Photo by Chris Smith Ronnie Shumate

Photo by Chris Smith Ronnie Shumate

By Young Lee Hertig

The term “the bamboo ceiling” coined by Jane Hyun describes the virtual absence of Asian Americans in top corporate CEO positions despite significant numbers of Asian American students at Harvard (18%) and Stanford (24%). On October 14, 2014, an article called “Cracking the Bamboo Ceiling” posted in The Atlantic stated that Asian Americans account for just 1.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 1.9% of corporate officers overall. 63% of Asian men feel stalled in their careers, a higher rate than any other groups reported. The bamboo ceiling can describe Asian Americans in mainstream culture and media as well. Interestingly, Asian Americans recently filled viewing parties for the new ABC series, Fresh Off the Boat. This “FOB Fever” is an indicator of a hunger in Asian Americans to see our particular stories as told by Asian American actors and actresses.  I can think of several significant implications of the airing of a show like Fresh Off the Boat:

  • The Power of Resonance: How many times do Asian Americans see their own stories depicted in the mainstream media? Besides the contents, the presentation and representation resonate with Asian Americans unlike ways in the past when white actors/actresses played Asian roles.   In addition, when the whiteness and maleness of God is presented as normative, usually people of color and even women don’t raise questions.  Questioning the institutionalized norms often means further social distance from the center for the minority.  Therefore, the dissonance with the presentation of God is often submerged.
  • The Power of Identification: One of the reasons why so many minorities have identity confusion stems from the  absence of our stories and faces in the mainstream.  Our look and our manners are far from the mainstream media’s constant bombardment of what the heros/heroines look like.  Asian Americans, no matter how many generations have lived on this shore, have been treated as “forever-guests” because we look different from the white hosts.
  • The Power of Belonging: Living a life as an outsider or stranger causes one to feel insecure and vulnerable. The internalized “isms” of all sorts echoes self-denigration and self-doubt.

With these daily experiences, ABC’s mini-series FOB presents and represents Asian Americans’ stories with self-belittling and satirical humor.  Hopefully, the series tracks enough attention because they are also part of America’s stories.  One caveat in cracking the bamboo ceiling, however, is that one has to be ready to be ostracized by both one’s own ethnic group and the mainstream. For this reason, I find the comic and satirical approach of FOB to be refreshingly engaging.

Rev. Dr. Young Lee Hertig is executive director and a founding member of ISAAC (Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity) and AAWOL (Asian American Women On Leadership). She teaches in the Global Studies and Sociology Department at Azusa Pacific University and is an ordained Presbyterian clergy as well as a commissioner of the Presbyterian Church USA to the National Council of Churches Faith and Order.

Church Vs. School

Photo by Vancouver Film School

Photo by Vancouver Film School

By Eun Joo Angela Ryo

I recently attended a seminar for the parents at a Korean immigrant church I was visiting last month.  The title of the seminar was “God and Grades.”  As a mother of a teenager and a preteen, I thought it would be helpful to check it out.  The seminar, as it turned out, should have been more accurately titled “Church Vs. School” rather than “God and Grades.” Continue Reading »

Photo by Sakhr Abdullah

Photo by Sakhr Abdullah

by Chloe Sun

This week, I came across a short poem that prompts me to reflect on the idealists and the realists. The poem goes like this:

Ideals are like stars
We never reach them,
But like mariners of the sea,
We chart our course by them.[1]

This poem distinguishes ideals from reality. Ideals and reality are not set in opposition to one another. Rather, they are in an interconnected relationship: Ideals give hope to reality. Ideals chart the course of our lives. Whether we can ever reach the ideals is not the question. The question is: as we journey through life, what are we guided by? Are we guided by a higher principle or are we like a ship wandering in the vast ocean aimlessly? Continue Reading »

Photo by Maria Liu Wong

Photo by Maria Liu Wong

By Maria Liu Wong

Coming out of the fog of an intense push to finish my dissertation in the midst of the holiday season in December – while juggling full-time work and family life raising three little ones – I was close to being totally burnt out and needing a serious break. A month later, in a session with my spiritual director, I looked back at that time as a gift, where I learned an important lesson of gratitude, in a journey and process that was surprisingly life-altering and life-giving. Continue Reading »

Life Map

Photo by Courtney Rhodes

Photo by Courtney Rhodes

By Wendy Choy-Chan

As part of an exercise for a spiritual formation program, I had the opportunity to construct a life map of my own.  As I answered various prompts and filled in event after event in my life — negative and positive childhood memories, encouragement and criticism from major figures in life, etc. — something wonderful emerged from my life map.

There have been negative life events that have shaped me and given me false beliefs of myself and of God.  In the first few weeks of the program, we talked about negative cultural and family influences and how they project for us a false image of God. Continue Reading »

To Know and Be Known

Photo by  Jonathan Kos-Read

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read

By Tina Teng-Henson

Dear Reader,

I realize, I don’t really know you. I read your little bios at the bottom of your blog posts, and I remember bits and pieces of things you’ve shared over the years… but who are you really? And who the heck am I? :) Our words take us a long way on this journey to know and be known – yet at their best, they are still an approximation.

It’s mid-January, 2015. I don’t have any formal ministry responsibilities lined up ahead of me. I have one class this quarter then one class next quarter — then I’m done with my MDiv. I am, Lord willing, going to give birth to our second baby this summer, but that’s about it. Continue Reading »

Photo by Bent Velling

Photo by Bent Velling

By Liz Chang

When I provide therapy for couples who are struggling in the face of their child’s challenges, I often find that the role of ‘parent’ to their child can easily overthrow the role of ‘lover’ to one’s life partner. There have been many sessions when focus on a couple’s marital relationship significantly benefited their parent-child relationships. Continue Reading »


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