Monday, February 16, 2015
Queer Clergy Trading Cards feature Kittredge Cherry
Kittredge Cherry, founder of the Jesus in Love Blog, is featured on a new Queer Clergy Trading Card. It identifies her "super power" as "resurrectiong queer Christ."
The cards are a fun way to bring more visibility to LGBTQ ministers. Queer clergy look cool on these virtual “trading cards.”
Currently the Queer Clergy Trading Cards are shared on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, but plans are underway to offer printed cards through the new website www.queerclergytradingcards.com.
Queer Clergy Trading Cards are created by Chris Davies, a United Church of Christ minister who studies queer theology at Andover Newton Theological School.
The process of becoming a Queer Clergy Trading Card includes answering a witty questionnaire from Davies. She described Cherry’s answers as “a thoughtful novel on the questions.” Highlights from their interview are posted here.
For more info on Queer Clergy Trading Cards, see the previous post “Queer Clergy Trading Cards bring visibility with humor.”
Queer Clergy Trading Cards: What are you so amazingly good at... that it might be your SUPER POWER!? Please give me a few different options, I'm going to pick one!
Kittredge Cherry: I am good at writing about LGBTQ spirituality and art. I have been called an “outsider god blogger” and a “living saint” for doing the Jesus in Love Blog and Newsletter.
Before becoming a clergy in Metropolitan Community Churches, I was a newspaper reporter and author. My first book, “Womansword: What Japanese Language says about Women,” even got a good review in the New York Times! (They praised my “very graceful, erudite” style.) I bring a strong writing background into my queer ministry.
I am especially devoted to Jesus and I am known for promoting the idea of a queer Christ. Though my prayer life and study, I gained the insight that the historical Jesus may have been gay or queer… and that the living Christ is in everyone, including LGBTQI people. I often present this idea on my blog and in my books, and the response has been tremendous – both positive and negative. Hate groups keep warning me that hellfire awaits me! But many agree with me that the queer Christ is important now because conservatives are using Christianity to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people.
My “LGBT Saints” series is popular and well known. In fact, it led some people started calling me “Saint Kitt.” (Ha!) I started writing about queer saints because readers told me they were getting bored with my constant focus on Jesus. Now I have come to love doing historical search and writing about saints – broadly defined as anyone who creates more love in the world.
I love art -- looking at it, making it, and nurturing the rare artists who present the queer Christ and LGBTQ saints. My mother was an art teacher and I majored in art history (and journalism) at the University of Iowa.
I have a special gift for reaching queer people who are “unchurched” or “post-church” – those who never went to church or got fed up and left. The reason is because I myself grew up mostly unchurched and thinking that there was no God. I had a conversion experience in my mid-20s when I felt God reach out personally to me. Suddenly I knew there was a God, and that God loved me just as I am, even though I was a lesbian. I was baptized as an adult at an ecumenical church in Japan (where I was a graduate student at the time). I was living in the closet, afraid of social rejection. But knowing that God loved me gave me the strength to come out as a lesbian. When I took my clergy vows in MCC, I added outreach to the secular world in addition to the standard vows.
Another strength is my international, cross-cultural, interfaith and ecumenical background. I have lived abroad, traveled the world and worked as ecumenical officer at MCC international headquarters, advocating for LGBT rights at the World Council of Churches. At WCC conferences I used to wear a button that said, “Lesbian Christian.” Most people fled in terror, but I quickly identified a few supporters that way. One of my recent cross-cultural efforts is partnering with a queer theologian in Argentina to do Santos Queer, a Spanish-language version of my blog.
I have been called “a mystic on the Christ path” because I am devoted to Jesus and I lead a relatively simple, quiet life now. I feel strong love and connection to Jesus in particular, more than most Christians that I know. It feels like he is always with me, ready to help. I am officially “retired” now so I am a bit like a hermit or medieval monk, who preserves and illuminates the story of God while living apart from the world (and connecting over the Internet!) One of my friends marveled, “You could be happy just living in a cave!”
QCTC: What's your kryptonite? People have taken this all sorts of different directions. Something you can't say "no" to... something that you have to work on, individually... or something that irks you about the church/system/world as a whole. You pick. and tell me which! And also, give me a few different options to pick from...
Kittredge Cherry: One of my “kryptonites” is – staircases! And any building without access ramps for the disabled! In recent years I have health problems that make it hard or impossible for me to go up and down steps, so they are real barriers for me. It’s especially sad when churches aren’t accessible, and even worse when they don’t care. Meanwhile I am working to build my health and muscle strength.
“Never lose your joy!” That’s what a stranger – a nun – said to me very early in my ministry after a worship service that I led. At the time, I thought, “I won’t lose my joy.” But over the decades I sometimes have lost my joy. When I’m feeling discouraged, I remember her words like a beacon.
In my preaching, I tend to stick to the message that God loves all people. For me, that idea is so powerful and transformative that it automatically leads to a solution for every dilemma. But I work to go beyond that basic messages because congregants have complained, “I already know God loves me, now what?!”
QCTC: What song would you walk out to preach to? Artist and song, please!
“Oh! You Pretty Things” by David Bowie. David Bowie’s music and androgynous style got me through junior high and high school in the 1970s.
Anything else that might help me in design elements? (all the goofy stuff all around the cards)
Do you love cats? Are you obsessed with Gothic Style? Do you have a secret desire to be a firefighter? What's your favorite color?
Andy Warhol is my favorite artist. I love his art, his ideas, and his androgynous, counter-cultural style. My favorite style of art is contemporary.
My second homeland is Japan, where I lived for three years as a young adult. I still love Japanese culture.
My favorite color is -- Rainbow!