A dean of the University of Cambridge in the UK has come to the defense of a junior researcher whose sermon last Sunday about Jesus Christ having a “trans body” reportedly left outraged churchgoers “in tears”.
Trinity College dean Dr Michael Banner said Joshua Heath raised “legitimate” speculation in his Evesong sermon, during which the researcher claimed from the Trinity College chapel pulpit that non-erotic depictions of Jesus’ penis in historical paintings “urge a welcoming rather than hostile response to the voices of trans people,” according to The Daily Telegraph.
“In the simultaneously male and female body of Christ in these works, if the body of Christ as these works suggests the body of all bodies, then his body is also the trans body,” Heath said.
Heath, whose doctorate in divinity was supervised by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, also claimed that in one of the medieval paintings he showed the congregation, the spear wound in Jesus’ side “takes on a decidedly vaginal appearance”. In another, he pointed out how blood from his side flows into his groin.
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Heath’s homily during the traditional Anglican service left many in attendance, including children, “visibly uncomfortable,” according to an anonymous parishioner who sent a letter of complaint to Banner. Shouts of “Heresy!” it reportedly resounded through the church as outraged worshipers left in disgust.
“I left the service crying,” the parishioner wrote to the dean. “You offered to talk to me afterwards, but I was too distraught. I despise the idea that by cutting a hole in a man, through which he can be penetrated, he can become a woman.”
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“I especially despise such imagery when applied to our Lord, from the pulpit, at Vespers. I despise the notion that we should be invited to contemplate the martyrdom of a ‘trans Christ,’ a heresy new for our age,” the member continued. of the congregation, adding that Heath’s “truly shocking” sermon “made me feel bad at Church” and that his partner felt “violated”.
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In Banner’s response to the letter, which was seen by The Daily Telegraph, the dean defended Heath, saying his sermon “suggested that we might think of these images of the male/female body of Christ as giving us ways of thinking about issues related to transgender issues”. This day.”
“To me, I think the speculation was legitimate, whether you or I or anyone else disagrees with the interpretation, says something more about that artistic tradition, or resists its application to contemporary questions about transsexuality,” Banner said.
The dean added that he “would not send an invitation to someone who, in my opinion, would deliberately try to shock or offend a congregation or who would be expected to speak out against the Christian faith.”
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“The College would like to make the following clear,” a Trinity College spokesperson said, according to The Daily Mail. “Neither the dean of Trinity College nor the researcher who gave the sermon suggested that Jesus was transgender.”
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“The sermon addressed the image of Christ depicted in art and various interpretations of those artistic depictions,” the spokesperson continued. “The sermon’s exploration of the nature of religious art, in the spirit of thought-provoking academic inquiry, was in keeping with open debate and dialogue at Cambridge University.”