“How Lament Can Bring Us Joy,” with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

Amanda: Welcome to the SPU Voices Podcast, where we tell personal stories with universal impact. I’m your host Amanda Stubbert, and today we sat down with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. Dr. Rah is a professor of evangelism at Fuller Theological Seminary and was the founding senior pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church in Cambridge. He has degrees from Columbia, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Harvard, and Duke. He’s a nationally recognized speaker and author of several books, including his most recent publication, Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing. Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery. Dr. Rah, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Rah: Glad to be here. Thank you.

Amanda: And so you’ve been on campus and you’ve even taught some classes here at SPU.

Dr. Rah: I’ve done a lot of meetings with different folks and students and the like. Yes.

Amanda: Well, it’s so good to have you and I’m so excited to discuss your new book, and I heard in an interview that a lot of these concepts stem from your own experiences growing up in an immigrant community and a Korean American church.

Dr. Rah: Yeah.

Amanda: Can we just begin by getting a snapshot of what that childhood was like and how that led to these concepts?

Dr. Rah: Sure. So I do write about my story as part of my books, and a big part of that is that I think that when we think and write about philosophy, theology, history, we might have trouble relating that to our everyday lives. And so for me, my understanding of theology in particular, is informed by my life story and how I was formed in the context of my own family and my story. So I was actually born in Korea and came to the U.S. at the age of 6. And part of my narrative is that the Korean church, the immigrant church, was an important part of my formation and even my family’s wellbeing. So my parents split. And so my mom was a single mom raising four kids, and we ended up moving into kind of a rough neighborhood in Baltimore, inner-city neighborhood. And so my mom, who is working really long hours, she’s working 20 hours a day, six days a week, and she is proficient in English but not fluent. And so she’s just kind of managing within our society.

Meanwhile, her four kids are oftentimes alone in a rough neighborhood in Baltimore. And the solace that we got was actually being a part of the immigrant church. The Korean church for us became a place that provided not just hospitality, but like a family, a place where we can belong. And for my mom, who spent most of her time working in the service industry — she worked at an inner city carryout, and she worked as a nurse’s aid in a nursing home. She was serving other people and probably viewed by society, and particularly because we were poor, living in subsidized housing, getting food stamps, she would’ve been viewed as kind of an outsider. An immigrant mom, a single mom who couldn’t take care of her family. But that’s not what she was. She was a person with great dignity, a person who loved the Lord, and loved her family and did everything she could to keep her family together.

And that might not have been honored in the larger society, in the larger culture, but it was honored in the church. And the Korean church was a place where she was not just someone waiting on and cooking food for folks. She was an elder, she was a leader. She was a spiritual warrior. And I remember that being an important part of my formation, seeing how the immigrant church really served our family in a family that had challenges. Poor family, living in a bad neighborhood, absent dad, single mom. And yet we found in the Korean church, the immigrant church, a form of acceptance. If I was getting made fun of at school for being Korean, that wasn’t happening in the Korean church. If my mom was being put down because she was an immigrant single mom, that wasn’t happening in the Korean church. There was a real sense of belonging and a real sense that God cared for our concerns and our needs.

“[W]e found in the Korean church, the immigrant church, a form of acceptance. If I was getting made fun of at school for being Korean, that wasn’t happening in the Korean church. If my mom was being put down because she was an immigrant single mom, that wasn’t happening in the Korean church. There was a real sense of belonging and a real sense that God cared for our concerns and our needs.”

So my formation was very much in the context of the immigrant church. It’s interesting because I was formed in the immigrant church, but I perform, and I live in the larger evangelical church now. So it’s kind of an interesting dichotomy that some of the values that I learned in the immigrant church is very different from the values of being in higher education, being a tenured professor at a seminary, being ordained in a denomination that’s an evangelical denomination. It’s an interesting contrast, but I find that what formed me still informs how I live and how I serve in my communities now.

Amanda: Absolutely. I relate in some ways to your story. I did not grow up in an immigrant church. I did grow up with a single mom who’s trying to make ends meet and give all the opportunities to her children. And we went to church all the time. And you have that community that understands who you are. And when they know your family won’t be able to send you to camp, others are going to help to make that happen. And so what I’m hearing in your story that I really relate to is that idea of feeling seen.

Dr. Rah: Yes.

Amanda: That when you go to church, you feel seen.

Dr. Rah: Yes, yes.

Amanda: And when you have that contrast of, “I feel seen at church, sometimes at home, very little else,” that you carry that around with you and then as an adult, when you’re coming back into communities and you’re looking around going, “Not everyone here feels seen.”

Dr. Rah: Yes, that’s exactly right. I mean, my mom, again, worked in the service industry. And how many of us even today walk around and remember the person that passed us our hamburger at the fast food restaurant? Or working our jobs and remember the person that emptied out the trash cans at the end of the day? Those are the kind of things that I personally can’t ignore because of my family background, because that was my mom who did those things. That was my family that did those things. And so I think part of the role of the church is to return to a place like that, where a church is not just a place for the privileged to gather together to celebrate their privilege, but the church is a place where the disenfranchised, the marginalized, they are recognized, and I love the language you use, they are seen by God and his people as worthwhile as those made in the image of God and therefore worth having in the community and learning from and hearing from.

I think one of the things that the Korean church did really well for my mom was my mom was a prayer warrior. And the church recognized that. I remember going to church retreats and church functions and seeing a line of people waiting to be prayed for by my mom. Now, six days out of the week, that line was asking for food. That line was saying, “You need to change the bed pan in room 104.” That was a different line of people. But at church, the line of people wanted to receive the spiritual blessings that she had to offer.

Amanda: That’s amazing. I love that you have that memory of her because, I mean, when we see our parents, mothers especially, not being respected, that is so hard. That is a cut that goes deep.

Dr. Rah: Yeah.

Amanda: And you don’t really get over those moments. So to have those memories of her being exalted and respected. How wonderful is that?

Dr. Rah: Yeah.

Amanda: So help me. So you take that background, those memories, and now you’re standing in front of higher ed and giant churches. How are you helping the rest of us connect to those moments?

Dr. Rah: Yeah. My mom passed away two years ago. And so one of the things that I did, even before she passed, was to tell her story in these contexts. Yeah, I speak at large conferences, I speak before denominations, and I’ve written books and I’ve been given somewhat of a public platform. But I hope I never forget my origin story in the faith. My origin story is not one of privilege and power, it’s one of disenfranchisement and marginalization. And that’s why I love the passage, “Wherever I go, you are there, God. I go to the depths. There you are. I go to the heights. There you are.” I’m thankful that I’ve experienced both. I’ve experienced the depths and I’ve experienced the heights. And I think of someone like my mom who experienced a lot of the depths, but she always knew that God was there. And so even as I’m experiencing some of the heights because of her prayers, because of her sacrifice, I never forget that God is going to be there in the heights, but he’s also been there for me in the depths.

And so when I rehearse that story, when I tell that story to others, I believe that keeps the memory and the power of that story alive. The story I often tell as I go to church planning conferences quite often, and because I teach church planting, I was a church planter, and church planters can be a little bit arrogant. There are young people who have a little chip on their shoulder, “I can do this better than my fathers did. I can do this better than my pastor did.” So, many church planners have a little bit of the arrogance.

And one of the things I say to them is… Because they come to me because I was a church planter, asking questions about what it means to be a church planter, I say, “You are probably not going to benefit from hearing other hotshot pastors tell you how to plant churches.” And I said, “This is my secret. My secret was I had a praying mom. And look for those people in the community. Not those who will give you lots of money or not those who will pat you on the back and make you feel good about yourself or those who will raise your stature, but look for the praying moms and the praying grandmothers, because it’s their faith that should shape the church.” And I’ve had the benefit of that and that story I want to tell.

Amanda: There’s a quote in your book that says, “You cannot discover lands already inhabited.” And I’ll just guess at what that means to me. Obviously, when you go back to discovering America and there were people here, what does discovery mean? It already existed. People were living there. So I get that context, but when we’re layering that idea over our church like you’re saying, “I’m going to come in and I’m going to plant a church and I’m going to change the world,” but if there’s fertile ground for you to grow your church, there were praying mothers and grandmothers already there.

Dr. Rah: Exactly. So one of the things, and this is the work that Mark Charles, my co-author and I, did in Unsettling Truths, is we’re looking at the different narratives that have formed us. And some are positive. Ways that we love Christ, we love Scripture. Those are positive narratives. But there’s also some kind of messed up narratives that formed us; the assumption, for example, that this certain people group are blessed and therefore they have the right to either repress or take over from other people groups. And that’s where we talk about that assumption that, for example, the Europeans had a superior mind, superior culture, superior everything. And so that when they encounter native bodies here in the New World, which again is kind of a misnomer, when they encounter the native bodies, it’s actually a blank slate. It’s an empty land because the real image bearers of God have come upon this land, and therefore the real image bearers, the European body, has discovered America.

And yeah, you mentioned it that how do you discover a continent that has five, six million people and two, three thousand different civilizations? That doesn’t make any logical sense. But you can do that if there is an assumption of, “I am either superior or exceptional and I hold a superior position to those that are in the land.” That kind of arrogance, hubris, is a narrative that still plays itself out in the American church and in the Western Church. And so for me as a Korean immigrant and as one …. Also, I’ve really been blessed by being mentored by African American pastors and hearing these other narratives, and to be able to work with Native American communities on a book like this as well, hearing these other stories have reshaped and really pounced and devastated my arrogance to say, “I don’t know anything.” I’ve got my degrees, sure. But I really don’t know a lot of these things.

And to have that kind of humility to be able to say, “I don’t know,” and to recognize I’m not an exceptional person that is so special that I can do whatever I want treading on other people, discovering lands already that exist. So the very practical application of our book is to enter into those spaces of humility to say, “I don’t have all the answers. My people don’t have all the answers. My church doesn’t have all the answers.” And that to me is an important part of our formation of what the church can be because we have some assumptions about our own sense of exceptionalism that leads us to some actions that end up hurting others. And the humility to recognize, “No, I don’t have all the answers. I’m not that exceptional that I can go and trounce on others’ lives.” And that happens out of experience. It [inaudible] learning, reading our books, those are good things to do. But it also comes out of learning. It comes out of relationships. It comes out of connections with others who have a different story than your own.

Amanda: Right. One of my favorite quotes ever is Margaret Mead, “You are totally unique, just like everybody else.” Because we get this idea that we’re made in the image of God, but then that quickly can become, “God looks like me, and if I’m like God and God’s like me, and then if you’re not like me, you’re not like God and God loves me better.” And I think we don’t process it this way. We don’t walk around saying, “God loves me better,” but we act out of these instincts that, “Well, if your mom is as close to God as I am, then she would have a better lot in life.”

Dr. Rah: Right.

Amanda: And that’s just so false and so evil.

Dr. Rah: Yeah. The language around that, and we mentioned this in Unsettling Truth, is imagination. Now, imagination, not like making up stories or fairy tales or Walt Disneyland, imagination is, to explain in our terms, it’s more how you view the world and the possibilities of the world and how you think things could be the possibilities. So, again, it’s not fairytales or anything of that sort. The imagination of those who have privilege and those who have been at a level of success, power, wealth, all of that is going to be different from those with an imagination that comes from marginalization, from disenfranchisement. And so that’s why the imagination of a Native American is different from an imagination of Asian Americans, different from imagination of those majority culture. We’re going to have a different way of understanding how the world works.

“The imagination of those who have privilege and those who have been at a level of success, power, wealth, all of that is going to be different from those with an imagination that comes from marginalization, from disenfranchisement. And so that’s why the imagination of a Native American is different from an imagination of Asian Americans, different from imagination of those majority culture. We’re going to have a different way of understanding how the world works.”

The humility that’s required is to recognize my way of understanding the world is not the fullness of the way the world is. Because of my particular story, which is unique, which should be honored, but it’s also specific. And this to me is one of the most beautiful things about, or should be about, the church. And we see this in Acts chapter two, the church is the space where the different stories come together. And yes, you hear the stories of the privileged person who might be a centurion, but you also hear the story of the servant child, the one who is struggling for life.

And what you see in the early church is that coming together of these different stories and narratives, and we’ve lost that somewhere. And I think it’s to the famine of the church that we have either silenced certain voices, like women’s voices, or we have pushed aside certain voices, like the stories of the African American church. And we are intentionally either blinding ourselves or intentionally starving ourselves from the very rich thing that God wants to offer to us.

Amanda: Yeah. It seems very American to strive for making everything as easy as it could possibly be.

Dr. Rah: Yes.

Amanda: And of course, easy is a McDonald’s hamburger. It might be easy, but it’s not good.

Dr. Rah: Yes.

Amanda: It’s not. I mean, even if you’ve decided …

Dr. Rah: Amen.

Amanda: … to like it and you crave it because of the chemicals, we can all agree it’s not good., right?

Dr. Rah: Yes.

Amanda: And in your book, your previous book Prophetic Lament, A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, you use lament and lamentations as a way for us to start unpacking these things. Can you talk about that?

Dr. Rah: Sure. I mean, one of the things I note in that book is that lament, as a spiritual practice, is significantly absent in the U.S. church in particular. I was looking at several different studies. One was done among liturgical traditions, and this would be Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and they are actually guided by their book of prayer, book of worship, on what passages to preach on, even what hymns to sing, what psalms to read. And a study was done that showed that these traditions, when it came time to read psalms of lament, which talk about pain and suffering, they dropped them and replaced them with happier psalms or with happier hymns. And so there’s an intentionality about avoiding the stories of pain and suffering. This is very true in the hymns tradition, where Baptist and Presbyterian hymnals, as another study was done, is about 80 to 85% celebratory happy hymns and only about 15, maybe 20% of the hymns are what we will call hymns of lament, where you talk about suffering and pain.

And it’s even worse when you talk about contemporary Christian worship. That’s like 95% of celebration versus suffering and pain and lament. So our spiritual practices as a community has gravitated away from the reality of pain and suffering in the world and gravitated towards, “We’re always going to win. We’re always going to be happy. We’re always supposed to rejoice because things are going to happen right for us.” So when you practice that for decades, and I would even say centuries, this kind of exceptionalism, this kind of assumption of victory and triumph in all that you do, what does that do to your spirituality? What has been formed? And that’s why there needs to be some kind of disruption to that existing practice. And the disruption is right there in the Bible.

Lament is 40% of the psalms, and yet it’s about 5% of our worship, if even that. So we just recover what the Bible calls us to, which is to enter our spiritual practice. So it’s like this; my son and I are huge movie fans. We go to watch at least two movies a week it feels like. We’re constantly watching movies. And one of the best things about watching movies is watching good acting performances. So someone like Robert De Niro. And someone like Robert De Niro uses something called method acting, where they get so into the character that when it comes time to improvise a line or respond reflexively to something, it’s naturally in their actions. So De Niro, when he was filming Raging Bull, actually fought 10 professional fights in preparation to make this boxing movie because he wanted to embody that image of what it meant to be a boxer.

So that can be good because you are trying to embody the right values, or it could be bad if you’re embodying the wrong values. So if you’re embodying the values of celebration, victory, and triumph, and that’s all you embody, then when it comes time to improvise or respond, you are going to come out of that character. And if all you’ve known is, “I’m going to win at everything, I am exceptional, I should always win at everything,” then that impulse is what you will respond to everything. So when things are not successful and good, you still feel like, “Well, I deserve success and goodness,” without realizing, well, 40% of life, according to the psalms, is suffering and pain. And so we need spiritual practices that remind us, the embodiment of these practices is such a way, that the habits that we have formed are being responded to from Scripture about, it’s not just about victory and triumph, but it’s also about lament and pain. And so these practices need to be reintroduced to balance out what we’ve always been immersed in, which is victory and triumph.

Amanda: I feel like not only is it so obvious when you put it that way, so obvious that that’s messing us up because then we look around and say, “What’s wrong? What have I done wrong,” when things aren’t perfect. When they’re not supposed to be perfect.

Dr. Rah: Right.

Amanda: But then go the next step and say, it’s so easy to look at others and say, “Well, if things aren’t going right, you did something wrong.”

Dr. Rah: That’s right. And this is interesting because as Protestant evangelicals, one of the things we adhere to, or one of our central theological tenets is, “By grace alone.” And that is in response to a works-based theology. That you can do good and therefore earn the blessings of God. Well, “By grace alone,” shatters that kind of mythology. And yet in some ways, we went back and brought it back. We went back and said, “Yeah, there is a works mentality. And so if I’m a good person now, then I must have earned it. And if that person is struggling, that person must have earned that as well.”

Amanda: Which lets us off the hook …

Dr. Rah: Which lets us off the hook.

Amanda: … from caring, from seeing and from helping. Because if it’s their fault, then …

Dr. Rah: That’s exactly right, yeah. And even the sense of superiority of that, and this is what we see and what Mark and I are pointing out, there were some assumptions of superiority by the European powers who come into the New World. Again, that’s bad language; come into the New World and say, “Hey, we are superior here. And that’s why the natives are dying of disease,” when actually the Europeans brought that disease. Or, “The natives are starving,” when it was actually the colonizers who were starving. So we tell these stories or we have these assumptions, and it does in many ways, lets us off the hook. Not only for right now in the present of like, “Well, why should I help someone who is clearly a bad person, therefore they’re suffering?” It also lets us off the hook for history to say, “If I got here where I am now, and it was because of my good work or my good efforts by my parents and my grandparents and their grandparents, then we’ve earned this. We’ve earned the right to have this privilege. We’ve earned the right to have this power.”

And it takes away from the balancing language of, yes, there’s triumph in victory, but there’s also lament and sorrow. And if you only have one side of the story, your gospel is actually incomplete. You don’t get the fullness. Because Jesus had both sides of the story. Jesus’ death and the cross, his suffering, is incomplete without his resurrection. But his resurrection is also incomplete without his death and the cross. So the both-and of that. And in the church, because we gravitate towards one and not the other, we’re missing a huge part of our gospel message.

Amanda: So I’m going to go out on a big limb here and say many people listening to us are having aha moments and thinking, “Oh my goodness. How have I been doing that in my own life?” How do you get to the end of this podcast, turn it off and do what? What do we do to start unpacking what is quite possibly a lifetime of this victory mentality?

Dr. Rah: Yes. So my answer is usually you can’t beat a narrative with more of the same narrative. You need counter-narratives, right? So if you have been living in this victory in triumph, and you say, “Well, I’m going to be victorious over what I’ve been living in, and so through my own strength, through my own will, through my own intellect, through my own experiences, I can fix this.” Which is exactly further perpetuating the whole idea of triumph and victory. So the counter narrative is, “Where are the stories that I’m hearing that actually presents a different part of that?” And so, a little bit self-serving here, but you can read books by other authors, books by someone like myself or Mark Charles, and that gives you a different story because we’re coming from a different experience. It’s the same gospel, it’s the same scriptures, but we’re offering a counter-narrative to what has been the dominant narrative.

Relationships, I think, are so critical. I mentioned that one of the key things in my life has been the influence of African American pastors. They came alongside when I was a young church planter, and they pastored me, and they were my bishops, and they were my disciplers, and they were absolutely essential in my formation as a pastor. And so that counter-narrative balances the narrative that I heard all throughout my education, which is, “Well, you’re exceptional because you’re at this school. You’re exceptional because you got this master’s degree from this institution.” That’s the narrative that I’m steeped in. But the different stories that I heard from the African American community, from the Native communities, from women, from my mom’s story, those provided a necessary corrective and counter-narrative to the existing narratives. So what I would say is, look for these counter-narratives. Sometimes it’s changing your reading list.

Sometimes it’s getting to know neighbors that you are saying, “I don’t want to get to know that neighbor. That person is so different from me.” Well, that’s part of the point. I would even say try to visit different spaces. Typically, we go to churches where we feel comfortable with people like us, and that’s not just race, it’s usually socioeconomic and education levels. We hang out with people that have similarities in our life experience. What would that look like if you were to enter space that felt different? I speak a little bit of Spanish, barely, but I appreciate being in Spanish-speaking congregations where, one, they’re never going to ask me to come up and speak and preach, but I can be a participant. Not as a leader, not as the person who’s got all the answers, but as someone who’s struggling along. How are those experiences formative, the counter-narratives? What are the experiences, the relationships, the literature, the connections? And there’s certainly plenty of media resources that tell us a different story. And those are the places where we counter the existing dysfunctional narrative with new narratives.

Amanda: And who doesn’t love a good story?

Dr. Rah: Absolutely.

Amanda: That’s how we learn. I think you can say it’s the only way we ever change.

Dr. Rah: Yeah. Actually, and I teach evangelism, and one of the things I teach in evangelism class is you can present the philosophical persuasion for the gospel. You can do that. Your conversion of folks will probably be relatively low. This is a quote from Aristotle, “Stories change us. Stories change society. In fact, society dies because it doesn’t change if you don’t have good storytelling.” And I’m with you a hundred percent on how do we tell our stories better? And here’s another example; I’ve been to enough urban churches where there’s testimony time, and they bring up the person who kicked drugs 10 years ago. And now that person is living a great and successful life, which is a great story I want to hear. But sometimes my life isn’t like that. Sometimes my sin was two hours ago, not 10 years ago.

And so it’s maybe worthwhile to bring in the person who says, I just left the needle on the doorstep of the church and I had a fix two minutes ago, but I really want to try from here on out.” Now that person’s not a success. You don’t glory and, “Oh, yeah.” But that’s a real story. And so even the stories that we tell is that the stories of, “I was a failure 10 years ago and I’m a success now,” well, that tells a particular narrative versus, “I’m in this thing and I’m struggling and I’m in pain.” And I wonder what churches would feel like if we had more of that narrative than the narrative of success and triumph all the time?

Amanda: Absolutely. I know this to be true in the tiny microcosm of working in the Alumni and Parent Relations Office, that we used to go get the big successful alums to come and speak to students. And, over time, if you listen to their stories, we would hear young alums and graduating students say, “Okay, great. Yeah, big success. But that’s 20 years from now. I need to know what to do tomorrow. I have an interview on Friday.”

Dr. Rah: Yes.

Amanda: So we realize who they want are the people that have been out for two years, four years.

Dr. Rah: Exactly.

Amanda: They want somebody who can tell them what to do tomorrow. And so I’m absolutely agreeing with you that we need someone telling every piece of the story all along the way. Not just the big success, victories at the end.

Dr. Rah: Well, that’s our graduations, right? We bring in the big success story. Now, my kids are 22 and 19 when we’re recording this, and yeah, they’re both college age. My daughter actually has graduated, but my son is still in college. And I don’t say this lightly, but looking at their life and their friends over the years, anxiety, depression is one of the most rampant pandemics in our culture right now, especially among youth. And COVID did not help that at all.

And the anxiety around getting into college, the anxiety of, “Will I have a job afterwards?” The anxiety of, “Do I fit in? Who are my friends? Social media is on my case.” I mean, I would hate to be a young person right now. I would hate to be a teenager in this day and age. And I’m seeing my kids walk through those challenges. And so I really think anxiety and depression affects every family in some way in this generation. So how do we deal with that? Because we know, I hope we know, that by saying, “You’ll get over it in 10 years,” does not help anxiety and depression. Because there is that moment where nothing else matters except what that feeling is.

Amanda: And if you’re told at church you’re not doing well with Go if you’re not having victory, it just makes it worse.

Dr. Rah: You’re not good enough to get over anxiety and depression.

Amanda: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Rah: Yeah, and that’s devastating. So I don’t know the answer to be honest. I do know that our current narratives aren’t working, and what are the counter-narratives? So that’s why I like, not like, but I need lament. Lament isn’t … Actually, the language I use is it’s the appropriate spiritual, liturgical, ecclesial response to the reality of pain and suffering in the world. And again, anxiety, depression is a reality that is in our world. And instead of glossing over it or sweeping it under the rug or saying, “Oh, you’ll get over it in two years, let’s jump for joy about it,” what does it mean to us for us to sit in that lament? Sit in that pain alongside, especially our young people, who are experiencing this pandemic.

Amanda: Yeah. Sit in the dust and ashes and say, “You are not the only one.”

Dr. Rah: Yes. I mean, I go back to the story of Job, and the best thing that Job’s friends did was just sit there with him. As soon as they opened their mouth, it’s over. Yeah, you should have kept your mouth shut. But the powerful moment is his friends come and they just sit there in the dust with him. And I’m wondering if that’s the church that we need to be, especially for our young people.

“I go back to the story of Job, and the best thing that Job’s friends did was just sit there with him. As soon as they opened their mouth, it’s over. Yeah, you should have kept your mouth shut. But the powerful moment is his friends come and they just sit there in the dust with him. And I’m wondering if that’s the church that we need to be, especially for our young people.”

Amanda: Amen. Well, I have so enjoyed our conversation …

Dr. Rah: Thank you.

Amanda: … and I hope you’ll come back and visit us again …

Dr. Rah: I hope so.

Amanda: … one of these days. But let’s end with our favorite last question for all of our guests. If you could have everyone in Seattle do one thing differently tomorrow that was going to make the world a better place, what would you have us all do?

Dr. Rah: Oh, that’s a great question. That’s a tough question because I don’t know if one thing can change the world, but if there’s something positive that moves us in that direction, I would say what would it mean to listen to the story of someone with a different background? Whether that’s race, culture, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, just someone with a different story. And to actually listen, not like, “Okay, you’re telling me this, I’m writing down the things I can do to fix you,” versus, “As you’re telling me the story, my story is being changed, my understanding of this world is changing.” So if we could all take an hour to listen to another story, and really listen, but especially a story of someone who’s from a different space than we are … Couldn’t change the world, but it might be a good step forward.

Amanda: Thank you so much. And, like I said, I hope you’ll come back and join us again.

Dr. Rah: I hope so too. Thank you.


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A career in science and theology

Class Notes
Adeney made a global impact in the classroom for 46 years

“The Legacy Imperative: Part II,” with Bob Petterson ’69