I’m terrified of making cold calls. Sales and marketing are not my thing; I would have trouble selling cold water in a parched desert. So it was with no small amount of fear and trembling that I reached out to Lydia and Liz to ask if they were interested in making a podcast.

Like so many others, I was moved by Liz’s article, “The Loneliness of the Progressive Asian American Christian.” Immediately after scrolling to the bottom of her piece, I clicked the link to the PAAC Facebook group and joined. Not long after that, an idea germinated in my mind to create a new podcast focused on issues specific to progressive Asian American Christians. I’ve been a podcast enthusiast for over a decade, but for years, the voices I heard through the medium were mostly white and male. I wished there were more diverse voices out there, representing more non-traditional slices of our culture. I’ve also tinkered enough as an amateur podcaster to be able to handle some of the technical aspects of production and editing. Having heard both Liz and Lydia speak on other podcasts, I thought they’d both make great potential hosts for a regular one. But at the time, I had never met either of them. 

So I spent the better part of a day trying to craft the perfect unsolicited email introducing myself and my proposal. I thought about what it would be like from their perspective to get an email from a random stranger, asking to participate in what could potentially be a long-term, highly intensive project. Podcasts were and continue to be a growing medium – but, I wondered, was this a project they were even interested in? Many people had no idea what podcasts were, let alone had any interest in producing one. 

Fortunately, Liz and Lydia were enthusiastic about the idea. It turns out they had already been thinking about starting a PAAC podcast and were looking for help to get it off the ground. From the get-go, we considered the podcast to be a space to discuss ideas and share concerns relevant to this community in a thoughtful, fun, respectful way. And while there are other progressive Christian podcasts out there, few if any discuss progressive Christianity, gender, sexuality, current events, and culture through the lens of Asian Americans.

Since the podcast has launched, we’ve discussed and debated a wide range of issues, from dating and sexuality to gun control to building healthy church communities. One of my favorite episodes is Episode 10, “Women & Men.” The topic of the day was Christianity and feminism, and midway through the discussion, Lydia suddenly began a short but beautiful and profound discourse about how we use pronouns to describe God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus, she said, was born male. So it makes sense to call him a “he.” God, meanwhile, is neither a man or a woman, neither male nor female. God is God. Calling God a “he” or “him” therefore perpetuates an institutional patriarchy that is unjust and oppressive – to both women and to men. As for the Holy Spirit, Lydia said she would love it if we addressed the spirit as a “she.” She, he, God. These little words matter, and they can dramatically change our conception of what we think of as basic Christianity.

In just a few minutes, and with just a few words, Lydia had managed to topple thousands of years of Christian orthodoxy and conventional wisdom. When we were taping this episode, I remember feeling dumbstruck for a few moments after hearing her say all this, recognizing that somewhere in my brain, my own views and assumptions were being transformed in real time. And then it occurred to me that we were still only halfway through a show we had to finish. It’s moments like these that make producing this podcast so rewarding.

We’re grateful for the feedback we’ve received from listeners – the shares, likes, and comments, and how people have helped this podcast grow. One person told us that she had passed along Episode 14, “The Fight over Abortion (is not about Abortion),” to a friend, who then passed it along to her entire small group at her relatively conservative home church, which led to a healthy conversation. We’d love for this podcast to act as a conversation starter like it did in this case – something easy to share, even with those outside the group, to people who may not be otherwise exposed to a different perspective or way of thinking.

As the podcast has evolved, we’ve also been able to bring on more voices from within the community. We’re grateful for our guests, who have been so generous with their time and so willing to share their unique and sometimes heartbreaking stories. They’ve patiently soldiered through the hurdles and technical glitches of getting three or more people together online from different time zones and different parts of the country, and they’ve taken a peek at how we stitch each episode together into a seamless whole. They have so much to offer our community, and we deeply appreciate their willingness to share these gifts with us.

And we’re grateful for the collection of friends and allies within PAAC that have come together to form an extraordinary community. A uniquely LGBT-affirming, feminist, justice-oriented, anti-racist, pro-immigrant, anti-ableist space where relationships are forged and minds transformed. Looking back, I’m glad I made the decision to reach out to Lydia and Liz, and I’m glad they responded in kind. Thank you everyone who has supported PAAC and the PAAC podcast. Let’s keep this party going!

  • David (he/him) has been producing the PAAC podcast since 2017. He lives with his family in Southern California. His other podcast is called What Just Happened?