UPDATE: Still Waiting Word from Zondervan. In the meantime, a challenge to Zondervan as they continue their deliberations.

Posted: November 17, 2009 in Social Justice, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It was more than a week ago that four Asian-American leaders engaged in a conference call with executives from Zondervan, regarding their recently published book, Deadly Viper Character Assassin: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership. While the authors of the book have issued a public apology for the offense and harm their material has caused, we have yet to hear officially from Zondervan.  In that conference call, Zondervan promised to act upon the conversations with members of the Asian-American Christian community.  There is no reason to suspect that Zondervan will not act upon their promise. To some extent, it is understandable that they would take some time to deliberate their course of action.  However, we must continue to make our perspective clear to Zondervan.  As they are formulating their response, I would ask that they consider the following:

(1)    A very significant outcry from the Asian-American community (pastors, ministers, academics, lay leaders, etc.) has called for a public apology and the dropping of the entire theme of the book. If there is no or a limited response from Zondervan regarding this material, it would be a slap in the face of the Asian-American Christian community (and many others as well), who spoke in a very clear and unmistakable voice asking for the cessation of this theme.

(2)    Please do not look for the easy compromise. Changing a font here and a photo here would only be cosmetic change to something that was misguided from the onset.  We have already seen the evidence of where this theme leads. Some of the more egregious examples arose from what may have been good intentions at the beginning, but deteriorated into caricature and stereotype by the time many of us encountered this material.  In other words, simply excising the external product minimizes the immediate damage, but does not prevent future damage from occurring.  We have seen the fruit from the poisonous tree.  By allowing the tree to stand, we may see more damaged fruit from this venture.

(3)    Because of the book, there has already been significant damage to the credibility of Christian witness to non-Christian Asian-Americans.  On this blog, I have stopped a number of responses from non-Christian Asian-Americans who expressed through profanity, their perspective on the book.  Their ire was oftentimes directed towards Christians and towards Christianity.  A significant portion of the Asian-American community remains an unreached people group.  This book provides a significant barrier to the gospel for many unreached Asian-Americans. There are some who have asserted that there are many who are connecting to the material and that the martial arts theme is the only way to keep these individuals engaged in this important issue of Christian character.  I would challenge the creativity of the authors to come up with a way to continue to engage their target audience without denigrating and stereotyping the Asian-American community.  I would ask that the authors and Zondervan to consider whether it is justice to alienate and marginalize an unreached population for the purpose of titillating those who are interested in the marketing gimmick more than the issue of integrity and character.

To Mike Foster, Jud Wilhite, and the executives of Zondervan: “Do the RIGHT THING.”  Not the “financially expedient” thing.  Not the “minimizing the damage” thing.  Not the “we have to protect our interests” thing.  But as Christian leaders, do the right thing.

  1. […] of the Day, November 17 No word from Zondervan on the Deadly Viper controversy. Come ON, people! […]

  2. Dan Hauge says:

    Thanks for persevering with this–as we all need to do. If anything, it is even more crucial now for people to make their voices heard, after all the intial excitment has seemed to die down a bit while we wait. I pray that this is not Zondervan’s calculation: that they can simply wait out the ’emotions of the moment’ and quietly do nothing.

    (And thanks for the fantastic lectures this last Saturday in Seattle–great stuff!)

  3. profrah says:

    We expect to hear from Zondervan this week.

  4. Tony says:

    All the offensive stuff is still on the authors’ website. The authors have done nothing. They issued an hallow apology with no concrete action behind it and were praised for it. If the authors got off with an empty apology why should we expect the publisher to do anything substantial? Zondervan is a company that seeks to make money, do not expect them to do the Christian thing (read PyroMarketing)

  5. Judy says:

    The authors may not be allowed to change anything contractually without Zondervan’s blessing. They did take down a couple of videos. If nothing changes soon, then I think at that point we can say the apology was hollow.

    But right now I think it’s too soon.

  6. […] anybody else noticed how silly Christian book titles have become?  Zondervan is in a dust-up with Soong-Chan Rah and others Asian-American church leaders over the book Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu […]

  7. Jason says:

    Thank you for this. I especially appreciate point #3.

    The msg is clear, direct and responsible.

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