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What If?
HYPOTHETICAL STORIES ABOUT A NOT-SO DISTANT FUTURE AND PAST
HYPOTHETICAL STORIES ABOUT A NOT-SO DISTANT FUTURE AND PAST
A New Imagination

IN THE LATE 1970s Marvel Comics began publishing their "What If?" series with this simple premise: Take significant events in the Marvel Universe and explore what might have happened if there were different outcomes.

As Arbitrary as Apple Pie
What if Asian Americans were considered white?

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.

International Relations: An Exchange of Letters
What if Overseas Filipino Workers were recalled back to the Philippines?

Happy 18th birthday! I wish I could celebrate with you — can you believe that it's been an entire decade since I've last seen you?

Orphaned Adults
What if Asian churches no longer ministered to English-speaking adults?

I LOVE MY CHURCH. This church is perfect. I don't know why anyone would want to leave.

“Asians Only” Not Allowed
What if ethnic-specific college fellowships were banned?

I WAS ALONE in my dorm near the beginning of senior year when I found out. My friend called me while I was working on a paper.

Organically Grown and Non-M.Div
What if the government stopped issuing loans to seminary students?

I AM A 29-YEAR-OLD KOREAN FEMALE ALONG SEEKING A PASTORAL POSITION, PREFERABLY AT A SEMI-CHARISMATIC CHURCH WITH A FOCUS ON SOCIAL INJUSTICE AND DISCIPLESHIP. I should mention — I don't have an M.Div degree.

Chinese Evangelical Vincent Chin Pronounced Dead
What if Vincent Chin had been an evangelical Christian?

"Why was he in a place like that?" Mom nearly shouted into the phone. Mom hung up the phone and returned to the dinner table. "That was your Aunt Lily. Cousin Vincent is in the hospital now. Very badly beaten. In a coma. Two men were arrested. They were white."

No More Teachers, Still Some Books
What if schools didn’t use grades anymore?

I HAVEN'T RECEIVED AN A SINCE I WAS 13 YEARS OLD.

IN THE LATE 1970s Marvel Comics began publishing their "What If?" series with this simple premise: Take significant events in the Marvel Universe and explore what might have happened if there were different outcomes. 

What if Bruce Banner was savage and the Hulk intelligent? What if someone else besides Spider-Man had been bitten by the radioactive spider? What if Captain America had been elected president? What if the Fantastic Four all had the same power?

These hypothetical retellings of key moments allowed writers to have some fun as they reimagined new plot lines. But it also offered the opportunity to delve more deeply into the complexity of beloved characters. 

These hypothetical retellings of key moments allowed writers to have some fun as they reimagined new plot lines. But it also offered the opportunity to delve more deeply into the complexity of beloved characters. 

In "What if J. Jonah Jameson adopted Spider-Man?", Marvel ponders what might happen if the editor-in-chief of the "Daily Bugle" (Jonah) was Peter Parker's adoptive father. While Jonah is supportive of Peter, he harbors his usual deep hatred for the web-slinging superhero. It's not until Peter — fed up with the casualties of Jonah's war on Spider-Man — reveals his secret identity to Jonah, that Jonah changes his heart, even turning to being partners in crime-fighting with Peter.  

It's an ingenious concept, but also not entirely brand new. 

Fiction has often been used as a way to speak into current situations and to renew our perspectives on socially pressing topics. Science fiction like "Star Trek" not only featured lasers and fancy technology, but also served as allegories of contemporary issues like imperialism and human rights. Most recently, "Zootopia" used the narratives of lovable furry creatures to communicate a pointed statement on what it means to perpetuate racially-charged fear in society and the effects of police brutality. 

Prophets in the Bible did the same thing.  Nathan confronted King David by presenting a story about a rich man who stole a poor man's only lamb. King David was infuriated by the actions of the rich man, even demanding that the rich man repay the poor man four times over — until he realized that the story was really about him — "You are the man!" 

Fiction is fantasy yet deeply true. It can stoke up a new spiritual and moral imagination in people for a better future beyond current limitations, even perceived impossibilities. When we examine a current situation through the lens of fiction, we see new things. 

Fiction can stoke up a new spiritual and moral imagination in people for a better future beyond current limitations, even perceived impossibilities. 

That's what this issue is about. It's the first time we've ever "made up" stories. Some of them are glimpses into possible futures. Others are alternate realities of things that have already taken place. Regardless, we hope that it helps us as a community to see things in a new light. To imagine, to wonder, and to ultimately act, if we only asked, "What if?"

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