Why the Korean translation of David Gushee’s Changing Our Mind is So Important

Click on this colorful banner to visit the Amazon page for the new Korean translation of Changing Our Mind.

By DAVID CRUMM

Our entire team is proud to publish a Korean-language edition of Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee’s Changing Our Mind—a book that already has helped tens of thousands of Christian families embrace their LGBTQ loved ones and friends.

This new translation joins the Spanish edition, Cambiando nuestra mente, in reaching Christians around the world in their own languages. When that edition was released in January 2024, we published this story about the importance of a Spanish translation. (And, if you care about this news, please stay tuned to our Front Edge and ReadTheSpirit.com columns, because more translations are coming.)

Why are these translations so important?

“This book has touched so many lives and has helped so many parents to love their children again that I am committed to helping people read this in their own languages around the world,” Dr. Gushee has said about this ongoing project.

But, then, why specifically is this Korean (and an upcoming Chinese) translation so important?

Learn More about our Asian Neighbors and Become a Part of the Solution

As I have traveled nationwide over the past half century as a journalist covering religious diversity, I have encountered little understanding of Asian history among most Americans—and, in some cases, lingering bigotry.

Our long history of national hostility toward Asian immigrants—marked by such milestones as the draconian Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese-American internment during World War II and the Vietnam War—has left deep scars among our Asian-American neighbors. As a publishing house, we are working with those communities every year to combat lingering bias through various publishing projects. Among our efforts are the half dozen Asian-related books we publish with the Michigan State University School of Journalism Bias Busters, including 100 Questions & Answers about Indian Americans, also a volume in that series on East Asian Cultures, one on Sikh Americans, one on Muslim Americans and an upcoming volume on the Hmong. (You can see all 20-plus Bias Busters titles displayed on this Amazon page—and the Hmong book will appear there soon.)

Our founding motto is: “Good media builds healthy communities.” So, yes, you can do a good deed simply by learning more about our Asian-American neighbors. You could start right now with the Bias Busters guides.

As Christians, Asia Has Been Our Home for Two Millennia

Six years ago, in an interview with historian Philip Jenkins about his book The Lost History of Christianity, I wrote:

Contrary to the popular American impression that churches now are freshly evangelizing Africa and Asia, Jenkins points out that Christianity thrived there—sometimes more vigorously, more beautifully and at more sophisticated theological levels—than in the back waters of Europe during the so-called Dark Ages.

While it is true that some of the major Asian Christian centers Jenkins describes in his book did fade or disappear—the more important truth is that Christianity has been deeply rooted in Asian culture since shortly after Jesus’s death. Reading Jenkins’s descriptions of early church councils, major global centers of Christian scholarship and other Asian pillars of the church—we realize that in many ways Asia has been “our home as Christians” as much as Europe.

In India, for example, the Mar Thoma church looks to Jesus’s friend Thomas the Apostle as its founder. Christian teachers and literature reached the farthest eastern lands of Asia most likely in the same era in the 600s that the Prophet Muhammad was founding Islam. In any case, Asian Christianity was well established centuries before the Americas were even “discovered” by Europeans.

Today, South Korea sends more Christian missionaries around the world than any other nation except the United States. And, especially among evangelical Christians, the South Korean Protestant church is a marvel of organization and individual commitment. Among other accomplishments, Korean Christians are known for promoting high levels of education. James Grayson, a leading historian of Korean religious history, credited Korean Christians with founding 293 schools and 40 universities, including three of the top five academic institutions.

The more we learn about the history of Christianity in Korea—the more we realize that Korean is one of the most important languages on the planet for translating new books about the faith.

Then, what about Korean-Americans?

Close to 2 million Americans identify as Korean, when asked for their ethnicity—and two thirds of those adults are proficient in English, which means a third of that population would need this translation to read Dr. Gushee’s book. Their communities are largest in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington D.C., followed by smaller but significant communities in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas. All of this data was compiled by the Pew Research Center.

Pew also is known for its in-depth studies of religious life and Korean-Americans collectively are the most widely affiliated with Christian denominations of any Asian-American ethnic group. Pew reports, “59% of Korean Americans are Christian, mostly Protestant–including 34% who identify as born-again or evangelical Protestants.”

Many men and women in South Korea and in Korean-American communities also are active members in the Catholic church. Pew estimates that, while the vast majority of Korean-American Christians are Protestant, about 11 percent identify as Catholic.

So, as a publishing house, our hope is that this new book now will help thousands more families to learn Dr. Gushee’s Christian rationale for gender inclusion in the language they prefer—with the goal that his Changing Our Mind will continue to break down biases and help friends and families be more open to loving each other.

Two years ago, Dr. Gushee wrote a column that expresses his hope:

Professors do a lot of stuff that is soon forgotten: lectures, assignments, committee meetings, papers, grading.

Writers do a lot of writing that few people read and that is also soon forgotten.

Quite beyond any intentionality on my part, I was given the opportunity to write a book that, according to some of its readers, has reconciled parents to their own children, pastors to some of their most vulnerable congregants, and LGBTQ people to themselves, to life, and to Jesus.

For this, I am truly grateful.  

 

About David Crumm

David Crumm is founding Editor of Front Edge Publishing. Nationally, he is known as a veteran journalist—a top writer and editor—with experience both in the U.S. and overseas. He is based in Canton, Michigan, where he also serves as Editor of Read the Spirit online magazine. His columns on trends in media appear twice a month on our Front Edge Publishing website.

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