We want to raise social justice warriors—kids who champion equality and care for the vulnerable, and who subvert the power systems in our world by embodying the prophetic ways of Jesus. We want to activate their imagination, and to hope they'll do better than we did. Whether we admit it or not, we want our children to reflect the values close to our hearts. I know it’s tricky business imposing our own dreams on little autonomous human beings, but if I’m honest, I want my deepest convictions to become theirs. I want to partner with them in paving the ways of peace and righteousness.
One significant difference between Eastern and Western perspectives is how we treat the elderly. Although modern society is eroding some of our Chinese traditional values, in general, there is still more respect and honor for the elderly than our Western counterparts. I hope this is an instance where the global church in the North can allow other cultures to speak prophetically into its faith community.
This happens often. Before someone quotes or highlights or refers to another person’s remarks, they preface it with, “I don’t agree with everything but …” then proceed to say something that they liked. I hear it in conversation with others, I see it on social media, and I read it in books. In fact, the sentiment has been systematized into a legal disclaimer: “the words and opinions expressed here are their own, and do not represent an endorsement.” When I was editing a chapter of my book, I noticed I had employed the same tactic.
I have never had the privilege of a faith community catered to my cultural background. Although born to a Taiwanese family, I was exposed to a Western education (at age 10); far too young to relate to local Taiwanese children. And yet with my dark hair and yellow skin, love for barbecued squid on a stick, and fluency in two Chinese languages, I was certainly a foreigner to American ways.
One of my favorite lines in the musical The Book of Mormon is from the song “You and Me (But Mostly Me).” The main characters, Elder Cunningham and Elder Price, talk about their upcoming mission. Elder Price sings, “Something I’ve foreseen, Now that I’m 19, I’ll do something incredible, That blows God’s freaking mind!” I crack up every time I hear it, its full intended effect sending me into a fit of giggles. For me, it’s funny in a self-deprecating way, because I was Elder Price at 19.
I have lived cross-culturally almost my entire life....
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A while back, a blog post speaking into the pain of miscarriage was making its rounds on the Internet. Having never miscarried (that I know of), or grieved the death of any child, I asked my friend who lost her two-month-old son whether she felt highlighting the pain of miscarriage diminishes the story of her own tragedy. She replied, “It is not very helpful to compare pain.” But how often do we do just that?
I feel like I have been running a sprint. Ever since I committed to writing this past year, I have searched high and low for nooks and crannies of my life to find space in which to fit this endeavor. Between my part-time job feeding the Brandt Clan, I left myself little margin as every spare moment went into stringing words together on my trusty Mac. I chased this passion until it wore me down a little, encroached on my family life more than a little, and consumed most of my mind.