“The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.
“After Shooting, California Churches’ Lunar New Year Celebrations Turned Solemn“ – Curtis Yes in Christianity Today: “Last weekend, pastor Jesse Chang had prepared to gather with his church in Monterey Park, California, for worship and a Lunar New Year potluck. Instead, his wife woke him up early Sunday to tell him a nearby shooting had killed nearly a dozen people. He quickly realized everything about the service would need to change. His predominantly Asian and Latino congregation, River of Life, meets in a building just four blocks from the crime scene. With a 65 percent Asian American population, Monterey Park in Los Angeles County is considered the nation’s first ‘suburban Chinatown.’ The shooting occurred Saturday night inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, just an hour after the conclusion of the city’s Lunar New Year festival blocks away. The suspected gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, then entered a second dance studio in the nearby city of Alhambra and was disarmed before fleeing the scene. Tran was found later the following day in a white van in nearby Torrance where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The mass shooting was the first of two to take place in California this week. At least 7 people were killed in two related shootings on Monday in Northern California’s Half Moon Bay. The suspect, 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, was apprehended shortly afterward by police.”
“AACC Statement on the Gun Violence in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay” – At The Asian American Christian Collaborative website: “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? (Psalm 6:1-3) On January 21, 2023, 11 were shot and killed (and 9 wounded) in the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since the devastating massacre of innocent children in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022. The shooting took place on the eve of the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, a majority Asian city with over 60,000 residents, a suburban Chinatown that unapologetically embraced, celebrated, and served its majority Chinese immigrant community. While still processing the grief from the Monterey Park shooting, we were stunned by the news of another shooting impacting the Asian American community. On January 23, 2023, 7 farmworkers were shot and killed (and 1 critically wounded) in Half Moon Bay, California, a small coastal city close to San Francisco. Similar to the Laguna Woods church shooting in May of 2022, the suspected shooters in these incidents were also elderly men of Asian descent, suggesting the emergence of new pathologies of violence that we are only beginning to understand. There were 38 mass shootings in the first 23 days of 2023. What illusions that gun violence is not a problem the Asian American community needs to wrestle with have been tragically shattered. And the all too familiar cycle of ‘thoughts and prayers, time of mourning, moving toward healing, and repeating the process when the next shooting happens’ is an intolerable way to live.”
“Two years after US recognized Uyghur genocide, rights groups warn time is running out” – Kathryn Post at Religion News Service: “Two years since then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s repression of the Uyghurs a genocide, rights groups and political leaders continue to demand an end to China’s human rights abuses. ‘Time is running out,’ said Salih Hudayar, prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile and leader of the East Turkistan National Movement, at a news conference Thursday (Jan. 19). ‘If China’s genocidal policies and colonialism continue, Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples … will cease to exist as a people within 50 years.’ The ETGE is an exile government that sees itself as representing East Turkistan, a region China calls “Xinjiang,” meaning “New Territory.” It is the historic home of many Uyghurs, who are predominantly Sunni Muslim, and other ethnically Turkic people. Both the ETGE and East Turkistan National Movement advocate for the end of Chinese occupation in the region, which was most recently colonized by China in 1949. “
“US Allows Individuals to Sponsor Refugees” – Emily Belz in Christianity Today: “Last year, Mark and Jackie Sawyer cosigned a lease for a couple they’d known for a short time—because the couple had recently arrived from a refugee camp overseas. The Sawyers didn’t realize the headaches and the friendship that would come with joining a group of friends from their Washington, DC, church to sponsor the resettlement of Afghan refugees. They ended up raising $30,000 for the couple, who were expecting their first baby, and staying in relationship with them beyond the initial three-month resettlement period. This week the pilot program the Sawyers took part in has officially launched through the US State Department, allowing individuals—rather than resettlement agencies alone—to commit to sponsor a refugee for resettlement. Through Welcome Corps, groups of at least five Americans can apply to sponsor a refugee together and commit to raising at least $2,275 per refugee. For 90 days they would help refugees transition by securing housing, finding jobs, and enrolling children in school. ‘You don’t have to have it all figured out,’ said Sawyer. ‘It’s certainly not easy, but it’s probably more doable than you think.'”
“Editors’ Picks: God Loves the Autistic Mind“ – Boze Herrington at Plough: “We need books like God Loves the Autistic Mind because, too often, autistic people of faith have been led to feel the opposite. Written by Matthew P. Schneider, a Catholic priest who was diagnosed with autism as an adult, the book takes seriously the unique challenges and gifts of the spiritual lives of people with autistm. Roughly the first half of the book attempts to correct widespread misperceptions about autism: that there’s something wrong with people with autism because of their condition; that they’re suffering from demonic oppression; that their tendency to be intellectual or introverted or independent thinkers (all personality traits that are common among people on the spectrum) prove maladaptive in a church climate that favors extroversion, obedience, and displays of emotional excess. This book lovingly and gently dismantles those misperceptions one by one, continually reassuring readers that the autistic brain is good and designed by God. Autistic people aren’t defective, they are simply wired differently, in ways that often work to the benefit of themselves and others. Schneider enumerates these potential benefits at some length: the tendency toward having logical minds that enjoy exploring aspects of the faith that don’t make rational sense; the propensity to honesty and having a knack for speaking uncomfortable truths; the cultivation of a sense of wonder that challenges others to see the glory in things. These traits, Schneider writes, are gifts to the world and gifts to the church. The most bracing and revelatory portions of the book are those in which Schneider challenges the conformist mindset that sees autism as something to be ashamed of. ‘Autism is a variation in brain structure, not a demonic influence,’ he writes. ‘It is not a spirit to be broken’ but a gift to cherish.”
“Ethan Hawke to Direct Daughter Maya Hawke in Flannery O’Connor Biopic ‘Wildcat'” – Samantha Bergeson at IndieWire: “Ethan Hawke is keeping it all in the family with his latest film, ‘Wildcat.’ Based on the life of novelist Flannery O’Connor, the biopic film stars Maya Hawke as the Southern writer. Ethan directs, produces, and co-wrote the script along with Shelby Gaines, as Variety first reported. ‘Maya has been working hard for years to put this project together, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to introduce a new generation of filmgoers to the genius of Flannery O’Connor,’ Ethan said, while also sharing a first look at the production on Instagram. ‘Her work explores themes important to all artists — the intersection of creativity and faith, the blurred relationship between imagination and reality.’ Ethan previously starred opposite Maya on limited series ‘The Good Lord Bird.’ Maya executive produces ‘Wildcat’ through her Under the Influence Productions. Principal photography for the film began January 10 in Louisville, Kentucky.”
Music: CityAlight, “Only a Holy God”