Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Sex and spirit mix on new Jesus book cover
A homoerotic Christ on the cover of a new German book is sparking international debate as Christmas approaches.
The provocative cover appears on the German translation of Jesus in Love, my novel about a queer Christ.
The cover art by Berlin painter Alexander von Agoston shows a near-naked Jesus and John the Baptist rising from the water together after Christ’s baptism. The men’s genitals shine through their wet clothes. A shared halo affirms the union of body and spirit.
My book says that gay sexuality is holy to Christ and I’m a passionate promoter of queer spiritual art. However, even I thought the German image was too frankly erotic for a cover at first. Discussions with my German publisher, Edition EuQor changed my mind.
“German readers are used to seeing nudity on covers, much more than Americans,” my publisher told me. “Sure, the cover attracts attention. That’s what a cover is for.”
Gay-positive Christian images are needed now because conservatives are using religious rhetoric to justify discrimination against queer people. The cover goes all the way in showing that God loves gays. Jesus is completely comfortable in his skin. Now I’m sure that it’s the right cover for the German edition.
The German translation of Jesus in Love was released in time for Christmas by Edition EuQor, a start-up German press specializing in provocative books.
“When Jesus in Love was published in English, websites in Germany buzzed with excitement,” the publisher told me. “The idea of a bisexual Jesus seemed to fascinate Germans more than anyone else outside the English-speaking world. Soon Edition EuQor offered to do a German translation.”
Reactions to the Jesus in Love cover vary widely from delight to shock and disdain, even within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.
The original English version of Jesus in Love was published in 2006 by AndroGyne Press with a more romantic cover drawing of Jesus and John wreathed in roses. Conservative Christians attacked the novel as blasphemy because it portrays a Jesus who felt sexual attraction to men. However, it received praise from literary critics and GLBT Christian leaders.
Mel White, founder of the GLBT Christian activist group Soulforce, endorsed the English version. “Kitt Cherry has broken through the stained-glass barrier,” White said. “This is not a prurient look at the sex life of Jesus, but a classic re-telling of the greatest story ever told.”
Theology professor Carter Heyward called it “a lovely, gentle, playful book.” Toby Johnson, author of “Gay Spirituality,” described it as “a wonderful, gay-sensitive, and delightfully ‘shocking’ reassessment of the stories of the old-time religion.”
What do YOU think of the new book cover? Please post your comments here or email them to kitt@JesusInLove.org.