Monday, May 26, 2008

"The 'Wright' Way?" by Guest Writer - Carole Whang Schutter

Today, I'm hosting some thoughts from Carole Whang Schutter, author of the novel and movie, September Dawn:

The storm over Barrack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Wright, made me look at the issue of racism within the church. I understand why people of color have a problem with whites. My own family suffered egregiously in the white oligarchy that existed in Hawaii pre-World War II. The African Americans, Native-Americans, and other non-white groups were wronged. But so were the Asian, Latino, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Irish, and Italian immigrants to the United States. The beauty of our country is that we are a nation founded “under God” and the principles of the Bible.

It is time to break the chains of prejudice, fear, and the past. Let us refuse to lick the wounds of our past because we’re better than that. Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to remember the past. As a historical fiction writer, I am mesmerized by the past. I wrote the movie and the novel, “September Dawn.” Some movie reviewers slammed us for being “historically incorrect.” Although the event was shrouded in secrecy for almost a century, movie reviewers suddenly became experts at something that took me two years of research. I didn’t write to condemn and create hard feelings. History is written to insure that it never happens again. We don’t use the past to keep hatred alive, but to learn.

Prejudice and persecution are not exclusive to people of color. The pursuit of religious freedom sent the very white Pilgrims to America.

Raised in Hawaii, I’m proud of being Asian. But when I moved to Colorado, I discovered I was Asian-American. I always thought I was just American. By contrast, Brazilians do not consider themselves to be Asian-Brazilians, African-Brazilians, or white-Brazilians, they are just Brazilian.

While in Chicago, I persuaded a blond girlfriend of mine to attend a church that was recommended by another friend. It didn’t occur to me that my African-American friend probably went to a black church. As we got closer to the church, my friend said, “This is an upscale black neighborhood.” I told my girlfriend I loved black churches.

The service had already begun and the sanctuary was almost full. Although the ushers were sending people upstairs, we were escorted us to the main level, in the center of the third row. It was a spirited service. My girlfriend sat impassively, I knew she was unfamiliar with charismatic churches. I wondered what she was thinking.

She loved it and still visits the church sometimes. She told me she’s still the only white in the audience.

I wish we would no longer be black churches or white churches, but Jesus Christ churches.

My sister Sandy married Jerel, a German-Irish pastor whose father was a Baptist pastor raised Mennonite. Jerel warned Sandy that his father considered inter-marriage unacceptable to God. It bothered us, but then again, my Korean grandfather was a pastor and he didn’t speak to his oldest child for a long time because she didn’t marry Korean.

Fear of the unknown and unfamiliar divides us. Jerel’s father feared different races because he had no experience with them. As he got to know Asians, he grew to love Sandy and got along great with our family.

My father encountered prejudice as a child and enlisted man during WWII. Every Asian was considered “a dirty Jap.” He hated whites until his daughters defied him and married white men. In time, my father, who told us he would “disown” us if we married non-Asians, bragged that his Irish-German son-in-law Jerel was “just like Jesus.”

In my novel, “September Dawn,” the heroine, Emily, is distraught because her best friend, a slave, has been sold and taken away from her. She asks her pastor father, “Daddy, do you think we should stick to our own kind?”

He says, “I think God sees us all as just one kind. To Him, we’re all just people.”

We are all wonderfully different, but we’re all still just people.


View a trailer for Carole's book and the movie for which she wrote the screenplay here:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Please Express Your Opinion on Colorado's Senate Bill 200 ... NOW!

Whew. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Did you miss me again? I didn't mean to be gone this long from my blog, but several things kept me away...the most fun of which was the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park. As usual, it was awesome!

Back to business...

If you're in Colorado, you need to know about our state Senate Bill 200. (If you're not from Colorado, you should be aware of what's happening here.) This bill adds religion and sexual orientation to state nondiscrimination statutes. Sounds good, right? It's not!

This is NOT a step forward for religious freedom! If passed, organizations including small and home-based businesses would be in trouble is they refused to offer or sell goods or services to homosexuals, bisexuals, "transgendered" and transsexuals, whether for religious or moral reasons.

The Colorado Senate has already passed this bill and it is on the Governor's desk waiting for him to sign it.

You must act FAST if you're going to make a difference.

Are you ready to use your voice? To speak out? PLLLLLLEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSE?! Just do it!

Here are three things you can do. (And please do ALL THREE!):

1.) Call Governor Ritter's office and voice your opposition to SB 200: (303)866-2471

2.) E-mail the Governor and ask him to please Veto SB 200: E-mail Gov. Ritter.

3.) Read more about Colorado's Senate Bill 200 here.

If you're not willing to take action what right will you have to complain if this bill gets passed?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rev. Wright is Wrong - Part 2

Another thing I found incredibly disturbing in Pastor Wright's rantings was the use of the Lord's name from the pulpit! My goodness.

Here in Colorado we had a situation a while back where one of our state politicians, Douglas Bruce, was at the podium during the opening prayer and several photographers were sitting on the floor around him. Something one photographer did irritated Mr. Bruce, so he kicked him.


Here's the scene in my mind: Here we are, praying to the one true God, the Almighty, the all-merciful who allows the poorest as well as the most important to come into His presence and treats them all the same, all well, and "powerful politician" Douglas Bruce reaches out and kicks a "poor powerless person/photographer" sitting at his feet during the prayer?! In the middle of this conversation with God! What a guy. God would never do something like that...and I don't like the picture it gives when Mr. Bruce did. There's "wrong" all over it.

Does it need to be said? No pastor should ever use the name of the Lord in vain from the pulpit. Why is this using the Lord's name in vain? Because God would never damn America. Rev. Wright might. But God wouldn't. And for a representative of God (which is what pastors are supposed to be) to represent Him in that way, well... Rev. Wright is wrong.

Friday, May 2, 2008

What I think is wrong about Rev. Jeremiah Wright - Part 1

I'm sure you, like me, have been watching the video clips and sound bites of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barak Obama's former pastor, over the past several weeks. I mean, really, how could you miss them? So what do you think about the whole situation? I have some thoughts...

While I don't like to be yelled at when I go to church, I realize there are many personalities in the Christian church universal, and so there are many personalities of churches.

What's more important to me is the content of what he said, which I find incredibly disturbing. From time to time I've heard some people make references to notions such as those Rev. Wright stated: that the US government invented AIDS, that 9/11 was an inside job... Why do some people believe stuff like that? Do they just need a deep dark conspiracy to believe in? Are they in search of the thrill of being one of the few to know the "truth," the inside scoop on something the rest of us are oblivious to (unless they alert us to it)? Are they looking for a reason to hang their hate on? Some people just want to believe whatever they want to believe, I guess. Never mind the truth.

Okay. So there are people like that in the world. (Apparently a lot of them, judging by the shouts of agreement in Jeremiah Wright's church!) But for that kind of nonsense to be preached from the pulpit in a Christian church?! OOOoooohhh, that ticks me off.

That is not what the church's pulpit is for. That's not what the church is for. What impression of the Christian church, and the Lord Jesus Christ, is Rev. Wright giving to those who don't know Him? People like Rosie O'Donnell might see that and think that's what all Christian churches are like.

If that's what people like Rosie O'Donnell think is going on in the church, no wonder they think we Christians are nuts. (The really crazy thing, though, is that I think Ms. O'Donnell actually agrees with what Rev. Wright preached!)

"So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?"
1 Corinthians 14:23