Kittredge Cherry headshot
Kittredge Cherry Update

September  2012

Question mark

Some tough "why" questions have been on my mind, so I share my reflections here with you now.


A black gay man, age 32, started an online conversation with me by saying, "Honestly, I wish I were dead sometimes. It's too hard for me to deal with being gay." 


So many of us have been there! I tried to tell him that when God creates you gay, it is good to stay true to your God-given sexual orientation, even though you face rejection.


Later in our ongoing dialogue he wrote, "I didn't choose to be gay, I didn't wake up one morning and say, 'I want to love other men', but other 'Christians' have basically told me and treated me like I am less than human. Why? What did I do to them? Why do they hate me and try to disguise it behind pretty bible quotes?"


His anguish touched me deeply and reminded me of why it's important to keep promoting LGBT-positive spirituality at Jesus in Love.

Wounded Healer

Henri Nouwen by Robert LentzAs a lesbian I've also been hurt by church and society. I participated in the dialogue described above as what Henri Nouwen called "the wounded healer, the one who must look after his own wounds but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others."


Nouwen was a Catholic priest and bestselling author who wrestled with his own homosexuality. I wrote a new profile of him this month at the Jesus in Love Blog. He's the first person added to my LGBT Saints series by popular demand.


One reader was upset that Nouwen wasn't already on my LGBT Saints list. "How could you leave out Henri!?" I agree that he is an important addition. His "Wounded Healer" book especially helped me when I was ministering during the AIDS crisis in San Francisco in the late 1980s.


(Image credit: "Henri Nouwen by Robert Lentz, Trinity Stores)
Religion and violence: Why?

Jesus Before the Priests by Douglas Blanchard

I have been reflecting a lot on the connection between religion and violence lately, prompted in part by more "why" questions from a reader. These came from Toby Johnson, gay author and Jesus in Love supporter:


"Why is there so much violence in Christian history?

I think it suggests that there's something wrong with the views and values that the Christian stories actually inculcate.

Is it the crucifixion stuff?

Or the "Only Begotten Son of God" stuff?

How does Holy War and Crusade ever evolve out of the teachings of Jesus?"


I am wrestling with these deep questions as I write about the crucifixion for my forthcoming book about "The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision" by artist Douglas Blanchard. I discovered that Christian violence and crucifixion images were much less common for the church's first 1,000 years.


Surprisingly the dead Jesus on the cross was not depicted by artists for a millennium after he died. The mainstream explanation is that early Christians were too ashamed and horrified to show it, but I discovered a much better interpretation in the book "Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire" by progressive theologians Rita Nakashima Brock And Rebecca Ann Parker.


They point out that for a thousand years Christian art celebrated Jesus as a good shepherd or a ruler over God's good creation. The risen Christ brought life and abundance to the earthly paradise. The way he died was not very important to most of them. The early church was also relatively tolerant of homosexuality. It all began to change around the 11th century. More info in this excerpt from Saving Paradise.


(Image credit: "Jesus Before the Priests" by Douglas Blanchard)  

Some happy news
Kittredge Cherry and Audrey

I recently hit 1,000 Facebook friends with the addition of Rev. James A. Forbes! My friend count was at 999, so I decided to wait and see whose invitation would put me over the top. I am honored that my 1,000th friend was Rev. Forbes. I knew his work as pastor at Riverside Church in New York, but I didn't realize that he knew about me.


My beloved Audrey and I marked 37 years together on Labor Day weekend. This is the anniversary of the day we met, which we celebrated for years before we were able to get an official church blessing for our relationship. Now we celebrate twice a year. I'm on the right in this photo of us.  


I'm working on a piece with new unpublished material about how Francis of Assisi can be considered a gay saint. Watch for it in early October at the Jesus in Love Blog.

Last Words: Love the Questions

I hope that you love the questions as I do. Your support helps keep me going strong. May your spiritual life is nourished by wrestling with some important "why" questions with me. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke put it well:


"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."



Kittredge Cherry 

About Kittredge Cherry
Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian Christian author and art historian whose books include "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More." She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches.  She writes regularly about LGBT spirituality and the arts at the Jesus in Love Blog. Full bio
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