Friday, April 29, 2011

24. The Trinity (Gay Passion of Christ series)

24. The Trinity (from The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision) by Douglas Blanchard

“So then the Sovereign Jesus, after speaking to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” -- Mark 16:19

What is the gay vision of heaven? The Holy Spirit inspires each person to see visions of God in his or her own way. Look, the Holy Spirit celebrates two men who love each other! She looks like an angel as She protects the male couple. Are the men Jesus and God? No names can fully express the omnigendered Trinity of Love, Lover, and Beloved… or Mind, Body, and Spirit. God is madly in love with everybody. God promised to lead people out of injustice and into a good land flowing with milk and honey. We can travel the same journey that Christ traveled. Opening to the joy and pain of the world, we can experience all of creation as our body -- the body of Christ. As queer as it sounds, we can create our own land of milk and honey. As Jesus often said, heaven is among us and within us. Now that we have seen a gay vision of Christ’s Passion, we are free to move forward with love.

Jesus, thank you for giving me a new vision!
___
This concludes a series based on “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a set of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard, with text by Kittredge Cherry

Questions to readers: Do you want to see the Gay Passion series again next year on this blog? Did you like seeing 1 painting per day for 3 weeks, or is it better to show them all during Holy Week? Should we make this series into a book?  Please leave a comment or contact me with your answers.

Here is a list of the whole series. Click the titles to go to each post.
Introduction
1. The Human One (Son of Man) with Job and Isaiah
2. Jesus Enters the City 
3. Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers
4. Jesus Preaches in the Temple
5. The Last Supper
6. Jesus Prays Alone
7. Jesus Is Arrested
8. Jesus Before the Priests
9. Jesus Before the Magistrate
10. Jesus Before the People
11. Jesus Before the Soldiers
12. Jesus Is Beaten
13. Jesus Goes to His Execution
14. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
15. Jesus Dies
16. Jesus Is Buried
17. Jesus Among the Dead
18. Jesus Rises
19. Jesus Appears to Mary
20. Jesus Appears at Emmaus
21. Jesus Appears to His Friends
22. Jesus Returns to God
23. The Holy Spirit Arrives
24. The Trinity

Scripture quotation is from the Inclusive Language Lectionary (Year C), copyright © 1985-88 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

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10 comments:

Trudie said...

Absolutely this should appear again, and if you can manage to work out the details for a book with Doug's wonderful paintings and your commentary (plus appropriate excerpts from or references to your novels), I think that would be spectacular. My answers to your questions are YES, YES, and YES!

eric said...

This picture, today, had a couple of surprises for me. First of all, there's the "age depiction". It's actually quite amusing to me to discover the fact that God is portrayed as the same age as Jesus... well, it's just funny to me, that's all. I honestly never thought I thought of God as the old bearded white guy before... until I actually see God depicted as in this picture. Of course in light of my own comments over the years here those who know me know I don't see God in any human terms, and in all human terms.

The other thing that really gave me pause was seeing that both God & Jesus, in this picture, are portrayed with stigmata. Wow!

Now that's something to think about for a while!

Kitt, I really liked the statement "God is madly in love with everybody."

Once, years ago, I came across the statement that the love of God for each human is like the entire amazon river watering one little plant. 'Twas a long time ago, so I probably don't have the quote quite right. But you get the idea.

These images of God... waters of the amazon, being madly in love with everyone... have always moved me deeply.

I preached one Sunday on that topic (Amazon/flower). And in return God gifted me for just one heart stopping moment, one beat of a humming birds wings, the privilege of looking at the congregation through God's eyes, seeing them as God saw them.

Even now, that memory just blows me away.

eric said...

Oh, btw, yes, in answer to your question about bringing this back next year.

Josh Thomas said...

I don't think it matters how this series is presented in the future as that it's presented; three weeks or seven days. One can argue that Lent should be Lent, with its focus on personal and corporate sin and our need for redemption; but no one would argue against retelling the story of salvation, either. In a way it's all the same thing, so it depends on what you want to do, how the Spirit moves you, what you're here to teach.

Doug Blanchard's paintings, and the vision behind them, are very valuable. So I think you'd be right to find a way to present them again.

I am less struck by your commentary than by the paintings - which is not any kind of putdown. Commenting on the art is not the art itself, and Doug presents such striking, thought-provoking images that in a way, they stand on their own. The viewer will see what she wants to see and is able to see; the traditional role of art appreciation is to point out to the viewers aspects they might otherwise miss. I doubt many of us are missing too much here since the images are so contemporary; that's the genius of what Mr. Blanchard's done.

Instead what you're doing is preaching about them, and I don't find that quite so helpful. But it may be exactly what others are coming for.

Is there a spiritual danger in ascribing a sexual motive to God? I haven't seen any commentary about that, and I think it's a reasonable question to ask, even if we decide the answer is no.

I doubt most of us want to have sex with the Divine, though there is enormous value in presenting images in which God blesses and embraces the human sexual/romantic impulse in a Lesbigay context. I don't know that this has been done before; it's very challenging for the viewer, which is what raises these "pop realism" paintings to an artistic level. "Yes, you too can be blessed in holy matrimony, queer people!" It's good news.

Still, this is a very cute Jesus; what does that tell us? I think it adds to the challenge of the paintings, while also being a little disturbing. Certainly it draws a modern audience in, and that's good too.

We're still getting used to the idea that God blesses our nakedness, our love and our relational desire - that all of this is holy, or can be. I love it; I believe it.

But I'm not sure I'd have put the Father's hand on the Son's butt.

josh

P.S. One aspect I don't question at all: depicting the Holy Spirit as female. That's so right that nothing more needs to be said.

KittKatt said...

Trudie, Eric and Josh, I expect that you speak for many when you say that you were moved by Blanchard’s Gay Passion of Christ paintings and would like to see them again next year. Thank you for your various comments. I will take them into consideration as I wait to see “how the Spirit moves” in doing Holy Week blog posts for 2012.

I now know that I set a rather difficult task for myself when I decided to write meditations to go with these paintings. The art itself is so great that it will outshine almost any writing.

Josh raises an interesting point by asking for more art appreciation and less preaching in the text. I tried to follow the tradition of reflections and prayers that often accompany the Stations of the Cross, but I did it from a contemporary LGBT-positive viewpoint -- in keeping with the spirit of Blanchard’s art.

I intentionally avoided the “art appreciation” approach of describing the paintings, but I will consider adding that in the future. I noticed that I myself benefited when others pointed out specific parts of the paintings in their comments -- for example, when Eric noted the ages of God and Jesus, and that both have stigmata. I did use the “art appreciation” approach when I wrote the book “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.” That has been my most critically acclaimed book (becoming a Lammy Award finalist), so I will think seriously about using that technique again. I do worry that it will inevitably de-emphasize the LGBT aspect of this series. Then again I could incorporate text from “Jesus in Love” as Trudie suggests.

The interplay of sexuality and spirituality is one of the themes of this blog… and it doesn’t always fit neatly with LGBT issues. Many are more comfortable with God blessing queer people than with God being queer. In my experience, most people can understand the need for gay-positive images more easily than the need for sex-positive images. If you want to explore this subject, Josh, I suggest the following two recent posts from this blog:


Erotic Christ / Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People (by Patrick Cheng)
http://jesusinlove.blogspot.com/2010/11/erotic-christ-rethinking-sin-and-grace.html

Erotic Christ Teacher speaks: We are the erotic body of Christ (my interview with Hunter Flournoy
http://jesusinlove.blogspot.com/2011/03/erotic-christ-expert-speaks-we-are.html

eric said...

Kitt,

I have really enjoyed this series. Douglas is fantastic artist and his pictures moved me immensely.

Josh makes many good points in his comments.

So, it is with all due respect to both individuals that I respond to your comment.

Adding a little art appreciation might not hurt. But the strength of this series for me was the fact that it is a meditation for the Lenten and Easter season. Had you posted just the pictures with little or no commentary, or with "art appreciation", you would have, in fact, diminished the value of these 24 posts. I would have gotten far less out of them.

Far more beneficial to my mind would be Trudies suggestion of incorporating more from your books in them.

In the end, you can not please everyone 100%. To me, the pictures without your commentary are just nice pictures. Josh found the pictures more valuable without your commentary. Which of us is right? Neither, both... who knows.

In any event I'll support however you choose to do this.

Trudie said...

Apropos of Eric's comments on depicting the "Abba" as of the same age as Jesus, this is of course quite in line with your own descriptions, especially in the Gethsemane scene in "At the Cross". You also, of course, allowed Jesus to "see" Satan as his distorted double, which in my perception is theologically right on target.

I recommend in this context the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, especially the book "Perelandra", where Ransom is brought to understand that the human Incarnation of the Divine sets the standard for all future human interactions with the Creative Spirit of the Cosmos. I especially think of the final scene of that book, where the "angels" are coming to honor Ransom at the time of his send-off back to Earth, and have to find a way of impacting his visual perception that he can perceive comfortably. I'm going to do some more thinking on this topic, I believe!

Counterlight said...

Thanks Kitt for your series of posts on these paintings. They seem to have taken on a life of their own which I did not anticipate when I began painting them 10 years ago.
I appreciate your written meditations accompanying these pictures. I thought they were just right and very helpful. Perhaps others might be inspired to write their own thoughts or meditations on this subject.

I may paint a series like this again some day, but I doubt it will be 24 panels again. But, we shall see.

Again, thank you Kitt for all of your support.


Kitt Cherry is the one who discovered this series and really put it out there before the world. I was at first very reluctant about this series when I began it, worried that it might be a real career-killer (not that I had much of a career as an artist at the time). These paintings appear to have touched people much more than I had anticipated, and I have Kitt to thank for that.

DannyEastVillage said...

A lotta folks are gonna be real surprised when they find out just how much eroticism is involved in God's love for us.

KittKatt said...

I especially appreciate hearing from the artist himself, Doug Blanchard aka Counterlight, that my commentary was “just right and very helpful.” I remember the day in 2005 that I first called him to discuss posting art from this series at JesusInLove.org. It’s true that he didn’t expect people would care much about his gay vision of Christ. God has a funny way of using our work to inspire others in ways that we least expect!

For those who don’t know, artist Douglas Blanchard blogs under the name “Counterlight” at the Counterlight’s Peculiars Blog.

Eric, you are absolutely right that “you can not please everyone 100%.” Actually someone else commented on one of the other gay Passion posts that “I loved the paintings, but above all I loved the texts made for them.” So… with the combo of art and text there is something for almost everyone.

There’s one point that would have been easier to make clear if I added some “art appreciation” notes: I love the contrast between the all-male trio in first painting, of Jesus with Job and Isaiah, and the male-female Trinity at the end. It seems that Jesus makes a journey from male-dominated religious tradition to a more inclusive, woman-affirming way of understanding God.

Trudie, thanks for reminding us of how I treated the age difference of God and Jesus in my novel. When he was younger, he saw God as an old man, but as he matured into Christhood and oneness with God, he gradually came to see God as his same age when he prayed in Gethsemane right before his arrest. The reference from CS Lewis is interesting.

Finally, Danny, I agree. I expect that some people are in for a pleasant surprise when they discover the eroticism of God’s love for us.