racial (in)sensitivities & a teachable moment

If you aren’t already aware of the public conflict (and resolution) between Christians over Foster & Wilhite’s Deadly Viper book (and marketing), it would be very worth catching up on.

One of the really helpful things about Twitter is staying current on topics of interest to us as college ministers. And while I haven’t been able to follow the Twitter-stream nearly as much as I would hope to (participating in a 7-week road trip and all), I did happen to catch wind of this very helpful teachable moment for all of us.

The very brief summary of the conflict is that Deadly Viper, published by Zondervan in 2007,  seems to have insensitively pictured Asian stereotypes, and their recent marketing push went (in the eyes of many) even further “over the top” in this regard. As a result, many expressed deep public concern – especially after the authors did not respond well to the original confrontations. Since then, the authors have expressed deep regret and a desire to learn. And others are pointing to this as an opportunity for us all to learn.

And indeed it is. I certainly learned much by taking a look at some of what has been said.

Of course, this is important for us as Christians. But it’s also extra-important because of the climates in which we get to serve – climates which are often some of the most (integrated) multicultural environments in America. We need to understand how students and others in our campus communities view the world. And we should also be helping our students, teaching them wisely on navigating the sometimes-tricky waters of community.

So how can you explore this important topic? Here are three good places:

  • Eugene Cho offers an excellent summary of both the situation and the concerns
  • D. J. Chuang offers links aplenty on this situation, as well as some wisdom on the value of a very public conflict
  • The major catalyst in airing the concerns has been Professor Soong-Chan Rah, a (well-loved) prof of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Seminary. I’d encourage you to scan his progression of posts through the last several days, beginning with the initial major posts from November 3rd.
  • And of course, don’t miss the chance to read the comments on those posts. As always, they present the opportunity to view a wider spectrum of reactions to this issue.

written from Toledo, OH

please pray for me as I speak to a conference of college ministers tonight!


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Road Trip 13: Day 36 recap
recap: finished my time in Ann Arbor, down to Toledo (see all explorations so far)
mileage: 6,773 miles so far
new state: Ohio (#16)
T-shirt: the Jumbos of Tufts University
monday: flying to Cedar Falls, IA, to speak at the Collegiate Ministries Conference for the Lakes & Prairies Synod of the PC(USA). I’ll be there ’til Wednesday.


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