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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


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

About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  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

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

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

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

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

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


Historicity as Myth


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

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

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

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

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

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

Four short reviews

This article originally appeared in White Crane Journal #42, Fall 1999

As myself a writer of fiction with a spiritual message, I’m especially intrigued by how differently different authors try this.

Central to the notion of the fictional novel is plot. There are many variations, but there is a so-called “plot skeleton” that literary novels are supposed to follow. It is, of course, the Hero Cycle, the pattern of which appears in every TV cop show and drama: The hero is faced with a problem. As he tries to resolve the problem he gets deeper into it and into more trouble. When things seem at their worst, the hero solves the problem through his own skill alone (without a deus ex machina). He (or she) then returns to normal life bringing boons for him or herself and for others as a result of the resolution of the problem.

There is another kind of novel: the coming of age story and the journey story. They really have no plot. They simply recount a series of experiences and discoveries. Biographies are generally of this sort. While they can be quite interesting and informative, these aren’t really novels: they don’t have a climax and resolution.

The trick in a wisdom novel is to work the message into a real plot. Here are four novels that in various ways convey wisdom about the meaning of life. The first two books are specifically what are called New Age novels, the second two mainstream gay genre novels.

High in the Andes: A Spiritual Adventure Novel

by William Michael Kaufman

Dorrance Publishing Co.

128 pages, January 1, 1999


Like the immensely popular Celestine Prophecy, this novel is set in South America, the jungles of the Andes providing an appropriately exotic place for New Age revelations to be discussed and discovered. The book opens on a train with a passenger becoming hypnotized and turned inward by the rhythmic clacking of the rails. He breaks out of his revery to discover another passenger has sat down next to him. The newcomer recounts his fabulous adventure while hiking in Peru.

The storyteller explains how he got separated from his hiking companions, then slipped and hit his head. When he awoke, he had become another person, an ancient spirit being named Narada, one of a group of highly evolved Incan spiritual masters. One by one, his colleagues explain to him, first how he came to lose his memory of who he really is then what particular spiritual message each of the collegues has come to remind him of.

One by one, basic spiritual teachings about forgiveness, energy, meditation, reincarnation and the true nature of human consciousness are presented, as Narada comes to understand and appreciate his true nature.

At that point, the original traveler wakes up to realize there is no storyteller. This has all been a dream and he is really Narada and  he must now use his spiritual power to wake himself and to wake others to their true divine nature.

Well, there is really no plot in a novel like this. It’s just one discussion of esoteric themes after another. But Kaufman is very good at describing meditative and mystical experiences. This is a book of special effects. That is what makes it a “spiritual adventure.” The author is a gay man, though that only comes through the story obliquely.

But that he is articulating spiritual wisdom seems to me to demonstrate nicely the gay role of mystic seer .

Planet of Darkness

Planet of Darkness:

A Spirit's Journey through time and matter to save his planet

by Jerry Belvo

Jae Publishing, 1996

150 pages


Like William Kaufman, Jerry Belvo is a gay man. He too wants to articulate ideas and wisdom he has learned as a student of metaphysics and New Age idealism. And like High in the Andes, Planet of Darkness doesn’t really have a plot. Again the quest in the story is the protagonist’s search for his true, deeper identity.

The story describes a series of meditation experiences the main character has as he learns to expand his meditation and to communicate with and move in other dimensions with ease. In his soul travel he reaches a level of consciousness where he discovers the Earth is being judged by a High Court of masters who will decide the planet’s fate. Overpopulation and ecological disruption, arising from fundamental ignorance contaminate Earth. With the help of the masters, the character participates in cleaning up the contamination on a karmic level by his meditative practice. His final realization is that all beings are one.

As a novel, Planet of Darkness is a little clunky. But as a description of meditative experience and a summary of mystical wisdom it’s quite interesting and readable. It also proffers good special effects for imaginative readers. And the message is right-on.

Where the Rainbow Ends

by Jameson Currier

Chelsea Station Press 432 pages, 1999


A nostalgically lush and beautifully written memoir of the “end of the party” and the beginning of AIDS, this lovely, long and involving novel articulates a message about loving life in spite of, and therefore transcending, the sometimes horrible details. AIDS was such a horror. Gay men, like the protagonist of this story, learned and taught an important message about transforming horror. The novelistic technique of having a gay man father a child as a symbol of life-affirmation seemed too standardly heterosexual. And the long, winding narrative overran the meager plot, but the book was truly a joy to read.

Every Man for Himself:

A Novel of Love, Romance, and Finding Mr. Right

by Orland Outland

Kensington Books, 265 pages, May 1, 2000

In the breezy style of a fluff, semiporn pulp, this surprisingly wise and at times startlingly disturbing novel addresses a classic mythical theme: what if you got what you always wanted.

By a curious quirk of modern AIDS treatment, the protagonist has been saved from death by protease inhibitors and then, by testosterone supplmentation and devotion to his workout routine, been transformed from a nice but wimpy guy into a dance floor stud and sexy hunk.

His fascination with the world of beautiful boys he’s never felt welcome in exposes him to the speed-using side of young gay life. It’s that world and the character’s abandonment of himself to its allures that is disturbing. But the ending—and the lesson learned from the paradoxical problems of the fulfillment of all your desires—is very satisfying.

It is interesting to observe that this last novel, with no pretense of conveying gems of spiritual wisdom, probably got its message across the best of the four. It did follow the basic plot skeleton to a T. There’s a message here about spiritual plots and New Age novels!

rainbow line

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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