Ugly Asian Male: On Being the Least Attractive Guy in the Room

Statistically, I’m the least attractive person in the dating scene. Alongside black women, the Asian-American male is considered the most ugly and undesirable person in the room.

Take it from Steve Harvey, who won’t eat what he can’t pronounce:

“‘Excuse me, do you like Asian men?’ No thank you. I don’t even like Chinese food. It don’t stay with you no time. I don’t eat what I can’t pronounce.’”

Eddie Huang, creator of the groundbreaking Asian-American sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, responded to Steve Harvey in The New York Times:

“[Every] Asian-American man knows what the dominant culture has to say about us. We count good, we bow well, we are technologically proficient, we’re naturally subordinate, our male anatomy is the size of a thumb drive and we could never in a thousand millenniums be a threat to steal your girl.”

Asian-American men, like me, know the score. That is, we don’t count at all.

Hollywood won’t bank on me. Think: When was the last time you saw an Asian male kiss a non-Asian female in a movie or TV show? Or when was the last time an Asian-American male was the desired person in a romantic comedy? And more specifically, when where they not Kung Fu practitioners or computer geniuses? I can only think of two examples: Steven Yeun as Glenn from The Walking Dead and John Cho as Harold from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. So it takes either a zombie apocalypse or the munchies to see a fully breathing Asian male lead, or a Photoshop campaign #StarringJohnCho for an Asian protagonist with actual thoughts in his head.

It’s so rare to see a three-dimensional Asian male character, with actual hopes and dreams, that Steven Yeun remarks in GQ Magazine:

GQ Magazine: When you look back on your long tenure on The Walking Dead, what makes you proudest?

Steven Yeun: Honestly, the privilege that I had to play an Asian-American character that didn’t have to apologize at all for being Asian, or even acknowledge that he was Asian. Obviously, you’re going to address it. It’s real. It’s a thing. I am Asian, and Glenn is Asian. But I was very honored to be able to play somebody that showed multiple sides, and showed depth, and showed a way to relate to everyone. It was quite an honor, in that regard. This didn’t exist when I was a kid. I didn’t get to see Glenn. I didn’t get to see a fully formed Asian-American person on my television, where you could say, “That dude just belongs here.” Kids, growing up now, can see this show and see a face that they recognize. And go, “Oh my god. That’s my face too.”

Growing up, I never had that, either. I can’t help but think of this scene from the biopic, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, in which Bruce Lee watches the controversial Asian stereotype played by Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to a theater filled with derisive laughter. This moment with Bruce Lee is most likely fictional, but the weight of it is not lost on us:

This was a powerful moment for me as a kid, because I grew up with the same sort of mocking laughter, whether it was watching Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with my white neighbors, or being assailed by the Bruce Lee wail in the local grocery store. I knew they were laughing at me, and not with.

Continue reading “Ugly Asian Male: On Being the Least Attractive Guy in the Room”

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Top 16 Posts of 2016

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Here are the Top 16 Most Viral Posts of 2016 from my blog, ranging from topics such as porn addiction, feminism, neo-Nazis, being at the bedside of death, and the time my wife and I broke up for six months.


16) The Christian Life Isn’t a One-Shot Deal, But a Walk Painted by Steps

The Christian walk isn’t a “one chance and it’s over,” but a life-long mosaic.


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15) The Irretrievable Vacuum of Unhappily Never After.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out; the prayers go unanswered; we won’t know why.


14) I’m Not Okay. Is That Okay?

I need to know I can tell you everything.


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13) How Do You Keep Believing This Jesus Bulls__t?

I’m often asked how I keep believing, and I can’t believe that I keep believing.


12) A Few Quick Things About Forgiveness: What It Is and What It’s Not

Seven truths and myths about forgiveness.


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11) Movies That Christians Should Watch: The Truman Show

In my movie analysis series, I go over the spiritual and cultural themes of The Truman Show, a deeply tragic comedy about opportunism and freedom.


10) I Hate My Life and Myself and I Want to Die: What Do I Do?

The reality is, our dreams get crushed, and people will leave or cheat or abuse us, and our perseverance doesn’t always pay off. Most of us are not prepared for how harsh and brutal that life can be, because no one gives the hard talk about what it’s really like.


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9) “4 Unexpected Things That Happen When You Quit Porn”

An article I wrote for X3Church about four incredible things that happen when you quit pornography.
(My book on quitting porn is here.)


8) Breaking Up and Getting Back Together: About Me and My Wife

My wife and I had a six-month break-up. We needed it.


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7) Five Husbands

On a whirlwind day at the hospital, I visit five husbands who have lost their spouses.
(My other chaplain stories are here.)


6) What The Bible Talks About When It Talks About Women: A Mega-Post on Those Troubling “Anti-Women” Bible Verses

Contrary to pop opinion, the Bible is one of the most, if not the most, pro-women document in history.


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5) She Stole My Shoes: What Being the “Other Guy” with a Cheater Taught Me About Loneliness and Lasting Love.

A girl gets mad at her boyfriend and tries to cheat with me, and things only get worse from there.


4) You Won’t Like This But I Hope You Hear Me

No one likes to hear the hard truth about themselves: but without it, we will never grow, never heal, never go.


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3) I Held a Swastika

At the hospital, I visit a patient who tried to bite a nurse and threw urine at a surgeon, and happens to have a tattoo of a swastika.


2) 5 Kinds of Romanticized Crushes That Will Mess You Up

When “romantic feelings” overtake you, here’s a little guide to see where that goes.


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1) 15 Things I’ve Learned Not to Say at the Hospital

My work as a hospital chaplain has helped me to know what not to say to patients and the hurting.


TV Shows That Christians Should Watch: 24


24 (2001-2014)
Fox Television

Summary:
Over an exact period of twenty-four hours — each episode in real time — federal agent Jack Bauer gets shot, stabbed, electrocuted, tasered, burned, choked out, attacked by dogs, infected by a killer virus, killed twice, and endures various other health hazards all in the name of America. That’s usually before breakfast. He is part of CTU, the fictional Counter Terrorist Unit located in Los Angeles, and we’re privy to the worst days of Bauer’s life. The show uses splitscreen, a running clock, ridiculous plot twists, and a you-are-there handheld madness with zero slow motion for a show that my friend described as “a speeding train with no brakes.” But perhaps the best part of the show is Bauer himself, played in a determined, dogged performance by an incredible Kiefer Sutherland.

Also starring Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard, Dennis Haysbert, Xander Berkley, Elisha Cuthbert.

Questionable Content:
Very dark themes, cursing, occasional sexual content, a paranoid atmosphere, and at times extremely violent, e.g. open wounds, gunshots, broken necks, stabbing, eye gouging, and Jack Bauer not eating for 24 hours straight.

Why You Should See It:
Debuting the same time that the World Trade Center was attacked, 24 was an American catharsis for a wounded, vulnerable nation. It fueled our sudden demand for justice by any-means-necessary. Jack Bauer was the means. He was an unstoppable force, a projection of our twitchy national outrage who did whatever it takes, and became our vicarious Monday night superhero. Everything we’ve always wanted to do to the bad guys, without daring to speak them out loud, he does. At first glance (and second and third and fourth), 24 plays out like every patriotic, flag-waving, terrorist-hunting fantasy.

But the show doesn’t downplay the harrowing effects of Jack Bauer’s methods. He slowly devolves into a dehumanized, haunted soul with nine seasons of regret (plus a TV movie). A life of torture brings about a tortured life. Bauer’s only tether to “normal” is his put-upon daughter, who both loves him and is repelled by what he does. Fans complained that Bauer became more unlikable as the show progressed, but of course this would only make sense: Bauer and guys like him were never destined for happily-ever-afters. He secured such endings for everyone else at the expense of himself, and even worse, for those who got too close to him. This dreary subtext was too often obscured by Bauer’s more sensational tactics.

Continue reading “TV Shows That Christians Should Watch: 24”

What Are Some Legitimately Good Christian Movies & TV Shows? 15 Quick Recommendations

Anonymous asked a question:

I’m sorry for the rant, I know it’s a common complaint. But there has to be a reason it’s a common complaint. I can’t tag on “Christian” music too much because it boasts a lot of great stuff, but Christian films are really slacking besides like 5. Idk. Do you have any recommendations?

Hey dear friend, I definitely believe that you’re not ranting. I’ve written on the topic of Christian art and its mediocrity before here.

My suspicion is that Christians are expected to “show grace and forgiveness,” so this somehow gets misapplied to Christians creating subpar art. There’s quite a lot of sloppy Christian niche-entertainment that gets away with mediocre production under the label of “Jesus,” when there was a time that Christians were the most celebrated of inventors, composers, artists, and musicians of their time. While I’m all for independent artists paving their way through the industry, I think it’s unfair to slip under a critical radar with the excuse, “It’s Christian, so it’s okay if it’s a little messy.” No, not when it’s unprofessional and pandering.

Saying that art is Christian doesn’t make it Christian, and there’s some “non-Christian” art that points to God more than so-called Christian art ever could.

Continue reading “What Are Some Legitimately Good Christian Movies & TV Shows? 15 Quick Recommendations”

Movies That Christians Should Watch: The Shawshank Redemption

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Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Columbia Pictures

Summary:
Andy Dufresne is sent to prison for the murder of his wife and her extramarital lover. He is soon indoctrinated in a savage world of bargaining, machismo, corruption, and despair. But Andy is a silent unassailable force who through intellect and his child-like innocence gains favor with both the guards and the prisoners. He befriends Red, a longtime inmate, who berates hope but believes in Andy, and together they forge a bond that survives the decades.

Starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Gil Bellows. Directed by Frank Darabont.

Questionable Content:
Graphic violence, quick visuals of a sex scene, language, implied prison rape, a vivid murder, and several suicides.

Why You Should See It:

Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best American films ever made. It did poorly at the box office and wasn’t well received, but picked up steam on VHS and is now a beloved, timeless classic. Only three years ago, it managed to fill 151 hours of basic cable television in a year, tying with Scarface and second to Mrs. Doubtfire, and still paying residuals to its principal actors and crew.

The movie works because we like Andy Dufresne. He’s perfectly imperfect. Some movies manipulate the audience into rooting for the main character by throwing all sorts of contrivances at him (see The Pursuit of Happiness or Patch Adams), but Andy must do his sincere best in a broken system that does not allow for hopeful men like him.

Continue reading “Movies That Christians Should Watch: The Shawshank Redemption”

Movies That Christians Should Watch: The Truman Show


The Truman Show (1998)
Paramount Pictures

Summary:
Truman Burbank, in one of Jim Carrey’s finest performances, is a nice guy with a nice wife, the nice house, job, and neighbors — but it’s all been staged for Truman. He’s the center of a global reality show in which he’s the only one who doesn’t know. From birth, he’s been raised on an engineered island with hired actors and millions of hidden cameras. If you think I’ve given away the big secret, this is only the start of the movie. Truman’s world slowly unravels when he finds clues that reveal the seams. He knows something is wrong; we find he has probably known it his whole life. He must decide whether to discover his reality or stay content on his perfect island.

Also starring Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, and Natascha McElhone. Directed by Peter Weir.

Questionable Content:
Some suggestions of sex, an unethical premise, and a scene of a man nearly dying.

Why You Should See It (Some Spoilers Ahead):

Continue reading “Movies That Christians Should Watch: The Truman Show”

Christians: You’re Allowed To Fail, But Don’t Be Mediocre

An open letter to Christian artists and creative minds.


The Christian subculture tends to celebrate mediocrity because we think it’s Christian to be “nice” even when something sucks.

I mean like, hey man, that’s my kid playing Noah up there in the annual performance of “The Loving Wrath of Jehovah.”  Never mind the boat is a rusty shopping cart.

Suburban churches have an extremely high tolerance for bad sermons, bad Christmas plays, bad drama skits, bad music, and all-around poor production values.

We lower our standards with an almost forceful resentment, as if having approval in God gives us permission to be cheap and shoddy.

Most Christianized media is a safe, sanitized, bubble-fringe ghetto that appeals to certain mindless demographics which will eat up anything labeled “for the Kingdom.”

But as the great DC Talk once said, “If it’s Christian, it ought to be better.”

Continue reading “Christians: You’re Allowed To Fail, But Don’t Be Mediocre”

The Christianese Demonization of Secular Music & Media

Photo from Theron Humphrey at This Wild Idea

erelah-tabbris asked a question:

Do you like secular tv shows and movies? do you find this keeps us off the path of Jesus/condemns us?

Hey dear friend, to be very truthful, I’m a huge fan of TV shows and movies. My favorite TV show of all time is 24, and I currently watch Person of Interest and The Walking Dead.  I’m secretly a noir film buff and I love the old 1940s-50s black and white detective films, particularly with Humphrey Bogart. As an Asian-Easterner, these sort of Western tales are hugely fascinating, with their strong feminine characters and self-deprecating anti-heroes.  I’ve read nearly all of Raymond Chandler’s work. I’m also a sucker for Michael Crichton and Stephen King. Oh, and Marvel and DC (why not both?).

I try not to think of entertainment as “secular” versus “Christian,” because this “sacred/secular” divide unnecessarily stirs up a self-righteous superiority, as if art can only be art when “I say so.” There’s no special medal for skipping The DaVinci Code. It also excludes a wide variety of creative expression, which gets a little bit too much like an authoritarian tyranny to me.

Continue reading “The Christianese Demonization of Secular Music & Media”

The Real Hero Is Each Other.


I want to make a movie where the first ten minutes is a hero chasing a villain on the streets of New York as they weave in and out of crowds of people in a cat and mouse game of espionage, and then the bad guy opens fire on the hero and an innocent bystander is hit, a woman who’s walking with her husband on a date to save their marriage. Suddenly the movie shifts focus to the hospital bed of this woman and her husband, and they’re told she probably can’t walk anymore due to the severity of the wound.

The husband gets like four jobs to pay the growing hospital bills and he learns to play some love songs on an old used cheap guitar but he can’t sing so well and he’s too broke to afford new strings, yet he sings to her every other evening between his day shift and night shift even when she’s sleeping. He cries a lot by himself and he looks at an alcohol bottle which is an old habit he used to have that was ruining his marriage, but right before he throws it out the window he ends up throwing a local fundraiser party with all his liquor and he raises just enough to pay for a few months of physical therapy. Laughter montage with no dialogue and a small cake with a single candle and the exhausted husband falls asleep holding his wife’s hand. A few months later the wife finally takes her first step by herself, but the husband is working and he misses it so he gets a call and rushes to the hospital to see his wife walking but he’s so sleepy from working so much that he gets in an accident and his car flips over.

Cut to the next scene where he wakes up in a hospital bed and across the curtain is his wife, and she reaches from her bed and holds his hand and says, “It’s my turn to take care of you now,” and by the end you realize not all heroes chase bad guys down street corners, but can also look like two ordinary people fighting for each other and finding strength in their weakness together. Fade to black on their enclosed fingers, wedding rings, and credits.

— J.S.


Christianese Dating: The Adventure of Dating and The Reality of Relationships

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Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is a seminar I gave on dating and relationships to a wonderful ministry of college students and young adults in Gainesville FL, aka Gator Town.

It’s called The Adventure of Dating and The Reality of Relationships. It’s about the exciting prospect of dating and the gritty, difficult, raw reality of relationships. Stream here or download directly here!

Some of the content is from my new book on relationships called The Christianese Dating Culture.

Some things I talk about are: The romantic theology of Taylor Swift, that time I overheard a girlfriend catching her boyfriend with another woman, two soldiers at war gossiping about the Kardashians, the best Christian pick-up line ever, the gritty raw painful sweaty work of theater actors and ballerinas, the difference between “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker,” three directions that every relationship takes, if my fiancé gained 200 lbs, the scary anxious fear of marriage proposal and possibly hearing “Nope,” and a Q&A Session including the truth about “wives submitting” and how to find “The One.”

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.


YouTube: “Be Passionate For Your Friend’s Passion”


– Be Passionate For Your Friend’s Passion –

We’ve all been shot down for being “too excited” about something, whether it’s anime or Lord of the Rings or comic books, or writing and dance and music and art.

But if it’s important to your friend, it’s important to you too.
You don’t have to get it, but you get them. That’s friendship.

And if your friend stays to the end of a Marvel movie to watch the end credits scene: don’t ever let them go. It’s real.

Please subscribe to my channel and love y’all!

— J.S.


5 Reasons Why Hershel From The Walking Dead Is My Favorite Christian On TV

Nearly every Christian on TV and in movies is portrayed to be an extreme bigot, a closet prodigal, or a gun-toting uptight neo-con Republican. A good screenwriter can manage to squeeze all three in one.

Christians do deserve some of the criticism. In the 1980s, we over-reached our grasp by trying to politicize “Christian morality” in every platform, and we now live in the backlash of trying too hard to force the church into the state. In the 1990s, there was a “Christianese” version of everything, from Testa-Mints to Bibleman to Xtreme Youth Group Pizza Night to the Holy Land Experience theme park. Either we’re getting good stuff like Lecrae and Switchfoot, or we’re getting awful stuff like a tame Nic Cage in Left Behind and yet another Westboro picketing.

For every time that Christians call foul on how they’re portrayed in the media, I always have to say that we’re not helping our case either. It’s true that the media sensationalizes the worst of us: but we’re giving them great material.

So it always surprises me to see a multi-dimensional Christian in the entertainment media, who’s not a dichotomous banner-waver but a modest down-to-earth father, who happens to be a Christian. Hershel from The Walking Dead has some of the familiar tropes we’ve come to expect — a sage-like advice dispenser, has too-perfect Bible verses for the situation, owns an actual farm — but there’s a deep world-weariness and bemusement in his mannerisms that brings a depth we never see in screen-written Christians.

On a show that’s been panned for uneven writing, false motivations, and some bad dialogue (Things-And-Stuff Rick), Hershel’s character arc is one of the best on the show, and one of the best in any show period.

Here are five reasons why Hershel Greene is my favorite Christian on TV.

[Some spoilers follow, especially for #5.]

Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Hershel From The Walking Dead Is My Favorite Christian On TV”

Mrs. Doubtfire Williams


Mrs. Doubtfire was a milestone movie for me: it premiered shortly before my parents divorced. Mr. Williams, to your passion and craft, and for the many laughs.

— J

http://www.today.com/entertainment/robin-williams-best-roles-mork-mrs-doubtfire-1D80051268

Movies That Christians Should Watch: Apollo 13


Apollo 13 (1995)
Universal Pictures

Summary:
**Some spoilers ahead.**

Three men are sent into space by NASA in 1970 when the space industry begins to lose its luster, and suddenly an expedition to the moon becomes a rescue mission back to earth. The journey is cut short when faulty equipment explodes and these three men, with the resourcefulness of the control center on the ground, use everything at their disposal to make it safely home.

Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise. Directed by Ron Howard.

Questionable Content:
Intense scenes of distress and anxiety in a spaceshuttle, plenty of well-deserved yelling, some coarse language, and a woman taking a shower loses her wedding ring (no nudity).

Why You Should See It:
The indelible words of Astronaut Jim Lovell are embedded in our culture: Houston, we have a problem. The problem is more or less a mechanical failure that would hardly make sense to ordinary laymen, but the film slows down to present these historic trials piece by agonizing piece: leaking oxygen, low battery, rising CO2 levels, freezing temperatures, possible heat damage and disintegration, and a horrifying scene where the broken shuttle must make a perfectly timed burst for 39 seconds in one direction.

We know they survived in the true story, but it doesn’t make the movie any less tense. The flight director Gene Kranz, played by a brilliant Ed Harris in the best performance of the movie, passionately breaks down each problem with the crew like a math puzzle: except the stakes are human lives. Hope drives them to relentless measures. No one sleeps. You’ll never hear “insurmountable odds” quite the same way again.

Continue reading “Movies That Christians Should Watch: Apollo 13”

The Top Ten Posts of 2011

These are the Top Ten Blog Posts of 2011. Thank you to every reader and supporter, your prayers and encouragement are welcomed and appreciated. Here’s to 2012!

10) A Christian Is Not Up To Your Damned Standard
An angry post that caused me to lose some followers, tick off some Reformed people, and indirectly caused a blogger to call me an “abortionist” and “witch whore.” I did apologize for my angry tone.

See also: I Love My Doctrine More Than Jesus: Why No One Cares About Your Theology
And: Gospel Idolatry
And: The Trend of the Gutless Gospel: How My Thoughts About The Gospel Have Changed Over Time, Part One

9) Movies That Christians Should See: The Truman Show
The most popular review of “Christians Should See” series, with perhaps my favorite film of all time.

8) Book Review: Erasing Hell
Francis Chan writes a succinct response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins, which I was also interviewed for by the local newspaper.

7) When Pastors Just Want To Quit
When your church is falling apart: no one’s listening, no one’s cares, no one’s convicted. But why it still matters.

6) It Would Be Easier If I Wasn’t A Christian – Part One
A four-part philosophical look into why we should consider being a Christian. Part Two here. Part Three here. Part Four here.

5) Why Is The Old Testament So Crazy? — Part One
A multi-part discussion about the insanity of the Old Testament. A straight reading of the OT is like a bad acid trip, with its supposedly misogynistic, slavery-endorsing, pagan-esque ways. Plus Part Two. More coming in this series.

Continue reading “The Top Ten Posts of 2011”

Really Saying

It’s romantic to believe that the guy who calls and texts first, saves ‘I love you’ for you, covers you with his coat, cooks your favorite meal even if he’s allergic to it, and a flurry of other Hollywood montage moments will really fulfill you. Before we die, we want to visit Paris at night during Christmas and parasail over the Atlantic and sip wine on a hot air balloon — but you don’t really mean that.

What are you really saying? You want these things if the dude isn’t creepy, if the poor beggars in Paris do not intrude on your comfort, and as long as you don’t have to prepare a thing. A cute guy who texts you first is cute, but you change your philosophy when the dude is too nice or too short or has no jawline. Children are cute until you have to raise one — and kids are screwed up because we push our distorted view of idealism on them in place of real gritty sacrifice.

What you’re really saying is you demand a photoshopped dream, like the impossible make-up model on the cover of Maxim, to attain the highest degree of complacency at the least amount of effort for the easiest life possible. Your blog proves it.

We reveal our selfish hearts with a conditional wishlist that reads more like a bad movie script. Can you step back for a moment and examine what you really mean? And why you have these idealistic fantasies? And what your motives are? We buy into bizarre paradigms of romance and leisure and life without thinking to the bottom of them. You’ll find quickly that self-serving is not even good enough to serve yourself.

The wasted life wastes no time wasting it. The destined life invests time and makes it. You can cheat yourself to death simply by choosing the current convenient option. A life of non-committed fantasy is just a walking grave.