Terrance Heath

Sweet Jesus

Filed By Terrance Heath | August 19, 2007 4:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Christian beliefs, Jesus, penis, religion, Sheila Kennedy

I told you he was a little sweet. First it was the chocolate Jesus. Now it's a queer Jesus. [Via The Freethinker.]

jumpcut movie:bild7
Fingers were being pointed at religious extremists on Sunday after a fight outside an exhibition that portrays Jesus as gay.

The Ecce Homo photo exhibition, by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, has been causing controversy ever since it was first unveiled a decade ago. In Jönköping on Sunday, protests against the exhibition turned violent.

A group of youngsters tried to set fire to a poster on the wall of Jönköping Kulturhuset, where the exhibition was being held. When staff tried to stop them a fight broke out.

Some reports say a melee broke out.

A melee broke out in Sweden outside a photography exhibit depicting Jesus as a homosexual.

Artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin created the Ecce Homo exhibit 10 years ago, and it has been controversial ever since.

On Sunday, a group of young people tried to set fire to a poster at the Jonkoping Kulturhuset, The Local reported.

Tell me again about Muslims rioting over cartoons. Sure, nobody was killed in this reaction, but tell me there wouldn't be violence if an exhibit like this came to the U.S. (Maybe even accompanied by a performance of Corpus Christi.

(Fair warning. There's a "Jesus-with-a-penis" in the slideshow after the jump.)


Like I said before, a Jesus with a penis raises a lot of questions.


The pictures from the exhibit are availabe at the this website.

Again, right off the bat (get it?), we got a problem. This Jesus clearly has a penis. At least it appears to be circumcised, but it?s presence raises (I'm not doing this on purpose, I swear) all sort of other questions. If Jesus had a penis, what did he do with it? What did it do? What did he do with it? And with whom? Did it work? Did Jesus ever get an erection? After all, depending on what you believe he was fully human (or some combination of human and divine). And at some point he was a teenage boy going through puberty, which means it wouldn't have taken much for him to get one, if the organ worked the way it does in most healthy young men.

Well, whatever he did or didn't do with his some of his self-professed followers are driven to distraction about what others do with theirs, and the fact that not everyone hates them for it. That some of their co-religionists fall into the same camp makes it even worse. How else do you explain their invasion and disruption of worship services in two gay-friendly churches. [Via Pride Depot.]

A conservative Christian values group has been interrupting services at two central Ohio churches to protest their support for homosexuality.

Minutemen United vowed to attend services every Sunday.

The group started its crusade when First Baptist Church in Granville hosted "Love Makes a Family," a traveling exhibit by the Family Diversity Project showing photos of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

The night the exhibit opened in July, members of Minutemen United stood outside and protested the exhibit and the church's open attitude toward homosexuality, said the Rev. Kathy Hurt, senior pastor at the Granville church.

Since then, the group has been visiting the church every Sunday, she said.

On one of the first Sundays, six people came to the church's 11 a.m. service and addressed the congregation during a time designated for prayer requests and comments.

And this, is not quite 20 years after ACT-UP crashed St. Patrick's Cathedral, something I think people have only just stopped talking about.

But the question that comes to mind for me wasn't brought up by the Minutemen, but by the Swedish evangelicals. And it's the same question I had before.

But all of this fails to address the question hanging in the air. To whom does Jesus belong? To whom does his story belong? To whom do religious texts and stories belong? To whom does religion belong? Does it belong only to the believers? Or does it belong to everyone who lives in a culture under its influence?

Does it belong to those who have suffered oppression, injustice, and even violence in its name? Do those people have a claim to it? Do they owe it their reverence? Do they have a right to appropriate, re-interpret, and re-tell its stories, or recast its icons in order to redeem or reclaim what?s been taken from or denied them in its name? And what, in doing so, will they reveal or destroy? What will they challenge?

As Sheila Kennedy points out in God and Country: America in Red and Blue that even those of who are not particularly religious can't escape living in culture that has been drenched in religion for centuries.

...evidence suggests that the filtering effects of normative paradigms incorporating religious ways of seeing reality persist in individuals who no longer consciously embrace (or are even familiar with) the theological propositions that shaped them. In other words, religious or secular, we have all been socialized into cultural and conceptual social norms that were originally based on religion and religious ways of understanding the world, and those norms continue to shape our worldviews.

The "mythos" of American religiosity, what Kennedy calls "a vision of how human communities ought to be organized," is inescapable, and touches our lives in myriad ways. So, whatever the MInutemen or the Swedish evangelicals might say, we all have as much claim on as it has on us; with full rights to re-imagine, re-interpret and revamp as necessary.

The woman behind the renewed interest in these images put it this way.

Violence broke out over a gay Jesus art show in Sweden Aug. 12. The controversial images also appear in the new book "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More" by Rev. Kittredge Cherry.

... An online gallery of selected gay Jesus images, including Ohlson Wallin's work, was recently added to Cherry's website, JesusInLove.org.

"The violence in Sweden is the latest example of why the queer Christ is needed," said lesbian Christian author Kittredge Cherry. "People try to censor the gay Jesus, but I compiled queer Christ images a book to show that Christ belongs to everybody, even the sexual outcasts. Jesus taught love, but now Christian rhetoric is being used to justify hate and discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."

As far as I'm concerned, she's right. If that means taking taking a queer Jesus, dipping him in chocolate, and sprinkling him with nuts. So be it.

And why shouldn't it be that way?

Crossposted from the Republic of T.


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Isn't there a passage in the Gospels somewhere that at a dinner, the Apostle John, a.k.a. "the apostle whom Jesus loved", was resting against Jesus's chest? I don't have time to locate it at the moment.

I have this theory that Jesus and John, who was only about thirteen at the time of the crucifixion, had a little bit of a thing going. Maybe just some cuddling, but a bit of a thing.

Personally, I think it's great to see Sheila's "name in lights" for her book. As one of TBP's favorite contributors, we often forget that she writes more than just columns and blog posts.