Ecce Homo: The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure
by Kent Brintnall
University of Chicago Press. 220 pages, $32.50
SOME THIRTY YEARS AGO, a young and still controversial Madonna remarked that she liked wearing a crucifix because there was a naked man on it. Religious hand-wringing ensued. At the time, though, many of us—perhaps including a young Kent Brintnall—wondered what the fuss was all about. Wasn’t it obvious that the central symbol of Christianity was an eroticized young man on a cross? This icon is what Brintnall refers to here as a “male-body-in-pain,” foregrounded as the symbol of sacrifice, faith, immanence, and transcendence.
If there were any doubt about these intersections of spirituality and sexuality, Brintnall’s elliptical new book, Ecce Homo: The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure, dispels it handily.
Jay Michaelson is the author of God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality (Beacon Press, 2011).