Cherry, Kittredge. “Jesus in Love: At the Cross”, Androgyne Press, 2008.
I have said this before and I will say it again, “Kittredge Cherry is a very brave person”. She goes where others dare not tread and she does so with great style. Her first two books about Jesus-“Jesus in Love” and “Art that Dares” also dealt with controversy and are wonderful reads so I had no reason to suspect that that her latest book would be any the less. In fact, I think it may even be better than its predecessors. Cherry looks at the life of Jesus as if he had been a gay man and how he and others would identify him. His connections with others like John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene would unquestionably have been very different.
Cherry has Jesus narrate his own story so we get a first person perspective and what is so interesting is that this novel probes the nature of humanity and not religious or spiritual issues. Cherry advances no agenda, rather she gives us a fictionalized account of what it would have been like had Jesus been queer. Granted that I as a Jewish gay man may see the book differently than others who have grown while being pressured with Jesus stories but that does not, in any way, take away from the elements that Cherry used in order to write a good book. There should also be no question about the nature of what this book says as it is simply an alternative view on a story that seems to have been around forever.
Cherry quite simply takes a good hard look at the traditional story of Jesus and then makes it relevant to us by bringing it to modern consciousness. (And this is no easy task). To depict a gay relationship between Jesus and his disciple, John the Baptist, is not easily done if it is to read as convincing. The novel takes place during the period from Palm Sunday through the Pentecost and has sections on The Last Supper, the arrest of Jesus, his trial and crucifixion and resurrection. Cherry maintains that “Jesus has today’s queer sensibilities and psychological sophistication as he reveals the erotic, mystical experiences that may have led to the first Easter”.
As in any book of fiction, the storyline is important but here what is equally of importance is the style with which this book was written. I must take my hat off to Ms. Cherry who has been brave enough to go where few dare.