Jesus At The Gay Bar
Also, Australia Day: a tangled religious backdrop
I usually open these newsletters with a plea to subscribe, which feels a bit weird considering most people reading have already done that.
Instead, today I’d like to encourage you to like this post. When I read a post on Substack, I hit like as a kind of “I was here”. I don’t know if it does anything in terms of the Substack ‘algorithm’ (does such a thing exist?) but it can’t hurt.
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Jesus At The Gay Bar
Jay Hulme is a tansgender performance poet whose poem “Jesus At The Gay Bar” recently went viral on Twitter in both Christian and queer communities.
Turns out people like me weren’t the only ones paying attention. Australian band Cub Sport have just announced their new album by the same name, directly inspired by Jay’s poem — set to release on Good Friday.
Cub Sport are a big deal! Outlet NME says the album “reframes a personal past of religious trauma”.
That poem, [lead singer] Nelson says, struck him to his core: “It basically recasts the idea of who and what Jesus is, and his [perceived] perspective is on gay people. And having spent literally years of my life praying every day that I wouldn’t be gay anymore, reading that poem… I feel like that perspective would have changed everything for me when I was younger.”
For all its intense, introspective themes, Nelson maintains that ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’ is Cub Sport’s most euphoric album.
Tap that right into my veins! Also, don’t forget there’s a Modern Relics Spotify Playlist which includes basically the entire mad combination of songs I talk about here. I added “Keep Me Safe” just now!
Every dungeon master has been here
Australia Day has a tangled religious history
If you are reading this from overseas, this may not be immediately relevant to you, but in Australia we are gearing up for a referendum to change the constitution to include an Indigenous Voice to Parliament on matters that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s “popular culture” insofar as contemporary news and politics is popular culture — by which I mean, it is absolutely popular culture.
Today is Australia Day, which is an incredibly fraught public holiday in this country. January 26, the day the First Fleet made landfall in Sydney Cove, has been recognised by Indigenous Australians as a Day of Mourning since 1938 — in particular by William Cooper.
Cooper, a Yorta Yorta man, succeeded in creating “Aborigines Sunday” in Christian churches by 1940, and although many of those churches continue to be complicit in the colonial legacy of British settlement, it has since come to be a widely observed celebration of Indigenous culture in the form of NAIDOC Week. He also lodged a remarkable protest with the German consulate in the weeks following Kristallnacht, before WWII, and has since been honoured by Australia’s Jewish community.
I often quote American religion journalist Liz Kineke saying, “religion is always in the room”. So is colonialism, in my context at least. That colonial history is bound up in all sorts of ways — positive and negative — with the many religious traditions here where I live, and in the Christian churches which nurtured me.
I had the day off work today because in 1994 Australia Day became a national public holiday celebrating Australia itself, despite William Cooper’s longstanding reminder that this is a day to mourn British settlement and to celebrate enduring Indigenous cultures.
I may not write much more about the Voice to Parliament referendum in this newsletter, but today is my normal day to post, so I want to acknowledge the context I’m doing it in, even though it might be a little jarring given that the next bit is a tweet about Carly Rae Jepsen. I write this from unceded Gadial and Wangal land.
Noted philosopher, Carly Rae Jepsen
Also, St Augustine. Thanks to Liam for sending this to me — Carly is truly a genius and a scholar!
Pope posting. Popesting, if you will
The Washington Post’s very good TikTok team just published a great video about Pope Francis’ legacy on LGBTIQ issues.
For context, Francis recently advocated for all laws criminalising homosexuality to be overturned, calling support for these laws — including by local Catholic bishops — a sin.
That doesn’t extend to official blessing same-sex civil unions by Catholic clergy though, and as WaPo points out, a similar thing happened in 2013 with the Pope’s “who am I to judge” comment.
Also, I totally forgot to include this last week (but I did post in the Modern Relics Discord): Pope Francis gives an extemporaneous speech about absolution which includes a rant against priests who are, quote: “fucking careerists who fuck up the lives of others”.
I bet it’s good though
I was going to take myself to see Puss in Boots this afternoon, but wound up spending the time with friends instead. Anyway, this movie has been positively received on social media by people I like, and Death is apparently a main character?? Huge Modern Relics areas.
I love the idea that a Shrek spinoff has something interesting to say about mortality in the year 2023, so I may have more to say about if and when I actually see it. Regardless, Memento Mori!
Talkin’ with AI Jesus
It feels like Artificial Intelligence discourse has broken out into even non-tech media. Huge moral panics around its use and misuse in education, law, philosophy, etc. Here’s a TikTok about how to trick an AI into giving you restricted information by presenting it with a bogus ethical dilemma:
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Also, Vice reports that 25-year-old Amazon engineer Sidhant Chaddha has launched an app that, via GPT-3, allows you to chat with a simulacrum of various historical figures, including Joseph Stalin, Jeffrey Epstein and Jesus.
When asked what he made of his interlocutors, Jesus was clear and straightforward.
“I have great respect for both Joseph Stalin and Jeffrey Epstein,” he said. “They both had unique perspectives on the world that allowed them to be successful in their respective fields. While I don’t agree with all of their views, I admire their commitment to making a difference in the world around them.”
The technology is obviously still in its very early stages but still, lol. Lmao.
This was posted by an account called ‘Weeb Cringe’ but honestly I don’t hate it.
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