We Three Queens Of Orient Are
We Three Queens Of Orient Are, Walter Danitzky, Burning Cross Publications, Lower Oshkosh Falls, 2008, 336 pg, hardcover.
Burning Cross Publications has long been the unacknowledged bad boy of the publishing world. Throughout much of the twentieth century their stock in trade was their line of One Hand Books published on non-stick paper. Industry insiders had eagerly anticipated that BCP would not survive competition with the internet. As usual, the industry insiders were wrong; BCP has adapted and is doing quite nicely, thank you.
Burning Cross Publications is very much a family business. The founder of BCP, Tony Castrata, put it this way: Everyone has a secret literary vice, one that they are ashamed of and do not willingly acknowledge publicly. It is our business to supply these people with what they want and need.
For the most part BCP publishes formula fiction in a variety of disreputable genres. However they also have a house editor who is responsible for publishing experimental works in their Works of Significance series. We Three Queens Of Orient Are is one of those works.
Like many authors of experimental works, Walter Danitzky has chosen a format that is ambiguous, a muddling of exposition and narrative, of fact and fiction. This ambiguity is appropriate, given the theses of the book.
The sexuality of Jesus Christ has long been the subject of underground theological speculation. The mainstream of Christianity seems to hold that He was essentially asexual, that his genitals, if any, were there as mere decoration. There are various underground interpretations. Some hold that He married Mary Magdalene and otherwise consorted with ladies of dubious reputation. And some hold that he was homosexual; it is this latter speculation that Danitzky explores.
The title is a play on words, replacing "Kings" with "Queens" in the old Christmas Carol. Danitzky points out, quite plausibly, that it was never likely that three actual kings would go wandering about the world "following a star" - kings who desert their kingdoms tend to lose their crowns, Richard the Lion Hearted notwithstanding. Rather, the "three kings" would actually have been agents of Kings, diplomatic representatives. Who would these representatives have been? Surely, would they not be persons particularly acceptable to the Babe in the Manger, and the person He would grow up to be?
Danitzky argues as others have argued that if Christ was Divinity Incarnate on Earth, then as the Avatar of Humanity His mortal form must partake of all of the aspects of Humanity. That is, He could not simply be masculine; He also had to have an essentially feminine aspect. Ergo, His sexuality necessarily was polymorphic. On this reading Christ would have been both King of the World and Queen of the World. All of this is arguable of course and, for many Christians, completely unacceptable. Danitzky uses the voices of his characters to explore arguments for and against this thesis.
If Christ were to be the Queen of the World, then what better ambassadors might there be than three queens, i.e., three homosexual paramours of three kings. These three queens are the central characters of the narrative. The main thread of the narrative runs much as might be expected. There is a prolog in which prophecies are interpreted in the three kingdoms. The kings consult and decide on an interpretation and dispatch three "queens" as ambassadors to the newborn Messiah to be. They journey and undergo various vicissitudes on the way. They arrive at the Manger, present their gifts, and are granted a Divine Revelation, the details of which become progressively unclear on their return.
Danitzky is scrupulous about attempting to give his characters legitimate voices, i.e., they speak and think as people of the time with their proclivities and their stations in life. As such their narratives are both alien and limited - they cannot meaningfully comment on arguments and viewpoints that did not exist within their then and now. To give his work the scope it demands he uses various devices, the principal ones being the murkiness of prophecy and the ubiquity of mystery mongering at the time. Signs and portents are always reinterpretable according to the needs of the time.
The final argument of the work is bleak. If Christ was the predestined Queen of the World - what happened? Christianity, the Church constructed by His Disciples, has a long history of homophobia. How can that be? Danitzky's conclusion is simple: Christ came to this world as its Savior; He failed in His mission. The evidence of that failure is all around us. Is this a saved world? Does it look like a saved world? What has this salvation given us, other than endless wars, crime, sin, hatred, and a handful of saints? But why did Christ fail? His disciples betrayed Him, they perverted and distorted His message. Could Christ have chosen better disciples? Perhaps not - all humans are imperfect. Danitzky argues that the blame lies at first hand with God's chosen people, the Jews. The surrounding peoples tolerated homosexuality; the books of law of the Jews did not. Christianity is suffused with the dicta of the Old Testament. But who is responsible for imposing those dicta on the Jews? God did. Danitzky's final words are:
"Who then betrayed Jesus? God did. God betrayed His only Son."
This page was last updated March 1, 2008.