somewhere in the dark
Grace is a bit queer, as social justice artist Felicia Follum points out in a new poster. She is among the artists, musicians and thinkers who are shining a queer light on grace -- undeserved help from God.
“The idea for this poster came from my life drawing class. During a critique the class discussed how the model looks like Jesus. It was interesting because the model was a friend who happened to be gay,” says Follum, who often unites art with activism. She lives in Laramie, Wyoming, site of the infamous 1998 gay-bashing murder of Matthew Shepard.
Follum decided to explore the Christian concept of grace and combine it with the Christ-like drawing of her gay friend. “From a Christian perspective, the ‘grace of God’ is a fascinating, strange, and almost incomprehensible. Jesus died on the cross for everyone, including gay people. There is nothing that anyone can do to make God love you less or to make God love you more. That being said, ‘Grace is Queer,’” explains Follum, who earned a bachelor’s degree in art this year from the University of Wyoming.
She purposely muddled the lettering so it would be hard to read. “The text in this poster is jumbled and confusing because that is how grace is in comparison to our culture,” Follum says. “Our culture tells us that if we work hard we will get something better. We can earn anything that we want. Grace is different. We can not earn grace and we can not lose grace. Grace does not make sense and it is not fair.”
|“James Cone’s Black Jesus”|
by Felicia Follum
In his landmark book A Black Theology of Liberation, Cone wrote, “The blackness of God means that God has made the oppressed condition God's own condition.”
Cone laid the groundwork for Patrick Cheng and other queer theologians who use his approach to liberate LGBT people and our allies. Cheng, who teaches at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, studied with Cone as his doctoral advisor. Cheng discusses queer grace in depth in his latest book, From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ.
“We, as LGBT people of faith, must address the doctrine of sin -- and its companion doctrine of grace -- head on. We can no longer avoid or ignore the subject,” Cheng writes. “It is time for LGBT people to take back the words ‘sin’ and ‘grace’ in the same way we have taken back the word ‘queer’!” He proposes seven models of grace (and sin) that arise from LGBT experience:
2) Out Christ (grace as coming out)
3) Liberator Christ (grace as activism)
4) Transgressive Christ (grace as deviance)
5) Self-Loving Christ (grace as pride)
6) Interconnected Christ (grace as interdependence)
7) Hybrid Christ (grace as hybridity)
Long before liberation theology, the idea of grace has always been a bit queer. It comes to mind when people see someone less fortunate and say with grateful compassion, “There but for the grace go I.”
Avant-garde rock singer-songwriter Richard Haxton celebrates grace in his song “The Spark,” which is quoted above. More of his work is available online at Hawkstown.net, a town / solar system built of Haxton’s songs and drawings, music and art.
And the Bible is full of mysterious promises about God’s grace, such as these words from 2 Corinthians 9:8:
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
20 Inspirational Bible Verses About Grace (whatchristianswanttoknow.com)
Felicia Follum Art
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