Well, the Rick Warren controversy sure got heated. Let me be the first to say that I’m especially pleased Pastor Rick apologized in public. It’s good to see that we’re all flawed human beings, me included.
One question in the guise of a statement is, “You must love all the attention you’re getting.” Some said it to me with care, others with suspicion and a few with venomous hatred. It’s a worthy thought to ponder. This would be a great place to reintroduce myself to some people who do not know me before the controversy. This may be a good place to clarify a few points.
First of all, I don’t blog for a living. I’m not getting paid for it by some sponsor. I actually enjoy writing about all sorts of things, things I see that are right and wrong about the church, the Bible and the Christian life. I’m not particularly great at it, but I’m learning. I make a living teaching, preaching, speaking and writing freelance. I rather enjoy the freedom than a high salary that confines me to a set schedule. That was my previous life. When I first wrote the piece, I wrote it out of gut instincts from seeing what was going on in Pastor Rick’s Facebook. I never think, “Hmmmm … let me write about this so that I can use Pastor Rick’s fame to boost my blog.” The fact is, I write for a very small percentage of a population that actually cares about the issues I care about. I’m quite sure that the readership would once again go back to normal once this thing blows over. I accept that.
Second, not everyone enjoys getting sudden publicity. I actually know something about publicity because when I was in Hong Kong, I would have strangers on the street asking me for my autograph and reporters from the paper sitting in my office waiting for me. You see? I wrote a lot of books in Chinese. In fact, perhaps I wrote too much. Thus, in Asia, my privacy was not as easy to come by. So, coming back to the US has been a good thing for me and my family. The last thing I seek is publicity. What I wrote hit a nerve. I didn’t look for that nerve, but I nailed it while groping in the dark. In fact, I’m not even an expert on racial relations. If anyone wants to talk about experts on race, they can look more to the works of Chinglican, Eugene Cho, and Soong Chan Rah as well as others. Kathy Khang whose coauthored book More than Serving Tea (a book with rave reviews) and who also featured in this interview with Rachel Held Evans also can speak to the Asian American woman’s perspective far more than I can on the whole race issue. I’m just a participant in a minority subgroup, going along for the ride. My PhD is on the Bible, not religion or racial relations. My story is my story. It may not be anyone else’s story. Asking someone that question about attention is like asking whether a Jewish holocaust survivor was seeking attention when he addressed an inappropriate use of metaphor based on Nazi youths. No, we aren’t seeking attention; we’re all just storytellers. I pretty much agree with my buddy Justin Tse here as well. If our stories got your attention, so be it. If you don’t like our stories, well, go read other stories you like. It just happens that our stories resonated with many, and we praise God for that. Furthermore, who enjoys getting comments in blog posts (some of which I left on for your amusement) questioning our salvation, accusing us of throwing stones, exhorting us to get over ourselves and telling us to stop eating dogs and cats? Yes, I get a load of hate mails daily, and I accept that as part of being a blogger. Just because I expected them doesn’t mean I enjoy them (especially from so-called Christians), unless I’m somehow morbidly in love with mental pain. I may just disable the comment section not because I don’t think a lot of the comments are valuable. Many are; even some of the well-meaning and informative negative posts taught me something. Far too many were extremely nasty posts. IF I disable “comments,” it is not because I can’t tolerate dissenting voices. People know where to find me to contact me. IF not, they can go to my web page and email me direct.
Now let me tell you what I love. I love my wife first and foremost, and I love my family. I love staring into my backyard and hearing birds chirping and rabbits running around without sounds of cars. I love traveling and meeting my readers and listeners who engage with me (whether they agree with me or not doesn’t matter). I love honest friendship from people whom I’ve never met through this unfortunate incident. I felt like I found this huge family (from all different races, nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds) I didn’t know I had. I love hearing from old friends who crawl out of the woodworks lending their support and shoulders. I love serving God (yes, I’m kind of religious) and reading my Bible. So, for those who are worried about whether I’ve been born again, worry no more. I love seeing people’s lives change for the better because of their faith. I love training everyday in my home gym, lifting, hitting the Thai bag, and double-ended bag (that’s me above in the photo; that’s what I love). I love playing soccer once or twice a week with my buddies who’re from a diverse racial and religious background.
In short, my answer to the statement in guise of a question is no. I love many things, but attention is not one of them, but I continue to write.
Why do I even continue to write? Ask any writer that question, and you’ll find that the common denominator is not fame or money. My PhD supervisor told me once that anyone who thinks he can make a great living writing at the start is a fool. I pretty much agree. I write because I feel like that’s my calling in addition to preaching and teaching. That’s what I do. I love it when people pick up my book Right Texts, Wrong Meanings, and learn something from the method I use in reading the Bible. I love it when I get a light bulb during writing, and my readers share that lightbulb with me. That’s why I write. Writers write because that’s their lives. Writing is my life. Thank you for reading, my readers. God bless!