So, I am one day back into SF life after a packed 24 hours in Dallas at the Asian American Wild Challenge and am just now making some sense of my our time together.
Let me first say that I appreciated the invitation and the experience. DJ Chuang has been dreaming about such a gathering for a while and thanks to the Leadership Network and the L2 Foundation, 20+ pastors of Asian American and multi-ethnic churches gathered for some meaningful conversations and sharing. As I shared in my original post, the churches to be represented were not the folks with whome I would usually be in conversation, mostly independent congregations and/or ones of a theological bent different than my mainline flavor.
It is clear that there is some pretty exciting stuff going on out there around Asian American and Multicultural ministries. Gideon over at Vox Veniae in Austin are pushing the bounds of what it means to be church. NSD Underground, partnered with New Song are breaking out of some traditional growth models. Some churches are looking at new models of birthing churches, while others are exploring new ideas about multi-ethnic and Asian American. Through it all there we some thoughtful conversations about postmodernity, Asian American identity and, oh yeah, we laughed far too much.
Still . . . as much as I enjoyed my time, I can’t help to wonder, "Does theology matter?" I say this not because I do not think that those that were gathered had no theological integrity, but rather, we didn’t talk theology, so I am not sure how theological perspectives would change to tone and outcome OR if it should. The elephant in the room for me was that it was all men – nice, fun, thoughtful, faithful, but all men nonetheless – and I am pretty sure most came from from denominations/affiliations that do not ordain women. No sisters. And I think we missed them. I know we did.
Because we did not talk theology in particular, would an ordained woman in the conversation have changed the outcome and tone? Pre-event, I probably would have said yes, no doubt. Post-event, I think enough of my own preconceptions were broken that I am now not so sure. So often I heard language around understanding "context" and wanted to be challenged. If I am to take those words seriously, then churches who ordain women should be taken as seriously as those who do not.
I do struggle with all of aforementioned just being a veiled justification for wanting to part of a conversation around some really exciting ministries. Would I be so willing to give a pass on this if it were an all-White group that fundamentally did not believed that Asian Americans I should be ordained, but they were doing good ministry in all other regards? And who am I do make judgments anyway as my more progressive brothers and sisters remind me of my own Denomination’s exclusion of an entire class of people based on their sexual-orientation. Spectrum of thought sucks sometimes.
So . . . here I am. Sinking in a postmodern quagmire of thought that should lead to decisive action. Yeah right. The only action is to offer my confessions and my thanks to the following:
to DJ – thanks for your vision to think about such an important part of our church and for bringing together a group of folks who might never otherwise be in the same room.
to my brothers in Christ – thanks for your openness to some of the things we talked about, your willingness to share and your faithfulness to continually be open to the leading of God.
to my sisters in Christ – I am sorry if in any way and in any time fallen victim the realities of my own male privilege and have done you wrong.
to Robin, my wife – Thanks for taking the extra duties with the girls, so I could flit off to Dallas!
I guess the best judge of where I land on all of this is for me to answer the questions, "Given the exact same parameters, would I attend the event again?" I don’t know. For now I will be a chicken, hide away and simply give thanks for some of the friendships that have come out of that event. And if the invitation – might be a long shot now 😉 – presents itself again, who knows . . .