Asian Religions Aren’t That Exotic (Ricepaper 16.4)

The latest issue of Ricepaper Magazine 16.4 has just come out, and I’m happy to announce that I have a feature article.  The issue is titled Poetry and Philosophy and includes articles, fiction, and poetry written by Jenny Uechi, Terry Watada, Siyuan Liu, Renee Sarojini Sarkilar, Nancy Kang, Kim Yong-Hi, Yasuko Thanh, and a profile on Valerie Sing Turner done by Loretta Seto.  It looks great.

My article is titled “Asian Religions Aren’t That Exotic.”  You’ll have to read the article in its entirety, but if you ever wondered how Asian Canadian films The People I’ve Slept With and Eve and the Firehorse, stats from the Canadian census on immigration to Vancouver, the ‘Highway to Heaven’ on Richmond’s No. 5 Road, and the controversy in the Vancouver Sun over Chinese Christians and cultural practices during this year’s Chinese New Year all go together, you’re in for a treat.  I take on all these themes with a twist, that really, Asian religions aren’t that exotic, and that because of this, creative artists should feel free to treat Asian religions in Canada as simply part of the everyday lives of Asian Canadians.

Enjoy!

Hearing a different kind of evangelical: Pastor Ken Shigematsu, Tenth Church Vancouver (Ricepaper 16.3)

Ricepaper Magazine, an Asian Canadian arts and culture magazine, has just put out their new 16.3 issue, The Hybrid Issue!   It features articles on how Asian Canadians negotiate the diversities in their own experiences as well as in their creative output.  Other articles in this issue include excerpts from two plays that explore identity intersections, a creative fiction piece about hybridities at a hot dog stand, a critical piece on Canadian immigration policy, profiles of community authors such as C.E. Gatchalian and Haruko Okano, a reflection on why being called “hapa” isn’t so good, and photos of people of hybrid upbringings.

I contributed a profile to this issue entitled “Hearing a Different Kind of Evangelical” (p. 54-57). The piece centers on Pastor Ken Shigematsu, the senior pastor of Tenth Church Vancouver and the one-time co-planter of Newsong Church with Dave Gibbons in Southern California.  In the piece, I try to “hear” Ken as an “evangelical” and as an “Asian Canadian.”  These two terms are badly misunderstood in popular circles (especially “evangelical”–I cannot begin to count the ways!), and what Ken offers is a chance for us to hear these terms afresh, to see that both terms–at least for Ken and the good folks at Tenth Church–foster diversity, inclusivity, and hybridity across ethnic, class, and even religious lines, even if these terms previously stood for exactly the opposite in our minds.

Tenth Church has a fantastic section of news clippings about the church. There’s plenty there about their policy interactions with the city, the way they’re perceived in the neighbourhoods they are in (Mount Pleasant and Kitsilano), and a very interesting Asian Canadian spin with Tenth on the Asian American “silent exodus” of second-generation Asian Canadian Christians from immigrant churches.

You can get a copy of Ricepaper at any Chapters in the Lower Mainland, as well as most local bookstores.  There’s also a subscription service!  Get it: it’s our Asian Canadian arts and culture mag, and it really is all about promoting what happens in our community!

Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop

On Saturday, 19 February 2011, I joined the Board of Directors at the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW).

The ACWW was started in 1979 by a group of creative writers who had been influenced by the rise of Asian American movements in the United States.  The term “Asian American” was coined in their first publication with the Powell Street Revue, Inalienable Rice.  Since then, the ACWW has also been the publisher of the only Asian Canadian magazine in Canada: Ricepaper.

The current discussion in the ACWW is to continue the good work of promoting Asian Canadian writing and making Ricepaper more well-known.  My story with Ricepaper began in Fall 2004 shortly after I had moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Vancouver.  I attended an event with the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia (CCHSBC) at the Vancouver Museum, where Ricepaper was also being promoted.  Back then, I was interested in continuing my own creative writing work that I began in high school when I co-founded the literary magazine Sea Changes at Moreau Catholic High School.  Even back then, I was interested in writing on Chinese church experiences as well as moving into academic studies of Chinese Christianity in North America.

Since then, I was aware of Ricepaper, but it was not until I took an Asian American directed studies course with Henry Yu that I began thinking about the CCHSBC, the ACWW, and Ricepaper again.  The president, Allan Cho, got in touch with me in January 2010, and as he was putting together a new board for the next generation of Asian Canadian writers, he was interested in seeing if I wanted to get involved.  It took me about a year.  And so now, I’m on the board.

For now, I understand the mandate of the ACWW to promote Asian Canadian writing, both through Ricepaper and the writing workshops.  If you’re interested, do get in touch with either me or with the rest of the board.  We’d love to get more subscriptions and ideas for promotion.

UPDATE: I left the ACWW board of directors in 2012 because I needed to focus on other personal and professional commitments. However, I still think the world of this board and this magazine and always read their work with interest.