God Drives a Maroon Buick


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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story

PLAGUE: A NOVEL ABOUT HEALING.

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III


About ordering


Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series


  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996


Toby and Kip Get Married

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

Why people need homosexuality to be a sin


A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality

Is it Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process

Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)

Redeem Orlando

Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar


Easton Mountain Retreat Center

The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"


"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?


Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Cutting edge realization

What Anatman means

The Myth of the Wanderer

Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss

The World Navel

What the Vows Really Mean

Manifesting from the Subtle Realms

The est Training and Personal Intention

Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven



Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves


Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

Having a Church to Leave

Harold Cole on Beauty

The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse


 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice

Meditation

Historicity as Myth

Pilgrimage

No Stealing

The upsidedown book on MSNBC


Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

You're on Your Own

Superheroes

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Not lashed to the prayer-post


Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
 
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles


The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube


In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?


The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

Intersections with the movie When We Rise

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby at the California Institute


Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Mark Thompson

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

The Alamo Business Council

About Kimberley McKell


 
Book Reviews


Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter

The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois


Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen

War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre

Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey

Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes

The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes

Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour

In Walt We Trust by John Marsh

Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary

A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary

Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

Internal Landscapes by John Ollom

Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

Yes by Brad Boney

Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler

Sanctity & Male Desire by Donald Boisvert

Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal

Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson

Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire

"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught

Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology


The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons

Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert

The Revolutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker

Out There by Perry Brass

The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh

The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan

It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja

ReCREATIONS, edited by Catherine Lake

Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard

Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey by Fenton Johnson

Dating the Greek Gods
by Brad Gooch

Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan

The Substance of God by Perry Brass

The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe

The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann


Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

    An Interview with Ron Long

Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions by Randy Conner & David Sparks

   
An Interview with Randy Conner

Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard

Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak

Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan

Rising Up by Joe Perez

That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang

Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez

MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether

Double Cross by David Ranan

The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak

Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry

In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson

The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson

Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray

Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak

Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor

Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien

Queering Christ by Robert Goss

Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage

The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato

Catland by David Garrett Izzo

Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson

Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main

Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd

Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza

What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett

Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans

Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen

Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden

The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood

Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman

The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak

3001: The FInal Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak

Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon

Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message

Life Interrupted by Michael Parise

Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire

The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny

Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman

True Religion by J.L. Weinberg

The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer

Everything is God by Jay Michaelson

Reflection by Dennis Merritt

Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson

Hard Lesson by James Gaston

God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson

The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson

Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther

Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen

The 9 Realities of Stardust by Brice P. Grether

The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber

AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson



A Most Remarkable Synchronicity


This article/reminiscence follows up Toby Johnson's account of a sort of mystical experience he had in the summer of 1968 at the Servite Priory in Riverside, CA. Here's a link to that page, titled: Intimations

In January of 1970, I left the Servites in Riverside. The previous summer I’d worked in the mental hospital in Norwalk and had my dramatic experience of coming out in a verbal fight with Bruce K. as we were driving home from the hospital after work in the admissions unit; Bruce had needled me about being paranoid and said something to me like, “you homosexuals…” I’d felt a rush of shame and fear and thought I might start to cry. But then I realized if I started crying I’d end up in the hospital as a patient; instead I should feel and release the anger—as Dr Bruni, the psychologist on the ward recommended to all the patients in the daily group sessions. So I transformed the tears into shouts and shouted at Bruce all the way home to the Servite Priory in Anaheim where we were living. I remember just as I pulled the car into the parking space in the lot beside the Servite Residence behind Servite High School, “I am gay.” And it was a transformative moment.

I continued with the Servites, but felt a growing sense of conflict. Roy Neuner, Tom Sheerin and I were all in that Novitiate class at Riverside Priory with Eddie Penonsek as Novicemaster. I think we were fairly open about being gay. I recall that this upset one of the other novices who had a sort of breakdown and locked himself in the basement for a couple of days. I remember thinking that it was OK for me to be gay and know it and be open, but maybe it wasn’t OK that other people couldn’t handle that reality. What was I doing as a Catholic seminarian anymore? And, having read Alan Watts and discovering Buddhism, what was I doing as a Catholic anymore?

My mother had come out to visit in December. I remember telling her I was going to leave the Servites. Tom Sheerin had gone home to Chicago for the Christmas holidays. He misbehaved badly at CTU in front of the Passionists who were on a different floor from the ’Vites at CTU. Tom got drunk and got up on a table and dared the whole Passionist community to fuck him. In reality it was the drunkenness that caused the Provincial to tell him to leave, but as I heard it, Tom’s homosexuality was a problem for the Order. And mine would be too.

I followed Tom out of the Servites. He and I and a man we met through a local club for Catholic youth named Paul Edwards—who worked as a bookkeeper at Disneyland in Anaheim—shared a two bedroom apartment at the St Francis Garden Apartments on Magnolia Ave in downtown Riverside—just south of the “Parent Navel Orange” which was in a little park, surrounded by steel bars.

I got a job working for a friend of the Castle’s named Kathleen Ciardelli. Her maiden named was Theil. She was from a large family in Idaho. Her sister Cee Ann also lived in Riverside. Kathleen had a gift shop in the Brockton Arcade, a little center just off Magnolia and Central Ave, south of downtown called The Windhover House (ah, named for Gerard Manley Hopkins’ falcon). And here I was Brother Peregrine, just out of the Order and looking for where to go next.

My friend Allan Pinka, on whom I had a very powerful crush—and unrequited love—left the Servites from St. Louis at the semester break and moved to Hollywood. We’d been in the hospital chaplaincy program together that previous summer, along with Bruce. Allan had been going into L.A. and discovered gay bars. I visited him a couple of times that spring in 1970. I remember him taking me tricking to a bar called The Farm—it had straw on the floor and they played “There’s a Meeting here tonight” by The Limeliters, which is really a song about a Negro Baptist Revival, but was “adapted” to the gay bar to mean meeting a trick. Allan wanted me to pick somebody up. I just couldn’t bring myself to speak to anybody. I was scared—and in love with Allan. We stayed till the bar closed down—the last song was Paul McCartney singing “Long Winding Road.” Allan was living up in the Hollywood Hills, in a lower floor apartment under a house perched on the side of a mountain, held up on wooden pilings. A magnificent view of the city. I longed for Allan, and since I couldn’t have him, I longed for the life he was living. And for the courage to meet somebody for sex whom I found attractive—and for no other reason.


Back in Riverside, I was working at the Windhover House. The business next door was a frame shop that had a basement woodworking shop. There were two young men whom worked down there. One of them was, I think, named Mike. He was Italian-looking, handsome, pretty, with fair complexion and dark, curly hair that spilled over his forehead. He was tall and well-built. He came into the Windhover a couple of times and smiled warmly and was very friendly with me. But always just in passing. He drove a blue Chevy Corvette that was always parked in the back lot of the center, just outside the back windows of the Windhover House. From the cash register station, I could catch glimpses him leaving work every evening at 5:30 sharp. That’s also when we closed; most evenings one of my jobs was to assist Kathy in closing the register, adding up the credit card slips and preparing a deposit. I’d usually notice Mike getting into his Corvette as Kathy and I were closing up.

I longed for him to come in and talk to me. I tried going over to the frameshop to chat with him, but he was always in the basement, not available for contact with the public.

One afternoon, Cathy had jury duty, and she’d to leave at noon. I would close up by myself. Since I was on my own schedule, I handled all the register closing a little early and was ready to go out the door just a few minutes before 5:30. I had a plan. I’d go out to the main street—Magnolia Avenue—and started hitchhiking. I knew Mike would see me and most likely give me a ride, since he always went that direction anyway. It was about ten blocks to the St. Francis Garden Apartments. I usually walked home, but I was hitchhiking in those days and it would be easy to set my trap for Mike, so I could talk with him. I fervently hoped he’d take me home with him. Of course, I didn’t really know if he were gay, but how could I find out without making some kind of social connection.

So I left the shop just before it was time for him to leave work. I positioned myself on the other side of Magnolia, just across from the exit to the parking lot, so he could easily swing wide and pull over as he was coming out of the lot and pick me up. I was watching as he started his car and began to come toward the exit. I put out my thumb. I think I could see that he’d noticed me.

Just then a beat up old maroon Buick that had been speeding down the inside lane of the wide four lane boulevard, suddenly put on its brakes, squealing, and pulled over across the outside lane and stopped to pick me up. As I was getting in the front seat, I noticed Mike pull onto the road ahead and drive off. My plan had been foiled.


A couple of weeks later, Cathy again had sometime to do in the afternoon and announced she was leaving early and I could close up on my own. So here was a chance to do it again.

Same scenario. But this time, I dawdled getting over to the other side of the street. I waited till I saw Mike actually in the exit. I looked at him. Put out my thumb. He looked at me. I could tell my plan was working.

Just then, a screeching of tires, the maroon Buick pulled over from the middle lane and stopped to pick me up—again.

Twice in a row. It was too meaningful to not pay attention to. What was the message? At the time, I understood this as a warning not to pursue the life of casual sex and tricking that I saw—and envied—in Allan Pinka’s life. I decided not to move to Hollywood in an effort to be like Allan. Instead, I’d move to San Francisco. I could be gay—this wasn’t an anti-sexual message. But I shouldn’t pursue that particular kind of urban gay tricking life.


It was a most remarkable experience. I understood the driver—an older man who worked in a hardware store about six blocks closer in than the Windhover—to be an “incarnation” of God the Father, giving me a pointer about the direction my life should go.

I’ve summarized the experience in my personal mythology in two deeply meaningful phrases: “The God who Thwarts Plans” and “God drives a maroon Buick.”

I’ve wondered if I was “protected” from something awful that might have happened had my heart-throb Mike picked me up. Would he had been hateful or dismissive? Or would he have been a great sexual experience of the so-called one night stand variety that would cause me to want more? Would connecting with him that day have caused me to move to L.A.? Maybe the important thing was deciding then to move to San Francisco. Maybe the important thing was deciding then that I should be looking for true love and not just casual sex. That, indeed, is what happened.

———
See Toby & Kip Got Married,
March 16, 2018, on their 34th anniversary


Harley-Knight-&-Allan-Pinka
Allan, by the way, studied at the California School of Professional Psychology, got a PhD and worked in gay mental health. He had a long time partner, Harley Knight. They lived together happily through the 70s and into the 1980s. Allan worked at the L.A. Gay Community Services Center and was beloved and well-respected. Allan has been recognized by the American Psychological Association as “instrumental in the formation of the Association of Lesbian and Gay Psychologists, which later became Division 44, the Society for the Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues.”

Harley died of AIDS in November 1986, Allan on January 4, 1989.

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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