Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Book Stirs Gay Jesus Debate (4/4/07)

BERKELEY, CA -- April 4, 2007 -- A new novel about the sexual and spiritual awakening of a queer Christ is sparking controversy this Easter.

“Christ taught love, but some of his followers preach hate,” says Kittredge Cherry, the lesbian Christian author of “Jesus in Love.” “Conservative Christians are calling me names and saying I’ll go to hell -- all because I wrote a novel with a gay love story between Jesus and his disciple John.”

Right-wing Christian bloggers labeled Cherry “a hyper-homosexual revisionist” and denounced her book as “garbage,” “insanity” and “a blatant act defamation and blasphemy.” Her website,, got many emails with warnings such as, “Gays are not wanted in the kingdom of Christ! They are cast into the lake of fire.”

This kind of religious bigotry is exactly why “Jesus in Love” is needed, Cherry noted. “Christian rhetoric is used to justify hate and discrimination against LGBT people, but Jesus loved everyone, including sexual outcasts,” she says.

Cherry was at the forefront of the sexuality debate at the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches as National Ecumenical Officer for Metropolitan Community Churches. She wrote “Jesus in Love” after Chronic Fatigue Syndrome forced her into a more contemplative life.

“Jesus in Love” closely follows the Biblical text and standard Christian doctrine while speculating on Christ’s erotic inner life. It presents a gender-blind Jesus who blends masculinity and femininity as he does humanity and divinity. Enchanted by people’s souls, he barely notices their gender and ends up falling in love with John, Mary Magdalene and the multi-gendered Holy Spirit as he teaches and heals people in first-century Palestine.

“Every community presents Jesus in their own way,” Cherry explains. “There’s black Jesus, Asian Jesus -- and now queer Jesus to heal the damage being done by homophobes in Christ’s name.”

LGBT spiritual leaders affirm “Jesus in Love.” Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, says, “Kitt Cherry has broken through the stained-glass barrier” and urges people to read her “classic re-telling of the greatest story ever told.”

Theology professor Carter Heyward calls it as “a lovely, gentle, playful book” and gay spirituality author Toby Johnson praises it as “a real tour de force in transforming traditional myth to modern consciousness.”

“Jesus in Love” is also getting good reviews in the secular LGBT community, and translations into German and Portuguese are underway. Syndicated gay book critic Richard Labonte proclaimed it “a winsome affirmation of erotic love’s sacred potential.” The Bay Area Reporter described it as “sensuous, courageous, and unique.”

“Jesus in Love” (ISBN 1-933993-18-9) is published by AndroGyne Press, a new queer studies press in Berkeley, CA. Ingram Book Group distributes it.

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