After I kind of cheated on my Day 129 picture and since nothing caught my eye today, here is the one I WAS going to use yesterday. It was taco salad night at church and this was one of the toppings. While it tasted fine, I could tell the difference. I know my pork products.
In case you have not refreshed your culture-to-month matching skilz, May is Asian Pacific American History month. Much to debate around setting aside a month a year to particular ethnic groups, but as long as folks don't see these interactions as ways to avoid dealing with deeper issues of race and culture throughout the rest of the year - "What, we can't be racist, we celebrated Asian American History Month!" - then I'm cool with it.
A few years ago I offered up a movie list in honor of APA History month, and while I'll need to update that list soon, I think it is still pretty good. So this year I have decided to put together a list of books that I think give an interesting glimpse into Asian Pacific American culture.
Now before I get started, let me acknowledge that this is not intended to be a definitive list. These are books that I have actually read myself and are meant to be a readable TASTE of APA culture. These are also all books that you could take on vacation and read while curled up by the fire or lounging by the pool. Yes, I was an Asian American Studies major in college, so I know there are PLENTY of other books out there that will touch people in different ways that I have never even heard of . . . so please feel free to add your own suggestions.
So, in no order of import, here is my list of reading suggestions for Asian Pacific American History Month.
Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, by Jeff Yang, Perry Shen Keith Chow, and Jerry Ma - I am not a big comic reader, but the content and tone of this REALLY got me. If you want to get into the heads of today's Gen X Asian American - at least those who like comics - this is the place to be.
America Is in the Heart: A Personal History by Carlos Bulosan - This is THE book to read in terms of getting glimpse into Filipino immigrant experience. This is a lovely and honest autobiography of an iconic Filipino poet.
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee - This is a middle-school book that my eldest daughter read. The subtleties of Asian American life as seen through the eyes of this overachieving girl were well expressed well.
The Barbarians are Coming by David Wong Louie - This is a delicious romp through the life of a Chinese American young man who comes of age in the 70's.
The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri - Recently made into a movie, this does a good job again, at telling a story that gets into some of the nuances of culture without being simple a book about culture.
Here are also other reads suggested by others.
Now I did not Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki but it has been the go-to Asian American studies book for a while now and could easily make the list. But unlike others, it is not really "fun" reading if you ask me. Combined with some of the other suggestions here, probably a wonderfully full picture.
Not really A "picture" of the day, but many pictures in quick succession. This was sent to me by twitterer @katdianna. This is one of the funniest church satires I have seen in a long time . . . and no, the dude with the ink and cool glasses is not me. I don't wear graphic T-shirts in worship.
As many of you know, the Philippines will be holding national elections next week. I have a few friends that are there as international observers as well as friends for whom this election will greatly impact their lives. This is a prayer that has been offered by friend and colleague, Mark Koenig, coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. Feel free to use this as you best see fit.
God of peace . . . open the people and the leaders of the Philippines to new possibilities in their life together.
Provide vision and touch minds so that the leaders and people break down barriers and pursue new possibilities.
Grant courage to nurture relationships that cross well-defined lines in surprising ways so that long-time animosities may be transformed.
May they live together, seeking the well-being of all.
God of justice . . . inspire the people and the leaders of the Philippines to seek food and freedom and jobs for all.
Instill wisdom and give discernment so that the leaders and people challenge injustice and inequity.
Grant courage to nurture relationships among all the people, leaders, and institutions so that together they seek to remake systems in ways that benefit all.
May they live into the justice which you intend and to which we are called.
We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Please feel free to use or revise this prayer. Revision would be especially important depending on when the prayer is used. If possible, attribute to Mark Koenig, coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. If you could let him know you used the prayer, that would be great [Mark.Koenig@pcusa.org].
Also, I am compiling a list of folks who will be live tweeting the elections, so if you want to be on it or want to follow it you can go here.
This afternoon I was privileged to participate with the Presbytery of Cincinnati in the ordination service of Abigail King Kaiser. Abby was an intern and pastoral Assistant at MBCC for a few years and has been called to be the pastor at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church in Oakland, CA.
UPDATE PM: You can also see comments on the posting of this on my SF Gate blog [HERE].
Last night, my wife, our eldest daughter and I watched an episode of Glee where resident bully, Sue Sylvester, was visiting with her autistic sister, Jean. As Sue sat at her sisters' side playfully and lovingly bantering, Eldest screamed at the TV, "Stop that, we don't want to see you as a person!"
I asked her if I could quote her, because at that moment, she spoke something profound to the church and the world in our current climate of political, ideological and theological discourse. She basically captures a cultural reality today, it is easier to tear down, attack and dismiss if we do not acknowledge that the other is a person, a wonderfully made child of God.
A few years ago I wrote a post, Liberal or Conservative, Ugly is Still Ugly, where I tried to make a case for the church to model a healthy discourse across and among the divides of theology, politics and ideology. Well . . . 2.5 years later and I think it has gotten worse. While a vast majority of my interactions have been positive, It feels like the church - and the crew I run with, the Presbyterians - has become more visibly and boldly vitriolic, antagonizing and mean-spirited in our interactions, especially online.
Now I do realize that critiquing one another and the ways in which we interact is complex. We certainly don't want to allow people to be abusive or violent, we want to be truth-tellers and, honestly, I think we all want to see the church living as community in a way that is life-giving to the world. But I tell you, the past few months I have been deeply saddened by how I have seen us interact with one other. We have moved beyond healthy and passionate disagreement to toxic name-calling, antagonizing snark and outright hateful rhetoric that has shown the world that the church, once again, is not transforming the world, but being transformed by it.
It seems as though we have lost our ability see the possibility that God's reality and our discovery of God's truths can be discerned through the difficult work of being in community. If we confess a belief in a God who has created us in God's image, complex and wonderfully made, then we must step back and allow for the possibility that God is acting even in the midst of diverse opinions. And as God's beloved community it is our job not to arrogantly tear one another down, but to navigate the hard waters of discovering where God intends for a community to move.
Now I will be the first to admit that trying to see the Spirit moving in commentary that I would label misinformed at best and downright evil at worst is not easy. I often want to respond to evil with evil, lob snarky shots right back at folks and worse yet, pretend to be gracious only to pepper my response with thinly veiled passive aggressive zingers. But the beloved community deserves more than that, the beloved community deserved to be seen and treated as the wonderfully made people that we are and not the one-dimensional zealots that we would like the other to be.
So I am going to remind myself of this difficult task by asking these questions of myself. Feel free to liberate or add some more to the list . . .
Am I aware that my response MAY justifiably make someone angry or am I responding IN ORDER to make someone angry?
Am I responding with words and content in a way that I am comfortable with this person's children and family reading it?
Am I demanding a kind of consistency and posture that I myself cannot live up to?
Am I responding to something that really is not about me and just need to let it be?
Am I thinking about what may have created the toxicity or am I to focused on my own need to be right?
Am I being compassionate, empathetic and gracious?
Am I being challenged to rethink where I stand?
Am I responding, including stepping away, in a way that builds up or tears down?
Now, please know that I'm not so naive to think that we are all going to get along and agree on everything, nor do I believe in unity at all costs. But . . . I do think that the God that so many of us claim to believe in, the God who moves in ways beyond our own imagination and the God that who loves us through it all deserves better.
One of my favorite coffee shops in San Francisco is Nervous Dog Cafe in Bernal Heights. The primary reason that I will choose to stop here is because of its vibe this is very much NOT nervous. When step off of busy Mission Street and enter the cafe, the art, music and feel simple calms your spirit. Def on my Top 10 Cafe list.
“Peace it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
Thank to all who have asked for this. This is a compilation of many different benedictions that I have heard throughout the years, no originality claimed, just some great opportunities to share it.
Go forth into the world
With compassion and justice in your heart
Give voice to the silent
Give strength to the weak
See one another
Hear one another
Care for one another
And love one another
It's all that easy
And it's all that hard
Now may the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ
The love of God
And the power of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, now and forever more