“As a bonafide “philosopher guy” en route to graduate school, I am educated enough to be informed, uneducated enough to connect with my audience, and charismatic enough to feign talent.” — Jer
After growing up in Taiwan where his parents were missionaries, Jer went to Houghton College, studied philosophy and theology, and, though suffering from a stammer, became the campus’s premier philosophical activist, taking over the philosophical society after which membership rose from 2 to nearly 200. During summer breaks, while working at a factory, Jer started a daily lunch time discussion group that eventually came to include all of his thoroughly blue-collar co-workers. After graduation, as a community organizer and housing director at a small non-profit, Jer wrestled with gangsters in inner-city Buffalo over questions of ultimate fulfillment.
Jer is also the co-creator of a theory of urban neighborhood renewal with Dr. Ron Oakerson, a recognized authority on issues of metropolitan governance and professor of political Science at Houghton College. Their paper, entitled Neighborhood Decline as a Tragedy of the Commons, is currently under review at the Policy Studies Journal. Collaborators included community members, New York State Supreme Court Judge Henry Nowak, and Dr. Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics.
“I love writing with Jer. He writes with so much grace and integrity. He keeps me honest, as well as forthright. When my theory gets too far ahead of the facts, he draws me back to reality and makes me face it. If I understate a point (or miss it entirely), he reflects it back to me in bold. At ease with complex, subtle ideas, he finds ways to give them expression as readable, intelligible, accessible prose. On top of it all, he’s fun just to be with. I know we’ll be friends even if/when the writing-connection fades away.” — Ron Oakerson
In his travels to over twenty-five countries, Jer has proven that he is one of those rare thinkers equally comfortable and compelling whether lounging on a dilapidated inner city porch, squatting on the dirt floor of a Nepalese hut, sitting in the American board room, or walking the halls of academia.
“As I continue to make philosophy relevant and enjoyable, people respond. Of course they do. Every generation needs philosophers who are clever communicators, who can woo them with their own culture and dialect. By God’s grace, we impart the courage necessary for radically principled living.” — Jer
Finally, “Jerism,” as his editor calls the overall picture that Therefore Joy outlines, was informed by a unique incident: in the spring of 2011, in downtown Atlanta, a man had fallen onto the subway’s third rail. After bright ribbons of electricity were seen arcing through his arms and legs, he lay still. After coaching the man to wake up, Jer pulled him to safety and in the process was shocked himself. Afterwards a video of the rescue surfaced on YouTube, and the story exploded online and in the local and national press. (See Subway Incident tab above.) While offering a positive public platform for writing and selling positive books, this experience taught Jer a profound lesson that follows and builds on Therefore Joy’s hopeful conclusions. The dramatic story, and the lessons he learned from it, have been articulated in an epilogue.