Sunday, April 10, 2011

3. Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers (Gay Passion of Christ series)

3. Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers (from The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision) by Douglas Blanchard

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” -- Matthew 21:13 (RSV)

Jesus acted up when he saw something wrong. Nothing made him angrier than religious hypocrisy blocking the way to God. He got mad when religious leaders made people pay to attend worship. He said, you can’t buy your way to heaven! Everyone gets God for free. Don’t trick a poor widow into giving her last penny! The sacrifice that pleases God is to do justice and love people. Oh sure, you can raise tons of money by claiming that some other group is an unholy threat: lepers, immigrants, queer. But remember, whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me! Stop demonizing people! You call gays an abomination, but your fundraising tactics are the real abomination! Hypocrites! You’re like fancy tombs, pretty on the outside, but full of death on the inside. Then he turned over the tables where the men in suits made their unholy profits. Coins went flying as he drove them out.

Jesus, thank you for your anger. Give me the courage to act up against injustice.

Next: 4. Jesus Preaches in the Temple

Bible background:
Matthew 23: Jesus on hypocrites
Isaiah 58: “the fast I choose”

More resources:
Perfect Enemies: The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s by John Gallagher and Chris Bull (Washington Post}

This is part of a series based on “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a set of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard, with text by Kittredge Cherry.  For the whole series, click here.

Scripture quotation is from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Danny Berry said...

I'm a bit surprised at how taken I am with these illustrations of Jesus as an urban hipster. I don't imagine anything of the sort can be constructed from the gospels, strictly speaking. But really, Jesus isn't supposed to belong to any one era, community, lifestyle, religion or even, perhaps, politics. I don't suppose the exploitation of workers by large union organizations would be any more palatable than exploitation of workers by robber-baron-owned pre-unionized industrial concerns.

KittKatt said...

These paintings ARE based on the Gospels, just trying to update the time and place. Christians throughout the ages have imagined Jesus within their own cultural context. This is not so much the historical Jesus as the Jesus of faith who lives in and through us.

Danny Berry said...

When I said what I said about what can be constructed from the gospels, I meant to indicate that the gospels really dont give us much of a clue about his socioeconomic standing. We get a picture of an itenerant preacher who "hath not where to lay his head." On the other hand, he gets invited to dine in some posh households like that of Simon the Pharisee, which suggests he's more "presentable" at such a table than perhaps other aspects of the gospel portrayals may lead us to believe. I DO think presenting him as a hipster is interesting but quite a stretch--unless Jesus inhabited the East Village (where I live) of the 1980s when the East Village was a frontier inhabitated by pioneer urban dwellers of all colors and kinds that, in the following decades, came to be coveted by the more privileged who, in some manner, wanted to think of themselves as counter-cultural types. Pretty interesting to turn over in one's mind where Jesus might turn up today. I don't even know what the standing of a carpenter was in Jesus' time and place.

KittKatt said...

Danny, it’s interesting that Jesus looks so clearly like a “hipster” to you in these paintings. I have little fashion sense, but to me the clothing worn by this Jesus looks fairly generic for the late 20th / early 21st century Western world -- a jacket and white shirt. In the later paintings he appears topless with blue jeans (perhaps his prison uniform?)

Others could be more specific about the social standing of a carpenter in Jesus’ day, but I believe it is somewhere in the middle, neither poor nor rich. I have also been impressed by his ability to move with apparent ease between all classes of society.

CJ Barker said...

"You call gays an abomination, but your fundraising tactics are the real abomination!"

For that line alone, I'd give you a well earned 'A' on the whole series, Kitt. Seriously, *really* good job on these commentaries, and the supporting links. You're creating quite a useful and valuable resource here. Thanks for putting in the hard won time and energy to do it. *Much* appreciated!

KittKatt said...

The time and energy to do this Gay Passion series were indeed hard-won due to my health issues, but reflecting on the suffering of Jesus does motivate me to keep going even on the bad days. Great to hear from you again, CJ, and thanks for giving me an “A.”!