Kenji Kuramitsu (he/him/his) is a writer, clinical social worker, and chaplain living in Chicago, IL. In his spare time, Kenji enjoys flossing and playing video games — not always at the same time.
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?”
Rachel Held Evans (1981-2019) would have had just the right words for a time like this. Her death is doubly cruel in robbing us of one of our foremost poet-theologians, one who could gaze into deep voids and tremendous griefs and from them craft creeds that could breathe for us when we could not. Rachel exuded an incredible influence on contemporary Christian belief and practice.
Christian theology speaks of the concept of sanctification, the process by which through a life of discipleship and faithfulness we may daily draw closer to the divine, further develop moral character, and deepen our own holiness.
“No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel,” proudly proffered President Obama. Emanuel, former fundraiser-in-chief for Bill Clinton — the pugnacious fixer whose tenacity helped pass the irredeemably carceral 1994 Crime Bill — once pushed his own party to “achieve record deportations of criminal aliens”.
As a college student, I was a member of a fundamentalist, cultic strain of white evangelicalism that took pride in differentiating itself from the supposed “cultural baggage of Korean and black churches”. When I started to question some of our tradition’s toxic teachings around gender, race, and sexuality — violent, colonial relics that withered much of our ethics and discipleship — I was shunned from my community in a very painful and traumatic way. For years, I felt unsure of how I could possibly be a Christian again, and I was afraid to enter faith spaces, though I still felt a need for Jesus-shaped spiritual nourishment.
Recently, I had the chance to officiate my friends’ wedding in Havana, Cuba. Those gathered came from numerous traditions: Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, Santería, Yoruba.
By now, many of us are at least casually acquainted with “the model minority myth” that Asian Americans are naturally (or “culturally”) hyper-disciplined, obedient, intelligent, and industrious. Good at math, capable doctors — bad at sports, nerdy at heart. Other people of color should “be more like them”.
I GRADUATED high school with over 30 unexcused absences from classes — each red mark an indictment on a day that I physically couldn't bring myself to get out of bed.
DEAR LITTLE RYAN, You will always remember the day your mom sat you and your sisters down on the fraying living room couch, black and brown fibers teasing through anxious fingertips. You can replay the entire scene in your mind.
IT IS 1968 and I am 24 years old. My name is Sam Kayama. I was born in the American South in Greenville, Mississippi, and studied U.S. history in college, focusing on the events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
AS I STEPPED out of the van, my breath seized in my chest. Pained eyes slowly adjusted to blinding light, taking in sweeping, scorched landscape that lit out in every direction.