Table of Contents
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
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
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
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
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
by Diana Finfrock Farrar
6x9 trade paperback, 422 pages, $18.99
reviewed by Toby Johnson
T he Door of the Heart is a didactic novel; it intends to teach you something as you read the story. There’s clearly a message—and it’s a good message: that the human striving to be a good person and the religious teachings that are supposed to inform that striving should be based in compassion, not in rules. This, of course, was the teaching of Jesus but the history of religions all around the world is that rules tend to trump virtue and goodness. In Diana Farrar’s novel the compassion that is called for is on behalf of a young gay teenager who is bullied at school; the rule, of course, is the Old Testament injunction against men having sex like women.
The main characters of the story are Ed and Tammy Sloan. Ed’s a conservative Texas politician and a church-going Christian who for both political motivation and sincerely-held personal morality opposes modern advances of gay rights. Tammy is a housewife who’s always been the dutiful spouse and helpmeet. The Sloans are parents of one of the bullies. And because of Ed’s role as a public figure, he and Tammy are pulled into the political debate about gay rights and same-sex marriage.
When Tammy befriends the mother of the bullying victim, she begins to educate herself about the moral issues. And the novel takes the reader through her reeducation about homosexuality and about Christianity. She’s joins PFLAG and even becomes a volunteer for the Trevor Project, working a crisis line/internet chat for gay youth. The reader too then learns about PFLAG and gay youth struggles.
The crisis of the plot, of course, is the growing rift between Ed and Tammy. As the reader follows this touching story—and it gets more touching and poignant as it develops through some four hundred pages and more characters and more issues are introduced—the case for gay rights and compassion for struggling souls is presented. It’s a very palatable way to absorb this case. And the case is made within the context of Christian virtue. So the book nicely affirms both the rightness of gay equality and of true Christian virtue. The two sides are not presented as antagonistic.
Certainly this would be a great book for a parent dealing with these issues personally. And it would be a great book for a son or daughter trying to help their parents understand their homosexuality. And it would be a great book for somebody needing to answer anti-gay objections to gay rights based in religion; all the issues are dealt with.
But it’s also a great book for everybody just because it’s a good read. A good example of the didactic novel.
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
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
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
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