Review: In The Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God

by Gene Robinson


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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

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

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson


 Spiritual Visionary

In the Eye of the Storm
In The Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God

by Gene Robinson

Foreword by Desmond Tutu

Seabury Books

paperback, 194 pages, $20.00

2008; second edition, 2016

 978-1596272811


Available from Amazon.com in hard and soft cover

In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God


5 stars
This review appeared in White Crane Journal #76, Spring 2008

In 2003 the New Hampshire diocese of the Episcopal Church elected the openly gay Gene Robinson as its bishop. He’d been an exemplary priest and religious leader, popular in the diocese, loved by his congregation and more than competent to serve as a church official. He also led what many of us would think of as a satisfying and successful life as a modern gay man: settled with a long term partner of twenty years, with two daughters from a previous heterosexual marriage, contributing significantly to the lives of his friends and neighbors.

Of course, as we all heard in the news that year, trumpeted over and over on the TV as though it really mattered, his election by his local community, then ratified by the national Episcopal Church, brought on a veritable firestorm of protest and internecine rancor from conservatives who declared him unworthy of the post of bishop because he was openly gay—and apparently a proponent of “gay marriage” since he was in one. His election was pushing the Episcopal Church in a direction conservatives, especially in Africa, disapproved of and could wave their Bibles at with chapter and verse. (One can’t imagine Episcopalians in New Hampshire sharing much of a worldview, culture or lifestyle with Episcopalians in Africa.)

In the Eye of the Storm is the very readable and interesting autobiographical account of the events surrounding Robinson’s election interwoven into a theological discussion of homosexuality and Christian doctrine.
Readers of White Crane Journal probably won’t find anything new in the theology or the discussions of what the Bible really says or how the teachings of Jesus would almost necessarily have been pro-gay (if Jesus would have known about this as a social issue). Though Robinson does have an appealing homiletic manner of presentation. One might even imagine he writes like Jesus would have if he were writing for a 21st century audience: Robinson uses personal examples and anecdotes—that seem very much like New Testament parables—and keeps applying the Christian teaching to real life examples instead of focusing on abstract theological principles of morality or obedience to the letter of the Law. Just like Jesus!

The book isn’t really directed to gay people—that would be “preaching to the choir.” It’s written for the laity of the American Episcopal Church. It certainly provides those readers with new information about a topic not discussed very openly in religious circles. One would hope Robinson’s detractors would study this book.

I enjoyed reading the book; Gene Robinson comes across as a very nice fellow. I’m proud to be living in the same world as he. Gay Episcopalians will also find the reports of Church business revealing and the projections about the future of the Anglican Communion salient: will the Church schism over sexual issues? To wit, the ordination of women, the appointment of a woman as bishop (Barbara Harris) and then another woman as head of the American Church (Katharine Jefferts Schori), and the acknowledgement of sexual goodness in an openly gay person (Bishop Robinson).

Another openly gay Episcopalian priest, Malcolm Boyd, is, of course, an important member of the White Crane family. He and his longterm partner Mark Thompson have helped shape the gay spirituality movement. Mark’s 1987 book Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning was the book that really articulated the movement for the first time. Mark’s book is one of the anchor titles in White Crane’s Gay Spirituality Series. And this past year, White Crane has brought out a new edition of Malcolm’s autobiographical Take Off the Masks AND most recently White Crane editors, Bo Young and Dan Vera, have produced a Malcolm Boyd Reader titled A Prophet In His Own Land which includes interviews and commentaries about Boyd’s work as a proponent of social justice and civil rights in America down through the decades (and for which Bishop Robinson has written a Foreword).

It’s been curious for me to notice how Episcopalian White Crane has suddenly gotten (I say, tongue-in-cheek). Coincidentally (??), at the same time, I’ve been watching the Showtime cable TV series The Tudors which recounts the creation of the Church of England in a schism over the sexual life of King Henry VIII. Showtime has certainly made vivid the sex and the gore that accompanied this development in Christian history!

The iconoclast in me—an integral part, I believe, of my gay spirituality—jokes that the carrying on of Henry VIII, matched by that of his antagonist Pope Paul III, certainly demonstrates empirically that matters of Church organization are not being guided by the hand of a provident, personal God. And that is demonstrated again in our own day by the rancor over Bishop Robinson.

The spiritual visionary in me—also an integral part, I believe, of my gay perspective—observes that the forced evolution in thought among the Episcopalians is a wonderful demonstration of the role gay consciousness plays in human evolution. Gay spiritual writer Christian de la Huerta identifies ten roles gay people have played throughout history. The first of them is as “catalytic transformers.” That is, gay people have been involved in the major transformations of human thought—in the religions, the arts, the sciences, all forms of human culture. De la Huerta’s observation includes the idea of our being “catalysts,” i.e., not actually entering the change itself, but creating the ground in which the change can occur. That is, we have bigger effects than just our own minor issues (say, of sexual freedom and personal respectability).

Robinson’s subtitle for this autobiography of turmoil is “Swept to the Center by God.” That is, he’s been pushed into being the catalyst for a much bigger transformation. What will follow from his appointment as Bishop of New Hampshire is likely to have far greater effect: Christianity itself is challenged and forced to mature and face modernity.

We can all be proud we live in the same world as Gene Robinson. It’s getting to be a better world because of him.


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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