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September 2015
Jesus in Love Newsletter
LGBT spirituality and the arts
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In This Issue
Trans Jesus play
Dvine same-sex love
Gay saint of 9/11
Mary's lesbian roots
Sept books
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Bayard Rustin
John Henry Newman
Radclyffe Hall
Queer Italian friar
Black Madonna
Bernard of Clairvaux
Krishna and Christ

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Vision statement
New spiritual visions arise through a transgender Jesus play, images of politicians as gay saints, and in the lives of LGBTQ people past and present.
Transgender Jesus play goes global

Jo Clifford as Trans Jesus
A controversial play about a transgender Jesus will go on an international tour after a successful run in Scotland.
"The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven" is written and performed by Scottish trans* woman  Jo Clifford. In the play Jesus comes back to the present as a transgender woman, telling Bible stories in new ways and inviting the audience to share bread and cup. More info and videos 
(Credit: Jo Clifford as trans Jesus; photo by Rodd Penn)  
Divine love turns leaders into gay saints

Obama and Putin by Jim Lyngvild
Divine love transforms presidents Obama and Putin into gay saints in art by Jim Lyngvild. It's part of a controversial Danish art exhibit that opened Aug. 29.

Lyngvild says he depicted the opposing leaders in love as a way to reflect his own sexuality and challenge viewers to understand the power of love. More info

(Credit: "Divine Love" by Jim Lyngvild) 
Gay saint of 9/11: Mychal Judge
Mychal Judge icon by Fr. William McNichols

Father Mychal Judge, chaplain to New York firefighters and unofficial "gay saint," died helping others in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. More info

(Credit: "Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge" by Father William Hart McNichols)

Mary's feast has lesbian-goddess roots

Assumption of Mary by Guido Remi Mary's Feast of the Assumption is a major church holiday with lesbian roots.  It comes from an ancient Roman festival for woman-loving goddess Diana (Artemis), the virgin goddess of the moon and the hunt.   


There are many connections between these two "Queens of Heaven." More info  


(Credit: "Assumption of Mary" by Guido Remi)

New LGBT Christian books for September

"Reforming Sodom:
Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights" by Heather Rachelle White 

"Constance Maynard's Passions: Religion, Sexuality, and an English Educational Pioneer, 1849-1935" by Pauline A. Phipps 

Summaries of new books
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Bayard Rustin: Champion of civil rights
Bayard Rustin and Walter Naegle by Ryan Grant Long
Bayard Rustin by Sabrina Zarco Bayard Rustin was a black gay man and chief organizer of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.

Pushed into the background because he was openly gay in a homophobic era, Rustin has been called a "lost prophet."  More info

(Left: "Bayard Rustin and Walter Naegle" by Ryan Grant Long.
Right: "Bayard Rustin" by Sabrina Zarco)
Newman shared a romantic friendship
John Henry Newman and Ambrose St. John


Blessed John Henry Newman, a 19th-century British scholar-cardinal, had a "romantic friendship" with Ambrose St. John. The two priests lived together for 32 years and share the same grave.    


After converting together to Catholicism, they both studied in Rome, where they were ordained at the same time. "From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable," Newman recalled. More info  

Radclyffe Hall: Queer Christian themes mark banned book "Well of Loneliness"
Radclyffe Hall on the Cross drawing

A queer Christ figure is the main character in the world's best known lesbian novel, "The Well of Loneliness" by Radclyffe Hall.


The book was banned for obscenity in England in 1928, not just because it portrayed same-sex love, but also for using religious arguments to support "inverts" -- a 1920s term for LGBTQ people. Hall, a devoutly Catholic British lesbian, was herself pictured being nailed to the cross in a satirical cartoon from the era.  More info 

John of La Verna: A friar kissed by Jesus 
Jesus embracing John of La Verna

Chapel at Mount La Verna Blessed John of La Verna is a medieval Italian friar known for his visions of kissing and being kissed by Jesus.  He also had an intense relationship with a fellow friar. Franciscan scholar Kevin Elphick writes a profile of Blessed John as a queer saint and gives a vivid personal story of a his trip to John's chapel in Italy.  More info  


(Left: Jesus embraces Blessed John. Right: John's Chapel at Mount La Verna, photo by Kevin Elphick
Black Madonna becomes lesbian defender

Black Madonna of Czestochowa Ezili Dantor
The Black Madonna of Czestochowa, one of the most famous Catholic icons, is the model for a Erzulie Dantor, a Haitian Vodou goddess who protects lesbians. Her sister Erzulie Freda is the patron of gay men. Black Madonnas embody the mysterious shadow side of the divine feminine. More info

(Credit: Left: Black Madonna of Czestochowa from Wikimedia. Right: Ezili Dantor prayer card from the Vodou Store.) 

Bernard of Clairvaux and Malachy: Honey-tongued abbot loved archbishop

null Bernard of Clairvaux by Rowan Lewgalon
Bernard of Clairvaux was a medieval French abbot who wrote homoerotic poetry about Jesus and had a passionate same-sex friendship with the Irish archbishop Malachy of Armagh. Bernard is best known for founding 70 monasteries around Europe and for his mystical writings.  More info

(Left: "Christ Embracing St. Bernard of Clairvaux" by Francisco Ribalta. Right: "Bernard of Clairvaux" by Rowan Lewgalon.)

What if Christ and Krishna made love?

Jesus and Lord Rama by Alex Donis
If Christ met Krishna, would there be conflict or kisses? Did Jesus visit India? They are two of the world's greatest teachers of love. Would they speak of love, even make love?

The delightful queer possibilities are considered in the work of artistic visionaries like poet Brian Day and artist Alex Donis. Those who value love, sexuality and interfaith dialogue can find enlightenment in their work. More info

(Credit: "Jesus and Lord Rama" by Alex Donis)
I close with a new version of the prayer that Jesus taught. It comes from "The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven" by Jo Clifford, covered today on the Jesus in Love Blog.

Our mother who art on earth
Blessed is your name
Your joy be here on earth
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily kisses
Forgive us our stupidity
As we forgive those stupidities done to us.
Lead us not into self-righteousness or rage
And save us from destruction and negativity.
For thine is the queendom
The beauty and the joy
For ever and ever amen.
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Kittredge Cherry
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