Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jesus, Queen of Heaven

There was recently quite the brouhaha in Glasgow, UK. It didn't seem to hit the airwaves in the US so much. But if this play was being produced on any US stage, I'm sure there would be massive protests and cries of outrage. Jesus, Queen of Heaven portrays Jesus as a transsexual. From the website: Jesus is a transsexual woman. And it is now she walks the earth. This is a play with music that presents her sayings, her miracles, and her testimony. And she does not condemn the gays or the queers or the trans women or the trans men, and no, not the straight women nor the straight men neither. Because she is the Daughter of God, most certainly, and almost as certainly the son also. And God’s child condemns nobody. She can only love... The producer of the show, Steven Thomson, has said, "Jesus Queen of Heaven is a literary work of fiction exploring the artists own personal journey of faith as a transgendered person." Given that I haven't traveled overseas... well, ever... it's safe to say that I have not seen this show. I have not read this script. I have no idea what all was portrayed. But the idea of the show has me deep in thought. From what I can tell, the play is about the return of Jesus to Earth- as a trans woman. I actually am not getting caught up in the idea of Jesus being a trans woman. The outrage seems to be really focused on that specific idea. But here's my head keeps going... we don't know what the return of Jesus will be like. Isn't it possible that he may return in a form that isn't immediately accepted and loved? Isn't it possible that he will return in a more challenging form? Because God is love, right? And part of what we, as Christians, aim to do is love the way God loves us. So perhaps thinking of Jesus as a trans woman is an important lesson. Perhaps thinking of Jesus as a trans woman gives us an opportunity to look at the people around us, especially those that we discount and look down on, those that we condemn and fear, and see Christ in all people. An opportunity to challenge ourselves to love more deeply, accept more openly. Perhaps this play, this idea can push us to see a chance to step up in our Christianity and be more open, loving, and accepting of all of God's children. I also find myself baffled at getting caught up in Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit needing to be defined by sex or skin color or appearance. Personally, I feel like the Holy Trinity transcends any of that. I was nodding my head in agreement when I read The Shack and was presented with the idea that God presents in whatever form we need to see God in. For some, the gentle old father figure is intimidating but a robust and compassionate mother figure is welcoming and comfortable. Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it's because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest you call me "Papa" is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning. To reveal my self to you as a very large, white grandfather figure with flowing beard, like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes... Even though I use terms like Father and Son in reference to God and Jesus, I don't feel like my mind assigns a gender to either one. When I pray, when I seek comfort or guidance, when I praise and worship... it isn't about a man or a male figure. It's about God. It's about love and peace and joy and ministry. None of that is defined by man, woman, black, white, trans, tall, short, or whatever. Outrage over the idea of Jesus returning as something completely outside of the stereotypical realm of comfort for most Christians is certainly going to push buttons, raise eyebrows, and cause hurt and anger. But is it really about the ideas presented? Or is the reaction really about the ideas being so beyond our comfort levels that we feel like we can't do anything but protest?

7 comments:

Shannon said...

Liz,
I thank you for following my blog Shooting Rapids Without a Paddle. After this post I wonder if you've read my latest post http://shootingrapidswithoutapaddle.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-i-believe.html

I really appreciate that someone has contemplated the Lord as someone other than the male-only stereotype that is a human definition and a box some people try to put God in. God don' fit NO boxes no how!
Shannon

Mellodee said...

Hi Liz,

I am not commenting on the religious aspects of this play. Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, as they should.

Rather I want to praise the author, director, & cast for having the courage & artistic integrity to take on such a controversial play. Thru lots of theatre experience, I have learned that the main function of any play is to make people think, feel or change perceptions, to spark a reaction, whether good, bad, laughter, tears, empathy, or anger. If the play's audience experiences any of those, then it is a success. On that basis alone, this play is a soaring success! I give them my congrats & wish them a long run. Thanks for posting this topic!

(I know this is somewhat off-topic and I apologize for that.)

Teacher Tom said...

If God has male genitals, then it stands to reason that there must be a Mrs. God, right? And baby Gods. =)

Flartus said...

Good points; I too was wandering down the "why should God be defined by gender?" path as I read your description of the play.

I think a lot of whether I could like this concept or not would depend on how it's presented. Is Jesus a flaming, micro-mini, stiletto-wearing trannie, or just a woman in a man's body? I think the former would be tending toward shock value, the latter would invite more reflective acceptance.

But that's just me; I'm not much of a revolutionary type. And you're absolutely right; the media on both sides would be all over this play in the States. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens, too!

Lisa said...

I was moved by the depictions of the Trinity in The Shack as well. You raise great points about our ability - or lack thereof - to separate outward appearance from inner grace, goodness and love. Even if this play depicts Jesus as mini-skirt wearing, flaming trannie (to borrow Flartus' words), how is the shock value of that any different than the original Jesus' acts to shake up the norms of biblical times? I'm not a religious scholar but I remember story after story about the shock to the status quo brought by Jesus' actions (washing feet, hanging with the sinners, etc.). Interesting post - definitely something to think on.

Mrs4444 said...

I just could not get into The Shack--I couldn't get past all of the characters being the trinity, I guess. I made it half-way through and quit (I know, I'm weird.)

Jason, as himself said...

I like the way you think.

I also read The Shack, and as one who doesn't consider himself to be particularly religious, I gleaned a lot of valuable ideas and lessons about God from it.

Good post!