National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science, Part 65: Promethean Love & the ‘Gay Jesus’ Question, Part 3

I do not contend that gay people alone express the kind of love that the ancient Greek titan Prometheus exhibited by stealing fire from Mt. Olympus and giving to mankind, fire interpreted as love that inflames the human spirit.

But I feel strongly that within our wider humanity, gay people have always been a prevalent and indispensable component of that inflammation process, so to speak. Throughout human history, gays have manifested a higher and more potent love than the procreative impulse, their love directed toward protecting and advancing the empowerment of those otherwise subservient to brutal straight-male dominion.

Nature has empowered gay love with intense erotic and heroic impulses to achieve this work, to courageously withstand dominant culture, and to carry out its mission even if no fulfillment of modern notions of gay sexual expression occur.

We’ve been around since the very beginning and, if silently and secretly, in far, far greater numbers than anyone imagines or any historical record, even to the present day, can account for.

In line with the Promethean archetype (as opposed to legalistic Apollonian or hedonistic Dionysian ones, as outlined by Nietzsche and Freud), every evidence in the Biblical record is that the historical Jesus of Nazareth had at the center of his message and life a form of a Promethean “fire giving” of universal love and humble, compassionate creative work to mankind.

His parables, such as of the Good Samaritan and the Pharisee and the Publican, demonstrate this, as does the entire Sermon on the Mount that includes the profound simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer.

Such passages reflect the authentic “voice” of the historical Jesus, as my revered professor of New Testament theology while in seminary, Dr. Joachim Jeremias, established so eloquently. Dr. Jeremias is credited with identifying the importance of Jesus’ speaking in Aramaic, his native tongue, the word, “Abba,” translated more like a child’s familiar “Daddy,” rather than “Father,” to refer to God.

That word reflects Jesus’ call to “become like little children,” to tap into native Promethean fire, a natural inclination to love non-judgmentally and feel passion for the beauty of life, itself, sensibilities that otherwise tend, in the course of acclimation into rote and legalistic male-dominated society, to become blunted or extinguished.
As our own magnificent Oscar Wilde, not a religious man, wrote in “De Profundis” while in prison, “Far off, like a perfect pearl, one can see the city of God. It is so wonderful that it seems as if a child could reach it in a summer’s day. And so a child could.” Such is the Kingdom of God that is aglow within one, as Christ proclaimed.

Wilde described Christ as “a lover for whose love the whole world was too small,” and wrote of his miracles that “such was the charm of his personality that his mere presence could bring peace to souls in anguish, and that those who touched his garments or his hands forgot their pain.”

“People who had seen nothing of life’s mystery, saw it clearly, and others who had been deaf to every voice but that of pleasure heard for the first time the voice of love,” he wrote, such that “evil passions fled at his approach and men whose dull unimaginative lives had been but a mode of death rose as it were from the grave when he called them; or that when he taught on the hillside the multitude forgot their hunger and thirst and cares for the world, and that to his friends who listened to him as he sat at meal the coarse food seemed delicate, and the water had the taste of good wine.”

“He had pity,” Wilde wrote, “for the poor, for those who are shut up in prisons, for the lowly, for the wretched,” but also “for the rich, for the hard hedonists, for those who waste their freedom in becoming slaves to things. …Who knew better than he that it is vocation and not volition that determines us?”

Christ understood “the leprosy of the leper, the darkness of the blind, the fierce misery of those who live for pleasure, the strange poverty of the rich,” Wilde wrote. “He awakens in us that temper of wonder to which romance always appeals.” For him, “every moment should be beautiful. …His morality is all sympathy, just what morality should be.”

By describing Christ this way, Wilde did not win the favor of the church, because to him Christ was a poet, and his life poetry. Wilde criticized organized religion, writing, “Endless repetition, in and out of season, has spoiled for us the freshness, the naivete, the simple romantic charm of the Gospels. …All repetition is anti-spiritual.”

But the true revelation of this genuinely inspired work of Wilde lay in his identification of his own gay soul with the soul of Christ, the universal soul of the life-giving Promethean.

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