connection to the Divine.
"Art and Faith" can be seen as something of a magnum opus, the culmination of many decades of creating paintings and developing his process of “slow art”. Instead of worrying about the completion of a project, slow art values the actual process of making, which Mako does by focusing on each step of the process.
Our genealogies write themselves in traditions and often don’t “write” themselves at all. They are told, they are shared, they are lived. You and I come from peoples who pass and share wisdom, lessons, and riddles as a way to survive, heal, and thrive. You come from ways of life that recognize the balance, respect, and mutuality found in all of creation, and this is completely independent of blood percentages or what “parts” you are of this lineage or that lineage. You are whole. Unified. Integrated.
I wrote this piece to give myself permission to suspend the beliefs I’ve internalized over the years, to freely imagine myself being a mother — something that both terrifies and delights me. What would it look like to raise my child from a place of thriving and abundance compared to the scarcity mindset of my immigrant parents? What would it feel like to tend to my child’s emotional needs as well as their physical needs?
My uncle used to tell me stories about the war. How the guys on the other side when they were captured would always say that they were only farmers and teachers, that they were just following orders. “Are your hands any more clean than mine?”
There is also now a history of over 16 years of Asian American evangelicals writing on the Internet since 2004 about how white evangelicals have orientalized them in Vacation Bible School curriculum, popular books sold at Christian bookstores, social media posts, church-planting training skits, reception to chapel talks, denunciations of “social justice” and “critical race theory”, anti-Asian racism during the pandemic, U.S.-China relations in light of the January 6 Capitol coup, and the current children’s Sunday school material debacle.
The practice of utopia creates a sort of muscle memory for our better angels. We run these thoughts over grooves that deepen, neurons that strengthen. If we don’t use this imaginative power, it is ours to lose.
We kick off our "Utopia" series with two poems from Sagaree Jain.
But why Rebekah? I was asked by a professor when I entered my undergraduate years. Why not Jin? With a simple question, she opened up the possibility that Jin could be just as legitimate of a name as Rebekah; I had never considered it. It was remarkable and sad. I had never considered it, never considered introducing myself by the name I had first been given.
Caught in the crossfire — or is it the light of a fiery cross? — we Asian American Christians find ourselves exploited multiple times over. Our race is weaponized to stoke hatred; our faith is harnessed to launder the reputation of hatemongers; America’s rival power exploits that hypocrisy to fuel its propaganda. Shall we plot our escape, or shall we cower, waiting for a Messiah who has already given us his spirit?
Whether we like to think of it or not, our names are marks of colonization that we carry with us. Filipinos recognize the relationship of the name to the location. In this case, the Filipino diaspora recognizes the distinction of Spanish influence on their names, while others assume its Spanish origin must mean my ancestry is directly from Spain.
I write this to the women who feel they do not belong to the believing community as a result of what has happened to them or who they have discovered themselves to be, and to the women who feel as though femininity is a foreign or oppressive word.
I learned then that having not just a name for my struggles but having the right person learn this name as well was what could finally act as my shield against these thousands of tenterhooks that were pulling me apart. But it was a difficult process, filled with a hundred hotspots of shame, to accept that my private suspicion about ADHD needed to be verbalized by a white coat and printed into a file in order to access the privilege of medical resources and institutional protection.
In consideration of these and many other ways in which language is wielded, this issue explores the multi-dimensional meanings of naming and being named. There are limits and imaginations to language. There is subjugation and reclamation, clarity and obfuscation, power and possibility to reimagine. These stories name, rename, and unname such experiences.
In truth, my grievance with “coming out” is not with the metaphor itself. It is with language as a whole — the soullessness of its vehicle, its concreteness, its singular instinct to unravel a knot into a linear string of vowels and consonants. Language has disappointed me in its inability to capture my sexuality in every one of its stages, in all of its obscurity and uncertainty.
In God’s kingdom, as with all great gardeners, pruning is caring. Without pruning, my life will become something even I don’t want — an overgrown, prickly bush with no fruit to offer. In this challenging season, I’ve felt pruned and exposed of my misplaced hopes, and I am continuously reminded of a self-important agenda flowing in the undercurrents of my heart, rather than being drawn to relinquishing my own ways in surrender.
Then, a plague on my body, of too much of something no one can name. Mysterious are God’s ways, to send a plague but harden the heart, that we might see some glory.
In contemporary U.S. society, polarization and division are rampant. We have forgotten that we are all neighbors to one another, or in other words, that our destiny is inextricably interwoven. Being a neighbor implies we treat one another with dignity and respect, learning to value and cherish our cultural differences.
I have begun to wonder if those who deliver our eulogies are the storytellers of our lives and if our funerals are the official initiation of our legacies — the beginning of the curation of our lives into symbols by others. Death has been an incessant presence in my mind lately.
The arguments to “re-open” schools and revert to a pre-pandemic world reveal preexisting racist and classist disparities that have only grown starker with distance learning.
I’ve had my fair share of Christians over-spiritualizing my emotional and mental pain. Unbeknownst to me, these negative interactions with other Christians shaped my belief that mental health could only be appropriately addressed by mental health professionals.