Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jesus has male lover in “Marien Revelation”

Gay Jesus themes run through “The Marién Revelation,” a daring new novel by Miguel Santana.

Born in Mexico, Santana is a gay man and an internationally published author. He holds a Ph. D. in Hispanic Literature from the University of Texas at Austin, and currently lives in Florida.

His novel weaves together the lives of Mary, mother of Jesus, and Marién Valbuena, a 21st-century feminist theology professor whose roots are both Mexican and Mormon. The relationship between Jesus and his male lover is only a minor subplot -- but what a subplot!

Santana writes with sensuous grace about the erotic connections between Jesus and the man called “Beloved.” Although the queer Christ plays only a small role in the book, it’s not hard to find the homoeroticism. It starts on the first pages of the prologue as the Beloved remembers Jesus: “I feel him, his arms sheltering me with the immeasurable tenderness of our first embrace, with the strength of his almighty love…. He, who invented a paradise with his mouth of flowers, who made love to me under breathless skies….”

The marketing of “The Marién Revelation” has been a work of art in itself, thanks to Santana’s life partner Ken Kimball, who is also his agent and publisher. named it one of the most anticipated novels of 2010. The marketing campaign includes a video (above) that is not to be missed. See Michelangelo’s beautiful male nudes while pondering such questions as, “What if the Bible suggested he had a male lover? Would you still believe in him?”

The book’s gay Christian material was enough to alienate some publishers. Santana’s first novel, “When Alligators Sing,” set off a bidding war among Spanish publishers, but his new book is getting a lukewarm reception in the foreign rights market. On his blog, Santana names the homophobia behind the resistance: “I get it; some people are uncomfortable with the notion of Christ as a human being and all the implications that entails… Yes, you have a pretty liberal mind but to question the heterosexuality, if any, of Jesus, well, let’s just not go there. That aversion is nothing but homophobia,” Santana says.

In “The Marién Revelation,” Mary is also liberated and unconventional. She comes from a long line of women who teach the mysteries of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and she is comfortable worshipping Greek and Roman deities. Among her students is her son, Jesus.

Santana presents both Mary and Jesus as flawed human beings. I welcome the way that he questions Jesus’ sexual orientation, but as a Christian I struggle with his secular explanation of Christ’s resurrection. The excruciatingly realistic violence and abuse depicted by Santana can also be disturbing.

The author has said that the inspiration for the novel was “intellectual curiosity” and “the connection I felt to a greater universality.” Santana decided to write it simultaneously in Spanish (his native language) and English. “If Spanish is the blood that flows through the novel, English channels it. If English structures my text, Spanish stimulates it,” Santana explained on his blog.

“The Marién Revelation” (Alligator Press, paperback, 210 pages $15.95) is a welcome addition to the growing number of books that explore the queer side of Christ. Click here for our list of the top 12 gay Jesus books.

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(Photo: Miguel Santana)


Glorfindel said...

Wow! There are actually awards for this sort of thing.

Take care!


Kittredge Cherry said...

Well, I’d say the writing quality of “The Marien Revelation” is too good for it to win the Bad Sex in Fiction Award… but it might get a Lambda Literary Award.

(My book “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More” was a finalist for 2007.)

It's a pleasure to have you commenting here, Glorfindel.

Turtle Woman said...

Can't wait to read this book! Wow, a heroine who is a feminist theology professor! My kind of book.

Kittredge Cherry said...

I hope you enjoy the novel, Turtle Woman. Marien, the feminist theology professor, isn’t completely heroic. She’s not always able to practice what she preaches. I expect that you’ll appreciate the lesbian elements, but she’s also involved in an abusive relationship with a Catholic priest who turns into a Mormon. Her connection with the goddess propels her life -- and the book. Let us know what you think when you read it.