More Than Serving Tea



Dear Pastor Rick Warren, I Think You Don’t Get It

Rick Warren's FB post

I’m not sure how Saddleback Staff start each day like the Red Army Guard. No one has explained that to me so I really do not get it.

***UPDATE: So, as of sometime this afternoon, the original FB post and tweet of this image has been removed, presumably by Rick Warren. That is wonderful news. He has also issued an apology on Dr. Sam Tsang’s blog (linked later in this post) but not on his Facebook page or Twitter because it has all been removed. However, I am leaving up my original post because deleting something doesn’t actually address the issue, and the subsequent commenter by supporters were never addressed. Those supporters may think the post was removed because he got tired of the angry Asians who don’t get it. Right now, it feels like I’ve been silenced. Pastor Warren actually did read many of the comments voicing concern about the post and responded with a rather ungracious response. My kids constantly hear me talk about the consequences of posting something up on social media and the permanence of that.

Also, I have corrected “Army” to “Guard” because in my rush and ignorance I treated them as the same. Both Communists? Yes. The same army? No.  

I guess I don't get Hebrew ironic humor.

I guess I don’t get Hebrew ironic humor.

You know it’s going to be an interesting day when you wake up to FB tags and messages about “something you would blog about.”

My dear readers, you know me too well.

This photo is currently on Rick Warren’s FB page and his Twitter feed. Apparently the image captures “the typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day.” Hmmm. I didn’t realize Saddleback was akin to the Red Army Guard.  Warren’s defense (and that of his supporters) is one that  I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF HEARING! It goes something like this:

  • Don’t you know this is a joke? This is funny. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
  • I didn’t mean to offend you. BUT…Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
  • Why are you attacking “fill in the blank with well-intentioned White person’s name here”? Don’t you know how many people said person’s ministry and life’s work has touched and brought to faith? Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
  • If you are a Christian, show “fill in the blank with well-intentioned White person’s name here” some grace. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.
  • Don’t be so politically-correct. Be a Christian first. Don’t make this about race. Get over yourself. Get a sense of humor. Christians can be funny.

I don’t know where to start with this so I will first take a deep, cleansing breath and send you to Dr. Sam Tsang’s blog to get a thoughtful, educational post that for those who are not familiar with the Red Army Guard. This image used by Warren? Propaganda. Because genocide always looks better when it’s smiling & perfectly-coiffed.

But what would’ve happened had he used this image? Would have his supporters still supported him? Because use of this image would be just as offensive to me as the other one. It’s not funny. It’s not about me getting over myself. It’s not about Christians being funny. One thing it is about is White evangelicalism (re)writing the narrative of our faith and our story. The story continues to tell people like me to get over it, to lighten up, to get a sense of humor, to put my faith above my ethnicity and gender. The story continues to tell me that the amount of grace someone deserves is equal to the number of people they have “helped”. The story continues to tell me that people like me have no place in the culture making of Christianity because directly and indirectly we are not welcome as my dear friend Grace Biskie wrote about her experience at a recent conference.

The Red Army. Hitler Youth. Would one be more acceptable than the other?

The Red Army Guard. Hitler Youth. Would one be more acceptable than the other?

Dear Pastor Rick Warren,

I have not helped thousands come to know Jesus. I don’t know that for a fact, but I do know that I don’t have the kind of platform you do, the kind of following you do, the number of eyes watching and listening to you. But that shouldn’t stop us from listening to one another and learning from one another.

The image of the Red Army Guard soldier is offensive. It isn’t funny. And it does have racial implications. I know you are a thoughtful leader, so why not choose an equally funny/not funny image of Hitler Youth who look just as cheerful, focused and determined (and perhaps, dare I say, more like your staff?) Because it was easy to use the Red Army Guard image? Because you didn’t think it was a big deal to connect your Christian staff with the Chinese Red Army? Because you have someone of Chinese descent on your staff and he/she didn’t think it was a big deal? 

Please reconsider your comments that essentially told many of your brothers and sisters in Christ to get over it, to get a sense of humor, to lighten up, etc. Please take a moment to hear us out because you don’t get to tell me to laugh about the Communist Red Army Guard because it isn’t funny. There is no irony. Do not compare me and others to the self-righteous who did not get Jesus’ humor as you did in your FB defense.

Please help me understand how this furthers the kingdom of God because right now it feels like the most important thing is to “get you”.

Sincerely,

Kathy Khang


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Comments

  • * Tim Fromla says:

    Matthew 12:34: how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. His heart spoketh…and I’m an atheist

    Like

    | Reply Posted 10 months, 1 week ago
  • * Fred Mok says:

    Kathy, this post is awesome. I totally respect your courage in calling out Rick Warren. I do hate how PC-sensitive our society is but it’s the reality of how diverse this country is. Ignorance is pervasive but it’s not an excuse. And that’s what infuriated Sam Tsang, that Warren blew him (and others) off after being called out on his ignorance. His apology was a big step though and it says something about his humility. I appreciate that guy and I love how the body of Christ can rebuke its members in love.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago
  • * Khanh Nguyen says:

    Quoting Ken Sande’s book – The Peacemaker – “The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt. The most common way to do this is to say, ‘I’m sorry IF I’ve done something to upset you.’ The word IF ruins this confession, because it implies that you don’t know whether or not you did wrong, [you just want people] to get off [your back by giving a token apology]…and that [you] don’t know what [you] should do differently in the future [nor are you expecting to change] …” Clearly that is no confession at all. It is a superficial statement designed to get someone to stop bothering you or to transfer fault for breaking a relationship. Small wonder that genuine forgiveness rarely follows such words. (p. 127). 

    I’ve also learned that after you genuinely apologize, you need to be willing to hear how and how much you hurt the other person. Don’t just say “sorry” and think that’s the end of the story (My 4 year old tries to do that).

    Warren I’m sure is a wonderful Christian and has impacted many with this ministry. But no Christian is above correction – it only helps us grow more like Christ. This is not to condemn him but to hope he and his followers grow from it.

    Thanks for being a voice Kathy!

    Like

    | Reply Posted 10 months, 3 weeks ago
  • * Benji says:

    Well, I actually disagree with all this outrage. To provide some perspective, the picture itself is taken from the Red Detachment of Women, a popular ballet from 1964 which was later performed for Nixon on his visit to China. It’s about a peasant girl who joins an all-female militia to overthrow the despotic landlord of her village during the 1920s.
    Yes, 1920s. Yes, 1964.
    For those unversed on the timeline of modern Chinese history, both of these years predate the Red Guard and predate the Cultural Revolution. The picture is not of a potential mother-rapist Red Guard soldier, as Dr. Tsang suggests. Nor is it a depiction of the Great Leap Forward, which Dr. Tsang also raises. As Mingliang previously commented, it is important not to conflate the Red Guard with the Red Army. The Red Army was an army. The Red Guard were the purveyors of the Cultural Revolution. (Do communist Asians all look the same to you?)
    But this is not that. This is from a rather tame piece—especially for propaganda—that was meant to instill a sense of “good triumphs over evil”-style justice. It is essentially the romanticised, almost fairy tale version of communist revolution. This is the Chinese Boston Tea Party. The Chinese Paul Revere. And while I’m sure that this imagery could still be offensive to some, with all this in mind, let’s not summon the need to be offended out of ignorance.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * Mingliang says:

    If it was a Red Army member, I actually wouldn’t be as offended.

    However, that’s clearly a member of the Red Guard. They were the paramilitary that terrorised China during the decade of the Cultural Revolution.

    That was only a few decades ago, and many of us have parents and grandparents who were imprisoned, tortured, subjected to “struggle sessions” by Red Guards. They destroyed many lives with their fanatical regime of terror and abuse.

    Making fun of the idealistic fanaticism that drove the Red Guards isn’t funny, particularly when there are many people still dealing with the psychological trauma of the sheer terror that engulfed the country during that period.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * Robert says:

    I do not agree with Pastor Rick posting this picture and then defending himself like he did. But as a fellow follower of Christ I also do not agree with publicly confronting him on forms is the correct model that was laid out to us by Christ. Matthew 18:15-17. We have to stay unified as a body especially to the public world. Paul was grieved how fellow brothers and sisters would bring their differences to public places like court. 1 Corinthians 6:6-7 Let us not fall into that as well. Peace and blessings

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * Mick says:

    Kathy Khang You admit you moderate this . . A comment from a person who claims Warren is being disturbing and not unusual for white males because they get away allot was allowed here. . A person on warrens blog gave sites like yours to share their point , people were mocking evangelicals , whites , our cultural ignorance , etc . Even so far as claiming Gods plan for marriage was bigoted . Now your accusing me of being racist . So you agree with the comment on this blog that this is a white male characteristic ? They use Hitler and Mao as evil examples for his flock to aspire to . This is so blatant . Were whites born with this characteristic , does it just come along with the skin pigment ? Your right I used the word racist . The comments you moderated were racist and allowed on your site . Bless your heart with the Love of God .
    Recent comments by Rick Warren
    47 minutes ago
    “Never retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do.” 1 Peter 3:9
    Finally back home. Staff handed me a hard copy of an email from someone offended by a picture I posted. If you were hurt, upset, offended, or distressed by my insensitivity I am truly sorry. May God richly bless you.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * Frank says:

    We have all become way too sensitive. Hopefully we will mature out of it.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * Mick says:

    . (and also not unusual for a white American Christian man — they get away with a heck of a lot).

    Noticed one comment that speaks to displaying racism here is ignored on a blog that is critical of racism ? . To me this is what makes these issues multi leveled . Obviously some of the up roar is also based on Theological differences , while some may be heart felt and people actually insulted . But then those same insulted , are quiet when Warren is called a bigot in the comment section in regards to Gay Marriage . Also attacked on an issue with a biased understanding of the whole story . Are we only offended when it is our issue or our side getting hurt .

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * nancyhw says:

    Another perspective:

    My parents grew up during the Cultural Revolution and for many of their generation from Mainland China, the experience brings many mixed emotions. For them, the Red Army is not so much about persecution, brutality, etc, but misinformed and misplaced zeal that ultimately disappointed so many. For their generation, Communism was their religion and Mao was their god. They memorized “verses” from the Little Red Book. They sang songs of praises to Mao. They wept for the lostness of the nations who were in the clutches of capitalism. When the Cultural Revolution degenerated into chaos and senseless destruction, many lost faith. Period. In fact, it is one of the greatest hurdles for that generation of Chinese to accept Christ– they see many parallels in Evangelical Christianity and then write it off as another instance of misinformed, misplaced zeal. So for them, an image of Saddleback staff being compared to the Red Army is essentially Rick Warren identifying his own staff with blind, mindless belief…which I think is a whole level of irony that Rick Warren did not intend…

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * James P says:

    Normally when I hear white people say it’s a joke, I just assume another redneck making a redneck comment. Just goes to prove, that everyMAN is filthy sinner, including Rick Warren. Just because he’s a pastor of a huge church in some middle America, does not mean he’s pure of heart. Proverbs 20:9 and other passages state that he’s filthy like rest of us. Just chalk one up for a filthy sinner acting filthy. God forgives, because of Jesus, not because he’s a good dude.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months ago
  • * Not a Christian says:

    What irks me regarding scenarios such as these is usually the message themselves, but some of the typical response generated by the posters’ supporters. “A real Christian wouldn’t be upset about this” or “Be a Christian first”. So if I don’t follow your faith, I can’t be upset about racially insensitive comments you’ve made? So much for the fabled Christian tolerance…what’s next? Inquisition?

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * idarklight says:

    While Rick Warren’s comment is offensive, I think this post also lacks sensitivity. Comparing an entire generation of Chinese youths to Nazi’s is way too over-generalized, not to mention inaccurate. I think it’s important to recognize the fact that there’s still a red scare in the U.S. (I’m Chinese American, and people ask me if I’m “commie” all the time ), and to be aware to not fuel it.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • I’m a well-educated woman. I earned master’s degree and completed post-graduate work. When I first saw this image on your blog, I didn’t even realize the doll was Asian. I wouldn’t have any i idea that that was offensive. Regardless, I’m very sorry this happened, and hope we all (including me) can learn from it.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * Irene Cho says:

    Unfortunately, it seems that equating his analogy to that of equal to a Nazi imagery won’t affect him considering he thinks we should follow Christ as the Nazis followed Hilter – http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/158295

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * Clayton says:

    I did not recognise either image. I assumed, given recent context at Saddleback, that Rick could have been making subtle reference to the pasted on plastic smiles people who work in Christian organisations often feel pressure to wear. It did not even occur to me that the figure was ‘Asian’ until I got part way through your post.

    SO, what about this instead:

    “Dear Pastor Rick. Not sure if you realised this, but the image that you used is actually Red Army Propaganda. This could be offensive to some Asian Americans who are familiar with the history (insert footnote to wikipedia article). Might be worth choosing something else? God bless. Kathy”

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * DJ Chuang says:

    That post has now been removed immediately and personally by Pastor Rick as soon when he learned how the photo was offensive.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * Voltekk says:

    Obviously it’s acceptable if we make the argument that 11 mil people died to the Nazi’s and 30-40 mil people died in the Chinese Cultural Revolution so yes, the Hitler poster is definitely more acceptable /endsarcasm. Words that cause hurt to members of the body and nonmembers should never be so casually brought up like a joke. It causes real pain to people and defending ignorance is beyond me. I don’t care if someone messed up; we’re people, even if we are Christians, we are not above being human and sinning. Lastly, we don’t need all these self righteous people going on to the defense of others… honestly. This sickens me when people are so quick to brush off other people’s legitimate concerns. Imagine what the world, the universal church, the non believers think of us when they see something like this. I definitely would hate to be a Christian if my example of loving others was to disregard their concerns when I find something to be funny.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * Getoveryourself says:

    Just a reference to the firgure’s posture, countenance, and up-turned face. Nothing more. I am sure that whoever posted that had NO idea there was any connection to the red army.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * daniel so says:

    Kathy — Thank you for voicing these concerns, and for not backing down in the face of these kinds of events.

    It is so utterly (and frustratingly) draining to see the same old cycle replay itself again & again:

    1. Racially offensive comment/event made
    2. People who are offended respond
    3. Overwhelming backlash, typically filled with “get over yourself” and “a real Christian wouldn’t be offended” types of statements.

    This particular event is even worse because of the horrific nature of what the Red Army has done (thanks for the link to Dr. Tsang’s blog, by the way). It’s not exaggerating to compare their atrocities to the Nazis, about whom no church leader would dare to make public jokes.

    I suppose I can understand how it would happen that Rick wouldn’t know about the Red Army (I think it’s hard for anyone to know world history for cultures different from themselves). However, his direct response is truly heartbreaking — he equates those who would laugh at this offense with “disciples” and those who are offended as “self-righteous.” Ouch.

    I often say that I want to engage in fights that are worth fighting over. And, although I am bone-weary over this kind of nonsense, this is a fight worth fighting. Thanks for not giving up.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago
  • * idelette says:

    Thank you for speaking out and speaking up, Kathy. I stand with you that this is not funny.

    Like

    | Reply Posted 11 months, 1 week ago


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