Friday, April 13, 2012

[Jesus and Kink] Thomas and Jesus' wounds

Apparently our current Rest and re/New series topic is "ways to/of faith," and this Wednesday (April 11) we began with our bodies/senses.

This upcoming Sunday (Easter 2), the lectionary Gospel is the story of Thomas who refuses to believe without touching the wounds of the Risen Christ.

Jeff said he thinks Thomas gets a bad rep. (I was reminded that at EDS' Second Sunday ~service on Easter Sunday, Eda said she wishes we would call "Doubting Thomas" e.g. "different epistemology Thomas" -- he just has a different learning style :) )

First he pointed out that no one else in John's post-Resurrection story had believed without evidence. Mary finds the empty tomb, runs and tells Simon Peter and the beloved disciple, who come to the empty tomb and also do not believe.

(I pointed out that John tells us the beloved disciple believed, he just didn't understand -- at H!PS on Monday, Becky had preached on Ecclesiastes 3 and John 20:1-16, and in reading the John I was struck, as I always am, by John telling us that the beloved disciple believed and then in the very next sentence telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead [which makes me ask: so what did the beloved disciple believe?!].)

Jesus appears to Mary in the garden, who goes and tells the disciples: "I have seen the Risen One!" John doesn't explicitly tell us that the disciples don't believe Mary, but the next story we read is of Jesus appearing to the disciples locked up in the room, who THEN go on to proclaim, "We have seen the Risen One!" And Thomas just has the misfortune of not being in that room.

Jeff M. went on to say that Thomas wants more than to just see -- Thomas also wants to touch; Thomas wants a Close Encounter not just of the First kind but of the Third kind (though looking at that scale, I think it maybe doesn't mean exactly what Jeff M. was presenting it as meaning).

He said there's lots of art of the scene -- with Thomas sort of poking at Jesus' wounds, and that seems almost pornographic to him... that he imagines it as more of an embrace.

He talked about Jesus' willingness to let Thomas touch Jesus' "most intimate, most vulnerable, most wounded places," which I found a really powerful framing.

I was reminded of the "Jesus and Kink" series we'd talked about last week*, and the thoughts/conversations I'd had since then about how to do such a series. I'm less interested in proof-texting that Jesus condones/endorses kink than I am in the really queer ways people have engaged with Scripture/Divinity -- like the polyvalences of Christ's wounds ... interaction with bodily orifices as sexual, interactions with wounds as kink, the ways in which Jesus' blood on the Cross can be coded as generative/reproductive, the ways in which fluid-producing orifices can be coded as feminine, etc., etc.

I'm making my way through my best friend's copy of Queer Theology: Rethinking Western Body (ed. Gerard Loughlin), and in Chapter 7, Gerard Loughlin says, "for all these elements [Averil Cameron's 'central elements in orthodox Christianity -- the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and the Eucharist'], the body is not just a symbol of their truth, but the site where it is realized."


*Before Rest and re/New last Wednesday (April 4), Keith and Jeff M. were talking about doing a Mindfulness series next (in a way which suggested it was continuing a conversation they'd had previously). Keith talked about maybe using the upstairs Sanctuary space. And then I don't know how we got there exactly, but Keith was joking about Jesus on the cross and hitting people with reeds.

me: "I don't think that would exactly draw the kind of crowd you're looking for."
Jeff M.: "Oh, it would definitely draw a crowd. (This is Davis Square, after all.)"
me: "Oh, I know -- that's what I was getting at. I just don't think it would be quite the crowd you're looking for."
Keith and Jeff M.: [make noises about being an inclusive and welcoming, big tent kind of church]
Jeff M.: (deadpan) "Jesus and Kink is our next series after Mindfulness."
me: "If I thought you were being serious, I would be so excited -- but you're not."
Jeff M.: "How do you know I'm not?"