Third Way Thinking - tension

[Note: I’m picking up on a thread, Third Way Thinking, that I started awhile back – talking about third culture leaders and finding the groove]

James Choung shared a great quote from Roger Martin in The Opposable Mind this morning at our San Diego Asian American Minister’s meeting:

(Integrative thinking is) the ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.

These words are especially important for Asian American followers of Christ. For too long, we have allowed ourselves to be defined in the negative — neither this nor that.  Instead of living in binaries and polar opposition, though, following Jesus presents us a third, and better, way of understanding ourselves: in and through Christ, we can become both/and people.

I love this notion of third way, or integrative, thinking — instead of coming up with a half-hearted compromise that no one is happy with (think: blended worship), following Jesus leads us into an entirely different way of life where tension is an opportunity, not an obstacle.  While others draw battle lines and defend their castles, the way of the Kingdom takes the best elements of seemingly opposing sides to find a new way forward.

As James shared this morning, the church has a long history of living creatively in this tension. Foundational beliefs like the Trinity (God is three, and yet perfectly One) or that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine testify to this.

Asian American church communities could practice this integrative thinking through the arts, creativity and, not least of all, food.We can celebrate our God-given ethnic identity as being both intentional and good gifts from God, and move forward by positive culture-making.

From my experience, many Asian Americans who have an artist-heart have been crushed in the name of pragmatism — get a good (i.e., high-paying) job, gain standing in the community, etc. and maybe then think about the arts.  However, even if we do not pursue the creative arts as a vocation, we can find freedom & joy in reawakening to and living out our God-given creative identities.

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