Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gay Holy Week series starts Sunday

A queer version of Christ’s Passion will run in daily installments from Palm Sunday (April 5) through Easter (April 12) here at the Jesus in Love Blog. Each daily post features queer Christian art and an excerpt from “Jesus in Love: At the Cross,” a novel about a bisexual Christ by lesbian author Kittredge Cherry. Jesus is in love with his disciple John and faces religious homophobia in the selections from “At the Cross.” The eight-day series covers Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. The dramatic events of Christ’s Passion happen in the context of a gay love story between Jesus and John. Jesus has today’s queer sensibilities and psychological sophistication as he reveals experiences that may have led to the first Easter. “I’m doing the Holy Week series to make Christ more accessible to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and our allies,” said Cherry, founder of The website promotes artistic and religious freedom by supporting spirituality and the arts for GLBT people and their allies. “Christ’s story is for everyone, but GLBT people often feel left out because conservatives use Christian rhetoric to justify hate and discrimination,” she said. The online Holy Week series includes art by F. Douglas Blanchard, Gary Speziale and Becki Jayne Harrelson. Some conservatives labeled Cherry “a hyper-homosexual revisionist” because of the gay love story between Jesus and John. However, her books follow the Biblical text and standard Christian doctrine while speculating on Christ’s erotic inner life. “I get hate mail with warnings such as, ‘Gays are not wanted in the kingdom of Christ!’ This kind of religious bigotry is exactly why the queer Christ is needed,” Cherry said. Meanwhile, secular literary critics and progressive Christians affirm the Jesus in Love series as “profound,” “spiritually mature” and “beautifully written.” Gay spirituality author Toby Johnson praises it as “a real tour de force in transforming traditional myth to modern consciousness.” The Bay Area Reporter called it “revolutionary religious fiction” and Mel White, founder of Soulforce, says, “Kittredge Cherry has broken through the stained-glass barrier… a classic re-telling of the greatest story ever told.” “At the Cross” grows out of Cherry’s own spiritual journey and her experiences as a minister in the LGBT community. She served as national ecumenical officer for Metropolitan Community Churches. One of her primary duties was promoting dialogue on homosexuality at the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches. Her previous books include “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More,” “Equal Rites” and “Hide and Speak.” The New York Times Book Review praised her “very graceful, erudite” writing style. The Holy Week blog series includes art from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a compelling set of 24 paintings by New York artist F. Douglas Blanchard. The controversial “faggot crucifixion” by Atlanta artist Becki Jayne Harrelson is also featured, along with drawings by New York artist Gary Speziale. They are among 11 contemporary artists from the United States and Europe who are profiled in Cherry’s book “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.”


John Weaver said...

Dear Kittredge,
I just wanted to thank you for having this material out there for people. I'm TA'ing for a course at SUNY Binghamton and I'm going to bring up some of your observations about Christianity and sexuality from Jesus in Love, which I'm currently reading. I'm hoping to do my own course about queer and other alternative readings of Christ next year, so I'm trying to find books on the subject (I might use Corpus Christi, not sure yet).
I think Jesus in Love has a tremendous variety of interesting ideas on how Christ sexually relates to human beings. About my only qualm in the book is the depiction of demons as real "spiritual" beings. I don't know if you know this, but the 'exorcism' of demons out of both GLBT and mentally ill evangelicals is a very common practice in most fundamentalist circles, with the demons typically being labeled "homosexuality" and "mental illness", as if it was a sin to be gay or mentally ill. Just an observation, though.

I think its a privelege for people to see artwork that challenges traditional narratives, whether it be the Christ narrative or any other narrative. I grew up evangelical Christian (no longer one now) and I wonder how much pain I could have been spared if the church had not pathologized any Christ narrative that showed Jesus as struggling with mental health issues (my own personal struggle). I'm quite glad that these alternative narratives are available to the gay community, and I pray that they will eventually extend into the mentally ill community as well.

Thanks for your wonderful book!

John Weaver

Smadraji said...

Nice Post