Archive for February 28th, 2015

American Born Chinese Gene Yang

Purchase: Amazon

Note: This is a review as part of our Worldview Dilemmas in the Movies and Comics series.

This is the third comic by Gene Luen Yang that I read.  The first two works I read by Gene Yang were his later works, Boxers and Saints, which impressed me enough that I decided that I have to read American Born Chinese which was the Graphic Novel that made Yang popular.  The book has countless awards such as being the National Book Award Finalist for Young People Literature, the first Graphic Novel to achieve this status.  While I enjoyed Boxers and Saints more than I did American Born Chinese, I must say that American Born Chinese was still a pleasant leisure reading.

The book tells the story of an American Born Chinese boy growing up in America. Throughout the book the author tells his story with great humor and insightful to the phenomenon of being second generation American while having traditional Chinese parents.  I’m sure American Born Chinese would be able to identify with it.  The book is partly autobiographical—like the main character Jin Wang, Gene Yang also had parents who first met in the Library.  Also like the main character Yang also grew up listening to the story of the Monkey King, which comes out in the book.  The book is creative, with the author balancing what at first seems like three stories that later comes together (I won’t spoil it).  I loved how the three stories are foils to the American Born Chinese experience.  In fact even within the main story of Jin Wang there are wonderful characters that are foils to Jin Wang himself.  Wang tries very hard to fit into America and has some success but this is in contrast to those who were more recent immigrants.

I know that as a pastor reviewing this book the question among some would be “What can we learn spiritually after reading this book?”  I think the book brings greater awareness of negative Chinese stereotypes in our culture today.  Those in ministry with Asian American background might want to be conscious of those.  The stories in the book should also shed awareness that there are different kinds of cultural barriers, even among those who are Asian Americans.  I am not bringing this up to say we must idolize certain specific cultures (or sub-cultures), and I also appreciate the fact that the author doesn’t really point fingers, having had enough personally of all the stock liberal neo-colonial and ethnic studies dribble in my undergraduate days.  But being aware of certain cultural current should allow us to be better friends and better minister to people who are different than us culturally.

The book at times did have it’s quirky moments.  Sometimes it’s a bit slap-stick or it made me say, “Awkard…”  However, it is still insightful and a good story.  After reading this book and comparing how much he has improved with his story telling in later works, I hope to see the author produce more works in the future, works that I will read whenever the opportunity for leisure reading arises.

Purchase: Amazon

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New Horizon Magazine, a publication of Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has focused on their topic on Apologetics for their February 2015 issue.  This issue is available online.

Thanks to Jeff Downs for letting me know about this.

The entire issue is available in the following formats: PDF  ePub  and  Mobi

Apologetics at Starbucks

When we think about “doing apologetics,” too often (in our circles, at least) what first comes to mind is a debate over apologetic methodology. Are we going to be presuppositionalist-covenantal or “classical”-evidentialist? As a friend of mine used to say, “We seem more concerned with sharpening and polishing our swords than with actually carrying them into the battle.”

Doing Apologetics

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The Witness Needed by a Weary World

Postmodernism is rightly critical of modernism. It recognizes that modernism is unable to account for its closed, naturalistic, materialistic worldview. Modernism’s failure may be seen in its scientism (the conviction that the scientific method is the only path to objective, public knowledge), in its rationalism (which is purportedly autonomous and anti-supernatural), and in the myth of human evolution and progress. Postmodernism does not turn to Christianity, though, to provide the preconditions that make logic, science, ethics, love, and beauty intelligible.

In its critique of modernism, postmodernism embraces irrationalism and thus commits intellectual suicide by attempting to “establish” irrationalism through rational argument. That is an internal inconsistency not unlike a Hindu monism that argues against distinctions and at the same time urges its adherents to develop good karma. So postmodernism argues against the best aspects of modernism—the affirmation of objective truth, the reliability of the senses, the importance of the use of reason, and the laws of logic—denouncing them as mere conventions concocted by society’s masters. Thus, postmodernism may rightly be seen, not as completely different from modernism, but as the logical outcome of a worldview that cannot account for itself—modernism gone to seed, in which “anything goes.” Read more

We Are Weak, but He Is Strong

When Erick and Kristyn Nieves of Reformation OPC in Queens, New York, learned they were expecting a baby in 2013, the couple was happily surprised. The Nieveses already had two daughters, ages 4 and 1, and hadn’t anticipated an addition to their family so soon.

They quickly learned the addition would be bigger than they expected. Read more

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