aids

A Truly Fearless Human Being: Rev. Howard Moody, 1921-2012

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When Rev. Howard Moody began the Clergy Consultation Service in 1967—the group of 21 New York clergy who referred women for abortions when it was still illegal in every state—he arranged for the clergy involved to attend a demonstration that could teach them what an abortion procedure entailed and what a woman experiences in an abortion. The clergy met with a pathologist who explained the procedure using a life-size model of a woman. The doctor explained carefully when and what kind of pain the woman would feel. Again, this kind of experience drew the clergy into a far deeper understanding of the woman’s experience. Even the least empathetic among the clergy present had to imagine what it would be like to be blindfolded and helpless in the hands of strangers who might or might not know what they were doing. If a higher level of empathy is placing yourself in another person’s shoes, that demonstration put the clergy in a woman’s stirrups.

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Wojnarowicz’s Ant-Covered Jesus: Blasphemy or Religious Art?

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It doesn’t take much to realize the main theme of A Fire in my Belly is death. More specifically, it is the vulnerability, penetrability, and perpetually possible disintegration of the human body. This fleshly mortality became especially real to Wojnarowicz in the still emerging AIDS crisis of the time. Thus, by necessity it is a deeply human and deeply religious artwork. Which does not mean these images are pleasant and easy to look at. No warm and fuzzy pop spirituality this.

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