Hey friends! I’m excited to announce I’m starting a podcast soon based on my book The Voices We Carry.
I know everyone’s got a podcast going these days. Mine is a solo broadcast: the goal is to champion your voices. Here’s a bit of what to expect.
1) Q&A. I’d love to engage with your questions about mental health, grief, loss, trauma, my doubts and depression, church, theology, race, politics, my chaplain work at the hospital and homeless shelter. About anything you’re going through. #AskMeAnything
Here’s my Q&A archive to see questions I’ve answered before (and I can answer again!)
2) Your stories. I’d love to share your stories on the podcast. Please feel free to share about a particular voice or message stuck in your head that you overcame (or didn’t). How did you find your voice through the process? I can keep you anonymous if you’d like.
3) Corrections. I will correct my old writings that I don’t agree with anymore. To criticize my old posts and ideas. To share where I totally missed it.
4) Challenges. I get it wrong, a lot. And I’d love to change my mind. I want to hear your disagreements. Not to fight, but to expand our voices together.
5) Reviews. Tell me about a movie or book or video or blog post or news article. I’ll watch or read, and we’ll discuss.
Please message me through Facebook, comment below, or email me at
Thank you, friends! Looking forward to it truly. — J.S.
p.s. Our baby isn’t here yet, please send prayers!
Who are some well-known women you respect, look up to or have been positively influenced by? (Christian and non Christian)
Hey dear friend, I really love this question. I’m assuming you are asking me about writers, authors, celebrities, etc, but I have to give a shout-out to my wife, my mom and mom-in-law, my sister-in-law who’s a musician, and my chaplain supervisors (who are all women).
Here’s a list, by no means complete, of awesome women I’ve been influenced by. Truly, I sit in their shadows.
Hey friends, this is a Spoken Word performance that I gave with Yale University Students in CT. About the three fateful days from Jesus’s crucifixion to resurrection, told from the viewpoint of a modern day disciple.
“[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.
A short video of our wedding at the Rusty Pelican in Tampa, FL. Wedding photos here and engagement photos here. We just had our one year anniversary. I also proposed two years ago on Valentine’s Day. Quite an adventure, it’s been.
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.
What are your thoughts on bands that claim to be Christian but don’t ever use the name of Jesus in their lyrics?
Hey my friend, to be truthful: I’d rather look at the Christian band behind the songs than the songs themselves. There’s a ton of Christian music that says “Jesus” but they ain’t really about Jesus.
I do think it’s important that Christian music is clear about who it’s about, without question. It’s too easy to turn Jesus into bae. But here are a few things to consider.
1) Sometimes Christians wait for other Christians to meet a “doctrinal threshold” before they’re considered doctrinally sound. I’m not saying that you’re doing this. But when we gate-keep too hard and expect every Christian band to yell Jesus with neon lights, it’s probably stealing our joy to simply be blessed by the aesthetic value of their craft. Plus we all like a juicy story of downfall and failure; we wait for artists to “sell out” and we’re all sick like that. It’s unfair for us to constantly gauge if the song is using “worldly philosophy” or if they haven’t said Jesus exactly seven times.
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 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.”
If you ever look back on your old creations — sketches, journals, dance moves, videos, or that squeaky song you wrote for the girl in sixth grade who didn’t know you — you will always cringe at your amateurish recklessness.
The first time through your masterful brilliant brainchild, you probably thought it was the greatest idea in the world. Now you run from it as fast as your friends bring it up to you.
But: we all go through this. It’s a clumsy, gaudy, lumbering phase of growth that requires a purging of all your awkward first moments, and it’s absolutely necessary.
It’s also okay. You can embrace the process and shed the old skin and keep pursuing your perfection. You’ll look back a year from now and possibly hate what you’ve made today — but that’s only a natural part of your growth. One day you won’t look back on any one single thing you’ve done, but rather see an entire mosaic in a single-hall museum of your creative journey: and that’s life. It’s a collaboration with yourself.
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.