Some Readings for Holy Week

Reiter’s Block fans, I apologize for the shortage of original material lately. I have been keeping my vow to give up worrying about my writing for Lent, and accordingly have been working hard on a scandalous and completely unpublishable experiment in personal prose. I hope you have been enjoying the poetry reprints from writers I admire.

For Christians following the Western calendar, we are now in Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, when we commemorate and meditate upon the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Here are some timely links that I found helpful to my Lenten reflections.

At the Jesus in Love website for queer spirituality and the arts, Kittredge Cherry is showcasing a Stations of the Cross paintings series by Mary Button. These arresting images find parallels between the stages of Christ’s journey to Calvary and pivotal moments in LGBT history. For instance, Button pairs the nailing to the cross with a gay person forced into electroshock therapy to “cure” homosexuality.

Last week, a number
of Christian and former-Christian feminist bloggers participated in
Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week. Progressive evangelical writer
Rachel Held Evans
has posted a good overview of the series. I particularly liked this quote from her interview with Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E., an organization that educates churches about how to combat sexual abuse: “In the nearly two decades I’ve worked as or with prosecutors, I never get asked about false allegations of burglary, robbery, arson or a host of other offenses. However, nearly every time I speak to lay persons about child abuse the question of false allegations is among the first things lay persons ask.” Yes indeed…why do abuse victims have the additional burden of convincing people that the crime really happens? Our uncritical acceptance of rape myths is a good place to start our repentant soul-searching.

Christian feminist blogger Sarah Over the Moon, inspired by James Cone’s liberation theology, rejects the abusive image of God in traditional “penal substitution” atonement, in favor of a vision of Jesus who stands with the oppressed, even unto death:

The cross cannot just mean that we are “saved from sin,” and “going to heaven.” Our speaking about the cross cannot just sound like those cliched platitudes that Christians often tell those who are hurting. The cross that Jesus reclaimed from the Roman Empire has fallen back into the hands of oppressors, becoming a tool of white supremacy, of patriarchy, of heterosexism and transphobia, of the military and prison industrial complex, of those who wage warfare on the poor.

But I want to reclaim it, like Christ did.

If we are to find liberation in the crucifixion, then the cross must stand as a middle finger to oppressive power structures.

The cross of Jesus reveals the ugly truth behind oppressive power, and then the cross mocks that power through the resurrection.

The cross of Jesus calls those of us who are oppressors (most of us–myself included–are oppressed in some contexts and oppressors in others) to humility, repentance, and a new way of living.

The cross of Jesus tells the oppressed–in a world that tries to convince us that we are not even human–that we are not only made in God’s image, but that God came to earth to be made in ours.

The cross of Jesus tells the oppressed that we can take up our crosses and our protest signs and join together, armed with the power of love, to defeat the powers that rape, abuse, and murder us.

The cross of Jesus tells us that they can kill our bodies, but that doesn’t mean they win.


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