My name is Danny Yang. It is not Belteshazzar. I’ll come back to this, I promise.
That last post triggered quite a few generative themes. I’d like to narrow in on one thread in the comments: the need for Asian-Americans to understand the gospel in our context. (Here’s a great reason why this work needs to be done.) For this to happen requires us to fully understand our story, and how Jesus interrupts all our plans. Which brings me to our names, the most basic identity marker.
My parents did not name me after an exiled Israeli honors student in Babylon, but I never heard a lesson or sermon growing up that connected the experience of the exiles to the emigration of our parents. When Daniel and his buddies rose up the ranks, they were given new names, names more fitting for Babylonian culture like Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Sound familiar?
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are stories of displacement and the challenge of YHWH fidelity as displaced people. That sense of displacement manifests in dual names, a dual name like my own: Daniel Sing-Han Yang. We live similar, if not parallel lives as Asian-Americans, navigating between two different worlds. My parents gave me a Western name to ease assimilation (I’m named after Daniel Boone… seriously), but my history persists in the hidden middle name and conspicuous surname.
When Incarnation disrupts the narrative of GOD’s people, there is a new framework of election. By faith, we are now exiles scattered throughout the world. Our allegiance belongs exclusively to the reign of GOD. In other words, the good news– the gospel– calls us to displacement. This is a framework for hearing the gospel in a manner much more native to our experience, to our double/triple consciousness, and to our lives.