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August 2016
Jesus in Love Newsletter
LGBTQ spirituality and the arts
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In This Issue
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Nancy Wilson retires
Bearded woman saint
New books: Aug 2016
Holy fool and hermit
Seneca Falls saints
Queer Kuan Yin
Mary and Martha
Boris and George
Renaissance artist

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Queer religious role models for our time are presented in this month's newsletter. Leading the way is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an influential 20th-century theologian who loved another man.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Eberhard Bethge: Anti-Nazi theologians and soulmates

Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Tobias Haller
Influential German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Nazi dissident whom many scholars believe experienced same-sex attraction. Speculation about his likely gay orientation focuses on his love for Eberhard Bethge, who was his best friend, confidant and biographer.

The possibility of a gay Bonhoeffer is especially significant because conservatives use him as a role model for government resistance in their opposition to marriage equality. More info

(Credit: "Dietrich Bonhoeffer" by Tobias Haller)
Pioneering lesbian minister retires  
Nancy Wilson with Desmond Tutu and Kittredge Cherry
Pioneering lesbian minister Nancy Wilson was honored in July as she retires as moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Jesus in Love publisher Kittredge Cherry worked closely with Nancy from 1991-94 as MCC's ecumenical field director. More info 
St. Wilgefortis: Bearded woman

Saint Wilgefortis
St. Wilgefortis prayed to avoid marriage to a pagan king -- and her prayers were answered when she grew a beard! 
People have honored this virgin martyr since the 14th century, but today some wonder about the queer causes behind her beard.  More info

(Credit: St. Wilgefortis sculpture in Prague, Curious Expeditions)
New LGBTQ Christian books: Aug 2016  

"Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome: Sexuality, Identity, and Community in Early Modern Europe" by Gary Ferguson
"The Prince's Psalm" (novel about love between Bible's David and Jonathan) by Eric Shaw Quinn

"Christianity and Controversies Over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa" by Adriaan Van Klinken and Ezra Chitando (editors) 
Holy fool and hermit loved each other

Symeon and John by Jim Ru

Sixth-century Syrian monks Symeon and John were were joined in a same-sex union and lived together as desert-dwelling hermits for 29 years. After a tearful split-up, Symeon went on to become known as the Holy Fool of Emesa. More info 


(Credit: "Symeon and John" by Jim Ru

Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall:
Four women reformers honored as saints

 Sencca Falls saints by Tobias Haller  
A vision of equality that inspired people "through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall" is celebrated as a holy feast day honoring four 19th-century American women reformers. President Obama connected women's liberation, LGBT equality and African American civil rights when he spoke of the truth that guided people "through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."  More info

(Credit: "Four Women for Freedom" by Tobias Haller)
Kuan Yin: Queer Buddhist Christ figure

Kwan Yin is Coming by Stehen Mead
Kuan Yin, the androgynous spirit of compassion in Buddhism, is sometimes thought of as a queer Christ figure or LGBT role model. Buddhists celebrated the enlightenment of Kuan Yin on July 22 this year.

Toby Johnson, Hsiao-Lan Hu, Patrick Cheng and others explore how Kuan Yin unites male and female.  More info

(Credit: "Kwan Yin is Coming" by Stephen Mead)
Mary and Martha: Sisters or lesbians?

Mary and Martha by Bernardino Luini
Mary and Martha of Bethany were two of Jesus' closest friends.  The Bible calls them "sisters" who lived together, but reading the Bible with queer eyes raises another possibility.  Maybe Mary and Martha were a lesbian couple.  

They formed a nontraditional family at a time when there was huge pressure for heterosexual marriage.  More info

(Credit: "Mary and Martha" by Bernardino Luini)
Saint Boris and George: United in love

St. Boris and George by Robert Lentz
Saint Boris, a popular medieval saint in Russia and Ukraine, loved George the Hungarian. As LGBT people continue to face discrimination in their homeland, may remembering the queer love between Boris and George help bring equality. The feast day of Saint Boris is July 24 -- the same day that same-sex marriage became legal in New York in 2011. More info

(Credit: "Saints Boris and George the Hungarian" by Robert Lentz)

Gentileschi shows strong Biblical women

Judith and Her Maidservant by Artemisia Gentileschi Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi inspires people with her paintings of strong Biblical women -- created despite the obstacles that she faced as a woman in 17th-century Italy.  Many queer people and our allies can relate to her battles against discrimination and sexual violence. More info


(Credit: "Judith and Her Maidservant" by Artemisia Gentileschi)

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Jesus in Love's LGBT saints series is featured in the LGBT Religious Archives Network's July newsletter.

Jesus in Love publisher Kittredge Cherry was consecrated to professional ministry 27 years ago on Aug. 6, 1989. See vintage photos.

I close with a quote from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world."

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