Starting today, the Washington Redskins will once again be fighting for the rights to keep their nickname.
Now, while I bleed burgundy and gold, I’ve always wondered how the Redskins have successfully kept their nicknames when it’s… well, it’s racist.
Redskins GM, Bruce Allen, basically said that the organization isn’t trying to upset anyone and that it is “ludicrous” for people to think that they are trying to upset people.
But, c’mon. Even as a die-hard Redskins fan, it is (at the least, a bit) racist. And offensive. I mean, if we were to add any other color… more people would flip. Right? Washington WhiteSkins? Washington Blackskins? Washington Yellowskins? Washington Brownskins? Washington Redskins — oh, right.
I guess what gets me is the reasoning. “We’re not purposefully offending someone. It’s not our fault if they get offended by something we mean no offense by.” That, to me, is a cop out.
Of course, it happens to us (the Asians) a lot. Or, more truthfully, I think it happens a lot because I’m more aware of the racist gestures towards Asian in the media…
Like the Spanish national basketball team:
Or Miley Cyrus and Friends:
Or the Duke Fraternity party:
Or the Chicago Cubs (for the player Fukudome):
The problem that I have with those things is, when people complained, the response was basically, “What? We didn’t think it was offensive. I don’t know why you would find it offensive. I guess we’re sorry that you’re offended. But we did it because it was funny. Sorry… I guess.”
Case in point: There was (is?) a restaurant in the North East called “Chink’s Steak.” Naturally, some Asians got offended by such a name and registered complaints. In an interview, the owner of Chink’s (who’s white) said (and I paraphrase):
“It’s not racist. It’s a nickname that my friends gave me as a kid. I had small eyes growing up, so they called me Chink.”
Yea… The origin of the nickname’s a bit racist. Not gonna lie…
Which is basically what the Redskins are saying.
“We never thought of it as being racist or offensive. That’s probably because we’re not Native American, but that’s besides the point. You shouldn’t be offended by it, because our purpose is not to offend. Besides, we could lose tons of money if we were to change our names. Don’t you know what happened with the NBA teams? The Bullets became the Wizards. The Wizards! How lame of a name is that? And the Hornets? They’re going to be the Pelicans! We want to avoid that, so don’t be offended, cuz we ain’t trying to offend.”
Yes, I believe we live in a hypersensitive culture that overreacts over every small thing.
But yet, there are good reasons why we shouldn’t use certain words to demean and belittle other folks, like “gay” or another slur for that. Or “retard.” Or use any racial slurs to describe people. Like Chink. (Take note, Papa Johns and Starbucks. Oh, and Chic-Fil-A.)
Here’s one Redskins fan who hopes that the people win this time around. I don’t care what the Redskins are called, I’d still root for them, I’d still bleed their colors if they were to change it, and I’d still loathe the Cowboys no matter what happens. And believe me, the team formerly known as the Redskins will still make a tons of money. If the Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Jazz, and yes, the Pelicans can (still) make money, whatever the new team name is, they won’t have to worry.
This weekend, we had a quite a bit of an “adventure” with the plumbing in our house.
Both toilets weren’t flushing correctly. Both showers were backing up. It’s not the best feeling in the world as you’re showering and the water (mixed with your day — especially if you went on a strenuous, sweaty hike that day) is up to your ankles. And rising.
Monday morning, I groggily got out of bed and made my zombie march towards the bathroom to get ready to conquer the day. I was rudely awaken by the drenched, and I mean drenched, and cold bathroom mat on the floor.
“What in the world…” I exclaimed out loud.
The entire floor was wet, but in my zombie morning haze, I didn’t notice it until I stepped onto the soaked mat.
So, I called the plumber and he said he’d be right over.
And he said that the main pipe must be clogged.
I got a quick plumbing 101 lesson as he was explaining all that is happening. It was actually quite interesting. I had no idea that each drain had a pipe to the roof — which are the little chimney looking things on top of every roof in our neighborhood.
But the main drain was clogged and therefore, backing everything else up.
And in the midst of the conversation about drains, pipes, toilets, tubs, sewage, back ups, clogs and such — my mind oddly drifted towards God and life. (I have to say — I feel like there’s a joke in here somewhere, I just can’t seem to flush it out.)
Of course, when I sat back and really digested the thoughts I garnered during my conversation with the plumber, the metaphor didn’t hold up completely. But, I started thinking about how I do (or not do) things to clog up my spiritual life and how that affects every aspect of my life.
Like, how sometimes I go on without checking myself and things start building up and building up until I realize I need help after my life is in the …wait for it… toilet!
It could be something as simple and small as neglect.
Neglecting prayer time.
Neglecting quiet/devotional time.
Neglecting the voice in my head — that I know is right and something I should do…
And eventually, I’ve strayed so far from the path God made for me — I have no idea where I am. Or in worst-scenario cases, have no idea who I am and who I was meant to be.
In those times, I felt so distant from God. God seems so far away. The quick, bumper sticker remedy to that is: If you feel far from God, who moved?
Of course, quick, neat ‘n tidy, bumper sticker theology can be dangerous. But in my spiritual journey and life, I know that when I feel that way, it is because I have been the one moving further and further away — most of the time, due to my ignoring/neglecting spiritual self-care.
You know, about a month ago, my wife did mention that something was funny with the toilet. But, it never really acted out again. So I thought nothing of it. The wise husband would’ve called the plumber then and there. But, safe to say, I’ve never really been called wise. So I guess we let it get more clogged and backed up throughout the weeks, then *BOOM* All the toilets are clogged and overflowing. The showers are backed up. We can’t do laundry without the fear of the laundry water and its residue seeping out from the drains of our bathtubs. (Thankfully — none of the hundreds of spiders flushed down the toilet or drowned in the bathtub made a reappearance…)
So, yea, it’s prudent and wise to really take care of … the crap (both plumbing and spirituality wise) that get in our way, early and immediately. Because if it continues to build up — the aftermath is not going to be a pretty sight.
Hmmm… guess my mind’s been in the toilet all day…
I would have paid more attention to certain classes, particularly my English classes.
I hated English all through my school career. I hated reading. I hated writing.
Or so I thought.
Turns out, now that I’m no longer in school, I love reading and I love writing.
And now, I wish I paid more attention in all the writing classes I took in college.
I thought about taking an continuing ed class on writing at the city college here. But the only one that sounded appealing was heavily focused on getting your fiction writing published. Not really what I’m looking for. I also thought about taking this story telling class that was being offered, but it was on Saturdays from 9a – 4p. Don’t know why it would be so time consuming.
I also remember one of my professors (not English) handing me back a mid-term paper filled with red markings. Almost every sentence had something wrong with it. And at the end of the paper he wrote, “Great thoughts. But you write the way you speak. And the way you speak is incorrect.”
I was never a model student. I only did enough to get the grades I wanted. Only a handful of classes did I want to excel in and put effort into doing so. So, after that paper, I figured in all my English classes and writing projects, I’d do just enough to get a better than passing grade. There’s no point of trying to become a better writer because my profession wouldn’t require it (though at the time, I had no idea what I wanted to be.)
If I could turn back the hands of time, eh?
But, I’m glad that I have this blog to continue to flesh out ideas through writing that I don’t have a chance to preach about or teach about at church.
And I think since my first post ever on this blog to now: a lot has changed in both my writing and thinking.
So, blogosphere. I have a confession to make.
I really, really like Taco Bell.
I don't know why I find that embarrassing to admit. I'd never go out of my way of saying, “Yea, I like Taco Bell.” Only when someone mentions their affinity for Taco Bell, will I say, “Dude, me too!”
I don't feel like this for any other fast food. McDonalds. Burger King. Carl's. Jack's. In N' Out. Five Guys (if you get a chance, youtube the 5 Guys review that was made into a song. I think it's called something like Dayum Song), I have no problem telling people I like those places.
Maybe it's because Taco Bell was caught up in that controversy with their meat not being 100% beef.
Maybe it's because Taco Bell isn't real Mexican food. But I have no qualms in displaying my affection for Panda Express, because c'mon, that ain't real Chinese food.
Maybe it's because, since high school days, Taco Bell has been associated with… you know… lolos and their pakalolo.
Maybe it's because there's something that's just not right about taco shells being made out of Doritos. But, man. Don't knock it 'til you try it. It's so good. So is their Mexican pizza. Which, I don't know, don't seem very Mexican. Nor pizza-like. But, my stomach and taste buds don't care.
So, there you have it, blogosphere and the universe: I like Taco Bell.
I was going to try to relate this to a faith matter, like how in my teenager years, I treated Jesus like Taco Bell. Meaning, I never admitted to anyone that I was a Christian or went to church, even though people knew my dad was a pastor. I always found some comfort in kids who didn't know what my dad did. I remember once, in 8th grade, I had no clean shirts to wear, so I had to wear a shirt that was from a Christian camp. And on the back was the thing where someone asks, “Jesus, how much do you love me?” and Jesus responded, “This much” and spread his arms, and died on the cross. I remembered how embarrassed and uncomfortable I felt all day. I never took off my backpack outside of class so that kids wouldn't see the back of my shirt. (Whoa. Maybe this is why I don't like Christianese stuff, like corny shirts like that and bumper stickers, etc).
But. Confessions are a faith matter in of itself. So I'll just leave it at that.
Although, I can't say that I feel better about confessing my affinity towards Taco Bell.
But, I can say that all this talk about Taco Bell has made me hungry…
In Matthew 10:22a, Jesus says, “You will be hated by everyone because of me.”
Jesus was preparing his disciples, and us, for the type of reaction we'll get from people when we proclaim who we follow, trust and believe.
However, friends, I don't think that was a license for us to be jerks and a bit dick-ish to other people.
You have people spew their personal beliefs in a very hateful, hurtful, spiteful, ugly, mean often times bigoted and racist ways. Then when they receive negative feed back, and people push and/or fight back, they seem to be a bit satisfied with all the anger and, often the same hatred, spewed their way. And they tell one another, “Yup, Jesus said it was going to be like this. People hate us because of him.”
Yea… No. They hate you not because of Jesus, but… you know. For being a bit of a jerk.
There are ways to share your personal views, beliefs, and the way you interpret scripture without being a jerk. There are ways to argue, debate, converse without being dick-ish. There are ways to express our thoughts without hatred, bigotry and racism.
Paul said that, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
But Jesus is right. Sometimes, no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try to be at peace with everyone, no matter how much we try to be good, faithful stewards of faith, haters are going to hate. They're going to be detractors, hecklers, and haters regardless of what we do or how we live.
That's because we march to a slightly different drum beat than the one constantly beating in our culture.
Our culture says that we need to look out for El Numero Uno. It's important that we are first in everything. We kept count of how many medals each country won in the Olympics, and I know that if we didn't finish first in the medal count, there would be an air of disappointment. (Hoping that we start taking pride in being first in other things that really, really count and could make a difference… like education)
But Jesus' taught: the first will be last, the last will be first. And things like there's no greater love than when a friend lays his/her life down for you.
When we faithfully live like Christ, there's something … different about us; something that people don't seem to understand, “Why did you just do that for that person? Everyone else would've just ignored him and went on their way.”
And we often fear the things that we don't understand. So we do whatever we can to minimize the uncomfortableness we feel from things we do not understand.
So we get dismissed. Pre-judged. Ignored. Picked on. Misunderstood.
That's okay. Jesus told us that would happen.
But don't be a jerk. There's a difference in being hated on for being yourself and living out your faith versus doing/saying mean and hateful things, inviting the hatred our way.
No one likes jerks.
And it's so easy to be a great, faithful Christian without being a jerk.
I think some rumors are created/spread to help someone fill in between dots.
We have a staff. Someone leaves unexpectedly, and no one who knows the real story is talking. But, our desire to know — our curiosity– can’t leave it alone. Something happened. There is a reason. So we start filling in the blanks.
Sometimes, it’s innocent (or naive) guesstimating. “That person never really got along with the boss and his work was never really up to par with the rest of us. Even though he’s been here the longest, maybe the Powers to Be finally just grew tired of it.”
Other times, it’s malicious. Sometimes, born out of contempt of that person. Or, some people just like to watch the world burn. Or be stirrers of poo.
But rumors happen. It’s naive to think that your church is rumor free.
What’s the craziest rumor that you’ve heard about yourself or your family?
The craziest rumor I’ve heard about my family happened about a decade ago. In 2001, I went back to Korea to attend my cousin’s wedding, with my dad. During our stay at Korea, my dad took me to the town where I grew up. He was showing me the church, our old home and places where I would go and play. Some of the places I remembered, some were fuzzy memories, and others I had no recollection of. We ran into a couple of old church members here and there, all who were ecstatic to see my dad and to see how grown up I was (the last time they saw me, I was 6.) Or so I thought. Apparently, something about the people’s reaction left a bad taste in my dad’s mouth. He didn’t tell me about until a year later, after he and my mom visited Korea.
They also went to my hometown to visit the same people that my dad and I visited. They first stopped by the convenient store that my dad and I visited. When the owner saw my parents, she dropped everything she was doing and ran towards my mom with tears in her eyes. My mom was taken back by such a strong (and warm) greeting. Then the woman said, “You’re alive!” The same sentiment was shared with everyone that my parents visited. Apparently, after we moved to America, someone, somehow spread the rumor that my mom passed away in a car accident.
So, when I went to Korea to visit my hometown, they were pitying me, thinking, “He came to see where his mom gave birth to him” etc and since my dad had no idea about the rumor, the way they treated me and looked at me, he didn’t like it, but he couldn’t put a finger on such a reception towards me, until… you know, he found out that the people thought my mom was dead.
Why on earth such a rumor was started and spread, we have no idea. But, then again, trying to figure out why any rumor started and who started it is tiring business.
I can’t tell you what to do when you hear a rumor about yourself, as a pastor or leader of your church/organization. I do know that you have to really think and pray and discern and think and pray and pray about addressing them from the pulpit.
Unfortunately, rumors will always be part of human society, if anything, born out of our desire of always wanting to know the entire story. I guess we just have to hope that people, who are close to you, know you enough to not believe every story spread by the wind. And sometimes, the best option is to keep our eyes and hearts focused on Christ, allowing him to be our shield, shielding us from arrows of stray words that have no truth or basis in them, and continue to live out Christ’s mission in us.
Otherwise, if we try to keep correcting and fighting and addressing all the rumors we hear about us, we’ll be too tired to deal with the things that really matter.
At least, that’s what I’ve heard…
Doubting (in the Bible, Christian sense) will forever be associated with Thomas (also known as Didymus, also referred to as T.Didy… but I guess, only by me.)
That kinda sucks, don’t it?
Could you imagine being defined, forever, by one of your not so best moments?
I was in 8th grade. My voice was changing. My friend was on the other side of the cafeteria, looking for me. I needed to get his attention. So I yelled his name across the cafeteria. Only, my voice cracked pretty bad. And there wasn’t a soul in that room who didn’t hear my voice warble and crack. It was followed by a roar of laughter, all directed at me. I thought I’d always will, forever, be associated with that horrible moment of my life. It only lasted for a little while.
But Thomas, being a doubter, that has lasted for centuries. And will continue to do so.
Not so many people mention Thomas’ act before the doubting (Or after, for that matter).
Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, and wanted to go back to see Lazarus’s family, and raise from the dead. You know, the normal stuff.
The disciples were confused and scared. “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you and you are going back?” (Were the disciples more worried about Jesus’ being stoned, or were they more concerned that they, too, will be stoned? Or both?)
Jesus said that he was going back, and Thomas, basically, said, “Screw it. Let’s go guys! If Jesus goes, I’m going. Let’s all go.” (His actual words: Let us also go, that we may die with him.)
How come we don’t hear about that part of Thomas’s story in Bible Studies and Sunday school classes?
But here’s the thing that got to me.
This past Sunday, our senior pastor was preaching about Thomas.
It wasn’t until the 3rd (and final) service that something that he was saying clicked in my head with something I wrote on Good Friday.
One version says:
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20) (Emphasis, mine.)
My NIV says:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20)
Alright. So we all know that Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was alive and showed himself to his friends. We all know Thomas’s (in)famous words, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
And we all think. Silly Thomas. Why can’t you simply believe? Why do you need proof? Why can’t you just believe the other disciples? They didn’t need proof.
But read those passages again.
Jesus appears to them, somehow walking through locked doors. He tells everyone, “Peace be with you.”
Then what’s the next sentence?
Oh. He showed them his scars, his hands AND his side.
Then, the disciples were overcome with joy. Then they recognized that it was Jesus.
The Gospel writer doesn’t say that Jesus appeared to them, said “Peace be with you” then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. There’s a whole sentence between Jesus saying “Peace be with you” and the disciples rejoicing. They “saw the Lord” after Jesus presented to them his hands and side.
Sooooooo… why does Thomas get the bad rap? Is it because he voiced what the others didn’t? Is it because he actually stuck his foot in his mouth and said, “I won’t believe until I see…” because, you know, it’s sort of implied (at least to me) that the other disciples weren’t quite sure what was going on in that locked room, until Jesus showed them his scars.
So, I think we just need to go a bit easier on Thomas.
It’s a shame that he’s stuck with the monicker, Doubting Thomas or Thomas the Doubter.
The truth is, all those disciples doubted.
And so do we, here and then.
Thomas has done great things after he was given proof.
It is believed that he was the only disciple who went outside of the Roman Empire to spread the Good News, and believed to have covered the largest land in his mission for God.
Yea. Thomas doubted. But for a moment.
And who hasn’t doubted for a moment, or longer?
But it’s a tellable story. Maybe because of its relatable-ness. Maybe because we all see ourselves as Thomas here and there, and maybe we would’ve said the exact thing if we were in his sandals.
But, from my Sunday School days and in bible study curriculums for youth and children, the story of Thomas is primarily focused on (if not solely), his doubting.
For that, I just have to say, don’t worry T.Didy. I got your back.
1) It’s always great to see a youth Sunday where the youth does more than just hand out bulletins. Everyone and their mothers should be proud of the youth of Valencia UMC Youth ministry. Everyone did an amazing job. I shouldn’t speak on behalf of God, but I know that they brought a smile onto God’s face today.
2) Yes, Jesus is our very best friend. But can Jesus say the same thing about you? Can he say that you’re his best friend? …The story of dodgeball and Kenny will always live on, only because I find valuable lessons to learn from my stupid childhood mistakes.
3) I do not have Bieber-Fever, and wish my students wouldn’t either… but that stupid song is stuck in my head.
4) My senior pastor has been taking steroids. HAHAHAHAHA (I’ll clarify if you ask)
5) I’m sorry that I didn’t wait longer, but I felt that the “unveiling” of the youth ministry’s name on Youth Sunday would be great. I didn’t get that many suggestions for names. But after a while, the name Refresh kept growing on me. I hope that the name grows on you too. And I hope that God uses us to bring a time of refreshing from the Lord. (And thanks to Daeshik and co. for our mission statement graphic)
6) I always hated the phrase “Leaders of Tomorrow” describing the youth. I’m no longer a youth, and tomorrow still hasn’t come… But the youth are more than capable of being the leaders of now! We should challenge them to step up here and now, not tomorrow. God uses all and any to get God’s will done. Moses is not the hero of Exodus. God is! God did everything. Moses just had to say “I will go”, though it took him long enough to get to that point. All Moses did was raise his hand. It was God who parted the Red Sea… God is bigger than all our insecurities and fears. God’s purpose will shoot down each and every excuse we can possibly come up with, because God has faith in you.
7) My jokes ARE funny. Just that they may be too advanced for people to understand and laugh to.
8 ) Challenged students to pray for 5 of their friends (secretly) and to pray for courage in trying to invite them to a church event.
9) We are all broken people. But I believe that it is ONLY in our brokenness that we become useful to God, because in our brokenness, we are forced to rely on God and God alone. And we know that only God can find such beauty in the brokenness of human beings.
10) And last but not least… Stocking Ball Duel of Death! (on a side note, I relearned a valuable lesson that, even though I say something with the most innocent of intents, a room full of teenagers might not see it that way. Wait to the end to see…)
During my RIM event, a colleague (well, actually more like a mentor) dropped by and we had a brief 5 minute chat before dinner started. That 5 minute conversation had more of an impact than the entire 2 days of the church event. (Oops, I’m not saying that the RIM event wasn’t great, just his comment really struck home.”
We were talking about the Korean church, and he simply said, “You know, the Koreans have a certain way of loving God. And that’s great. And powerful. But the Korean way is not the only way, and we have to see and accept that. There are other ways of loving God.”
It’s something I definitely needed to hear.
There is a certain way I think about and view church and relationship with God.
But what works for me may not work with someone else.
Some of my colleagues engage in early morning prayer (my dad begins his around 4am). While I envy them, I just can’t get myself up and about that early in the morning. That doesn’t mean that when I engage in conversations with God, it’s meaningful or anything like that.
We’re different. And we show our love to God differently. Therefore there’s no one way to worship God nor to love God. We should have the freedom to love God the best way we possibly know how.
But of course, there are loop holes to this argument… so let me just add this: We can always, always do more in our pursuit of God.