My first novel, Cody Quan, is the polar opposite of my second novel, Asians Don’t Date. I say polar opposite because when one writes books, they’re either in the soul-searching category or the commercialized category. Cody Quan’s the former. It’s amateurish, all over the place, there’s a billion characters and I wouldn’t want it as my writing’s prime representation. But books are like children; I made all my mistakes on my first novel. I tried too hard, didn’t know what I was doing and it was too much heart, too little head. My first novel is a jigsaw puzzle to my soul. I wrote it as a cry for help, an allegory to my personal, real-world fragments. It doesn’t really make sense to anyone who doesn’t know me.

One of the main supporting characters in Cody Quan is Jesus.

Jesus, in that book, is a bi-polar abusive motherfucker. He is literal to the protagonist’s head. He beats Cody Quan up and then pats him on the head and says I Love You. This was my experience with both my relationship with Him and my time with organized religion. People who grew up in the church will never understand born-agains. Born-agains love Jesus as an adult would. They’re often “discovered” by evangelistic-type Christians at a weak point. These evangelistic-types feel like they’re saving them, but they’re not prepared for how differently born-agains experience the church. Born-agains love Jesus hard and they could get disappointed hard.

My assessment to whether Christianity is real is rather simple: Either Christians are better people or they’re not. If someone told me they bought shoes and it made them jump ten feet high, I need to see them jumping ten feet high. Most Christians I met were not bad people, but they were regular people who believed they were better people. They were people who bought shoes saying they could jump ten feet high, but only jumping two feet like the rest of us and saying it’s ten if we closed our eyes and believed. The Christian friends I met were perfect on Sundays, but assholes on Saturdays. I liked them better on Saturdays.

The concept of Jesus is amazing to anyone at a low point. Redemption is a hell of a drug, but just like any drug, it needs the user’s dependency. Often times that dependency is to be accepted and loved. I still believe in those things. I still believe that love, at it’s purest form, is unconditional and forgiving. The message that we’re all sinners and that it’s okay because Jesus died for our sins is powerful and it heals like no medicine ever could, but when I discovered that dependency is a lie, that healing was merely cosmetic. I changed, yes, but I was no different a sinner than I was before Jesus, which was what I also observed in the Christians that I knew.

When you first join a church, everyone’s nice to you. The guys bond and ask you to play basketball, the pretty girls say you’re brave. I think, man, I’ve found my personal and spiritual oasis. Then you know them a bit more and some of them do really fucked up things. One of them could even be the pastor. And that’s okay…because we’re all sinners, right? Jesus forgives, is what I’m told. But I hang around the church some more and over time, with all the hypocrisy and the cover-ups, I realized the realest person was me. That’s a sad, painful realization. It’s the kind of realization I can’t come back from, because if Jesus was real, and more importantly, if Jesus was real and loved me, this was not the kind of thing I should be concluding. It was the kind of thing that would make me escape from Christianity like a cult escapee.

What I believe is truth.

It took me nearly two decades to undo the dependency of a powerful being that needs my begging and accept its bi-polar nature of punishment and reward. I still believe in a god, but it’s evolved into something much different, much more logical. One day I’ll share it here with the world. I’m in a better place now. The good parts of Christianity have soaked into me: I believe in caring to heal pain. I believe we should always see things in other people’s eyes to understand and feel empathy. I believe that somewhere beyond our limited understanding is a force that keeps shit together…whether or not we believe in it. What I’ve cleansed myself from, is the dependency of a deity and the hypocrisy of organized religion. I love people who are real with me and I don’t care what they are as long as they don’t try to manipulate me. I appreciate caring people who cling on to the hope that love is the answer to pain. I didn’t find that in Christ or Christianity.