Archives For Soong-Chan Rah

 

A Truly Evangelical Perception of Justice

A Feature Review of

Return to Justice:
Six Movements that Reignited Our Contemporary Evangelical Conscience
Soong-Chan Rah / Gary VanderPol

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee

 

Rah and VanderPol’s book is an important brief history of an undercurrent of biblical justice found in American evangelicalism. It is a history of struggle for recognition, and provides key snapshots in an album of this continued Return to Justice. The book is born from the authors’ obvious experience and study, and seeks to reintegrate the bifurcation of evangelism and justice. The authors highlight and esteem known figures and institutions such as John Perkins, World Vision, Sojourners, and Samuel Escobar, among others. These key figures and their stories formed the historical backdrop and narrative for reinvigorating biblical justice as a key tenet of evangelicalism, challenging a dominant American, white male, middle-class status quo that has historically recoiled from social gospel “tendencies” and issues of biblical justice in preference and focus towards an individualistic approach of evangelism-by-proclamation and personalized salvation experience.

Continue Reading…

 

Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

 

The Heart Goes Last: A Novel

By Margaret Atwood

Read the NY Times review of this novel

NEXT BOOK >>>>>

Continue Reading…

 

“Defining Emerging Christianity

A Review of
An Emerging Dictionary for
The Gospel and Culture

By Leonard Hjalmarson.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


An Emerging Dictionary for
The Gospel and Culture

Leonard Hjalmarson.

Paperback: Resource Publications/Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

EMERGING DICTIONARY... HjalmarsonLen Hjalmarson has been in the middle of conversations about emerging forms of church for many years now. His blog, NextReformation.com , has been not only a place for him to post his keen insights, but also a place for conversation and exploration. Thus, I was excited to hear that he had recently published a book rooted in his experience in these conversations.  An Emerging Dictionary for the Gospel and Culture is indeed as it sets out to be “a roving, eclectic dictionary that is both ridiculously current and particular, and at the same time broadly inclusive, reaching back to Augustine and St. Benedict … the ABC’s of the emerging and missional conversations.”  Hjalmarson does a superb job introducing the topics that he has included here, which basically fall into the two categories of biographical entries and conceptual entries.  All entries here are brief (rarely more than 2 or 3 pages), engaging and helpful in their introducing the person or concept at hand.  I imagine that most readers, even those who have been deeply invested in the emerging and missional church conversations for many years will find at least a few entries here that are surprising or unknown.  For instance, the philosopher of science in me was delighted to see the entry on Thomas Kuhn here, as his work is essential to our work of understanding the times in which we live, and yet his name does not pop up often in church conversations.  There are also a number of terms here that are essential to understanding postmodern criticism – e.g., difference and L’avenir.   Hjalmarson also does a wonderful job at interweaving the entries here; one does not typically think of a dictionary as a book to sit down and read from cover to cover, but this engaging and well-written work flows along nicely and is certainly an exception to that rule!

Continue Reading…

 

BOOKS AND CULTURE Picks its
Favorite Books of 2009

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/columns/bookoftheweek/favoritebooksof2009.html


David Fitch Reflects on
Soong-Chan Rah’s
THE NEXT EVANGELICALISM

http://bit.ly/5gLPk1


For my money, J Kameron Carter’s (Professor of Theology and Black Studies at Duke Divinity School) Race: A Theological Account is the best book on the issue of race and the development of Western White Christianity. To grotesquely oversimplify, Kameron helps us see (through Foucault and others) how “race” was constituted by the West once the Roman church separated itself from the Jews (and the nation of Israel) in the first three centuries. In other words, once the church’s identity was no longer seen as an extension of the ONE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, chosen for Mission to the world, and became in essence separated from the church of Jerusalem, race became a constituting factor in the church and it was an invention of the Western church to create all sorts of fleshly power relationships. If we would escape the cycle of race, we must escape the Western culture that shapes us by this concept of race. Rah is right about this. It is encoded in our language, our culture and the ways we relate in the Western church. It is part of democracy and part of capitalism. This is how deep Rah’s White Cultural Captivity goes. The question is, to what extent have the various ethnic churches now coalescing in America and indeed around the world, by their buying into capitalism and the great United States, become grafted into this same racist account of the world? And how do we all get out of it. We must deconstruct race as a constituting encoding of our very language and the way we think. Has Rah accomplished this in his book? Or moved us deeper into the ways race defines us? I seriously don’t know.

To my knowledge, the only ethnic group in N America able to call the church into diversity and out of white cultural captivity with a critical distance to prosperity-driven-capitalism-endorsing-Christianity, ARE THE NATIVE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN indigenous groups and their leaders that Rah talks about in his book (see here for instance). I know some of the leaders as friends, and frankly they have a reserve for buying into the American economic system (for obvious reasons) and yet have a love for Jesus Christ. For my money, these are the ones we should be looking to for leadership on this issue … but will we all listen?

http://bit.ly/5gLPk1

Read our review of THE NEXT EVANGELICALISM

Or our review of Kameron Carter’s RACE

The Next Evangelicalism:
Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity

Soong-Chan Rah.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

 

The BOOKS AND CULTURE Review of
Rick Bass’s THE WILD MARSH

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/columns/bookoftheweek/homeontheyaak.html

I’m a sucker for the 12-month seasonal essay types of books, but when The Wild Marsh crossed my desk, I hesitated to dive in. I’ve tried reading environmental activist and author Rick Bass’s nonfiction before, and found he tended toward strident rather than prosaic. That’s okay if I’m getting ready for a global warming rally but less inviting if I want a good porch-side read.

Bass quickly put my doubts to rest. By his own admission, The Wild Marsh aims to be “all celebration and all observation, without judgment or advocacy.” An admirable goal, which of course he falls short of—he can’t help preaching the green gospel or lapsing into sermonizing about the environment as he goes—but he does concentrate, as Wendell Berry once said, “on the matter at hand, which is living.”

The Wild Marsh was written over the course of a decade, encompassing both the turn of the millennium and 9/11. Bass compresses his observations, then frames them as a year of life lived off the grid with his family in northwest Montana. This is a book about divides in time and in place, as well as a philosophical reflection.


Read the full review:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/columns/bookoftheweek/homeontheyaak.html

The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana.
Rick Bass.

Hardback: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]


Powells Books Reviews
FEMINISM, INC by Emilie Zaslow

http://www.powells.com/review/2009_11_15

Run a Google image search on “girl power,” and what comes up is a series of visual contradictions: a pink woman’s symbol with a fist in the circle; a photo of a businesswoman’s legs, in stockings and stilettos in front of a chorus line of men’s trousers; girls sporting athletic gear; “girl power” emblazoned across bikini underwear; and an ad for a porn film. In these images the power afforded girls is mixed. A working woman is reduced to her girly fashion sense. A little girl’s source of influence is what’s written on her panties. And almost every image is linked to consumerism. “Girl power” is up for sale.

In Feminism, Inc., Zaslow details the contradictions within a media culture that’s been pervasive and potent ever since the Spice Girls popularized the phrase in 1997. On the one hand, she writes, “girl power is a commodification of opposition to traditional femininity.” Epitomized by such popular figures as Lisa on The Simpsons and rapper Missy Elliott, girl power encourages young women to be independent choice-makers and suggests they can control their own sexuality, style and sense of self. Yet Zaslow points out that such feminist discourse is undercut by corporate media, explaining that “[girl power] does not celebrate a feminist movement for social change at structural levels.”


Read the full review:
http://www.powells.com/review/2009_11_15

Feminism, Inc.: Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture.
Emilie Zaslow.

Hardback: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]


Soong-Chan Rah Raises Some Pointed Questions
About Foster and Wilhite’s
Deadly Viper Character Assassin
.

http://blog.sojo.net/2009/11/04/how-deadly-viper-character-assassin-undermines-its-message-with-co-opted-culture/

Let me begin by stating that I applaud the intent and subject matter of your book.  Integrity and character in leadership needs to be discussed and should be an important part of leadership development.  But the “theme” you have chosen and the application of that theme (particularly in your media clips) reveals a serious insensitivity to Asian culture and to the Asian-American community.

My contention has nothing to do with the content of the book itself (i.e. the material that discusses integrity and character).  It is with the way in which you choose to co-opt Asian culture in inappropriate ways.  Let me cite Edward Said in Orientalism where he states:

Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient — dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style of dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.

Mike and Jud, you are two white males who are inappropriately co-opting another culture and using it to further the marketing of your book.  You are not from our cultural framework, yet you feel that you have the authority to represent our culture before others.  In other words, you are using what are important and significant cultural symbols to make a sale or to make your point.  It is an affront to those who are a part of that culture.  You’ll notice that there are a number of individuals that take offense at the ways you misuse Chinese characters.  You also confuse aspects of Japanese and Chinese cultures.  These are two very distinct and ancient cultures that you did not take the time to understand before using those symbols as a fun way to market your products.


Read the full review:
http://blog.sojo.net/2009/11/04/how-deadly-viper-character-assassin-undermines-its-message-with-co-opted-culture/

 

A Brief Review of
The Next Evangelicalism:
Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity

Soong-Chan Rah.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

 Soong-Chan Rah’s recent book THE NEXT EVANGELICALISM: FREEING THE CHURCH FROM WESTERN CULTURAL CAPTIVITY is an insightful and challenging book.  What the title does not convey (thanks, undoubtedly to an editorial decision) but what Rah emphasizes throughout the book is that by “Western cultural captivity” he means “WHITE Western cultural captivity.” While noting that the demographics of the Church are rapidly shifting away from the North American orientation of the past and toward “a southern and eastern hemisphere-centered Christianity” (12), and that even the Church in North America is rapidly becoming more diverse, Rah also observes that the leadership of American evangelicalism is still almost completely white and male. Thus, Rah writes seeking “reconciliation and renewal” among God’s people.  Overall there are many powers that Rah wrestles with here that other authors — including myself at times — have unmasked (individualism, consumerism, imperialism, etc), but the most convicting of his points is the prevaling whiteness that is driving Christianity in North America.  This point is driven home most poignantly in his chapter on “The Emergent Church’s Captivity to White, Western Culture.”  Here he observes that, generally speaking, the leadership of the Emerging Church is still largely white and largely male.  He observes, “Dialoguing on race for most white emergents, becomes a luxury, not a necessity, as it is for many people of color” (119).  Rah’s chapter critiquing mega-churches and the church growth movement in general is excellent and is well-worth the consideration and reflection of the Church.  Rah’s work is disturbing in that it sheds light on the multitude of ways that churches in North America have been held captive, ultimately calls us — in the book’s Conclusion — to confession and repentance.  THE NEXT EVANGELICALISM would be a perfect companion to J. Kameron Carter’s recent epic theological work RACE: A THEOLOGICAL ACCOUNT, elaborating in a more accessible fashion, on the theological history of racialism and racism that Carter has so compelling set forth in his work.  Both authors share a vision of a future Church that is necessarily more diverse.  In Carter’s words, they agree that:

[A]s a twenty-first-century discourse, Christian theology must take its bearings from the Christian theological languages and practices that arise from the lived Christian worlds of dark peoples in modernity and how such peoples reclaimed (and in their own ways salvaged) the language of Christianity, and thus Christian theology, from being a discourse of death – their death (RACE, 378).

Despite the many conflictions of my own theology and praxis, I believe that Carter and Rah are right, that North American churches are held hostage by their Westernness and whiteness and need to come to confession and repentance.  Jesus often proclaimed that he had come to set us free (cf Luke 4:16-21, etc.), but in order to be free in our twenty-first century North American context, we need first to recognize and repent of the unjust institutions to which we have been enslaved.  There are few books that take on this brutal and yet essential task with the clarity and the compassion with which Soong-Chan Rah has crafted THE NEXT EVANGELICALS.  I highly recommend it, for those who have the courage to face the mammoth cultural manifestations of our sinful state.

 

TheNewCulture.org has an excellent video interview with Soong-Chan Rah, the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (IVP Books, 2009).  This interview is offered in five parts and is a total of 40 minutes in length.

Part One:

Part Two:

Links to the remaining parts of the interview are here.

The Next Evangelicalism:
Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.
Soong-Chan Rah.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]