ELM Earth Day Blog by Michael Dickson

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Learning to Love the Crucified Body: Your’s, Earth’s, and Zombie Jesus


It was Earth Day 2022, and I was walking through Central Park in NYC, trying to find a quiet place to play in the dirt. 

Weird idea, I know, but I wanted to put my hand in soil and love the Earth for a second. Earth Day is about loving the earth, right? And love is a feeling/action before it’s a concept, right? Right. So let’s get my hand in some dirt. 

The problem: I was embarrassed. Far more awkward than I expected. So like, I just walk up to the earth, and in full view of thousands of people, put my hands on it and try to love it?   

I really didn’t want to be loving the earth – like, you know – *in public*

So there I was in Central Park, wandering through historic, secluded old gay hookup groves, shamefully looking for a place to sit and love creation.

Awkward and ashamed, I meander through the woods; a patch of woods haunted quite literally for over a hundred years by queer bodies seeking quietly in the dark for a safe space to love another body. 

I promise this is a 100% true story, although tbh I clocked no more than 10% of the irony at the time. I can’t always tell where the shame is coming from right in the moment, y’know?  

For me, and I imagine for many others, the queer journey has been about finding my way out of shame and learning to love bodies

Our relationships with our bodies (and our collective body) are fraught, to say the least. These bodies we are told are wrong, evil, and predatory because of what we do and what we feel with them. Bodies that sometimes even feel wrong, born at odds with ourselves, known one way by us and known another way by the world. The world is so sure it knows us that it doesn’t believe in our ability to know ourselves!

The world refuses to know, to even believe in the life of queer, trans, Black, and brown bodies, even as they are surrounded by those crucified bodies.

They insist in their disbelief, even as the crucified body itself strolls through locked doors into their glorified closet of an echo chamber, eager with good news to share of a different way

And what about our disbelief? What about the 200 crucified species going extinct every day? Do we believe in the life of those bodies, or do we also doubt? 

And for every crucified bird, fish, ape, wolf, raccoon, insect, otter, tiger and other species that will be extinct by 2050 — their crucified Zombie-Jesus bodies haunt our zoos. They are ghosts in captivity, unstuck in time from some Easter future, taunting us with good news of a different way things could be if only we loved this body  

If only we loved this body. 

Bodies are complicated – yes. Difficult? Hard agree. Remember that Zombie, Fish-Eating Jesus is a gory crucified body, probably oozing multiple somethings. But at the same time, it is a resurrected body. A body in motion. A holy body that carries death but also carries life. 

The holy body breaks into our world past locked doors and says “I have good news for you.” Then they guide our hand to the open wound in their side. 

“Behold!” They say. “This is your body.” 

Behold the crucified and resurrected body — this queer little blue zombie fish-eating planet — and love it. 

God invites us to love our flesh and the world around us as the beloved, growing, constantly changing bodies they are. Resurrected life in motion, oozing and flowing, constantly shaped and reshaped by ourselves and the bodies around us in a million ways both beautiful and brutal. 

We are crucified and resurrected, fixed and fluid, extinct and resurgent. We are queer, trans, black and brown bodies like mushrooms in soil: We can be crushed underfoot, but we won’t stop growing, and by morning we shall inherit the earth.  

This is your body. 

Let us lay our gentle hands on that body of earth and learn to love it – openly, without shame or fear. 

The Reverend Seminarian (lol) Michael Dickson(he/him/they/them) is an approved candidate for word and sacrament ministry awaiting call in the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA. Maichel completed an internship at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan, and now directs social justice and advocacy ministries for the NC Synod and probably other stuff too. Makl likes books and outside and videogames and people and feelings and rewatching Adventure Time.   

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