Category Archives: SANACS Digest

On Purposeful Forgetting

A response to  Miyoung Yoon Hammer’s “Psychological Homelessness: Healing Intergenerational Wounds” and Hsu Huan-Zung’s “In Karmic Tones.” Dr. Yoon Hammer’s article can be found in SANACS Journal #4

By Felix Huang

There was a time, on occasions when I returned to my hometown and stocked up on leafy greens at one of the Chinese supermarkets, or got my boba fix at one of the ubiquitous tea houses, I would feel the urge to scream, “People, there’s a whole world out there, beyond your nice little ‘#bobalife’ bubble, full of racial injustice and trauma and microaggressions and stereotype threat!”

Although I grew up in one of the Asian ethnoburbs of the San Gabriel Valley in LA, I attended a small, predominantly white college. There I experienced up-close systemic and institutional racism, alive and well even in an organization full of kind, well-meaning people. And as much of a bubble as the college is, it’s also in many ways a microcosm of wider American society. Thus since graduating from said college, my eyes have been shaped to identify the pervasiveness and effects of such systemic racism.

I never actually acted on my urge to scream at those in my hometown, and admittedly I knew not everybody’s story. But nonetheless, I felt a little like one returning to the cave in Plato’s allegory.

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My family history is one of trauma. My maternal grandfather fled mainland China for Taiwan in 1949, but since he was not a Kuomintang member, he wasn’t taken care of by the KMT government as many other mainlanders in Taiwan (外省人) were. Most members of his family did not make it out of mainland China, and some, including his father, were imprisoned and tortured to death by the Communist government. Meanwhile my maternal grandmother, a benshengren (本省人 – Han people who were already in Taiwan prior to 1949), grew up with an abusive, alcoholic, and often absent father, and without her mother, who had passed away when my grandmother was quite young.

These stories were relayed to me at a young age. My immigrant mother made sure I knew where I came from, transmitting not only Chinese and Taiwanese history, culture, and language, but also our family history, including the sordid details.

My family is certainly not alone in having a traumatic history, but I found out that many of my peers were not told their stories of family trauma until they were much older, if at all. And they seemed to do just fine, or even better, without knowing.

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Regarding the healing of intergenerational memories, Dr. Miyoung Yoon Hammer wants her children to “know who they are and where they come from… but… not be weighed down by the darkness of the painful memories that threaten to become their intergenerational family legacies” (SANACS 4, 73).

Meanwhile, Pete Hsu suggests “staying in relationship: conversing and sharing and being together, fighting and rejecting and breaking apart, understanding that something in us will hang on and heal and get back to the business to growing. And, as our stories entreat us, that though much is lost, much abides.”

Many times I feel paralyzed by my awareness of systemic racial injustice.

But for whatever reason, my awareness of my family history has not had the same debilitating effect.

I’m sure being here in the US and more than a step removed has something to do with it, whereas racial injustice is a close, everyday reality in America. The spatial distance from the family history has been beneficial in that I am deeply aware of it, but not formed so directly by the negative effects of it. The awareness of the stories has cultivated greater empathy for why my maternal grandparents live in fear and have tribalist tendencies, but I’ve avoided being negatively shaped by and prisoner to the effects of their story. I am neither ignorant of nor merely reactionary to their story, but rather there is a knowing accompanied by a sort of purposeful and dialectical forgetting.

I’m still trying to figure out how to apply that process to the trauma of being a person of color in a white supremacist society. But spending four months recently in Taipei, Taiwan has helped. In Taiwan, people no doubt have an awareness of being Taiwanese, but because the fabric of society is different, there is not nearly as much identity policing as in the States. As a Taiwanese American, I was subject to a little bit of the policing (you’re not acting Taiwanese enough), but also felt a sense of belonging, and was granted a respite from many of the specific issues I deal with in America. And I’ve come back as less of a reaction to the white supremacist structure, but no less aware of it.

Maybe there is a time to disengage, to no longer be in relationship, to “take a break.” And then maybe there is a time to come back to it.

We need to interact with our legacies. In order to converse and share, as Pete suggests, we need to have material to share and converse on. But we can also, where possible, take control of our legacies and actively write the next chapters, maybe even changing the story arc. And that might require some purposeful forgetting. There’s a difference between ignorance, never knowing in the first place, and purposefully forgetting, moving on.

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Sometimes I still want to scream at my Asian American peers in the SGV, and other times I wonder if it’s better that (what I perceive to be) their blissful ethnobubbletea existence shouldn’t be shattered.

And sometimes I wonder whether learning about my family trauma at such a young age was more helpful or harmful.

When the Zimmerman verdict was declared, I ceased to wonder. This is why we need to know, because we East Asian Americans may have escaped some of the more obvious effects of injustice and trauma for now, but it sure as hell is affecting others.

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UnknownFelix Huang is a contributing writer for Dime Magazine, a basketball lifestyle magazine. Check out his articles here, as well as his blog here.

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Miyoung Yoon Hammer’s article, “Psychological Homelessness” can be found in SANACS Journal 4, 2012-2013.  Order your copy HERE.

The issue of “Healing of Memories” will comprise the afternoon session of ISAAC’s 5th Symposium, which will be held on October 5th at Evergreen Baptist Church SGV.

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Registration Available HERE.

ISAAC to Honor Roy Sano with Legacy Award

Bishop Roy I. Sano. Photo Credit: Felipe Castillo

Bishop Roy I. Sano. Photo Credit: Felipe Castillo

Bishop Roy I. Sano will be presented with the ISAAC Legacy Award at ISAAC’s 5th Symposium on October 5th. [1] The Legacy Award honors pioneers and leaders from the Asian American Christian community. Past recipients include Rev. Dr. Hoover Wong and Eleanor Huang, LCSW.

Bishop Sano is being recognized as an invaluable and long standing leader in the community. His CV includes degrees from UCLA, Union, GTU and Claremont Graduate School. Ordained in 1957, Bishop Sano served the United Methodist Church on the U.M. General Board of Global Ministries, the U.M. General Board of Church and Society and the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

Perhaps more importantly, Bishop Sano carries with him the deep and compelling wisdom that only experience and reflection can cultivate. As a survivor of FDR’s Executive Order 9066, Sano — along with 110,000 other Japanese Americans — was forced to relocate into internment camps after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. These early experiences have shaped Bishop Sano’s conviction for both grace and justice.

Sano describes those early trials as “a wound that has healed, but the scars of a wound remain… a scar as a reminder: ‘never again’ if I can in any way prevent that or oppose that.” [2] This understanding has no doubt served him in his positions as President of the UMC Council of Bishops and its first Executive Secretary. Bishop Sano comments that these appointments “say a lot about the graciousness of my Episcopal colleagues who deeply disagreed with me on some missional participation.”

Speaking on his call to the ministry, the Bishop describes his decision “to work for this island of acceptance in this turbulent ocean of hate.” It is his lasting impact in this work that ISAAC recognizes and honors with the 2013 Legacy Award.

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[1] ISAAC’s 5th Symposium: Healing of Memories, Healing of Finances will be held on October 5th at Evergreen Baptist Church, San Gabriel Valley.

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Registration Now Available HERE.

[2] “Wartime Internment Teaches Bishop The Importance of Grace” by Cecile S. Holmes

 

A Quest for Questions

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

-R.M.Rilke

By Eun Joo Angela Ryo

It was another typical Friday night at the Korean church where I serve.  I hung out with the youth group and my kids were at their children’s Bible study.  After church, we were headed home when I asked them about their Bible study. 

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Pastor Albert Hung Preaches on Faith and Money

The collective financial health of Christians, the Church and American society at large has suffered from a lack of knowledge and accountability. In response, a growing movement of Christian leaders has sought to turn the tide of this problem. Among them is Pastor Albert Hung of Trinity Church of the Nazarene. Recently he preached a sermon series titled “Lifestyles of the Rich and Faithful.”

This four part series includes talks on:

  1. How to Be Rich
  2. Live to Give
  3. Show Me the Money
  4. Why Money Matters 
Pastor Albert running for charity

Pastor Albert running for charity

Generally regarded as a fine teacher with a modest and considerate preaching persona, Pastor Albert discusses financial issues with unusual candor.

Devoting an entire month to the topic, each sermon takes on a different aspect of finances, money and faith.

“How to be Rich” looks at the biblical rational for a non-consumerist lifestyle.

In a show of transparency, Albert shared his family’s 2012 budget (income and expenses) during his “Live to Give” message.

In “Show Me the Money,” Albert shares 6 simple pointers to responsible money management [1] in the context explaining the layered lessons from Matthew 25.

“Why Money Matters” explores the Christian role as stewards of money, instead of owners. In this light, money is seen as an energetic potential to be actualized by Christians in service of higher goals and ideals. Significant commentary is also made regarding the immense portion of wealth that American Christians hold.

Audio files of this series is available at the Trinity Church website: http://www.trinitychurchmp.com/

The upcoming ISAAC Symposium will devote the morning session to “Healing of Finances” (Saturday October 5). Christian leaders in the financial sectors will elaborate on Christian life in and about financial systems. “More than ever,” says ISAAC Director Young Lee Hertig, “we all need to increase our financial knowledge and the toolbox so that we may exercise healthy stewardship within our interdependent relationships of family, church, society and eco-systems that we rely on for our sustainability.”

More Symposium updates coming soon.

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[1] “The six things you must do to make sure you never get lost: 1) Be willing to work; 2) Spend less than you earn; 3) Avoid (consumer) debt; 4) Build an emergency fund; 5) Set long term goals; 6) Plan with eternity in mind.”

Francis Chan and Jeremy Lin to Speak at “Identity Unleashed”

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On September 7th, Linsanity meets Crazy Love at the Cow Palace in Daly City, CA. For one night, Jeremy Lin and Francis Chan will share the stage to lead attendees in an exploration of who we are and what our purpose in life is at Identity Unleashed.

Lin became a global celebrity following his unprecedented 2012 performance as point guard for the New York Knicks. Lin became the first player to record 20+ points and 7+ assists in his first five starts. Chan is a widely recognized pastor, preacher and author. His bestselling Crazy Love has inspired countless believers to live in a more passionate relationship to God.

This event is free, but registration is required.

Register HERE

Blogroll Update

Here’s the latest from the Asian American Christian Blogroll.

Andrew Alojipan. Photo Credit: Kept On Hold

Andrew Alojipan. Photo Credit: Kept On Hold

Andrew Alojipan from the Christian indie band We Are Leo blogs at: http://andrewalojipan.tumblr.com/

Professor Grace Kao of Claremont (CST and CGU) blogs at: http://www.drgracekao.com/blog/ She is the author of Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World. Grace is also a regular contributor at: http://feminismandreligion.com/

Baylor University Sociologist, Jerry Z. Park blogs at: http://jerryzpark.com/ Jerry is widely published, including his article, “Assessing the Sociological Study of Asian American Christianity,” in SANACS Journal 1.

Theology Professor Grace Ji-Sun Kim of Moravian Theological Seminary blogs at: http://gracejisunkim.wordpress.com/ Grace has written several books on Asian/ANA Christian Theology, including The Grace of Sophia.

See the whole Blogroll HERE.

Book Review: Russell Yee’s Worship on the Way

Russell Yee’s Worship on the Way takes an intelligent and accessible look at Asian American Christian worship. Yee‘s passion for the Asian American Church  shows in his work, crafting a systematic answer to what he calls “the most basic questions: Does culture really matter? What does being ANA have to with how we worship? Why can’t we all worship the Christian way?”

Russell Yee

Russell Yee

Focusing on Christianity’s unique flexibility, Yee compares the Christian Bible’s myriad translations to the single form of Arabic that Islamic scripture requires. Missionally, he refers to 6th century Bishop Gregory’s instructions to take from each culture “whatever is holy, whatever is awe-inspiring, whatever is right.” In the same vein, Yee quotes Pope Alexander VII, “Do not in any way attempt, and do not on any pretext persuade these people to change their rites, habits and customs, unless they are openly opposed to religion and good morals.”

In the Asian American context, Yee talks about the Asian American experience in terms of history and culture. Part of what he’s doing is using these ingredients  explain the  underdeveloped state of a distinct Asian American Christian worship. To help explain that, he uses the concept of Asian American culture as “Emergent, Delitescent and Latent,” meaning it is new, hard to see, and full of potential. He’s optimistic when he  describes this condition as the “freedom to shape the future instead of perpetuate the past.”

Worship on the Way, ISAAC Symposium 4.

Worship on the Way, ISAAC Symposium 4.

I particularly liked the chapters on “Explorations” and “Expressions”. These sections detail Yee’s practical work and ideas on the practice of Asian American worship. Some simple take-aways for me are:

  • The revision of individualist language in songs to reflect a more collective culture. In other words, changing the I’s and Me’s into We’s and Us’s.
  • A multilingual choral version of “God is So Good.”
  • The compelling nature of spoken word. There’s something in the reciting of poetry that’s a different kind of meditative experience that singing songs or hearing sermons.

Also, a point regarding the audience for this book: Yee’s book is useful as a study on Christian worship in general. He presents a strong case for going beyond allowing culturally specific worship forms, and embracing the value, necessity and unavoidability of it.

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[1] Another version of this review was originally Posted on Amazon.com

[2] Worship on the Way is also reviewed by Paul Junggap Huh in SANACS Journal #4.