Kittredge, Cherry (author) and Douglas Blanchard (artist). “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision”, Apocryphile Press, 2014.
Jesus as a Gay Man Today
I did not think that I would ever see a book like this but then I also never thought I would see the LGBT community gain the acceptance that it has. The world is changing very quickly and I just want to keep up. Here we have stunningly beautiful images of Jesus as the modern Christ as he is “jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes, and rises again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God”. We see him on a journey with his diverse friends as he moves from suffering to freedom.
Here are twenty-four paintings in the gay Passion of Jesus’ final days and they include his arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. We know and see that Christianity is being used to justify hate and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and that is why this book is so important. Each image is accompanied by insightful commentary and a short prayer and scripture leading us to ask if Jesus were to come back today, would he be crucified again? Would we even recognize him?
What these paintings really do is show Jesus as not belonging to any particular time or place or as a member of any specific or single group. Author Cherry says, “A queer Passion is crucial now even for non-believers because Christianity is being used to justify discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The book speaks not only to the LGBT community, but to everyone who is passionate about building a more just world.”
We especially see this in that the artist takes Jesus and the narrative about him and then rescues it from fundamentalist thought and from the familiar thoughts about him. What makes the book so special aside from the wonderful art and commentary is that it serves two purposes—it is a great help for meditation and it gives as informative analysis for secular readers who are interested
in religion, art, history, and LGBT studies. Here the emphasis is not on worship but rather to show us how to remember that the purpose of thinking about what is here is the continuous cycle of violence and a way to move toward the freedom we all deserve. Cherry reminds us that the Passion is “the ultimate affirmation that God stands in solidarity with humankind.”
Artist Blanchard says that by showing Jesus in his sufferings is to see him as one who understands what it means to be an “unwelcome outsider.” Michael Bronski of Harvard says that the book is
“transformative in the most profound sense of the word.” Whether you are religious or not, it is impossible to read ‘The Passion of Christ’ without having your basic beliefs shaken and expanded.”
“Disturbing, but ultimately glorious… Radically transforming…” –from the afterword by Toby Johnson, religion scholar and author of Gay Spirituality
“I was deeply moved by this retelling of the Easter story.” –Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches
“Together the paintings and text forced me to see Jesus again… as a living, breathing, sensual son of man whom I want to know more intimately.” –Rev. Dr. Mel White, founder of Soulforce
“Deeply effective and brings to life the Passion not only for the LGBT community but for all people struggling to find themselves in the narrative and make sense of their faith.” –Rev. Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
“This marvelous book will speak not only to LGBTIQ Christians, but also to anyone who is passionate about creating a more just world for the marginalized and excluded.” –Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Episcopal Divinity School professor
“The divine leaps from these pages into open hearts. Few will view this art and read these commentaries without weeping for injustice and committing to love.” –Mary Hunt, co-director, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
“Not only is this a compellingly gay and much-needed re-visioning of the central Christian mystery. It also defiantly reaffirms our common humanity.” –Donald L. Boisvert, Concordia University religion professor
“Here Kittredge Cherry and Douglas Blanchard make Jesus live. For new trials and times, new faces and places, challenging our conceptions, preconceptions, and misconceptions.” –S. Brent Plate, Hamilton College religion professor and author of Blasphemy: Art that Offends
“A great contribution to art about Jesus. Paintings, interpretations, and afterword are all quite profound.” –Rev. Chris Glaser, author of Coming Out as Sacrament
“Fertile resources for reflection, meditation, study and prayer.” –Susannah Cornwall, research fellow in religion, University of Exeter
“Provocative and powerful.” –Theodore Jennings, Chicago Theological Seminary professor