in print
63
Perspectives
“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.” - James Baldwin, “Nothing Personal”
“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.” - James Baldwin, “Nothing Personal”
“Stories We Tell”

“Stories we tell” is a fascinating documentary about the filmmaker Sarah Polley’s mother and their family. As different siblings, relatives, and family friends are interviewed and their stories interweave, the viewer begins to see different facets of a deeply complex person.

This is My Body
Trauma, Food, and the Eucharist as Ancestor Worship

Though I spent a lot of time under her care, my Pau Pau and I didn’t speak much. Our exchanges were generally limited to one-way admonitions in her native Toisanese. Hehk fahn was her most common invitation — “It’s time to eat.”

Hearing the Ghost of Grandma

Grandma was my primary guardian growing up. And like many of our guardians in Chinese immigrant families, Grandma was a mystery, a fish out of water. It may be because of how she mystified me that I never had the ears to hear her stories before she passed away.

Batok

The sound of sharp boar’s teeth hammered onto my flesh was surprisingly therapeutic. I felt a wonderful calmness while my husband and a fellow Filipinx American hand stretched my skin and my mambabatok left these permanent soot marks symbolizing powerful ancestral messages.

Folding Dumplings, Unfolding Grief

One stormy afternoon, Auntie sat with me at our kitchen table. I was in third grade and wildly enthusiastic about everything origami, eager to show off my crane-folding skills. Relieved at a low-key activity to partake in, my bookish Auntie started to fold a paper boat for my cranes to ride in.

Deconstructing the Past, Looking Forward to the Future

These past few years leading up to and under the Trump administration have been a tumultuous journey, which has left me feeling unmoored from my foundations and shaken to the very core of my identities and beliefs.

Memory, Identity, and Violence

Recreating memory is often seen as a liberating phenomenon. Whether it’s expressed through songs, journal testimonies, or stories passed down across generations, memories can be powerful tools for families and close communities. But I am skeptical about its resonance for creating multicultural and caste-transcending communities in the Indian context.

Questioning the Terrain

A 10-year-old girl looks out to a bare and large soccer field of her elementary school. Standing on the elevated platform, she can see all around her meaningful landmarks from her first decade of memories in Ilsan, Korea, all she’s ever known.

Presence and Jeong
Relationality and Care as Resistance

Every summer until I was 8 years old, I visited my grandparents at my mother’s hometown in Seoul, Corea. The most enduring memories of these visits are the quotidian moments of my grandmother and me squatting in the street corner near her yeontan (briquette)-heated house, surrounded by a group of her friends and local neighbors.

Bitter Melon is in the Heart

Even though I never learned how to speak any Filipinx languages, the names of everyday dishes like pancit and kaldareta roll off my tongue with relative ease. Some of my strongest memories are of me waiting for my mother in our car after she had spotted a malunggay tree in a neighbor’s yard.

Proximity to Whiteness is a Lie
The Role of Asian American Churches in Affirmative Action

Asian Americans have been brought to the forefront of the news because of Harvard’s Affirmative Action case and the Asian American community has been divided about how to approach the issue. Some groups argue that Asian Americans have been systematically discriminated against because of racial quotas.

You are Welcome Here

It was the first week of Christmas break in 2010. I was halfway through my final year of college and had picked up extra shifts at my part-time job at Panda Express. Walking across campus, exhausted from work and carrying my groceries, I ran into my friend Taka, an international student.

Ghosts of Prophets Past
In Memory of My Social Justice Ancestors

I believe in ghosts. As a young boy, I visited my father’s village of Ofu, Manu’a in American Samoa, which is known throughout the Samoan islands for its ‘aitu (spirits). One day, after an eventful afternoon of shooting pigeons (faga-lupe) with my cousins, we lost track of time and began our walk — more like a hike — back home later than expected.

In the Shadow of the Shrine

As far as I know, the miniature house-shrine still perches on the corner of the wet market. I’d been in Malaysia for 14 years, and up until last year, I’d never looked inside. Next to the food truck that sells roast pork and the other one that sells water spinach bunched in rubber bands, the gilded three-walled shrine squats on its haunches over the street

Queen Vashti
Identifying and Interrupting Toxic Masculinity

Asian American churches seem to love the Book of Esther. How many Asian Christian women are named after this Old Testament heroine? I know too many Asian Esthers to count. Queen Esther represents beauty, obedience, and bravery.

Stepping Stones on the Path of Solidarity

There’s an African proverb that states, “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

Prophecy, Poetry, and Perspective

A long time ago, the first chancellor of post-war Germany, Konrad Adenauer, joined a TV interview where a journalist asked him the following question: “You were often called ‘The Great Simplifier of Politics’.

Losing and Finding My Voice

I left my Korean church eight years ago. It was my third departure in 11 years, but this was different. This time, I didn’t walk through a revolving door into another Korean church. I walked away from church altogether.

“Stories we tell” is a fascinating documentary about the filmmaker Sarah Polley’s mother and their family.

As different siblings, relatives, and family friends are interviewed and their stories  interweave, the viewer begins to see different facets of a deeply complex person. The mother is both particular and ineffable, with different people in her life ascribing different qualities and perspectives of her. It all culminates in a family secret that directly affects the filmmaker’s own sense of identity.

Canadian film journalist and critic Brian Johnson summarizes the film effectively as “an enthralling, exquisitely layered masterpiece of memoir that unravels an extraordinary world of family secrets through a maze of interviews, home movies, and faux home movies cast with actors.”

Each one wrote their accounts of interactions and sayings of the same person, Jesus, but their memories all vary.

The gospel writers composed their work in a similar fashion as Polley. Each one wrote their accounts of interactions and sayings of the same person, Jesus, but their memories all vary, in some ways intentionally, due to which qualities of Jesus they were trying to emphasize, and in other ways naturally, due to when the account was historically written.  

Some of the differences are fairly insignificant. Numbers aren’t always the same. The order in which events happen don’t always line up. Was Jesus crucified at 9 or 6 in the morning? Discrepancies are normal when different people recall a shared experience.

But some of the differences are more profound. Was the mother with the demon-possessed daughter from Syrophoenicia or Canaan? Was Jesus the Son of Man or the Son of God? How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem during his ministry?

How we tell our stories, the details that we remember, and how we remember ourselves in these stories reveal a lot about what we care about and what we value in that moment.

How we tell our stories, the details that we remember, and how we remember ourselves in these stories reveal a lot about what we care about and what we value in that moment. For Luke, it meant emphasizing the human side of Jesus. For Matthew, it meant a focus on Jesus as a king in opposition to the empire of Rome.

In this issue, we consider how different perspectives shape how we understand the world around us. Memory offers  powerful ways of engaging with our past, but can also be quite misleading or unreliable. Proximity — both physical and metaphysical — affects our ability to discern and recognize realities based on our distance from them. Prophecy provides us resources for not only what can or should be, but what currently is, so that there can be change.

These various frameworks show us how all the parts — the stories we tell — are what make up the story itself.

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This is My Body
Trauma, Food, and the Eucharist as Ancestor Worship

Though I spent a lot of time under her care, my Pau Pau and I didn’t speak much. Our exchanges were generally limited to one-way admonitions in her native Toisanese. Hehk fahn was her most common invitation — “It’s time to eat.”

Hearing the Ghost of Grandma

Grandma was my primary guardian growing up. And like many of our guardians in Chinese immigrant families, Grandma was a mystery, a fish out of water. It may be because of how she mystified me that I never had the ears to hear her stories before she passed away.

Batok

The sound of sharp boar’s teeth hammered onto my flesh was surprisingly therapeutic. I felt a wonderful calmness while my husband and a fellow Filipinx American hand stretched my skin and my mambabatok left these permanent soot marks symbolizing powerful ancestral messages.

Folding Dumplings, Unfolding Grief

One stormy afternoon, Auntie sat with me at our kitchen table. I was in third grade and wildly enthusiastic about everything origami, eager to show off my crane-folding skills. Relieved at a low-key activity to partake in, my bookish Auntie started to fold a paper boat for my cranes to ride in.

Deconstructing the Past, Looking Forward to the Future

These past few years leading up to and under the Trump administration have been a tumultuous journey, which has left me feeling unmoored from my foundations and shaken to the very core of my identities and beliefs.

Memory, Identity, and Violence

Recreating memory is often seen as a liberating phenomenon. Whether it’s expressed through songs, journal testimonies, or stories passed down across generations, memories can be powerful tools for families and close communities. But I am skeptical about its resonance for creating multicultural and caste-transcending communities in the Indian context.

Questioning the Terrain

A 10-year-old girl looks out to a bare and large soccer field of her elementary school. Standing on the elevated platform, she can see all around her meaningful landmarks from her first decade of memories in Ilsan, Korea, all she’s ever known.

Presence and Jeong
Relationality and Care as Resistance

Every summer until I was 8 years old, I visited my grandparents at my mother’s hometown in Seoul, Corea. The most enduring memories of these visits are the quotidian moments of my grandmother and me squatting in the street corner near her yeontan (briquette)-heated house, surrounded by a group of her friends and local neighbors.

Bitter Melon is in the Heart

Even though I never learned how to speak any Filipinx languages, the names of everyday dishes like pancit and kaldareta roll off my tongue with relative ease. Some of my strongest memories are of me waiting for my mother in our car after she had spotted a malunggay tree in a neighbor’s yard.

Proximity to Whiteness is a Lie
The Role of Asian American Churches in Affirmative Action

Asian Americans have been brought to the forefront of the news because of Harvard’s Affirmative Action case and the Asian American community has been divided about how to approach the issue. Some groups argue that Asian Americans have been systematically discriminated against because of racial quotas.

You are Welcome Here

It was the first week of Christmas break in 2010. I was halfway through my final year of college and had picked up extra shifts at my part-time job at Panda Express. Walking across campus, exhausted from work and carrying my groceries, I ran into my friend Taka, an international student.

Ghosts of Prophets Past
In Memory of My Social Justice Ancestors

I believe in ghosts. As a young boy, I visited my father’s village of Ofu, Manu’a in American Samoa, which is known throughout the Samoan islands for its ‘aitu (spirits). One day, after an eventful afternoon of shooting pigeons (faga-lupe) with my cousins, we lost track of time and began our walk — more like a hike — back home later than expected.

In the Shadow of the Shrine

As far as I know, the miniature house-shrine still perches on the corner of the wet market. I’d been in Malaysia for 14 years, and up until last year, I’d never looked inside. Next to the food truck that sells roast pork and the other one that sells water spinach bunched in rubber bands, the gilded three-walled shrine squats on its haunches over the street

Queen Vashti
Identifying and Interrupting Toxic Masculinity

Asian American churches seem to love the Book of Esther. How many Asian Christian women are named after this Old Testament heroine? I know too many Asian Esthers to count. Queen Esther represents beauty, obedience, and bravery.

Stepping Stones on the Path of Solidarity

There’s an African proverb that states, “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

Prophecy, Poetry, and Perspective

A long time ago, the first chancellor of post-war Germany, Konrad Adenauer, joined a TV interview where a journalist asked him the following question: “You were often called ‘The Great Simplifier of Politics’.

Losing and Finding My Voice

I left my Korean church eight years ago. It was my third departure in 11 years, but this was different. This time, I didn’t walk through a revolving door into another Korean church. I walked away from church altogether.