Review: Spirituality for Our Global Community: Beyond Traditional Religion to a World at Peace

by Daniel Helminiak


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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

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

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

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 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

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

    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

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson


 What Religion Really Is

spirituality-for-our-global-community
Spirituality for Our Global Community: Beyond Traditional Religion to a World at Peace

by Daniel Helminiak

Rowman & Littlefield

paperback, 204 pages, $24.00

February 2008

 978-074255918


Available from Amazon.com in soft cover

Spirituality for Our Global Community: Beyond Traditional Religion to a World at Peace


5 stars
This review appeared in White Crane Journal #80, Spring 2009

Roman Catholic priest, theologian, minister to souls, beloved Dignity celebrant, and all around good guy turned psychologist, theoretician, college professor, popular lecturer, and interpreter of the “real meaning” behind religion, Daniel Helminiak is a real jewel in the gay spirituality movement—as well as in the modern American Catholic Church in general (I hope they’re paying attention). Helminiak’s writings are only indirectly gay-genre; he is addressing bigger issues, but he identifies himself as a gay man and claims this identity as bestowing a certain authority to speak critically about religion and he routinely uses homosexual cases in his examples. His book Sex and the Sacred: Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth, as the title shows, is specifically gay and The Transcended Christian: Spiritual Lessons for the Twenty-first Century is based in great part on talks he gave to Dignity. But his message is so much bigger than homosexuality and religion. He is actually deriving a new vision of what religion is—or at least could be. That he is doing it as a conscious and open gay man is real evidence of the role of gay identity in the transformation of human consciousness and the progressive evolution of religion.

Daniel Helminiak is a sentimentalist, but a no-nonsense thinker; he has no sentimentality for vague and foggy thinking. His major thesis, expressed in various ways through almost all his nine books and referenced explicitly in the title of one of them, Meditation Without Myth: What I Wish They’d Taught Me in Church About Prayer, Meditation, and the Quest for Peace, is that what is called “spirituality” is really about humanity, not about God or invisible metaphysical entities, even about so-called “afterlife.” He doesn’t entirely object to the idea of God—he clearly identifies himself as a theist, though saying the best description of God is Mystery. But he observes that there’s no clear answer to the multitude of religious questions about God and these questions are the source of so much human discord—and which paradoxically is contradictory to the teachings of the religions that are concerned about God. It would be better to set that question aside and find what the religions are good at and good for—community.

Spirituality for Our Global Community opens with a sentimental journey in memory back to “The Lost Paradise” of Helminiak’s youth in Polish Catholic South Side Pittsburgh in the 1940’s and 50’s. With loving memory, he recalls how traditional culture and common belief created an environment of meaning, camaraderie, happiness and safety. That’s what religion should do. Those good feelings and sense of mission and meaning in life propelled him into the priesthood as a way of giving good service to that loving community.

But, of course, as time passed he became aware of sexual feelings that didn’t fit the model of reality and he was forced—by his good will and holy intention—to more seriously question what was going on. Helminiak was fortunate in coming under the influence of Canadian Jesuit theologian, philosopher and methodologist Bernard Lonergan. From this amazingly insightful teacher, he learned to think rigorously about religion, myth and morality; he learned how to question—and to do so in a way that resulted in right answers, not just more vague, confused language and discord. That questioning then propelled him out of the active ministry, but for the very same high-minded, good-willed sentiments that had called him to it. He is now a college professor and teacher in the Atlanta area.

This current book follows Lonergan’s principles to articulate a human spirituality—the truth that underlies all the religions and allows them to generate positive community (if not necessarily to agree on how to express this mythologically, an issue which the no-nonsense logician in Helminiak doesn’t see productive anyway).

Following four transcendental precepts he learned from Lonergan: openness, inquisitiveness, honesty, and goodwill (which correlate with four aspects of consciousness: experience, understanding, judgment, and decision), Helminiak states the basis and method of his inquiry into spirit: Be open-minded, Be questioning, Be honest, and Be good-willed. He derives a cross-cultural, universally valid “generic spirituality,” inclusive of all views theist and nontheist, by delineating the human spirit and its unfolding psychologically. Helminiak argues that spiritual growth is tantamount to on-going personal integration and psychological growth (and he observes that for a gay person, psychological-spiritual integration of homosexuality sets the ideal, if not always attainable, goal for such personal growth).

The goal of religion and the goal of true psychotherapy (and “self-help”) is the same, fulfillment of the spiritual aspect of the human being in this life. What he means by “transcendent” and “transcendental” are not metaphysical entities, but the self-transcending, self-aware drive in human beings: we are able to think about our actions and to make decisions based in weighing evidence and seeking positive outcomes and holding intentions beyond our individual happiness and success. Human spirit is “intentional consciousness according to Lonergan, an inherent principle of self-transcendence, exemplified in the experience of marvel, wonder, awe, and in the fact that we ask questions and expect reasonable answers about ever new topics. As human, our consciousness is open-ended, opening out to what there is to be known and what there is to be loved. Helminiak says, “Spirituality is explicit dedication to the meanings and values, the ideas and ideals, the beliefs and ethics, that a person holds. Spirituality is primarily about the ongoing enhancement of the spiritual potential that is ours as human beings.”

These meanings and values, etc. are part of being human. It is part of our humanity to seek to fulfill ourselves psychologically. And that is what “virtue” and goodness are: the behavior traits of psychologically healthy and fulfilled human beings. We don’t need revelation to tell us what is right and what is wrong; we don’t need revelation to tell us how we ought to treat one another—and the Earth, for that matter. Human beings can develop ethics and morality directly from our own experience. And people worldwide would agree on basic ethics and morality (that they don’t is a sign that somewhere along the line “religion” has gotten in the way of open-minded, questioning, honest goodwill—and, of course, that’s the problem). Helminiak’s open-eyed analysis of “spirituality” provides the answer to the questions culture-bound religion gets in the way of understanding. And that common, generically human spirituality is our best hope for global community.

I commented above that this book is a great contribution to the work of the gay spirituality movement. By that I mean that Helminiak helps us to achieve the self-transcending, critical perspective on religion that I argue in my own writing is the real essence of gay spirituality—that is, our ability to use our “naturally gay” talents as outsiders/gender-blenders/social critiquers to understand and make sense of religion and to further its necessary evolution.

This is a wonderful book. In a way, I think, Daniel Helminiak is exactly right about almost everything. Now I hasten to add that the best part of reading this book was the cascade of self-talk, imaginary conversations and debates with Daniel in my mind and the intense moments of reflection and insight in my meditation practice that accompanied the experience. The book, however heady and deadly serious, is quite easy reading; Helminiak has developed a conversational style that pulls the reader right along with him. You might want to stop for a moment and argue with him about this or that, but you’ll keep reading and keep learning. 

Daniel Helminiak doesn’t have much patience for magic and mysticism, fanaticism and superstition, what’re often the problematic parts of religion. But in a real way, he is a kind of prophet, teaching a new religion, not out of “divine revelation,” but out of good sense and hope for peace and satisfying community. What Helminiak calls “spirituality for a global community” is going to be the religion of the future. Inevitably the human race is going to wake up, and this is what they’re going to wake up to.



Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness, The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell and other novels and books











 




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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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