Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sex and spirit mix on Jesus book cover from Germany (12/12/07)

LOS ANGELES, California -- Dec. 12, 2007 -- A homoerotic Christ image on the cover of a new German book is sparking international debate as Christmas approaches.

The provocative cover art appears on the newly released German translation of “Jesus in Love,” a novel about a queer Christ by American author Kittredge Cherry.

The cover art by Berlin painter Alexander von Agoston shows a near-naked Jesus and John the Baptist rising from the water together after Christ’s baptism. The men’s genitals shine through their wet clothes. A shared halo affirms the union of body and spirit.

“My book says that gay sexuality is holy to Christ, but even I thought the image was too frankly erotic for the cover at first,” Cherry said.

Discussions with her German publisher, Edition EuQor convinced the author to approve the powerful cover. “German readers are used to seeing nudity on covers, much more than Americans,” the publisher said. “Sure, the cover attracts attention. That’s what a cover is for.”

Cherry, a passionate promoter of queer spiritual art, is now enthusiastic about the controversial cover. “Gay-positive Christian images are needed now because conservatives are using religious rhetoric to justify discrimination against queer people. The cover goes all the way in showing that God loves gays. It’s the right cover for Germany,” she said.

Cherry is a lesbian Christian author who offers spiritual resources at JesusInLove.org and blogs at the Jesus In Love Blog. She was at the forefront of the international debate on sexuality and spirituality as National Ecumenical Officer for Metropolitan Community Churches. Her other books include “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.”

The German translation of “Jesus in Love” was released in time for Christmas by Edition EuQor, a start-up German press specializing in provocative books.

“When ‘Jesus in Love’ was published in English, websites in Germany buzzed with excitement,” the publisher said. “The idea of a bisexual Jesus seemed to fascinate Germans more than anyone else outside the English-speaking world. Soon Edition EuQor offered to do a German translation.”

Reactions to the “Jesus in Love” cover vary widely from delight to shock and disdain, even within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

The original English version of “Jesus in Love” was published in 2006 by AndroGyne Press with a more romantic cover drawing of Jesus and John wreathed in roses. Conservative Christians attacked the novel as blasphemy because it portrays a Jesus who felt sexual attraction to men. However, it received praise from literary critics and GLBT Christian leaders.

Mel White, founder of the GLBT Christian activist group Soulforce, endorsed the English version. “Kitt Cherry has broken through the stained-glass barrier,” White said. “This is not a prurient look at the sex life of Jesus, but a classic re-telling of the greatest story ever told.”

Theology professor Carter Heyward called it “a lovely, gentle, playful book.” Toby Johnson, author of “Gay Spirituality,” described it as “a wonderful, gay-sensitive, and delightfully ‘shocking’ reassessment of the stories of the old-time religion.”

For more info and a look at the cover, visit:
# # #

Media contacts:
info@JesusInLove.org or verlag@euqor.de

Jesus in Love: A Novel
By Kittredge Cherry
German hardcover: ISBN 978-3-940071-04-0, 288 pages, 34,90 EUR
German paperback: ISBN 978-3-940071-07-1, 288 pages, 24,90 EUR
English paperback: ISBN 1-933993-18-9, 328 pages, $18.95, distributed by Ingram

No comments: