Archives for category: reviews

It’s September, yeah, but Asian August forever and ever… 

For someone who is not a fan at all of rom-coms, I thoroughly enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians — and, apparently, so do well over $100 million worth of other ticket buyers. Mindy Kaling expresses so much of what makes CRA great here and here and here and here and here (for reals, Mindy, use the thread feature!).

However, I found myself identifying more naturally with David Kim, the father character played by John Cho in SearchingAs Director Aneesh Chaganty put it so well in this great live podcast episode of It’s Been A Minute:

In most films with Asian American actors, Aneesh said, “You usually have to explain — what is the Asian hook? Like, why is this family Asian?” But in Searching, he said, “there’s nothing about this film that explains it.”

That an actor of any race could have played the lead, John added, is precisely the point. “The fact that it doesn’t have to be an Asian-American film makes me want to claim it as an Asian-American film,” he said.

Also, key takeaway: No vlogging. Ever.

Semi-spoiler alert: Does that intro rival Up, or what? I sort of wish I had been given an emotional heads-up beforehand!

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On top of all this, having smart, tenacious, faithful, talented Asian American friends who also happen to be authors sharing much-needed insight & guidance? You can read my review of Adrian Pei‘s fantastic book, The Minority Experience: Navigating Emotional and Organizational Realitieshere.

I’ll post a more robust review soon (hopefully!), but for now I’ll say this: Kathy Khang is the real deal and Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up reflects her authenticity and passion. Particularly in this surreal age in which we live, silence is not an option for people of good faith and good will. As Elie Wiesel says, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

 

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I thought I’d resurrect the old blog for a couple of books written by friends, both of which I highly recommend. Let me start by saying that in The Minority Experience: Navigating Emotional and Organizational Realities, Adrian Pei crafts a compelling vision for leadership that the church needs today.

As an Asian American follower of Christ, I’ve experienced the often-harsh dissonance between the vision for diversity that many churches, organizations, and ministries proclaim on paper and the reality of living out that vision with purpose, love, truth, and grace. Many of us have been burned by the “Benetton ad” effect of organizations seeking only cosmetic diversity (i.e., trying to find “one of each” for a “diverse” group photo, which is then placed on the cover of the next brochure — but nothing actually changes in the culture of that organization). Others have felt the frustration of tokenism, being “given” a seat at the table only to discover that their voice is consistently discounted. And, that’s not to mention the toxic brew of racist microaggressions, blatant discrimination, and backlash for pointing out injustice (e.g., “Why can’t you take a joke?”) that many of us face.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The point is: this is hard work. This is exhausting work.

However, particularly for those of us who believe that a diverse church who reflects the joy and creativity of Jesus is a beautiful, credible witness to our divided, broken world — and that this is a glimpse of the fullness of redemption on the way (Revelation 7:9-10) — this is essential work.

That’s why I’m thankful for Adrian’s voice. The Minority Experience is a thoughtfully-researched, clearly articulated vision of how organizations can take steps to lead change in diversity. His wisdom earned in the trenches of leadership will strengthen any organization that is serious about initiating change around diversity.

I deeply appreciate Adrian’s willingness to display honest vulnerability in sharing his own minority experience. He speaks from his life as an Asian American, but I believe his insights will be relatable to and have implications for people from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

This is definitely one of those books where I have so many bookmarks, margin scribbles, and highlighting marks that it’s almost easier to show what I did not note than what I did. Turning around a big ship can be overwhelming; through The Minority Experience, Adrian helps us chart a new course.

I met Dan King (perhaps better known as @bibledude) through the Idea Camp, a unique tribe of idea-makers who collaborate for good in their neighborhoods, and around the world. Dan’s love for his family and for the church to rise up and become the force for good that God intends stood out to me as we shared a meal together.

The title, The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter, captures the essence of what Dan seeks to do with this book — to move people from lukewarm church attending to passionately following Jesus to serve those He loves. For a more in-depth conversation on why Dan wrote this book and what he hopes to accomplish through it, read this interview I conducted with him for ChurchLeaders.com.

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As part of the Booksneeze program from Thomas Nelson, I received a copy of Max Lucado’s book, Outlive Your Life, for review.

Our community has been using Outlive Your Life as a catalyst for discussion during our midweek gatherings. This book has been challenging us to become better expressions of God’s love for the world, particularly as we consider the daunting statistics about global poverty and injustice.

Outlive invites us to join in God’s work of redemption today:

God invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let’s live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

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After about a year, I finally finished reading Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield.

[An aside: Have I told you how much I love our local library? Seriously, rediscovering the library last year has been such a source of joy for me. Being able to renew Love is a Mixtape many, many times online, discovering obscure music — Derek Bailey, anyone? — and choosing new books with my daughter… the list goes on and on. My friend Richard inspires me through his work as a librarian to dream of better ways of being a church: giving ourselves away for the sake of the community, becoming a trusted resource, finding ways to engage people of all ages…]

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As part of the Booksneeze review program from Thomas Nelson, I received a copy of The Sacred Journey, by Charles Foster. Journey is part of the Ancient Practices series, which includes titles focused on fasting, the liturgical year, the Eucharist and tithing.

In the foreword, Phyllis Tickle, general editor of this series, makes a keen observation about Journey: “Every one of you who reads this book will find at least one thing you totally disagree with and a whole handful of those you want to question. Please do so. Otherwise, none of it is pilgrimage.”

Journey provides some interesting historical information and analysis, but I found its strength to be its emphasis on the reality of actually following Jesus around. While “gnosticism” might sound like conspiracy fodder for the Da Vinci Code set, Foster rightly notes that it is a serious danger for the church today:

Gnosticism says that there are two opposing forces in the world: good and bad. The good forces are “spiritual”; the bad are corporeal. For a gnostic, being a good person involves rejecting the earthly and being “spiritual.”

While Scripture does describe a struggle within followers of Christ between worldly and Christ-like desire within us, it would be a mistake to attempt to live a purely “spiritual” life, as if we could disembody heart from soul, mind from strength.

As Foster unpacks the concept of pilgrimage, I see a theology of walking emerge. Walking forces us to travel light, live simply, move slower, notice more around us, and recognize the whole life we live in following Christ in the Kingdom of God that is already here and on its way:

Pilgrimage is wandering after God… Christian pilgrimage can and should be a walk with Jesus. And that is necessarily a walk in kingdom territory, under those upside-down kingdom rules. The pilgrim road is a physical peninsula of the kingdom. As the kingdom sprang up around the sandals of Jesus, so kingdom flowers can spring up around pilgrim boots. Not necessarily, of course, but it often happens.

One of the things our family enjoys about the free Booksneeze review program is the occasional DVD that comes along.  My daughter has enjoyed Gigi videos in the past, so she was really excited to watch this one, Gigi’s Big Break.

Here is my daughter’s review, in her own words:

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