Review: Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson


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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.

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Books on Gay Spirituality:

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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

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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?

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My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

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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"

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Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

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Emptiness & Religious Ideas

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The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

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the Dark Night of the Soul."

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Let Me Tell You a Secret

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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

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Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

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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



They were throwing something off the bridge…




Radiomen

Scissors, Paper, Rock

a novel

by Fenton Johnson


Washington Square Press
228 pages, ISBN 0-671-79542-2


reviewed by Toby Johnson

Available from used book dealers through Amazon.com

Scissors, Paper, Rock: A Novel

5 stars


I really liked this book. I read Fenton Johnson's article in Harper's Magazine, April 2015 about spiritual solitude and the single life in modern society, informed with the old monastic spiritualities Johnson had learned as a boy growing up in the town around the Trappist monastery in Tennessee where the famous Catholic writer Thomas Merton was a monk. I was so impressed with Johnson's writing that I went looking for more, and found his 1993 novel Scissors, Paper, Rock. My search for more of his wisdom and appealing writing was well-satisfied with this book. A little different from a novel, it's more a story-cycle (sort of like J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories, though Johnson's stories hold together more). I am a writer myself and a literary editor; I am always keenly aware of plot, plot development and the famous "plot-skeleton" espoused by Scott Meredith. It is really interesting and gratifying to see how the eleven some stories in Johnson's book, even though not in chronological order and not in any way sequential, one to another, still successfully follow the plot skeleton and to a wonderful and strangely satisfying conclusion, even though the main character died back in the second story. Readers of Fenton Johnson's age are likely to notice a slight parallel in the conclusion of the story with the 1967 pop song, "Ode to Billy Joe." Johnson's characters drop something in the river off the ruins of an old bridge. This novel's plot is nothing like the Bobbie Gentry song, but the book has some of the same evocativeness and understated poignancy and offbeat mystery as the song, AND it's about a similar kind of downhome American countryfolk (along with some bemused monks from Gethsemane Abbey) facing the modernizing of America. I really found myself caught up in the reading.

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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