Review: Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church

by David Ranan


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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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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

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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

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

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson


 Scathing Report

Double Cross
Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church


by  David Ranan

Theo Press

paperback, 352 pages, $25.95

December 2006

978-0955413308

Available from Amazon.com in soft cover

Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church



5 stars

This review appeared in White Crane Journal #75, Winter 2007-08
On a flight to Easton Mountain Retreat Center in upstate New York for a gathering of “leaders” in gay spirituality, I read David Ranan’s scathing report on the history and organizational structure of the Catholic Church in regard to power and politics. As disturbing as the book was, it was interesting reading and held my attention even through all the distractions of air travel.

Ranan is surprisingly evenhanded and low-key in reporting on a history of unbelievable abuse of power, corruption and hypocrisy (especially regarding sexual ethics). In almost every case he calmly presents the facts and explains that the various abuses seem to come from organizational imperatives and maintenance concerns rather than from flaws in doctrine. At times you wonder how he can keep cataloguing all these apparent crimes against humanity without ever quite calling for the abolition of the institution and the damnation of all its layers of minions.

The book begins with an explanation of the structure of the Church and particularly the Vatican authority. He explains the origins of the church, the notion of miracles as evidence for authority, and the place of sin—and the sacramental power to forgive sin—as a tool of social control. The next chapters report on the Inquisition, the Index of Forbidden Books and, specifically, the case against Galileo in the 17th C. at the beginning of the development of scientific method and observation as the source of truth (rather than religious authority or revelation).

Poor Galileo, the Prelates showed the seventy-year-old man the instruments of torture they’d use to question him and scared him into recanting facts he’d seen with his own eyes about the movement of the heavenly bodies. All because Psalm 104 says: “The earth is firmly fixed; it shall not be moved.” Even a cursory reading of the verses in context can see the Psalmist was praising the wonder of God’s creation, not describing astrophysical dynamics! Yet for that verse, the advance of Western science was delayed centuries. Of course, in the end, the Church lost. And in due course the pope forgave Galileo. Though the pope to do so was John Paul II in our own lifetimes—a little late. And even then, JP II didn’t admit the Church was wrong, only that Galileo turned out to have been right about the astronomy.

The next chapters deal with the corruption of popes, religious violence, anti-Semitism (and the Holocaust). Some of the medieval popes amassed huge fortunes that some passed on to their illegitimate offspring, all the while calling the faithful to obey the rules about avoiding sexual pleasure and giving generously to the Church. The list of popes with offspring just goes on and on. Popes apparently don’t have “children,” they have “nephews.” By the 20th C. these kinds of abuses had disappeared, but there was still a Vatican banking scandal around the time of the election of John Paul II. (Lucien Gregoire’s gay consciousness-sourced book Murder in the Vatican, reviewed previously in White Crane #67, gave the banking scandal even more sinister overtones.)

Then there’s the chapter on sexual morality and the Church’s intransigence with regard to issues like the dignity of women, divorce, homosexuality, contraception and family planning, even condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. At every point, Ranan shows, the Church opted to ignore human suffering and up-to-date solutions to age-old problems and to insist instead on reiterating its errors from the past in order to assert that it had never made any mistakes. A classic example Ranan cites is telling women whose husbands are HIV+ that they should trust in God’s will for their health since they are not permitted to use condoms to prevent their infection.

And finally there’s a long discussion of the sexual abuse scandal that has surfaced in the last decades. Ranan focuses mainly on the cover-up, rather than the supposed evils of pedophilia itself, since that is the institutionally generated criminality. The catalogue is long.

The conclusion the book reaches, a little equivocally, is that maybe the Church needs dismantling, but that “matters of faith such as virgin birth or transubstantiation” are not necessarily threatened by this critique of the institutional structure.

I personally would go a bit further. Bringing a Buddhistic perspective to question of the Catholic Church and its elaborate system of doctrines, I’d say the bad behavior Double Cross documents is empirical proof—like that Galileo saw with his own eyes—that there is no God, at least the way the Church teaches, and that that God has no power over human affairs and does not answer prayers. That’s a bold and difficult assertion (though thoroughly and reverently Buddhist). But some huge number of the prayers that go up daily from Catholics is for the guidance of Church leaders. It is abundantly clear they aren’t getting any divine guidance. The behavior of the Church doesn’t seem to reflect any awareness at all of the teachings of Jesus about love trumping rules.

Double Cross: The Code of Catholic Church certainly challenged my affection and nostalgia for the religion of my youth. It was much more readable and compelling than I’d expected. It’s well-written and it is pretty convincing.
The final paragraph sums up the argument that gay people, in particular, should take to heart: “Faithful Catholic liberals hope and believe that change can be effected within the Church. They hope for reform. Such reform, however, is unlikely to suffice. The shape-up which is necessary is beyond the scope of a reform.”



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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