Review: Over Coffee by D.a. Thompson


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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.

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"


The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington


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


Easton Mountain Retreat Center

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.

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



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


 "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


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


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


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'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 Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash


 
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


Review of

Over Coffee: 

A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith

by D.a. Thompson

Reviewed by Toby Johnson

 
Over CoffeeThis 83 page little book is presented as a anecdote recounting the story of the author having coffee at a small cafe with a Christian minister (of undetermined sect). Because the author reports that he is working on a book about same sex partnership and the Church, the conversation turns to gay relationships and the contentious religious and political debate about same sex marriage.

I liked the setup. The story really isn't a story in the sense that it follows no real plot. It's just a conversation, though it does end in a satisfying resolution as the two men agree that honesty and compassion are necessary characteristics to bring to this debate and that both "sides" of the contention should pray for one another with sincerity.

D.a. argues not for the validity of homosexuality per se or for the acquiescence of the Churches to gay rights demands for marriage equality. He prefers to disagree less with conservative Christianity and so makes the case for homosexuality and homosexual partnership in the reality of fallen nature based in the Biblical revelation of original sin and fallibility as the human condition. That is, whether it is right or wrong or God's intention or not, the reality is that some people are homosexual. He explains Kinsey's categorizations to the Pastor as a structured way to understand human sexual behavior.

The Pastor presents the case of a gay parishioner of his who has recently come out to him, quite conflicted about his homosexuality and his commitment to Church and Biblical teaching. This pastoral context gives the minister a personal reason for wanting to understand the gay plight. In some sense, therefore, he is set up as a willing foil for the arguments in favor of accepting gay partnerships in the Church (though certainly not, gay marriage, they both agree, since there is no Biblical basis for such a thing).

D.a. helps the Pastor understand that the Bible really says very little about homosexuality and much more about the rules for heterosexual marriage, that Jesus didn't specifically teach against homosexuality, though he did teach VERY specifically about the rules for divorce and remarriage. Divorce and remarriage is not the ideal for human relationship in just the same way homosexuality is not the ideal -- but both are the reality.

In the conversation over coffee, the Pastor acknowledges he has had to deal with accepting remarriage by divorced people in his congregation and understands that the Church just can't be too stiff-necked and hard-hearted about the realities of the human condition. Jesus says divorce and remarriage are simply not allowed--except in the case of the other spouse being guilty of unfaithfulness. This last proviso about the adulterous spouse does indeed appear in the Gospel of Matthew (19:9); in fact, though, in Mark (10:11-12) and in Luke (16:18) Jesus doesn't offer the out. And in all three cases, Jesus attributes the historical tradition of divorce among the Jews, going back to the Law of Moses, as due to the hard-heartedness of the people, not the legitimacy of divorce. (And neither D.a. nor the Pastor acknowledge that the verses in Matthew they are preferring are followed by Jesus's strange teachings about "eunuchs" which is certainly how certain homosexuals would have been seen in those days: some are born that way, some are made that way by men, and some make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven--and this last seems to be praised. It's the Catholic Church's explanation for the rule of celibacy for priests and religious.)

But it's not fair to refute one Biblical passage by bringing up others. It's the nature of quoting the Bible that there are always more quotes you can find that offer other teachings. The Bible isn't a single text composed with a consistent message.

Citing the problem of divorce and remarriage in the conservative Christian congregation does help the Pastor understand how human feelings and the realities of life have to be taken into consideration. It wouldn't be right to expel a woman from the congregation because her husband divorced her and out of loneliness she developed a better relationship with another man. (In a curious twist, the Pastor has been faced with the situation in which the bad spouse had been guilty of battering his wife, but not of adultery; Jesus hadn't given that as a justification for terminating the marriage, so maybe she was an adulteress by remarrying, after all.)

D.a. also--very insightfully, I think--notes that one of God's first declarations in the Book of Genesis is that it not good for man to be alone, that is, human beings were created to be pair-bonders. And if a person happens to be a 5 or 6 on the Kinsey scale, then that pair-bonding would have to be with a person of their same-sex, and that would fulfill God's intention that they not be alone--especially if they don't want to be.

He also cites the passages in the Bible that call for stoning people who work on the Sabbath; there's a specific story about a man who was put to death for gathering wood on the day of rest. (What if his family had been cold and there was no wood for the fire? Talk about being hard-hearted!) Today we do not enforce such a draconian punishment for seems to us like a minor infraction of having to work on a Sunday to keep one's job.

The Pastor never entirely relents, but he does come to understand that the gay issue is much more complicated than popular wisdom seems to think: "Thou shalt not 'sleep a woman's sleep' with another man" is not the most important--or easily understandable--commandment in the Bible.

D.a. helps the Pastor understand that issues of immortality, like alcoholism, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity are human problems, not specifically gay problems and it just isn't fair to be understanding of straight people's temptations and struggles while being stiff-necked and hard-hearted about homosexuals' bouts and blaming them for all the problems of human life.

Indeed, the general argument throughout the book is that gay people should be treated with respect and compassion just the way straight people are. The argument in based in simple fairness.

D.a. offers a salient critique of ex-gay conversion therapy (again based in Kinsey) and refutes ex-gay guru Joseph Nicholosi's treatment modality of repairing puberty on the simple grounds that adults simply cannot go through puberty a second time: what gets wired-in in brain development during puberty stays wired-in.

There's a sweet and supportive interaction between the Pastor and the narrator that facilitates the arguments for acceptance of gay partnerships within even conservative Christian church congregations. By not championing the most "liberal" interpretations of the Bible and popular morality and not demanding marriage equality and the acceptance of homosexuality as an equally valid life-choice, D.a. makes a solid argument for conservatives to accept the reality of homosexuality as part of the human condition that calls for a compassionate and honest Christian response.

This easy-to-read and understand little book really can serve as an educational tool for Christian congregations struggling to adapt to modern realities. The coffee conversation context offers a really good model for how Churches could deal with this issue. Instead of turning it into a dogmatic battle--with heresy trials and excommunications--people could just talk to one another politely and seek to be kind.

This book would certainly be helpful for a gay person coming out to conservative Fundamentalist parents. It starts on "their side" and stays on their side, while offering a conservative, gay-accepting religious attitude.

D.a. Thompson is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and musician, working to expand horizons out of Christian true devotion and belief in Jesus. He's a good proponent for gay people in conservative Churches.

Link to D.a. Thompson's site

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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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