A book release party for “Asian American Apostate: Losing Religion and Finding Myself at an Evangelical University” by R. Scott Okamoto (Lake Drive Books) will be held on Saturday, April 22, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Terasaki Budokan, 249 S. Los Angeles St. in Little Tokyo.
Hosted by Keiko Agena, traci kato-kiriyama, and Jenny Yang, the program will feature special guests and a brief reading from Okamoto, followed by a Q&A and book-signing. The after party will be at the Okamoto house with food and drinks and live music from 6 p.m. until the last person standing.
Okamoto had no idea that his job as an English teacher at an evangelical Christian college meant facing bigotry as an Asian American and faux intellectualism as a teacher — and what it would mean for his own journey.
“Asian American Apostate” is a wry and ironic story of leaving religion while teaching at an evangelical university. Okamoto’s often-chilling accounts reveal that such schools, where prayer and trite theological debate erupt in any lecture, demonstrate anything but higher education. Stories range from a classroom declaration against interracial marriage because it causes painful pregnancies, to grading a paper entitled “Why Obama Is a Nazi,” and to the times Okamoto, a popular teacher, was disciplined by school officials for keeping standards for writing.
Okamoto’s personal reporting gives you the inside story of how America’s evangelical schools encourage not a life of the mind but white cultural power. More than that, you’ll see how Okamoto found clarity about who he was not, and who he was coming to be.
Read along as Okamoto recounts his difficult, unlikely, and ultimately encouraging journey, one that will immerse you in the search for a deeper and more expansive life.
Okamoto is a writer, musician, and podcaster. A fourth generation Japanese American (Yonsei), he holds an M.A. in writing, and much of his professional life involved teaching university-level English. He is the host of the series-based podcast “Chapel Probation” (Dauntless Media Collective), an avid fisher, GenX guitar player, poet, and participant in the Asian American artist community in Southern California, where he lives with his wife and three kids. Find out more at http://rscottokamoto.com.
To RSVP, go to www.eventbrite.com and search for “Scott’s Book Release.”
From the Foreword: “‘Asian American Apostate’ is an invitation for society at large to grapple with the assertions on citizenry as dictated by systems and structures of power. This book is lovingly brazen on behalf of those escaping the institution as much as it is a book for the rest of us on the outside looking in. Thank you, R. Scott Okamoto, for being the professor we all desperately need and desire.” — traci kato-kiriyama, author of “Navigating With(out) Instruments”
“With irreverent humor and biting criticism, Scott takes us deep into the world of evangelical academics. His sharp writing style plies us with laughter as he takes direct aim at the entrenched prejudices of these closed spaces. Thank <insert deity of preference> I’ve crossed paths with this man and his writing!” — Keiko Agena, actress from “Gilmore Girls” and “Prodigal Son”
“Scott’s vulnerable and laugh-out-loud stories give us an insider’s peek at the ironies and absurdities of American evangelical culture. ‘Asian American Apostate’ is a must-read for anyone who cares about the important intersection of race and faith, and those who yearn to understand how our extreme culture wars have come to pass.” — Jenny Yang, comedian and actor in “The Brothers Sun”
“A deeply resonant chronicle of cultural shifts and personal awakenings, of losing faith and finding your place in the world — brave, brilliant, breathtaking.” — Sarah Kuhn, author of the “Heroine Complex” series
“‘Asian American Apostate’ is a stunning contribution to the topic of deconstruction and leaving high-demand religion that for too long has been almost exclusively occupied by White voices.” — Bradley Onishi, host of “Straight White American Jesus” and author of “Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism – and What Comes Next”
“Scott Okamoto’s harrowing and darkly funny account of the Christian evangelical sausage machine is an indictment of turning faith into political power rather than spiritual transformation. Okamoto’s voice is necessary for times like these.” — Naomi Hirahara, former editor of The Rafu Shimpo and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning mystery author of “Clark and Division”
“R. Scott Okamoto’s ‘Asian American Apostate,’ in many ways, is a successor to great Japanese American authors like John Okada and David Mura. Okamoto’s memoir is funny, punchy, and touches on a topic that Asian America typically does not cover — our relationship to evangelical Christianity. However, Okamoto’s book is more than just a memoir about race, religion, and higher education, it is a story of ultimately staying true to one’s convictions.” — Naomi Ko, filmmaker, writer, actor
“Scott Okamoto’s ‘Asian American Apostate’ is an incredibly timely and insightful look into American evangelical educational practices through the lens of a fourth-generation Japanese American teacher at a conservative Christian school. For those who are part of this world, he provides a critique of its comfort with racism, its dogmatic thinking and intolerance, and for those outside, he provides a revealing look at how young evangelicals are educated and why so many find true racial equality and free inquiry abhorrent to their conception of America. Okamoto accomplishes all this with great intelligence, wit, and self-insight, and his writing is as entertaining as it is enlightening.” — David Mura, author of “The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American Narratives”