The biggest scars we carry in life are not caused by random strangers. They’re given to us by the people we once loved and trusted, the people we allowed to love us. Sometimes these wounds heal. Other times we pick at the scabs and reopen the wound time after time.
I had no other choice but to grow up in a Korean immigrant church — my dad was the pastor. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were church days. Wednesday for the midweek service; Friday for youth group when I was old enough; Saturday for Rainbow School (c’mon Korean church folks, you know what I’m talking about); and Sunday for, you know, church.
“You don’t put a frog in already boiling water because it’ll jump out immediately. Too hot. You put the frog in room temperature water first. Then as the water begins to boil, he’ll wonder why it’s getting so hot. And then, next thing you know, it’s too hot and he’s cooked. That’s how it works with sin. You compromise on the small things and then next thing you know, you’re in hot water not knowing how to get out.”
I arrived late for the opening worship of a conference for second-generation (and beyond) Korean American pastors and church leaders. Instead of quietly sneaking into the sanctuary, I found myself hesitating to go in.
Working at a church can often strengthen your faith journey. But a lot of times, working at a church is like taking a peek into seeing how sausages are made. As the saying goes, you don’t want to know how the sausage is made because you won’t want to eat it anymore. Working at churches can expose us to the behind-the-scenes of ministry, and at times, the things we discover can never be unseen.
I had heard the story a thousand times. As a young man in China in the 1920s, my Gung-Gung (grandfather) Calvin Chao contracted the deadly disease of tuberculosis.
Director Barry Jenkins’ film, “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), stays faithful to the central theme of love in James Baldwin’s original novel while adding Jenkins’ own voice.
“Your cousin Smriti told us that we were less like husband and wife and more like best friends when we stayed with her in Delhi,” my mother told me after my parents’ most recent visit to India. “That’s sweet!” I exclaimed, surprised at this sentimentality from my cousin.
A FEW MONTHS after my divorce, I was able to enjoy the musical “Wicked” in Los Angeles. During the climax of the story, Elphaba and Glinda reflect on their complicated relationship by singing “For Good”, a farewell duet in which they earnestly
MY SON IS a lollygagger. Josh doesn't have a problem taking his sweet time getting out of the car, or getting off the toilet.
THE PHONE JUST KEPT RINGING and ringing. Usually, someone would pick up after just a couple of rings, but after about a dozen rings, I figured they must be busy.
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.
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.