August 10, 2020

Noted: Interview with Soong-Chan Rah + Hayley Westenra + Misc.

Sojourners is running a two-part interview with Soong-Chan Rah, author of The Next Evangelicalism.

If you missed it, some Covenant Presbyterian Church members have joined the conversation at the link about church architecture. Remember that you can subscribe to comments as a separate feed here at IM.

I made 900 Facebook friends today. If you want to be FB friends or follow me on Twitter, there are icons for those links at the bottom of the page. You can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes as well. (A note to people who invite me to things like “Mafia wars.” No offense, but get a copy of “Don’t Waste Your Life” and read it.)

I have returned to school after more than a month off. This will really mess with my daily work schedule for a while. The daily priorities are 1) prayer 2) sermon prep 3) class prep 4) work on the book 5) blogging and 6) podcasting. So you will probably see a bit less content than I’ve cranked out since July. I haven’t touched the book in a week, so I really need to get back in the groove.

A lot happening spiritually with my ministry and co-workers. Pray for us. “Be not afraid,” Jesus said. “Cast your cares” on the Lord is a special word for those who are supposed to “care.” You can’t “care” for what is in God’s hands! Know your place and know His Fatherly strength.

And here’s Hayley Westenra, the most beautiful voice in New Zealand, singing “May It Be” from Lord of the Rings. Enjoy the beauty.


  1. Truly a beautiful piece of music. *Sheds silent tear*

  2. It seems in the interview that Pastor Rah suggests that ethnic specific churches are okay just not for ethnic European whites, then those have to be more sensitive and diversify. Now before everybody jumps on me for being insensitive understand that I just basically integrated my own rural white church this year by hosting a local black baptist pastor, and then preached this last week at his church myself. And we have had a couple of young ladies with multi-racial babies (still a big deal around here) welcomed in our church the last couple of years.

    I just don’t see any need, nor the obsession for folks to constantly pick at the scab of America’s racial wounds, which seems to be what Pastor Rah likes to do based on the background material I read on the other links from the interview.

    • Christiane/L's says

      Maybe ‘ethnic-specific’ churches do provide a need for immigrant populations and their children.
      I think of my father from Canada, who came to this country at aged five and spoke no English.
      His family settled in Massachusetts, in Aldenville, very near the French-speaking Catholic Church and the School: St. Joan of Arc, which taught half the day in French and half the day in English. So, at Church liturgy was, of course, in Latin, but prayer books and sermons, in French.

      A ‘transition’.
      The Church provided a merciful transition into a ‘new world’.
      And from this mercy, my father, surrounded by faith and family, came to know English, and to ‘assimilate’ into a ‘culture’ unlike the one back in St. Armand, Quebec.
      One asks, how does a poor immigrant family ‘pay; for the tuition for six children at a parochial school? My father had only to look at the swollen hands of his mother, my memere, who scrubbed and did laundry for the convent and the rectory.

      So maybe there is a need for ‘ethnic’. Especially now, that our ‘society’ is so unwelcoming.
      Yes, let your ‘white’ churches stay ‘as they are’. You are not ready yet for something better. But someday, you will come to understand ‘another way’. And the things that matter now to you will seem irrelevant .

      • Christiane/L's says

        A clarification, ‘the things that matter to you now’ refers to seeing yourself and your ‘own kind’ as separate from ‘the others’, whoever you deem ‘the others’ to be.

        • I don’t think it is so much as “others” as a refusal to recognize all ethnic groups on equal footing,

          As was stated by Pastor Rah, white European culture centered churches are no longer the majority in the world, they may very well be a minority in America in the not so distant future in certain geographical areas, can we expect the same courtesies and exceptions to be extended to them

          For whatever reason, it appears that folks have a natural tendancy to group themselves by ethnicity i.e. China Towns, Little Italies, “black” neighborhoods, Hispanic groceries, black churhces, white and black barber and beauty shops etc.

          I’m saying it is right, or that it is not superficial, but I am saying that to insist that folks who find themselves in such situations are inherantly wrong or doing something sinful is to try to force upon folks an artificial diversity

          • Christiane/L's says

            Can you see Christ in how a community receives its ‘guests’ who are different?
            Or not?

            Yes. Let ‘them’ be comfortable ‘with their own kind’. Please.
            Where have we heard that before? And in so many other contexts?
            If YOU were ‘one of them’ you might say this: ‘yes, I AM more comfortable where I am not stared at, and whispered about, and kept at arms length, and met in silent cold greeting, devoid of Christ’s warmth. Yes, I am more comfortable where I am not ‘rejected’ by the ones who ‘wouldn’t want to force an artificial diversity. ”

            With that thinking, no wonder there is a ‘whilte Baptist Church’ at the corner of the main part of our town, with a new sanctuary and grounds that are magnificently maintained.
            And there is a little Baptist Chapel at the other end of town, painted white, with teal trim. Humble. Where the people that come to pray there are ‘not forced into an artificial diversity’. No wonder. May God have mercy on us all. It is all so sad.

  3. Imonk,

    You can mod this conversation if you want to, but Christine your rant is typical of the overreaction and stereotyping that is directed at folks who disagree with the “forced diversity” propaganda

    I’m saying this. It is wrong for folks like you and Pastor Rah to assume that just b/c a congregation is not culturaly diverse that they are somehow not living out the Great Commission or that they are likewise exclusive of others just because they are not diverse

    Why are black churches, or Korean churches, or Hispanic Churches not criticized as well for not being diverse? Why just white churches?

    If a church is in an area where there are few to no minorities then they are not being diverse, they are being exactly what their circumstances dictate. For a white congregation in a white area to force some sort of fake diversity by incorporating aspects of worship or elements of music or anything that are not relevant to the people actually present is just silly and intellectually dishonest

    Let me repeat, and I despise that a person can not disagree about these issues without being labeled exclusive and having to defend themselves, but I practice real diversity, I pastor a rural white church that just welcomed in with open arms a neighboring black church for a special revival service, two weeks ago, I, despite the ire of many, had a young lady who is a member stand and introduce us to her new baby, which is our custom, despite the fact that 1) the child was illegitimate and 2) the child was bi-racial

    I have another regular attendee who is a choctaw Indian, he just asked me if it would be okay to bring his black girlfriend to churhc, i said sure and if anyone looked at him funny that I would personally deal with it myself

    I even have some Yankee transplants, they were toughest to accept:)

    But for my pretty much exclusively white congregation to force some sense of diversity by sining spirituals or anything esle, would be as silly as the local AME church to start singing white convention shape note songs, or me to start wearing a black/green/red stole

    that sort of showy diversity is not legitimate and is in a sense hypocritical, it is more substance than show

    • Chad Rushing says

      You actually allowed Yankees in your church services? Does your denominational leadership know about that? 😉

  4. Christiane/L's says

    I did sound a ‘bit’ judgmental. And that is not productive. It probably was ‘a rant’. More than likely, it was a ‘reaction’ to something I have seen in my community that saddens me. Am I ‘so typical’?
    God forbid that there ever be any ‘forced’ diversity among Christian peoples. I can’t imagine such a thing. Anymore than I can imagine a ‘forced segregation’. The sadness remains. And the separation of whilte and black Baptists in our town. All properly ‘rationalized’, everyone ‘comfortable’. ‘It’s the way it’s always been done.”
    But is it?
    Is it truly the way it has ‘always’ been done in Christianity?
    I ask this without anger or judgment. Only for consideration.

  5. Christine,

    I understand perfectly what you mean, and I’m not sure where you live, but I would imagine that most black/white church situations come from the same source and that being a hold over from another era. Again, I don’t think that is right. One of my biggest regrets is that when I was much younger I did not reach out as much nor encourage others to do so to my cousin who had just entered into a bi-racial marriage. It’s one thing I still feel shame for even though I was young then, only a teen, and it was more the failure of the adults in my family.

    I do see a good bit more diversity developing along Asian/Hispanic/white lines than the black/white lines. I think, unfortuanely that will take longer, because the history there is more complicated as well, and I don’t want to sound stereotypical, but worship styles and music styles and even really church governance styles have developed differently in those groups and that acts as an artifical impediment as well.

    But I like the “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” verse as I’m sure you do. I really do desire to see us all untied as I’m sure you do as well. And do forgive me for sounding defensive.

    • Christiane/L's says

      I am one also who speaks for ‘unity in diversity.’
      And you did nothing to forgive, dear Austin.
      Thank you for your kind response.

  6. Interesting issue. I am guessing that cultural diversity wasn’t such an issue in the early church, because regions were probably a lot more culturally homogeneous. There were Hellenists and gentiles which, which caused some differences. But if you look at the book of Acts, the emphais was on prayer, breaking of break, proclaiming the gospel, and sharing with those in need. None of these activities have a cultural aspect to them – except for what kind of bread one might eat. My care and concern for fellow Christians has nothing to do with their race or culture. I’m not sure why it becomes an issue once four church walls are placed around such activities.

    Language is obviously an issue. It amazes me how Latin tied together very different cultures and ethnicities – well into the eighteenth century. No matter where you lived, the mass was in Latin – prior to the reformation. Letters between German-speaking Zinzendorf and English-speaking John Wesley were written in Latin. I don’t think that holds any answer for the future. I am not a proponent of any one-language-only politics, be it Latin or English. It may point to where the problem begain: ethicity and national identity being tied to a church as an unintended result of the reformation. It further degraded with church services being divided by generation and music. Are we now going to tell people that they can’t come to church and “have it your way”? It’s a long road back to focusing on one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. I think it is something worth exploring. I wonder if post-modernism might actually create a desire for places where all are invited – a place of grace.

    • Saw this on . It is the opposite of my comment above…

      “The rapid decline in the continent’s church attendance over the past 40 years may have done Europe a favor. It has freed churches of trying to operate as national entities that attempt to serve all members of society. Today, no church stands a realistic chance of incorporating everyone. Smaller, more focused bodies, however, can be more passionate, enthusiastic, and rigorously committed to personal holiness. ” – Philip Jenkins ( )

  7. Pet peeve warning!
    I think I’m with Austin on this one. There’s a yawning double standard here: in mostly white churches our traditions are those of “dead white European males” which cry out for diversification. In black/hispanic churches, their traditions are rich and increase the vitality of our society. This is, of course, part of a general pattern in society, where “progress” involves abandonment/dilution of anything European and enhancement of the nonwhite/noneuropean. Our Lutheran church has few minorities, mostly married into families, but I see no hostility there, and a black friend of a teen is welcomed on all outings.
    FYI: I have 5 half-African nephews by marriage, one of whom is at my house right now.

  8. Good post, excellent discussion points, etc., etc. To be honest with you though, I forgot everything else once Haley started singing. That is balm for a tired soul!

  9. BTW, “Don’t Waste Your Life” is available to read for free in full on Google books:'t%20waste%20your%20life&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q=&f=false