“Conflict is something that will always be. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is.” [cf. Sam Chand]
The incident regarding Deadly Viper had set the online world ablaze, and very uncomfortable words of pain festered in the open space [cf. read this summary]. My prayer was that the key leaders at the core of the conflict would resolve it privately, walking through their respective pains together with each other. This direct conversations has since happened offline in private, and an appropriate resolution is in the works. A public statement has been issued. I commend all involved for giving of their time and energy to walk thru this via dolorosa.
There’s already quite a number of thoughtful reflections about this incident posted::
- Jonathan Brink, who linked to reflections from Dan Iwao, Todd Thomas, Marian Wang, Edward Gilbreath, Dave Ingland, LT Tom.
- Eugene Cho, Charles Lee, David Park, Shaun King, Glennis Shih, Skye Jethani, Rudy Carrasco, Drew Hyun, Ed Cyzewski, Daniel So, Jim Gray, DK Daniel Kim, Kathy Khang, and more…
- [update] more from David Swanson, Church Marketing Sucks, Ken Fong, Joel Hamernick, Benson Hines, Scott McClellan, Andrew Lee, Dave Diller, Jessica Pegis, Melody Hanson, Jonathan Tran, Bo Lim, Amy Moffett
- Zondervan Statement Regarding Concerns Voiced About “Deadly Viper: Character Assassins” via @eugenecho‘s Zondervan Pulls Deadly Viper from Stores and the Deadly Viper website shut down by authors Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite; Dave Gibbons’ thoughts Zondervan Issues Apology for Publishing ‘Deadly Viper’ (CT Liveblog); open letter response from Eugene Cho, Ken Fong, Helen Lee, Kathy Khang, Soong-Chan Rah, Nikki Toyama-Szeto
I want to offer a few more ideas in debriefing, with which I’d anticipate some people would disagree with. Conflict in the open was a good thing for 3 reasons [cf. The Necessity of Open Disagreement by Stephen Shields] ::
- This shows us what conflict resolution can look like. Conflict is not a pretty thing. We’ve all seen how ugly it can get, how destructive it can be, how it can ruin relationships. By being in the open, via social media, we saw how the conflict surfaced and moved towards live offline discussions, apologies, forgiveness, working towards resolution. There is a better way through the conflict. After all, conflict simply is. And I for one am tired of overly-positive spin that’s all too common in evangelical circles; I think the younger generation can smell spin a mile away.
- We heard new voices open up their heart and soul. While I did not read every single comment in the initial blog posts, a wide range of voices from new names spoke up, both Asian and non-Asian. It is not easy for anyone to share their pains, particularly Asian Americans, for fear of being misunderstood, misrepresented, or shamed. Asians tend to be a little more (or a lot more) sensitive than non-Asians because of its shame-based culture. Social media empowers anyone and everyone to speak out. This helps us to empathize with the offended much more than signing a petition. (Now, not every Asian American finds this publication offensive, granted.)
- We’ve got a long way to go with racial sensitivities in the church. A loooong way. Conflict that arose up over a relatively minor incident, in the whole scheme of things, shows how little experience we collectively have to just start any discussion about faith and race. And, yeah, these issues are complicated and messy. They don’t sell books nor increase conference attendance nor make churches grow rapidly in size. It doesn’t fit neatly in the systematic theology section.
Now a personal confession. I knew about an earlier edition of this book back in September 2007. I did not get a copy of the book. I did not look out for the authors to review their book to find out how the Asian motifs were being used, in case it might come across racially insensitive. I did not bear the burden for my fellow Asians Americans (the sensitive ones, not the insensitive ones). For my part in this neglect, I am sorry. [No if and or buts.]