Hello! Folks, you know what time it is. It's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Ken Fong.
Who are you?
I'm an incessantly curious and creative person who often gets away with speaking my mind, I've been told, because of my innate winsomeness. In other words, I often get away with saying and doing stuff that typically lands other people in hot water.
What are you?
I'm a third-gen American of Cantonese ancestry who didn't learn to use chopsticks till high school. I'm a moderately progressive Christian that spends a good amount of time outside the boundaries of the Church and my religion's dogmas. I'm the husband of a Japanese American sansei and the dad to a pretty amazing teenaged daughter.
Where are you?
The church I lead and serve is in the 626 area code (Rosemead, CA), about 15 miles east of DTLA. But we live in Sierra Madre, perched in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, right next door to Pasadena, and where they park the floats after the Rose Parade is done.
Where are you from?
I grew up just south of downtown Sacramento, CA, with one older sister and two younger brothers. My grandparents immigrated from Toisan region of southern China. My maternal grandmother was one of the last women to have bound feet. One of my brothers was recently a two-term City Councilmember there.
What do you do?
I'm nearing the end of an unusual three-decades long run of being a pastor of a noteworthy Asian American Christian church so that I can spend the next ten years as the Exec Director of the Asian American Initiative @ Fuller Seminary (Pasadena) and equip the next wave of AA ministry shapers and leaders. Since May 2015, I've served as the host of "Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast," where I invite a diverse array of Asian American culture-makers and -shapers to share what makes them tick and what keeps them going in the face of many obstacles. I'm also the subject of an upcoming documentary film that charts my efforts to lead a fairly conservative Asian American evangelical church to love and include LGBTQ Christians.
What are you all about?
I continue to strive to create spaces in the world -- whether it's in churches, workspaces, homes, or just around me -- where any and every person feels it's safe enough to be vulnerable, to dare to reveal something genuine or genuinely painful. The pursuit of greater authenticity and congruity for myself and everyone else (no exceptions) seems to mesh naturally with my understanding and experience of Jesus. So that's what I preach and try my best to practice every day, no matter who I'm with or where I am.
What makes you angry?
What really gets my tighty-whities all bunched up is when people like me use Jesus as a reason to judge and condemn others. What part of "Do not judge unless you want to be judged" do we not understand? What about "only the one who is completely without sin is qualified to throw stones at other people" makes many of us religious stuffed shirts think that doesn't apply to us? How can we keep singing and saying that the love of God is in us and yet, without missing a beat, feel justified in despising and excluding someone else? I guess what makes me angry is hypocrisy -- Christian hypocrisy to be more specific. I know what that is because I'm a hopeless hypocrite myself. The difference is, though, that I don't claim that I'm not. If anything, I'm a recovering hypocrite.