VORIGE BOEKRESENSIES

THE MAN JESUS LOVED:  HOMOEROTIC NARRATIVES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

Theodore Jennings

 

 

 “The Man Jesus Loved” clears away centuries of traditional Christian teaching to re-examine Jesus’ positions and roles with regard to personal relationships and family values and how these relate to the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Members of the Christian Right in the USA are frequently known to state that biological family trumps everything, that marriage can only be between an adult man and an adult woman that active homosexuals are automatically condemned to burn in the flames of hell, and that women and children should be subordinate to men. Centuries of the teachings of St. Paul, many early Church Fathers, of Church Councils, of Orthodox Jewish (and Islamic) teachings, and Papal directives are cited to support these views.

 

The author, Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., Ph.D. is a professor of biblical and constructive theology at Chicago Theological Seminary and is a United Methodist clergyman. He is not a crank but a trained professional willing to take another look at the Jesus story before the Church became a part of the respectable Establishment of the Roman Empire. It turns out that all the above mentioned teachings of members of the Christian Right are challenged in the Gospels (and in supporting documents like the Gospel of Thomas).

 

Jennings starts out by examining the title character’s role in the Gospel of St. John [John 13, 18-21]. It turns out that there is substantial similarity between the relationship between Jesus and the Beloved Disciple and that between a lover and a beloved in a Hellenistic gymnasium; nowadays we would say they were boyfriends or lovers. Jennings reviews various attempts to identify the Beloved Disciple and goes into the stories of the nude youth fleeing at the arrest of Jesus, of Lazarus, of the youth at the tomb of Jesus, and of the usage of the words Eros vs. philia vs. agape (different Koine Greek words for love) in the text. Furthermore, there is no indication Jesus and the Beloved Disciple would not have consummated the relationship. Jennings makes a case that traditional commentators prefer to ignore or sublimate.

 

Jennings moves on to show how the story of the Centurion’s lad (pais, doulos) [Matthew 8:5-13] might reasonably be interpreted as Jesus being happy to help a sick lover in a same-sex relationship and on Jesus’ compassion for eunichs.

 

The final section gathers the evidence that Jesus wanted to convert traditional family values to a situation where everyone cares about everyone else and all have a direct connection to God. My example: Jesus would be angry at the present situation where wealthy families push their children to go to the best schools and succeed-or-else while allowing poor children to go to schools with leaky roofs and no books and have no health care. Jesus supported and included women on a largely equal basis with men. Jesus wanted people to break their dependence on family and the accumulation of wealth and power and instead to treat each other well and to do good. This includes treating women as equals, being accepting of various sexual orientations, and not condemning sex itself. Traditional morality is mostly focused on preserving property rights and amassing wealth; the original position of the Jesus movement was different.

 

Although theology and Biblical research can be a slow slog to read, Jennings writes well enough to keep up one’s interest. There is a bit of repetition, but since the ideas are untraditional, they do bear repeating.

 

While I find his arguments convincing, I suppose I am still fond of the notion that God had choices in how to incarnate the Son and that if Jesus was to experience all the temptations of Earth fairly, He would have been a Kinsey 3 (tempted equally by men and women), rather than a Kinsey 0 (the Traditional position) or a Kinsey 4-6 (gayish to gay) which may be what Jennings would suggest.

 

When one reads of the differences between Jesus’ teaching and Traditional Abrahamic social teachings, it makes me wonder if someone could calculate more accurately than I could the number of gay people (say, from the set of people reaching 12+ years of age) subjected to Abrahamic rules over the centuries. Is it possible that the aggregate damage done to gays (violence, theft) exceeds that to the Jews during the Holocaust? (The count of adversely affected women dwarf both.) Traditional Abrahamic religion has been complicit in so much and is so unrepentant.

 

 

JY BLY MY KIND – ‘N WARE VERHAAL

Lidia Theron

 

Hoe reageer ‘n ma wat uitvind dat haar dogter verlief is op ‘n meisie – of haar seun op ‘n ander seun?

Hoe troos sy haar man wat uitroep:  “Ons het ons kind verloor!”?

Hoe hanteer sy vrae soos:  “Wat sal die mense sê?” of:  “Wat het ons as ouers verkeerd gedoen?”

Hoe verwerk sy die skaamte en skuldgevoel wat hiermee gepaard gaan?

Waar staan sy as gelowige teenoor haar kerk?

 

“Ek skryf hier uit my hart uit my eie verhaal van hoe ek so ver gekom het om my kind onvoorwaardelik te aanvaar,” sê die skrywer, Lidia Theron.  “Omdat ek en my man die hartseer en eensaamheid ken wat só ’n situasie meebring, is dit ons wens dat die lees van hierdie boek vir ander gesinne in soortgelyke omstandighede hoop sal gee.”

 

“Jy bly my kind – ’n ware verhaal” is verkrygbaar by alle goeie boekwinkels, en kan ook direk by die skrywer bestel word (lidiatheron@telkomsa.net), en word uitgegee deur hemel & see boeke.  (ISBN 0-620-35113-6)

 

 

BYNA LIEFDE

Izak de Vries

Resensie deur Laurie Gaum

 

 

Izak de Vries se nuwe kortverhaalbundel Byna liefde is sekerlik uniek in Afrikaans daarin dat dit soveel verskillende vorme van seksualiteit sy-aan-sy aan die orde laat kom: Van selibaatheid tot transseksualiteit en alles tussen-in. Juis “verhoudings wat nie inpas by die streng formele definisie van ‘n man en ‘n vrou en twee komma twee kinders nie”, kom hier sterk in fokus en kry so ‘n stem. ‘n Sleutel tot die boek word in die verhaal Ars Poetica gevind waarin “die skrywer” oor die skryfproses sê: “Ek skryf ‘n klomp uiteenlopende stories. Uiteindelik moet die leser die goed saamtrek.” Die verskillende verhale se universele tema is egter liefde, volgens hom. Skryf gaan dan oor meer as die droë feite; dit gaan oor emosies.

 

In ‘n Poelpetaterpastei kom die rebellie om vry te kom van ‘n Afrikaanse opvoeding, ter sprake. Of hier werklik daarin geslaag word om na ‘n oplossing anderkant ‘n reg-verkeerd-denke te groei, bly egter vir my ‘n vraag.  Oor die gay karakter Karel word byvoorbeeld in Once threw a party gesê: “Hy’s genuine bang om skielik te begin leef wat hy wil leef, hóé hy wil leef.”

 

Die vervlietendheid van die liefde word deur die titel onderstreep en ten beste in die begrip “verlange” saamgevat. Hier sou ek wou sien dat die “teologie van verlange” wat in Haar verlange ter sprake kom, verder ontwikkel word om ‘n stewiger spirituele onderbou aan die boek te voorsien. Dit sou ‘n nodige verdieping aan van die verhale kon gee. Die verlange word egter raak verwoord in Om ‘n sekretarisvoel lief te kry: “Die liefde is mooi, maar die liefde is ook moeilik… Die liefde is partymaal swaar”. Wat Tshidzo dan verlangend laat vra: “Kan ek nie die pyn van die liefde ervaar, sodat ek kan grootword en die mooi ook sien nie?”

 

“Die skrywer” se interaksie met sy karakters in sommige verhale, sorg vir interessante leesstof. En hy waag dit om baie oor homself in die skryfproses weg te gee. Dit laat die karakter Debbie, wat na Naakstudies in Hogsback weer opduik in Transgressie, opmerk: “Elke keer dat jy my laat naai, word jý styf, nie waar nie?”  Dis seker die dat die skrywer daarna hunker om terug te klim “in die anonieme kokon van woorde”. Naakstudies in Hogsback het ‘n fassinerende plot met ‘n vrou sterwend aan kanker wat vir haar man die oorgang na ‘n lewe en ‘n liefde anderkant haar bemiddel.

 

Terwyl van die verhale in gehalte wissel, moet die waarde van hierdie bydrae ook daaraan gemeet word dat dit bekrompenhede in die Afrikaner-siel “oopskryf” in Afrikaans. Hierdie bekrompenhede het onder meer te doen met ‘n onvermoë om aan die seksuele lug te gee en om ‘n waardering te ontwikkel vir die veelkleurige verskeidenheid van God se skepping ook wat seksuele diversiteit betref. Laasgenoemde is iets waarvan Izak de Vries ‘n mens tussen die blaaie van sy boek deeglik bewus laat word.

 

 

LIEFDE IS DIE GROOTSTE – OOR EROTIEK EN SEKSUALITEIT

Cas Vos & Dirk Human

 

Hoe lyflik is u wonings, Heer…

Soos ‘n hert in dorre streke – skreeuend dors na die genot ….

 

Met ‘n half ontwapenende titel, het Liefde is die grootste enkele dae gelede verskyn by Protea Boekhuis, met as redakteurs, Cas Vos en Dirk Human. Hierin word erotiek beskryf, en meestal terselfdertyd geskryf. Anders gestel: by die lees hiervan gaan jou asem dalk nie jaag nie, maar bes moontlik sal jou ore gloei. Dierkundiges en Bybelkundiges, digters en kunstiges, regslui en kerklui, vrouens en mans, gay en straight, jongerig en ouerig, plaaslik en internasionaal – ‘n volle 27 bydraers is almal hier tesaam, vergader in die naam van … die erotiek! Vanaf antieke sekskapades in die Babiloniese Gilgamesj-epos (wat insluit ‘n bloufilm-toneel van ses dae en sewe nagte áánmekáár, sonder blou pille!) tot die gay-debat in ons tyd (drie hoofstukke, en heelwat bykomende paragrawe); van gene tot HIV; deur die uitleg van kuns en Skrif en reg heen, word die lyflikheid in dié boek gedek.

 

Die bydraes is meestal akademies-geskrewe hoofstukke, maar amper almal is welgeskape vir ‘n breër leserskap: fyn woordspel en druppende innuendo wys ‘n liefde vir die kop én die lyf. Intellek en seks meng graag. Die 17 teoloë wat aan dié boek meewerk, volg ‘n ander weg as die tradisionele kerklike refleks van grense trek en gedrag moniteer. Hier word seksualiteit aangeprys en aangemoedig.

 

‘n Herhalende tema in die boek is die uniekheid van elke mens se seks-belewenis. In dié insig lê ‘n groot grein goud. Kan dit wees dat die sterk seksuele beheermag in die Afrikaanse kultuur-verlede juis gelê het by mense met ‘n laer seksdrang? Waarom dan onderprestasie in dié verband as standaard afforseer? Die tradisionele teenargument, dat alle waardes nou oorboord gegooi gaan word, mis hierdie punt altyd: die pleidooi vir openheid is nooit dat álmal nou op álle gebiede áltyd moet kook-en-geniet nie. Dit sou on-vry wees; net ‘n nuwe dwang. Eerder lê sensitiwiteit vir individuele verskille daarin, soos ‘n paar van die medeskrywers aan Liefde is die grootste skimp, dat dié wat van vleis, reis en groente hou, maar mag.

 

Daarby, egter, dié wat kruie, speserye en o, olýwe verkies, mag maar ook…

 

As hierdie boek ‘n draaipunt kan word in die Afrikaanse seksuele selfbeeld, kan ons dié net meer as 400 bladsye maar tot plaaslike amper-kanon maak.

 

 

MOFFIE – A NOVEL

André Carl van der Merwe

 

 

From a very young age Nicholas van der Swart realises he is different. Try as he may, he cannot live up to the macho image expected of him by his family, by his heritage.

 

At the age of 19 he is conscripted into the South African army and finds his every sensibility offended by a system close to its demise, and yet still in full force.

 

Author André Carl van der Merwe transports the reader into this young man’s world with evocative realism – sometimes heart-rending, sometimes with humour, always with brush strokes of hope.

 

This is a long overdue story about the emotional and physical suffering endured by countless young men.

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