I’ll Karate Chop Your Christian Book if You Don’t Stop Pimping My Culture

Art from Deadly Viper's <A href="http://www.facebook.com/DeadlyViperFans#/album.php?aid=93924&id=101311418670">Facebook fan page</A>.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Update: This afternoon the authors posted an apology on their Deadly Viper blog. So far they’ve gotten some very forgiving responses in the comments section. I guess I won’t be needing karate lessons after all? That’s a relief.

Zondervan, the world’s leading Bible publisher, just released a book called Deadly Viper Character Assasins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership.

I’ll let that name sink in for a moment. A KUNG FU SURVIVAL GUIDE. It’s written by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite, two people who must understand a form of Chinese even Chinese people can’t make sense of, because the cover and website of their book features Chinese characters that read like total gibberish… because they are. They were selected because they “looked compositionally cool.”

Seriously? At least the kids at the mall who get various Chinese characters tattooed on their ankles still want to know what the words mean. To me, there’s just a total lack of recognition that Chinese characters are part of an actual language, and more than a pretty decoration. Or that the use of an stereotypical Asian ninja theme has little to do with the content of their book, which is Christian leadership. Or that this dubbed-over kung fu video made to promote the book is just downright offensive. Or that kung fu is Chinese and ninjas are Japanese, and those are two totally different cultures.

What’s clear is that their target audience is not Chinese-speaking folks. If I picked up a book at Borders with random words on the cover like “Happy, Sister, Tree” I would PROBABLY put it down without buying it. So clearly, this product is not marketed to the people whose culture it so gratuitously portrays. But when North Park Theological Seminary professor Soong-Chan Rah reached out to the book’s authors with his critique, he received the following response from co-author Mike Foster:

i realize you have an agenda.
i realize you see what you want to see.
im saddened that you are offended and angered by us shooting a video in a japanese garden.
not much i can do here except say good luck in life and what ever you may be trying to accomplish.

btw the kanji on the cover say ninja. warrior. assassin.

peace . . . m.

(What’s going on with that last line, by the way? Is that some kind of fortune cookie speak?)

Now I have to admit that I was hesitant to blog this, because I was afraid it would heap more hate on religion as a whole, and that refrain is a tired one. At the same time, it’s really frustrating to see your culture pimped out in the holy name of Christian book sales.

So Zondervan, you really want your name on this? This isn’t the first time that the Christian company has published racially insensitive materials. It’s just that on the other occasions, the authors of the books had enough sense to apologize. Several Asian American bloggers have now written posts and open letters protesting the publishing giant’s latest cultural faux pas. But so far, no response. If you feel so compelled, you can add your voice to the mix by contacting the authors or Zondervan’s PR team. Just please… do it with a little more grace than Mike Foster’s “good luck in life” signoff.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate