The Deadly Viper Conversation Moves from Authors to Publisher
Last Friday, a group of Asian-American leaders (Kathy Khang, IVCF / Eugene Cho, Quest Church / Ken Fong, Evergreen Baptist Church and I) were on a conference call with three executives of Zondervan. They were trying to get an understanding of the concerns of the Asian-American community. For more details, see Pastor Ken's response in this blog. While the reaction from Mike and Jud was quick in the form of a public apology and concrete action, we have yet to hear publicly from Zondervan. They have stated that they wish to take the time to gather as much information as possible before issuing any sort of public statement. They are planning to meet with the authors this week and will continue to process input from many. At this point, the ball is in Zondervan's court. I have no reason to doubt that they are following through on their promise to fully understand the issue and to act accordingly. However, it is not inappropriate for us to continue to put pressure on Zondervan and to let them know that we remain concerned about the issue. Part of their fact finding should include incorporating the significant number of e-mails and messages that are sent to their offices. So let them know what you think.
Take Action on This Issue
I would suggest the following action steps:
(1) Continue to pray that what happens from here on out will bring reconciliation, healing, and understanding to the body of Christ. Pray specifically for wisdom for the Zondervan executives and for the upcoming meeting these executives will have with Mike and Jud.
(2) Clarify your own position and understanding of the issue. Read through the blog posts by myself and others, including the open letter to Zondervan (feel free to reference and copy in your e-mails and letters) and the youtube clips on Orientalism. I'll try to post some more theological and ecclesiological reflections as time permits. (But I still need to do my day job.) Many of you have stated your position and thoughts in an eloquent manner -- write them down and post on this blog, allowing others to learn from your insights.
(3) Continue to keep up the pressure. This issue is not over. We are so grateful for the ways that Mike and Jud have responded. But Zondervan is still mulling over what to do. They need your input and they are asking for your input. Be specific about your concerns. Ask for specific actions to be taken. Be polite, but direct and firm. Let us not passively stand by and allow our voices to be silenced. E-mail comments should be directed to Jason Vines, Zondervan VP of PR and Communication: Jason.Vines@Zondervan.com
(4) Let people know. I received a number of e-mails over the weekend from those who just heard about the story over the weekend. There are many who are unaware. Bring other voices into the dialogue. I would hope that previously silenced Asian-American voices will take the opportunity to speak up. I would hope all Christians would take the opportunity to advocate for Asian-American brothers and sisters.
(5) Use all the contacts you have. Who do you know that are Zondervan authors? Who do you know that have influence at Zondervan? Do you have any friends who work at Zondervan? Let our voices be heard, from all angles and from all different places.
One major addendum: Many have commented that there has been a failure to address the gender insensitivity issue that is a part of the curriculum. That is unfortunately true. I know that a number of female leaders are reflecting and formulating responses to Zondervan regarding the gender issue. I would defer to their leadership. In the same way that I appreciated the ways that non-Asians showed support after the Asian-American voices were raised, I would hope the same would happen as our sisters in Christ raise their voices.
"Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:24)
Soong-Chan Rah is the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity and is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism. Read more from him at www.profrah.com.