Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on June 19, 2015

Anticipation. No I am not referring to the commercial playing that song in the background whilst a cup of coffee is poured. Although, thankfully, as I write I do have a cup of coffee beside me! By anticipation I am simply referring to our upcoming Advance. The anticipation for our time together is building. Truthfully most of that is centered in our time together. I am looking forward to being with all of you and to savor what this time and space will provide. But I confess going to Hong Kong has not been on my bucket list. Yet here I am, the roundrtip tickets are purchased; I am preparing to go. Do I have anticipation for our days in Hong Kong? Am I anticipating Hong Kong itself?


Reading Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image this week I acknowledge that I knew little about Hong Kong or its culture. I remember back that when the Sino-British Joint Declaration was on the news in the early 1980’s. Indignantly I could not fathom why Hong Kong should not continue to be under British rule. But my interest amounted to not much more than a passing interest. More recently my Hong Kong awareness has been limited within the sphere of a few movies that had Hong Kong as locations.Yet after reading I have a sense that I am not alone. The essays comprising this book offer a consistent reminder, “Present day Hong Kong culture is fascinating because it is a confluence of various cultures around the world.”[1] There is much more to Hong Kong.


In fact, largely due to our reading and our journey together these past two years I am much more aware of my bias and indifference and how these two intentions reside within me. Therefore as I reflect upon this book I am drawn in two directions. The first involves Hong Kong itself. What do I see now about Hong Kong culture that I did not before and what am I preparing myself for in anticipation of our journey in September? The other locates within a recurring framework, what does Hong Kong reflect back to me that might inform how I see my own culture?


Hong Kong is not unique in its search for an identity. But Hong Kong’s location may contribute in unique ways to how it embraces and seeks to find who they are as a fusion of old and new, where do you find identity when another culture imposes its own systematic identity upon you? What are the ramifications of the observation, “Hong Kong was not decolonized; rather, it was re-colonized, with control simply shifting from London to Beijing?”[2]


Conversely, what can we learn from the ensuing mass emigration resulting from the anticipation of the 1997 transfer and its aftermath? Kam Louie points to emigration’s effect upon social structures.[3] But it was not just leaving that produced the void. Doubt and fear seemed a result of Tiananmen Square. The actions of the Chinese government had a reciprocal impact upon the Hong Kong people.[4] If doubt and fear are present will distrust not follow? Within my context what do I need to pay attention to that has relevancy not only for my dissertation work concerning resilient faith among church leavers, but what are the contributing factors? What event is a defining moment within my ministry context? It is within this confluence that I am grateful for this program. Our earlier study with visual ethnography is enriched because of what I am seeing reflected back to me in this reading about Hong Kong culture.


David Clarke uses the word haunting in reference to Hong Kong by expanding the term’s meaning beyond the norm of “a disruptive invasion of the present by a trace of the past.” He broadens the term to include “a spatial rather than a temporal dimension.”[5] Clarke notes that Hong Kong’s harbour is among the first things that visitors are attracted toward upon arriving.[6] What is it about a “harbour” that holds such fascination? I recall how I was drawn to Cape Town’s harbor; I recall looking out on the Thames River. Do such places transmit more meaning than just safe port or commerce? Clarke suggests they do. Actually I began to wonder about bricolage when I read:

“This fact of physical geography which was responsible for its annexation by the British and its subsequent development as a port city has however been somewhat neglected by government city planners, who even today are more inclined to treat the harbour as a possible site for lucrative land reclamation than as a potential aesthetic or cultural resource for the city itself.”[7]


What I wonder and where might I have done the same on a much smaller scale? How have we done or are we doing something similar in our present Church culture?


As a place that has for so long had to share its identity and have an identity imposed upon it, is it any wonder that in the global enterprise of stature and influence that post 1997 Hong Kong seems to be adapting and choosing without cohesive direction? Is it probable that economies that reinforce the status quo maintain the strength of the prevailing culture’s identity rather than create it? Does the search for a true identity arise from displacement or when your position is threatened, just as Hong Kong has felt the stature of Shanghai rise? Conversely how is the Church’s response to those leaving the church manifest an economic shaking that we might not want to acknowledge?


And what of protest? And subtle yet intentional messages conveyed in movies and art? These are things I have seen mostly through my American eyes. I have not considered or recognized the roots of several prominent American films with their Hong Kong origins. Here I have been reminded of the subversive nature of Jesus’ parables, the truth telling that spoke with intention to convey the narrow way of how to live in accord with God’s design. How might I become more vested in that type of communication?


I am not only anticipating being with all of you. I am traveling to Hong Kong with eyes and ears that want to see and hear what Hong Kong is saying.

            [1] Kam Louie, “Introduction: Hong Kong on the Move: Creating Global Cultures” in Hong Kong Culture (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2011), 7.

[2] Ibid., 13.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] David Clarke, “The Haunted City: Hong Kong and Its Urban Others” in Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2011), 42.

[6] Ibid. 43.

[7] Ibid.

About the Author

Carol McLaughlin

Carol walks this DMin journey from her locale in Gig Harbor, WA (USA). She is preparing for pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church (PC-USA), as well as teaches in the Online Learning Community programs at GFES. Part of the DMin Leadership & Global Perspectives 4 cohort (dminlgp4) her research and dissertation focus is exploring why baby boomers leave the church and what it means for their faith development. The views expressed here are her own.

7 responses to “Anticipation”

  1. rhbaker275 says:

    Hi, Carol…
    Thanks for your thoughts – I am very much in agreement – perhaps on the same page. I have very little exposure to Asian culture and specifically, virtually no exposure to Hong Kong. I also want to become better and more accurately informed before our advance. Our readings are a great informative resource but even beyond, I the readings have whetted an appetite to access more resources.

    I vaguely recall the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule. It was in the news but I made no effort at the time to really understand what was going on. I recall U.S. news media covering the fears of the citizens of Hong Kong and the mass exodus in the wake of the “hand-over” by the British government.

    SAR: I did not know what this really involved/meant…? I have now read somewhat extensively – and expect to read more on the government and culture before the advance.

    Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) is the name given to Hong Kong city and its surrounding region. The SAR law provides for China to provide a foreign relations and defense ministry for Hong Kong while the capitalistic economy remains unchanged and “freedom of persons in Hong Kong will remain inviolable and that Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of conscience and religious belief and freedom of protest.” Wikipedia

  2. Carol,

    Thank you you your insightful post. Your connection of Hong Kong with your research on folks leaving the church is helpful.

    For some reason, the one word that stuck out to me is the word “protest.” This is an important word. I wonder why most people leave their churches so quietly. They just leave, never to darken a church door again. I get that; I have done that. So why is there not protesting of Christian churches? Is it because people are afraid? Or might it be that they think that it will do no good to speak up? I personally think there is a need for protest again today. Protest about dysfunctional leadership. Protest about pointlessness. Protest about a lack of community. Protest about an abundance of legalism and a drought of relevance. Will that day come? I don’t know. Maybe people just vote with their feet these days. But the time is coming, I think, when people will begin to stand up again and make some noise. What do you think?

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Nice points and questions. One reason I believe many Christians don’t stand up is that they feel it is a waste of their time. Would we really listen and change? I’m beginning to think that mainstream religion just doesn’t always get it. I’ll admit, I’ve gotten weary of the fight and spoke by exiting myself at times. With so many Christians in American choosing to go churchless, why do you think that we fail to listen? I do believe that voices will be heard, but I’m starting to believe that it won’t happen in the way we think. We must do church differently and we must adapt to change.

    • Bill…
      Thank you for raising important questions and for considering the aspect of protest in those that leave. I am not certain “what” I think yet… but I am grateful for your questions … your recognize there is more to understanding “why” that just the “surfacey” kind of answers that are often thrown out there. I do not dismiss them, but they might be symptoms of the larger issue.

      I’ve been thinking lately how the church has lost its prophetic voice and the substitutes provided in our culture. We made salvation a consumer good and an exchange (guilt for salvation), yet we haven’t learned to walk in God’s ways. We might be studying slightly different things but we are both tracking …. so looking forward to reading your good (and important) work.

      It is a privilege to walk this DMin journey with you…

  3. Deve Persad says:

    Well, Coach, it’s hard to believe these two years of writing to each other are over. You’ve exited with a boat load of questions that drill deeply into challenges most of us are facing. My favourite is this one: “Is it probable that economies that reinforce the status quo maintain the strength of the prevailing culture’s identity rather than create it?” It makes me wonder how much of our/my time and energy is spent in preserving the status quo and possibilities we may miss because we lack the courage to engage healthy conflict or a letting go of what we’ve known.

    Your writing has been reflective of your own openness in your journey of faith. We have been the benefactors of this, even through the personal difficulties with which you’ve had to deal with this last few months. Thank you for sharing them with us and allowing us to pray into them on your behalf.

    Thanks for challenging and blessing my life over the course of these two years. Also, thanks for sharing a passion for sports! I’ll let you get back to the US Open, who’s your winner – the australian, Jason Day or the american boy wonder, Jordan Spieth?

    • Deve…
      Thank you for your encouraging words. I (we) have been the benefactors of your insights and wisdom as well.

      As for the US Open… I was barricking for Jason Day … pretty unbelievable finish wasn’t it? (Have to confess I watched it sporadically, catching the last few holes).

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