Monday, April 16, 2012

Black-Asian Worship Banner

Custom worshp banner created for our 2004 "Crossings" Black-Asian worship conference at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, supported by a worship renewal grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; designed by Marie Pueblos Onwubuariri and made by Wally Bryen. The combination of Kente cloth and a Chinese brocade felt risky, both symbolically (e.g., did we really know what each pattern "meant"?) and artistically. But we decided to take the risk. It turned out magnificently.

Here's the banner in place at the front of the chapel we used. Jae Choung is performing his song, "Do you see us, O God?" (from the 2003 "Waterwind" conference). Seated behind him are James Abbington, Aeri Lee, and James Choung. Note the green African fabric covering the lectern in the foreground.

We came up with the original ideas when we put together this promotional postcard for the event:

In general, visual expressions of identity and culture seem to be an especially useful entree into cultural contextualization. They communicate a lot, quickly; they communicate throughout the worship event (unlike things that are said or sung, and thus come and go); and they are relatively easy to create and install.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Invisible Colors

Freeway underpass in Oakland, California : Interstate 580 x Park Blvd.

One of several in the series, "Words by Roads" (1992) by Iranian-born Sayed Alavi, 
working with Oakland high school students.

This is right down the street from my (Russell Yee's) house!

It's a critique of aspirational honorary whiteness generally. Might it apply to many of our worship settings? 

Majority-culture worship belongs to minority-culture worshipers as much as to anyone. But if we mostly aspire to just majority-culture worship, then our worship is left with invisible colors.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Lord's Table at the 2010 Southeast Asian Leadership Summit III, San Jose, California
Russell Yee and Linda Hawes partaking
Note especially the cross, "Jesus, the rice of life."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do You See Us, O God?

Do You See Us, O God?
Jae Chung at Waterwind 2003
Written and performed by Jae Chung

(c) 2002 Jae Chung
Permission granted for non-commercial use only.
Please do not republish in any form.

From the opening of the
Waterwind Asian American Worship Conference 
(Frederic I. Drexler Lectureship)
American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, California 
March 22, 2003

Do you see us, O God
Am /G F
Do you hear when we softly sigh
Do you know, we often cry
Come now and touch, O God
Am /G F
Creating in us a brand new song
Helping us to get along

We know that there's no easy answer sometimes
F G C C7
The pain is so much greater than what we can bear alone
F G Am
O Christ our Savior, came to suffer, loving to the cross
Gave us the hope to carry on

(c) 2002 Jae Chung
Permission granted for non-commercial use only.
Please do not republish in any form.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

James Choung's "Ethnicity Matters"

Here it is: instead of reading Worship on the Way you can just watch this video! (In chapter 6, "Explorations,"  I talk about some of the ideas James shared at the 2004 "Crossings" Black-Asian worship conference in Berkeley.) James is the big cheese with Asian American things at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Check out his site at

Ethnicity Matters from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grapeiness Strikes Again

Sri Lanka, 2008: Fanta Portello

This is what we used for a Communion service at a Christian retreat site outside of Colombo. Scripture certainly gives us the freedom to serve artificially flavored western grape soda at the Lord's Table, but should it be the beverage of choice in a place like Sri Lanka? In parts of the world where there is no history or practice of grape cultivation, should Christian worship depend on access to imported or foreign-licensed foodstuffs? Given the multitude of wholesome staple beverages around the world (Sri Lanka has been renowned for centuries for its teas) why do we get so stuck on grapiness?