I recently learned of a significant online dialogue that is going on surrounding the release of a new book, Deadly Viper Character Assassin: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. The book may seem harmless enough at first glance, but a large amount of people are expressing their displeasure with the use of Asian culture as a metaphor for the lessons the authors are trying to teach.
The book is written by evangelical Christian authors and is distributed by Zondervan, a giant in the world of Christian publishing. I need to say on the outset that I have not read the book nor do I know the authors personally. I am not attempting to judge motives or anyone's heart. But after reading a little online about the reaction to this book, it is obvious that a number of people, especially Asian Americans, have taken personal offense to the insensitivity to Asian cultures contained within the book and the marketing of the product.
Professor Soong-Chan Rah has written several times about this and has included some of his interactions with the authors. This post describes his thoughts in the most detail. I encourage you to also check out this video that was posted to market the book to potential buyers. Take some time to read the post, watch the video and read the comments for both. For those of us that are white, it is easy for us to dismiss concerns over these types of things as overreactions by people looking for racism under every rock.
But in reading the comments you'll see the hurt and pain that this insensitivity to culture and stereotyping causes for many Asians and Asian Americans. Regardless of the author's intent, a lot of people have been offended by this. You don't have to be a racist to be naive and unaware. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a Christian publisher has demonstrated insensitivity to Asians. A handful of years ago, LifeWay Christian Resources took a lot of heat for producing a Vacation Bible School curriculum that also employed stereotypical Asian themes.
In the case of Deadly Viper Character Assassin, I hope the integrity and character the authors have written of will be displayed in how they respond to this situation.