Misnaming the South American Waodani tribe as “A*ca” (the slur their neighbors call them) and parading the story of Jim Elliot as an example of effective American missions was more than a slight oversight. Perhaps missions would improve if Korea sent missionaries to America.

“Move your congregation slowly so that they never know they changed,” says the seminary professor. I don’t see “repentance” in that equation, do you?

The about face of saying to one’s self, “How foolish I’ve been,” doesn’t come from changing our minds so slowly that we don’t trip the motion detector. Nor does it come from beating people with the truth. Repentance results from the evangelist having made his own u-turn first, not seminary certification.

America’s increasing drama with China tells all: We don’t know who the Chinese are or how they think. The Chinese never tell you what they are thinking, even if you are a friend—they only “imply”.. at most. Burning one’s own corn fields was a wartime tactic of Robert the Bruce. The Chinese invest in our currency, we deflate our own money, then continue routine military exercises in their region as if nothing changed. What indirect message do we expect the “indirect-communication” Chinese to think we are trying to send? “America is our enemy” coming from China isn’t DTR (define the relationship) as it would be coming from Russia. It’s their best-guess interpretation of our actions—and a courteous warning for us stop breaking our promises.

We often misperceive Asian culture as being mainly “indirect”. While it is indirect, and very artistic as a result, much of that indirection is birthed from an obsession with “Shame”. Chinese culture may have difficulty sharing a couch table with a stranger at Starbucks. If you say hello to a Mainland-Chinese on the street, and he doesn’t know English, he’ll turn angry-pale as if you’d just insulted his mother. It’s a challenge for Chinese to forgive, apologize, welcome critique, or accept the past.

Participation in an American-Chinese church will show this to anyone willing. Asian-Western ministries are starting to address the Chinese fear of “loosing face”. We must not dance around issues, not manage the mess by dressing its fringe, but wrench-out the root problem. Atheist Americans even know how apologize and forgive. They have the Christian influence on the West to thank for that. When our great grandparents are responsible for our success, we tend to forget what they taught us. So, it took Obama’s failure to remind the Tea Party movement of our own Framework and that Atheists forgive better than many “change-slowly don’t-repent church-goers”.

We’d be more effective in dealing with each other if we’d listen, change ourselves first, and not superimpose our perspectives on all others. Repentance and wisdom are contagious: You can only pass them on if you are a carrier.

As the German saying goes, “To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish.” Maybe it’s time we crawled outside the vegetable root and looked at the world around us.. myself included.

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