J.S. Park

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The Reckless, Relentless, Sloppy Grace of God: The Church That Jesus Had In Mind
J.S. Park

Hello lovely wonderful friends!

This is a message I had the privilege to preach at an amazing college ministry in Gainesville, FL. 

The message is titled: The Reckless, Relentless, Sloppy Grace of God: The Church That Jesus Had In Mind.

Of anything I’ve ever preached, this one is the truest message of my heart: that we would become a community of reckless honesty that gets entrenched into the mess of real lives with thoughtful nuance and that costly love called grace.  Whether you hate church or you’ve attended your whole life, I believe this is what God is after.

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: My time at the mental institution with drug addicts and sex addicts and recovering mental patients, the awkward harrowing nerve-racking experience of bringing your friend to church (and it happens to be sacrifice-a-live-animal day), the cringe-inducing moment when the preacher goes political, finding out what percentage of the church is actually God’s intention, the recent trend of movies where bad guys are not really bad but have a tragic back-story, what saying “I do” really means, that time I fought a pastor in a parking lot, and sculpting a real eye-to-eye face-to-face friendship over coffee.

Here are other messages from the podcast.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.

Jul 7

On Racism, Bruce Lee, and X-Ray Vision

I am Korean, and I’ve been a victim of racism my whole life.  I hate to use the word “victim,” but really, your race is nothing you ask for, and in a melting pot like America I’m still painfully aware that I am not like most people.

More than my faith, my socioeconomic status, my intellect, my demeanor — this has been the one dividing wall between me and my white friends that is just as tangible as the seat I’m on.  I am an alien.  I have different traditions.  I also own a dog.  I keep explaining myself to people because they think I’m going to eat him.   

I grew up in the States but I’m still the token Asian guy.  When I visit an American church, they are proud to have an Asian person in their midst. They try to make me talk to the other Koreans. I am a victory for their diversity.

Since I’m this hybrid-Asian, it’s apparently okay to make jokes about chopsticks, Bruce Lee, martial arts, and eating octopus.  The thing is: I love chopsticks, Bruce Lee, martial arts, and eating octopus.  So do a lot of people.  I just don’t feel like making this a point every time I introduce myself.  I want to be a human being, not a flyer for AsiaFest or a punchline on South Park.  I don’t want to cater to anyone’s relaxed stance on ethnicity, as if “I’m cool enough to make racist Asian jokes because I’m friends with this one Asian guy.”

Probably the worst thing though is that Asians have zero rights in America.  I don’t mean legal or civil rights.  I just mean: If Abercrombie and Fitch decided to make racist t-shirts about you, or a news station read off some racist names for the pilots of a crashed Asiana flight, or a major Hollywood movie used yellowface for their white actors — then about three people would care for roughly two days.  Asians are known to have passive dormant voices in the Western culture because we do have passive dormant voices in the West, and if an Asian kid was killed in the middle of the street by a white guy, no one would know about it.  Except this already happened to two fourteen year old Korean girls, and no one knew about it. No viral blog posts, no outrage; just quiet grief.

This probably sounds like I’m endorsing racial entitlement, but I hate entitlement. No one owes me anything. I can only hope for X-Ray Vision, that perhaps some day more of us will see we’re just a bunch of skeletons walking around with the same frailties and weaknesses and hopes as the next guy. I want eyes to see you as a God-created fellow individual, with the same dignity due to your very existence. I want to care about your dreams and what you do and what you like to do and who you’ve become. If your race is part of that, I will love that too.

My race is an important part of me, but it’s not the whole story, and while I love my roots, I am way more than knowing how to say hello in my language. I want to talk about other things besides Asian things. I want a voice that at once distinguishes myself as an Asian-American with a rich vibrant heritage, yet also I am a person of color who is just a person. I like white people things. I like black people things. I like Latino people things. I like Middle Eastern things. And yes: I like people-people things. My eyes are probably smaller, but my heart can be just as big as yours.

— J.S.

Jun 2

Mary Vs. Martha: Distracted, Detached, and Itching For Intimacy
J.S. Park

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is the second part of a sermon series called "Snapshots: The Men & Women of the Bible.”  It explores how the people in the Bible were just as fallen as you and me, and how God worked through them.

This message is titled: Mary Vs. Martha: Distracted, Detached, and Itching For Intimacy.

It’s about breaking through the constant noise of distractions and truly being present and engaged with people and with God.

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: When your brain goes off on a bizarre obscure thought-train, writing term papers before the existence of Wikipedia, four studies on the mind-warping effects of social media, the dehumanizing psychology behind flirtation, the secret competition of elaborate marriage proposals to get the most views on YouTube, and the simplicity of getting to know someone for who they are.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

The Power To Edit Your Own Life
J.S. Park

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is the sixth and final part of a sermon series called “Why You Christian?”  It explores the question of why anyone would ever want to be a Christian.

This message is titled: The Power To Edit Your Own Life.

It’s about the choice to change the story of your life and where you are heading: and it begins with confronting yourself in candid honesty.

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: That moment in the movie when the hero is down to nothing but-then-wow-comeback, the sudden epiphany when the villain’s henchman turns against him, that time my friend typed out my angry text messages and read them to me, those random heart-punching face-to-face encounters where you walk away different than before, and going to the movies with Jesus.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

What About The What-About?

jspark3000:

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Every time I’ve expressed a pretty clear opinion, someone always asks, "What about ___?  What about ___?  And what about ___?" 

Of course, it’s absolutely necessary to ask questions in discourse.  We need open dialogue and hearty discussion, and it’s okay to disagree.

But missing a “what-about” doesn’t mean I suddenly endorse the opposite of what I missed.  Because I’m human, and I miss certain angles, and I’m not always balancing my opinion with a billion different nuances — I am bound to leave cracks in opinions. 

We are way too quick to demonize each other on these openings, and you see it happen in the blogosphere like we’re just waiting for a lame duck to attack.  I wish I could address every single exception, and maybe we should try it, but to strive for an economy of words while balancing them is always an uphill task.  We could offer a bit of grace here.

If I say, “Love everyone” and you say “What about the Nazis?” — I’m not endorsing Hitler and eugenics and White Power.

If I say, “Have grace and be patient” and you say “What about my drug-addicted wife-beating money-stealing friend?” — I’m not endorsing heroin or spousal abuse or bank robbers.

If I say, “Don’t be a religious overbearing guilt-tripper” and you say “What about some grace for those guilt-trippers?” — then please know that I include myself in what I’m saying, and I’m not above my own criticism.

All this is the worst sort of logical fallacy that wouldn’t hold up with a college freshman in Intro to Law.  It’s a bizarre straw-man that makes us look tough by beating up a cartoon.

Can we maybe stop forcing words into other peoples’ mouths?  I regret doing this too.  It’s a misquoting massacre.  There are so many times someone misunderstands me and I want to get snarky and yell, “Yeah that’s what I was trying to say.  You totally figured me out, champ!  You showed me.”  But I just get sad about the whole thing.

Even if it sounds like you or I are making an implication: a slippery slope is not a cliff, and making arguments out of implications is the behavior of young children in a playground.  Dialogue is for grown-ups.  I’m terrible at this sometimes, but that’s exactly why we need grace.

 

When someone misses an angle and doesn’t cover all their bases, this does NOT make them an ignorant anti-polemical a-hole.

I suppose if we were to look line-by-line in even the most careful articulate blog, we could conclude “blasphemous heretic” or a “lying witch abortionist” (both of which I have been called), and we could find easy doctrinal flaws and supposed contradictions.  But we would’ve still failed to remotely come close to knowing a real opinion or knowing this person as a human being, and instead managed to hold up a hologram version of the person that we would all easily bash, too.

If you absolutely have to call out someone in disagreement, at least consider NOT speculating on what that person really believes. This is how we end up with quote-by-quote counter-arguments and all kinds of endless stupid semantics and pointless blog drama. It’s healthy to debate sometimes, but not when you attack someone’s character for the sake of hearing your own voice. Presumption will always make us pretentious.

I’m trying to remember that the person who expresses incomplete ideas does not mean this person is evil. It’s easy to ask for clarification without being a jerk. It’s easy to extend grace when you ask “What about ___?” It doesn’t have to escalate into blogger assassination. We are way better than this.

I’d imagine that if you and I could sit down for coffee and wrestle with these things, we would find we actually have a lot of common ground and even come to like each other. You’d see I am a little more conflicted and layered than you had assumed, and I’d find that you have insight which I never even considered, and we would exchange life in such a way that does not demean one another, but builds a bridge to a greater good. We might not agree, and that isn’t even the point.

It is the civil sharing of our commonalities that humanizes us into real individuals, and reminds us why we even fight to express ourselves at all. Over coffee, face to face, eye to eye, it all changes. I will only say to you what I can say to you across a table: and I will love you as a human being who struggles as I do.

— J.S.

May 7

I think there’s a double-guilt in the Christian community when we feel emotions. When we feel “bad,” we end up feeling bad about feeling bad. It’s because we falsely believe that we can’t feel bad if we have Jesus — so suddenly when we’re depressed or anxious or stressed, we think that we’re “betraying God” somehow. So there’s guilt, and then the guilt about the guilt.

But I want you to know, these are the everyday throes of being a human in a fallen world. We are broken by one or two or a dozen sin-tendencies while we live on this earth. Yours might be anger and mine might be lust: but we’re all saddled with a thorn (2 Corinthians 12). When you’re simply prepared for the thorn to poke you, you won’t be so shocked when it happens: and that’s half the battle. The other half is knowing how to handle it.

- J.S. from this post

May 7

Often, when I see articles about people sharing the downsides of porn, even from a non-religious view-point, I will see so many comments with backlash, telling the author that they are making the statistics up and that it's not harming anyone. It leaves me so discouraged, as if they do not care about men and women and children who are being exploited or even their own sex-life. Why do you think people go out of their way to express extreme hostility towards those exposing the harm of porn?

Hey there dear friend, thank you also for your very kind fanmail earlier.

I’ve actually never gotten this sort of question before, which is very insightful of you to ask.  I’ve noticed it too, and I believe it points to a much more systemic issue inside us that reflects the spirit of the world as a whole.

One thing I’ve learned is that everyone will inevitably demonize the opposite of what they idolize.  So whenever I talk about the dangers of sex before marriage, there is always someone who will lash out and say, “Monogamy is an oppressive ancient manmade structure like slavery that reduces human happiness.”  And the mainstream will jump on this preprogrammed automatic attack like it’s so right and logical and true.

This happens in Christian circles too.  When someone says, “Christians can drink alcohol in moderation,” there is always a Christian group that will lash out, “Alcohol killed my dad and beat up my mother, you’re a clueless moron.”  And while I can understand that: again, there is always an aggressive demonization at play.

Most times we’re not honest with our own motives.  We hate something else because we really want to continue what we “love.”  Even Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, admitted that his atheism was easier because he could just have mindless sex all the time.  It’s not that he logically concluded there was no god; it’s that he didn’t want there to be a god.  As a former atheist, I’m embarrassed to admit this was partially true.  No one approaches an issue with an objective viewpoint: the deck is always stacked against morality because we hate the idea of absolute authority.  No one wants to say that there must be a “law” which contradicts the self, and when we are contradicted, we become violent.  Or we purposefully remain ignorant of thoughtful introspection to perpetuate our destructive habits: because we’d rather take the first class train to hell.

People will go to great lengths to protect their babies.  Some of our babies are porn, sex, drugs, guns.  Sometimes it’s a certain civil right or a government policy.  Sometimes it’s “anti-bigotry,” which at times is still bigotry.  In all these cases, we’re certainly free to disagree.  But human nature entails that we will pick a side and attempt to dismantle the other, which always dehumanizes real people into a faceless enemy.  So you end up with very thoughtless, baseless ad hominem and reductionistic tactics, and no one is really trying to have a conversation.

The internet and blogosphere have made this infinitely easier to do.  I can yell angry words into my screen the second I think them.  Dialogue can’t happen when you’re not looking another human being in the eye.  We’re slower to ask questions and quicker to get more site views or affirmation from the choir.  I don’t think I’m saying anything new here, but we know it’s getting worse.  The polarized vitriolic dogma in this country is downright awful now.  Just go to any YouTube video.

The best thing here to do is continue raising social awareness in a non-partisan way that earns the respect of listeners while cutting through the deluge of trollish mudslinging.  Just know that the moment you stand for anything, especially an issue of morality, you will instantly become a lightning rod of despisal and deconstruction.  You will be labeled and taken out of context and twisted around.  But that still shouldn’t stop us from speaking up about what’s right, because that’s how history was changed, and it can still happen even in a time like this.  God bless you on that fight, my friend.

— J

As For Me: One of the Most Important Throwaway Phrases of Scripture
J.S. Park

jspark3000:

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is a message titled: As For Me: One of the Most Important Throwaway Phrases of Scripture.

I go over a repeated phrase we see in the Old Testament, "As for me."  It’s about becoming a countercultural force for the common good without judging others and without compromising ourselves.

Stream above or download here!

 Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

Apr 7

As For Me: One of the Most Important Throwaway Phrases of Scripture
J.S. Park

Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is a message titled: As For Me: One of the Most Important Throwaway Phrases of Scripture.

I go over a repeated phrase we see in the Old Testament, "As for me."  It’s about  becoming a countercultural force for the common good without judging others and without compromising ourselves.

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: The increasingly halfway lazy sloppiness of cutting corners in our non-committed culture, playing around with the numbers on our tax returns, when it looks like cheaters and troublemakers are more successful than honest upstanding citizens, fighting against the mob mentality of gossip, and the 3% rule of changing the world.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

Apr 2

Cancelling Colbert, Chopped Suey, and Winning At Racism

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As a Korean Asian-American who’s always felt the bull’s eye on my back for easy punchlines and Bruce Lee catcalls, I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen Colbert since forever.  Through the whole misunderstanding about that satire/racist tweet he never actually sent, I never for a second thought Colbert is a racist.  And I don’t think Suey Park, who began the whole #cancelcolbert thing, had illegitimate feelings about it either.  However exaggerated those feelings were, she has a right to be an “Angry Asian Woman,” and she chose to pick a fight that has eluded victory for Asians since we were slaves in the 1800s (which no one cares about, ever).

But who really won here? Suey Park was practically disemboweled online by misogynistic death threats, which only exposes the ugliness of the same tweeters who bashed an 11 year old Mexican for singing the national anthem. Colbert’s original target, Dan Snyder’s “Redskins Foundation,” remains completely untouched by the appropriate outrage, to which Colbert rightly says, “I haven’t seen sh_t about that.”

I keep seeing the same headlines and sound bites.  “Colbert’s Brilliant Response.” “Colbert Wins.”  “He would’ve never said that to blacks, gays, or Jews.”  “Five Things Colbert Got Right.”  “Suey Park Fail In Huffpost Interview.” “White liberal privilege.” And so on. 

All the unthoughtful, un-nuanced, tactless, ungracious responses were worse than the supposed debacle that started it all.

Here’s where I grieve the most. There’s a moment in Colbert’s response from his own show (at the 2:30 mark) where Colbert repeats the joke about Asians.  It’s right there that I cringed pretty bad, not at the joke itself, but the way the audience laughed so hard.  Like a reflex.  Because saying “ching chong” with such inflection is easy to laugh at.  It’s satire, yes, but you can pretty much hear the racist undertones in the laughter.  I’m reminded of why Dave Chappelle walked away from a $50 million contract: because while taping a sketch about pixies in blackface, a white person on set laughed just a bit too hard.  It made Chappelle question what he was really doing: and it should probably drive us to the same questions too.

One time a pastor called me at three in the morning because he was really pissed off about something I did.  He proceeded to yell at me for forty-five minutes and used the f-bomb no less than six times.  I stayed silent.  And honestly, I kept thinking, “If I was a black guy or a gay guy or disabled, this wouldn’t be happening right now.” 

It’s such a typical reverse-racist sentiment, yet I’ve seen it play out everyday.  I’m more likely to get yelled at during rush hour traffic because I’m the bad Asian driver who won’t say anything back.  At mostly white social functions, I’m usually relegated to the side and I get everything explained to me really slowly, as if I’m missing some kind of awareness about life.  It sucks to see Asians used casually as props in movies.  I’m not sure if anyone could understand watching my dad listen to racist prank messages on his answering machine, rewinding them over and over, trying to understand what they were saying.  It grieves me to see an internationally known pastor like Rick Warren brush off his casual racism by yelling “Pharisees” at people who supposedly don’t get a joke.  I could keep going.

Despite Stephen Colbert’s strangely smug response and his barely restrained ridicule, I’ll keep watching him.  He handled the overblown situation about as well as he could (maybe too well).  But I do think the pain that Asians feel over racism is NOT merely projection or oversensitivity or political correctness.  Certainly not all of it. 

It’s possible to over-use the race card, but it’s terrible to ignore the centuries that we’ve endured such dehumanizing dismissal.  Unless you’ve been there, I can’t adequately explain just how much it hurts to be abused and neglected simply because I look different than you.  Think of how crazy that is.  So I just can’t laugh at “ching chong” no matter how it’s used.  There’s still so much work to be done for healing all our racial divides, and this small skirmish only proves it.  No one really won here.  If only we could truly get to the bottom of this pain together, and listen, will we ever build bridges toward each other instead of to oblivion. 

— J

The Continually Creating God: A Life of Action Vs. Reaction
J.S. Park

Hello beloved dear friends!

This is the fifth and final part of a sermon series called “The Names of God: Who We Are In Who He Is.”  

This message is titled: The Continually Creating God: A Life of Action Vs. Reaction.

It’s about creating a life free of reactionary backlash, and how God’s creative power works through us.

Stream above or download here!

 

Some things I talk about are: The preacher-cliché story of my rescue dog Rosco, the back-and-forth craziness of internet comments and message boards, the uniqueness of Christian Creation account versus others, the plague of Room-Vampires who drain the life out of a room, that time I fought a bully  by yelling ‘I love you,’ and Seven Keys to living a Life of Action Vs. Reaction.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J

Undercover Racism.

Today I was in a rather innocuous situation with other Anglo-Saxon brothers and sisters, and as it happens sometimes: I felt that ethnic wall of alienation dividing us a mile wide, like I was screaming naked in a glass cage.  It felt like flesh torn in two.

I’m not one to pull the “race card” or to “race-bait” at all.  I’ve never been about that, and I’m not even sure what those terms mean.  But I often feel that some Anglo-Saxons assume I’m missing some kind of basic understanding, as if I don’t “get it” or I’m oblivious to what’s going on, and I’m treated from a detached distance like my life doesn’t really count in the room.  In a predominantly white culture, foreigners are often seen as props instead of people, so people of color are these incomplete subhuman creatures that don’t really belong to any inner-circle.   We’re treated sort of as a non-entity, which reminds me of this clip from everyone’s favorite romantic movie on Tumblr. 

I know how I sound right now,  and I’m not saying anything new.  But I felt it really bad today.  And unless you’re actually a person of color: it’s nearly impossible to understand how utterly helpless it feels to stand in a crowd where no one really includes you into their journey. 

It’s sort of this clinical, preserved, shrink-wrapped stigma of innocence around foreigners that views us as slightly clueless.  And I hate that.  I hate that Anglo-Saxons don’t understand that there isn’t a vacuum-sealed Asian/Latino/Black culture, but that white people have a culture too, and white culture is not just “the way things are.”  I hate that I’m treated as an ethnic trophy of diversity in the “main story” of a white person’s life, and that I’m some kind of a sidekick that doesn’t matter.  I hate the condescending way that people explain things to me, as if my culture is some kind of uptight chokehold of antiquated ideas that is second place in a Westernized world. 

Probably I’m being racist as well.  I suppose I’m defeating my own purpose and I’m guilty of what I’m saying too.  But — it’s just exhausting to throw off this uncomfortable anxiety that I’m an alien here.  I’m not at home anywhere.  I’m an American with Asian blood, which means I belong nowhere.  And I wish you could see me as a fellow human being with the same hopes, dreams, insecurities, and flaws as all of us, and maybe we could quit talking down to each other like we can’t see the same shades of life.  I’m a person first, with thoughts of my own that exist apart from my face, and I hope we can celebrate our unique cultures instead of using it to categorize.  I hope I can understand you too, because maybe you’re really trying, and I don’t want to miss that either.  Maybe we’ll actually get to know each other, and even like each other just because.

— J

Mar 3

Those Cool Conditional Christians

I read a lot posts that say, “I met this really cool Christian who is pro-marriage-equality, pro-choice, pro-Democrat, and cusses and smokes and drinks and doesn’t believe in that holy wrath of God stuff, so this is proof that not all Christians are a-holes.”

I think this sounds really gracious. I really want to be a cool Christian too. I know plenty of brothers and sisters who fit those things and love Jesus. Personally, I’m a liberally progressive Jesus-follower who’s not a Republican either, so I fit at least half the requirements. It appeals to my hot tingling social-justicey inner-righteousness, and I can revel that I’m not like those “other Christians.”

Yet I sigh. Because it’s really saying, “I will like you — based on certain conditions that you need to meet until you’re cool with me.” This is exactly what a Christian is accused of doing — that we’re conditional when it comes to loving others — yet we’re only “cool” when we meet the relativistic standards of the masses.

I totally know that Christians are not the “victims” here. I just believe that religious or not: it’s dishonest to claim a kind of convenient, Westernized, flatlined tolerance that doesn’t examine itself first. It’s trying to have the best of all worlds and the whole dang cake too. It’s unfair at best and probably prejudiced at worst. It completely cuts off dialogue and reduces every side into a people-pleasing caricature.

The thing is, Christians are called out to be hypocrites because we don’t practice what we preach. But when we practice it, we’re called hateful until we compromise on the preaching. So Christians are pulled in two equally untenable directions and condemned either way for it, and it makes zero logical sense.

Naturally, a Christian will already be offensive without even trying: because when you claim to have a savior who died on a cross for your sins and got up from the dead, you’re probably going to offend some people.

If your idea of a cool Christian must abide to a dogmatic sweep of rigid political prerequisites: then you’re basically waiting for a Christian to screw up any of your demands. Then we’re onto performance-driven legalism, and we’ve become even more religious than the Christians we claim are trolls. Which means, hey, you’re a Pharisee.

The Gospel of Christianity is meant to cut through all these categories. I love you unconditionally because God loves me this way too. It means I can disagree with your choices as you can disagree with mine, and we can still be friends. If you think that’s stupid: the fact is that you do this everyday. You do it to yourself. You disagree with your own actions all the time, but you still go on thinking you are at least better than most other people. And if you’re half-capable of it for yourself, imagine if you believed that God loves you and loves the guy next to you. You’d find yourself loving all kinds of people you never imagined being able to love, without making them pass an internal exam.

I’m not even exactly sure if being a “cool Christian” is very cool anyway. Jesus said the world would hate some of us because it hated him first. It doesn’t mean that a Christian has to go out of his way to be a jerk: but it means that we can’t make everyone happy, no matter what we believe, and that popularity is no sign of being on the right side of anything.

To truly love without conditions is pretty dang hard. But that’s the only kind of love that will open up dialogue and change a hurting world. It’s the only kind that transforms. I hope we persevere with people whether they align with our agendas or not. I hope we stay when the mask falls off. Because love does that.

— J

The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination ‘gets you,’ even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. ‘Imagination communicates,’ as Arthur Danto says, ‘indefinable but inescapable truth.’ Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can’t believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.

- Timothy Keller

Action Vs. Reaction: A Bridge To Somewhere

I see that so many blogs and platforms and ministries are built out of reactionary backlash against a previous injury.  “We got hurt this way, so let’s do it the other way.”  Or, “You were taught this wrong, so let me set it straight for you.”

I do think it’s totally right to love on people who got burned by the same thing you did. I think those who’ve been hurt by an oppressive culture need a common ground to vent their grievances and to form an alliance of understanding.

But I also think that making an entire platform on the anti-ground of your hurt will only perpetuate that hurt — because left unchecked, it will eventually breed smug self-righteousness and superiority.

You can see it in the endless reblog wars.  You can see it in public shaming.  You can see it in the Reformation.  The whole parachurch is basically just a middle-finger to the mainstream church.  Reformed Calvinism is a response to the seeker-sensitive movement.  And Contemplative Spirituality is a response to Calvinism.  And so on, it goes.

If you proudly declare, “We don’t do it like those guys” and “I’m not like those other people,” you’re really just powering up through cannibalism.  You’re eating flesh to drive flesh.  And if you do this long enough, the values you instill into your new culture will be overreactions based on bitterness and arrogance.  These are unstable poisonous foundations that will inevitably collapse.

I hope we can start up movements that are not reactions, but initiative actions.  I hope our words are not always talking back, but talking forward.  I hope we can be original instead of derivative.  I hope we are not motivated solely by the pain we feel — because even though it can work for a while, healing cannot come by deconstruction.  It only comes by re-creation, by introducing something new into the world.  And we each have this powerful ability to weaponize our words or to breathe life with them.  Our hands can build bridges towards oblivion or toward each other.

I hope for bridges that bring us closer.

— J