Review of “White Flour” by David LaMotte and Jenn Hales

Cover of White Flour by David LaMotte and Jenn Hales

Most people know David as a singer, songwriter, peacemaker, activist and author. And over the past 15+ years, I am grateful to have come to call him a friend, but David’s real mark on my life is as the soundtrack that was played during the birth of all three of my daughters. As refrains of “Hard-Earned Smile, “We’re All Each Other’s Angels” and “S.S. Bathtub” played in the background, David’s voice and music helped welcome my babies into the world. And over the past 16 years, the girls have grown up with David through his concerts, his music and his ministry.

Yep, David, has a pretty special place in the life of our family and for his ministry and gifts we are thankful.

So it is with great pleasure that I commend David’s latest project to you, his book “White Flour” available on Amazon and davidlamotte.com.

White Flour is David LaMotte’s second children’s book, with illustrations by Jenn Hales.  In Seussian rhyme, it tells the funny and inspiring story of the day that the Ku Klux Klan met the Coup Clutz Clowns, who offered a whimsical and wise retort to their racist rally. The poem that provides the text for the book was inspired by true events in Knoxville, TN in 2007.

Many folks may have heard of the 2007 Knoxville, TN march, but David has captured the event with a sense of passion and imagination that brings that day to life in amazing ways. Do not make the mistake to dismiss this simply as a children’s book, because, as so many other children’s book do, David’s words and Jenn Hale’s illustrations, challenge all people, old and young, to reflect on the nature of what it means to be community. David brings to light this event where evil and hatred are fought, not with the force of violence, but with the power of love.

Here is David reciting “White Flour”

YouTube Preview Image

Again, White Flour is available on Amazon and davidlamotte.com. You can also follow David on Twitter [@davidlamotte] and find him Facebook. And if you are looking to dive into David’s music, my all-time favorite CD is Flying, Live from Grey Eagle, also available on Amazon and davidlamotte.com.

Book Review: Making Paper Cranes by Mihee Kim-Kort

Making Paper Cranes
Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology
by Mihee Kim-Kort [Mihee on Twitter]
Pre-order on Amazon

First, Mihee is a friend and colleague.

Second, I am in awe of my friend and colleague.

When I review a book by a friend, I am always a little nervous. What if it isn’t very good? What if I disagree? What if it just does not feel it was written by the person I know? Well . . . from the first sentence, I was hooked. This book is very good: culturally provocative, theologically solid and written with a narrative flair.

It begins with a honest and telling sentence.

“I know. It’s a bit cliche, making paper cranes-especially an Asian person doing origami.”

Mihee, a Korean American Presbyterian immigrant woman, takes us on a journey of honest self-discovery employing a wry sense of humor, keen cultural insight and an ability to ask and respond to powerful questions with which we can all identify.

In the first part of the book Mihee unpacks some of the realities of growing up as an Asian American women in the United States. As one who has a degree in Asian American Studies, I think Mihee does a wonderful job at surveying the vast ways in which Asian Americans in general and Asian American women, in particular, face exclusion and otherness. Mihee captures the nuances of being Asian in a society that often thinks of culture and race as a conversation between Black and White.

when the teacher is reading from
some book about the history of the people around her
something about pilgrims, slavery, wars, the Great Depression
it is supposed to be her history, too
but no one looks at her and things that
this yellow girl belongs in the same story
the story of America

An excerpt from a poem that Mihee wrote, paper margins, page 44-45

The last part of the book dives into some theological thinking, but not in a way that one might expect. The tone does not change, nor does the weaving in of personal stories that give depth to the thinking that we are asked to undertake. I love her nuanced look at “fragmentation” not as a negative occurrence, but as a process that we must all go through, culturally and theologically. What makes Mihee’s treatment of both culture and theology is that she does not call us to follow a tidy linear progression, but rather to an embracing of a spiraling web that does not create anxiety and confusion, but rather liberation and discovery.

As I reflect on my own faith journey, I realize a number of painful pieces that make up who I am. Some pieces I have chosen for myself, but other pieces have been forced upon me, whether according to assumptions and stereotypes, or in relation to categories about race, culture, gender or generation. I am learning how to feel this fragmentation by embracing the disjointedness as my own unique experience while recognizing the necessity for engagement and inquiry. I am slowly realizing how I have navigated and continue to operate and live through this fragmented existence. – page 74

In the end, Making Paper Cranes is not a book that should be limited to only Asian Americans, women or church folks, but rather this book should be read by any and all who yearn to know better and understand the complexities of American culture. While Mihee’s story is told through the lens of a Korean American Presbyterian immigrant woman, when we think about American history, in reality it is the story of us all.

Thanks Mihee.

Mihee includes a GREAT bibliography on race, culture and theology. Some highlights:


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