More Than Serving Tea


A Direct Plea to My Guests Visiting From Angry Asian Man

When I asked my longtime friend Angry Asian Man to get the word out about Zondervan’s Deadly Viper Character Assassins material, I had a funny feeling my little blog here would get some traffic. Let’s just say I felt very popular.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about you. You may never come back to my blog, but the Deadly Viper website, book, dvds, etc. are still out there with mostly random Chinese characters strung together as a “cool” backdrop to an audience that, for the most part, can’t even read Chinese. And here is something pulled from the website:

There is a killer called Zi Qi Qi Ren. No, this is not some communicable disease, but it certainly is deadly. This funky Chinese word literally means “self deception while deceiving others.”

Well, I don’t speak Chinese. I speak Korean and there is this funky Korean word – “Bah-boh”, which literally means stupid. This gimmick and marketing ploy is stupid & ridiculous. It’s a stereotypical mishmash of all things cool and Asian, and the connection between honoring culture and promoting character and integrity gets lost.

It doesn’t honor Asian culture. And as a Christian it doesn’t honor my Christ. I don’t want to see this stuff out there. 

So, to the thousands of visitors from Angry Asian Man, please, please, please let your Angry voices be heard. Personally I have learned a lot from Angry Asian Man and his readers – activists who recognize the injustices in the culture and carried out by the powers that be with a desire to bring about change. I am a Christian. I have not always connected my faith into that type of action and concern. I have been humbled by your energy, passion, commitment and advocacy in the Asian American community and beyond. I am grateful for those of you who haven’t given up on your Christian friends who talk about God but fail to care for the poor, the orphans, the widows right in front of our faces. I’m sorry for the many years I carried around my Bible as if that was the only action of love I could take.

Eugene Cho, Soong-Chan Rah, Chris Heuertz, Nikki Toyama-Szeto &  yours truly – were on the conference call with authors Mike & Jud. Only four of us – Eugene Cho, Soong-Chan Rah, Ken Fong & I – were on that conference call with executives from Zondervan. I believe Zondervan is committed to hearing the concerns. Please help them hear. We need more voices clearly articulating your concerns with both the ethnic/cultural issues and the gender issues. We are committed to further conversations with the authors and Zondervan, but the bigger systemic issues involving how a major Christian publishing house does not understand how this material is not just offensive but contrary to the message of leadership and integrity it hopes to communicate needs more voices at the table.

Please send your comments and concerns directly to Zondervan c/o

jason.vines@zondervan.com


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Saying Goodbye to the Green Card – Step 2 & of Course More Deadly Viper

There is another conference call set up for 9 a.m. CST Friday, November 6, with Zondervan execs. Eugene Cho, Soong-Chan Rah and I will represent.

What does Zondervan need to know/understand? What are the cultural and spiritual issues that need to be addressed in a profit-driven system?

Please discuss.

And previously scheduled was my trip to get fingerprinted. I got my study guide for the citizenship exam. I learned that I only have to study the questions with an “*” because I’ve been a legal alien resident for more than 20 years.

And I have to take an English test.

Stop laughing.


This isn’t over yet. It’s only just begun.

Please send your concerns, filled with grace & courage, to:

Jason Vines, VP of PR & Communications
Jason.Vines@Zondervan.com


I Will Call This Progress

There is a conference call set with Mike Foster this afternoon. Please be in prayer. 

 


To Be a Gracious But Angry Christian Asian American Woman

I’m trying not to let all of this Deadly Viper stuff emotionally hijack me. Writing helps. Talking with “Kathy Khang husband” helps (btw, that is exactly the search engine term someone used). Praying helps.

I’m trying to muster up the courage to say something else about a situation that is already heated and complex without blind-siding anyone else, without derailing what could be a conversation in the making about the racial, ethnic and faith issues at hand, without sounding too angry, bitter, or in need of inner healing.

But can someone please tell me why pink frosted cupcakes, salads, Richard Simmons and pink Smart cars are girly which is code for “not manly” or akin to being wimps and wussies, which clearly are not adjectives any real man would want used to describe men?

Deadly Viper is NOT the first, last or only leadership development that uses what some would call a hyper-masculinity to appeal to men and their leadership. There are several male pastors who are calling out for men to be warriors, man-up, go to battle, etc. There is a shift in some circles arguing that the feminization of the Church is why men are failing to lead. Jesus as manly man.

But I make the connection here in the middle of all of this talk about culture, race, ethnicity and pain because it is in these conversations I often feel like I’m choosing first to be Christian Asian American and put the “Woman” on hold. It feels too complicated to simultaneously engage people across the divide in a conversation about racial stereotypes AND gender stereotypes. I don’t want my Asian American experience to be defined by ninja warriors, but the message here is so much more nuanced because there are parts of my Christian and Asian and American culture that try to silence my leadership.

Women and men are different. Yes! How can we speak respectfully of those differences, learn from one another and affirm one another without resorting to one of the worst insults a boy can throw at another boy at the playground: “You throw/hit/punch/run/laugh/cry like a girl”?

Just last week I heard a few men at the bowling alley ask me if I had a french maid costume for Halloween. Was that a man being a man in his public man-cave? If those men were just being stupid, isn’t it possible that all of this talk and imagery about real men versus chickified church boys could add unnecessary fuel to the fire?

I’m struggling here.  I am the mother of an amazing daughter and two amazing sons. This isn’t me ranting. I am feeling deeply the brokenness of our world as my kids sleep soundly tonight. How will the church lead in teaching both my daughter and my sons to be strong, effective, compassionate, gracious, courageous leaders? Can we do it without making fun of one another, without Kung Fu warriors fighting off pink cupcakes or salads?

Is anyone else bothered by this hyper-masculinity? Am I being too sensitive?


I Don’t Want to Hear “I’m sorry if you’re offended…” or “I’m sorry but…”

This is not what comes to mind when I think of Christian leadership, character and integrity. (click on the Deadly Viper at Catalyst 07 video to hear…wait for it…Kung-Fu Fighting)

UPDATE: Nikki T-S has posted a comment on the Deadly Viper blog:
Hello all–
This is a very necessary and key conversation…
I’ve been in contact with Mike Foster and am trying to reach Pastor Soong Chan (and other members of the Asian Pacific Islander community) to set up a conversation to engage on this issue.
What do you think needs to be raised in that conversation to bring redemption, healing, and movement forward?

 

 

 

My response is frustration, anger and sadness, which makes me vent and write. This is what I sent to Zondervan and the authors. What would you say to them?

To Mike, Jud and Zondervan:
I am writing in regards to your new leadership & character series, “Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership”. I’ve been looking at the promotional material on your website as well as checking out the Deadly Viper site, trying to understand how visual images of “Asian” culture and references to kung-fu enhance the actual content.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but the word on the street is that the simplified Chinese characters used on the cover don’t actually form a sentence but were used for graphic design purposes. Why does that matter? It matters because the Chinese language is an actual language and not simply visually appealing gibberish. Using it as a graphic design element because it “looks cool” marginalizes the language and the culture. Using random Chinese characters doesn’t make something more authentic, nor does it legitimize the connection between content and a marketing pitch.

As a Christian Asian American, I have grown weary of reading Christian leadership and character development books that are written solely through the eyes of Western/American majority culture. I can appreciate an attempt to weave in cultural values outside of our American experience to speak truth into God’s call to leadership and character. I applaud accurate depictions of my Asian American brothers as real men – not just caricatures of the emasculated Chinese food deliveryman or exaggerated martial arts warrior.

However, the marketing and packaging of this new material appears to have tried walking a fine line between appreciating another culture by giving context and fostering mutual learning and using it as a gimmick.

In response to your comment above, Mike, using Asian images, music and language is not the same as using cultural themes. I’ve been watching your DVD promo video clips. There is a lot of talk about self and community. Perhaps understanding and actually connecting those values through the lens of the Asian culture in comparison to the American culture might have helped your argument. It isn’t until the clip for Chapter 5 do you actually make a direct reference to a karate term.

Your private e-mail exchanges are not what set things off for many of us. Please do not dismiss our concerns as reactionary to a personal matter between you and one person. The use of these images on your website and then implying that a healthy dialogue is impossible because of the forum is unfair.

You have created a movement. I’ve heard that word coming out of your mouths in your promotional videos. Use this forum, your forum, to create space for what you write is a “critically important” discussion. I am not assigning motive or intent in your use of Asian images, but I am holding you accountable to what you say and do.

Are the authors, editors and publishers of this material open to a conversation about how dragons, vipers, ninjas and “cool” Chinese characters do not recognize Asians and Asian Americans as fellow-image bearers of God but simply use us as images?

Sincerely,
Kathy Khang

Update: This website takes a look at the Chinese (and Japanese) characters used.


What in the World?!?! Please Tell Me This Is a Joke

Just when it was looking like a quiet Monday of e-mails and preparing for a weekend conference, I see something interesting on a friend’s FB status.

Zondervan has published a leadership series – Kung Fu-style.

Someone please tell me this is fake and we’ve all been duped. Please.

Do the Chinese characters on the title screen and book cover actually make sense? And the chapter titles to the DVD…are you kidding me?

How is this OK? Who thought this wasn’t going to tick people off?