Review: The Third Appearance: A Crisis of Perception

by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

by Thom Hartmann

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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


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


Historicity as Myth


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

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

 Heaven on Earth

The Third Appearance: A Crisis of Perception

by Walter Starcke

Guadalupe Press

trade paperback, 240 pages, $18.95

September 2004


Available from -- new and used -- paperback.

The Third Appearance: A Crisis of Perception

5 stars

This review of the first edition appeared in White Crane Journal #63 Winter 2004/05

    There have been two previous “appearances” of divinity, according to Walter Starcke. The first is manifested as the worldwide mythology of a creator God who brought the universe into being, watches over it, and judges human beings for how they contribute to its maintenance and well-being. The second appearance was manifested in the mythology of a human incarnation of that God, primarily in Jesus Christ (but also in Krishna and perhaps other human personifications of God) that dramatized God’s concern for individual human lives and personal involvement with the historical unfolding of creation. The third appearance is manifested in the growing realization in our own day that the myths of the past have been less about external reality and more about the nature of consciousness itself as manifested in those individual human beings and that divinity now appears as us!

    Walter Starcke is one of the “wise old men” of my acquaintance, a figure in San Antonio’s gay community and among local and national New Age thinkers. In my own current book, I cite Starcke’s formula “It’s All God” as a modern day aphorism for the perennial wisdom behind all religion.

    Walter, now a spry 84 year old, still writing and lecturing worldwide through the various churches of Religious Science and Unity, is a marvelous storyteller. [Starcke died October 25, 2011.] His friends are all awaiting publication of memoirs with tales of his life as a Broadway producer and buddy of such characters as Tennessee Williams and Tallulah Bankhead and then later Aldus Huxley and Christopher Isherwood.  As a young man Walter became partners with New York theater legend John van Druten famous for bringing Isherwood’s Berlin Stories to the stage as “I Am A Camera.” (Walter jokes that to this day every time a singer does a number from Cabaret, he gets a royalty!)  Later he became an entrepreneur and community developer in the gay-popular artist colony of Key West. The greatest influence on his spiritual life was the Christian mystic and meditation teacher Joel Goldsmith with whom he studied some eighteen years and who set him on his second or third career as a teacher of spiritual wisdom himself.

    Summarizing his central message in this newest book, Starcke writes: “. . . I have outlined a few imperatives. We must see ourselves as consciousness rather than form, we must get rid of the superstitious belief that there is a God apart from our own being, and we must recognize the divinity of our humanity. We must also develop the capacity to consciously double-think, and go beyond the duality of good and evil. When those conditions have been met we will witness the Third Appearance of God and realize that it is us—it is our individual selves and humanity as a whole.”

    The idea of “double-think” is one of the richest in this book—and demonstrates, though he makes no direct reference to his homosexual identity in this book, that his thinking is characteristically gay, and that the message he preaches to the Unity and Religious Science churches is basically to think like gay people. “Double-think” means being able to entertain different–and even seemingly contradictory –ideas at once. This is the notion in new paradigm science that ultimate reality is counter-intuitive and that we can only think about such matters through metaphor and suggestive imagery. To think about God one has to be able to believe and doubt at the same time, for God neither exists nor does not exist. God, indeed, is an idea that is supposed to raise us above linear thinking into “mystical” awareness of our own deepest selves.

    In this book, Starcke demonstrates a practical application of this realization in how he speaks about himself. He does what many of us probably do in our inner thought processing: to speak to ourselves in third person and thereby understand the “I” that is speaking as us is also far beyond us and is a hint at consciousness itself.  The book culminates in a lovely guided meditation applying the imagery of the Mass to self-realization.

    This isn’t exactly new revelation, but The Third Appearance is a readable and thoroughly interesting explication of what’s happening in the spiritual awakening of humankind—by a wise sage and one of our own.

    All of Walter Starcke’s books are available through and his own website


The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Revised and Updated: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late

by Thom Hartmann

Broadway Books, Revised Edition, 2004, 400 pages, $16.00


Available from in paperback and for Kindle
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Revised and Updated: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late

peaking of the spiritual awakening of humankind, Thom Hartmann’s The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight is an enlivening reminder of the ecological crisis that is facing modern Earth and a needed antidote to the possible quietism in New Age awakening. Yes, we are Gods and everything is perfect just as it is AND Mother Earth is in danger from modern political and business practices. We’re about out of oil (i.e. “ancient sunlight” stored in the carbon bonds of organic material deep under the earth), clean air, and clean water.  AND the government and the media are hiding this reality from the general public–with the terrorist wars being one of the biggest examples of misdirection. “They” don’t hate us because of our freedom, but because there is major competition for resources. It has practically nothing to do with Islam and Christianity and everything to do with diminishing food and energy availability.

    Though this isn’t a gay book and the author is not a gay man,  this book should be of interest to gay men because part of our spiritual/shamanic identity down through time has been as protectors of the planet and spokespersons for the non-human forces of the planet. In the one place Hartmann treats of homosexuality, he cites Will Roscoe and Walter L. Williams on the Native American traditions that honoring sexual diversity and he proposes homosexuality as a preferable form of population control natural to planetary dynamics.

    Subtitled “The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It’s Too Late,” this is a moving and wonderfully readable book.  It will wake you up. The insights into the workings of corporate business, of governmental manipulation of information, of media dominance are both enlightening and upsetting. How can this be? What can we do about it? And, indeed, Hartmann makes good on his promise to say what to do. Of course, part of the work is political, but more importantly Hartmann recommends transforming religion and redeveloping a sense of the sacredness of life.

    Hartmann holds out the possibility that it is not too late. Human beings have lived on Earth, happily and harmoniously and with little suffering and privation for 150 thousand years (during which time, by the way, gay people were recognized as spiritual leaders); it’s been only in the last two thousand years (of dominance by patriarchal styles of thinking) that suffering and overpopulation have become threats. A return to simplicity is still possible. Hartmann concludes his book on politics and economics realities of planet Earth’s ecological crisis with a statement of spiritual awareness. “In helping to ‘save the world,’ the most important work you and I face is to help individuals transform their ability to perceive reality and control the stories they believe—because people do tend to live out what they believe is true.”

    So Walter Starcke’s wisdom that we’re all God and everything’s just fine also includes realizing there are crises going on around us that we must deal with. Everything is indeed perfect, is God, and yet precisely because so many people don’t believe that and live it out, there are terrible problems.

    Ah, I can hear the voice of consciousness in me, in Starcke’s mode of double-think and self-talk (maybe even in Walter’s mellifluous speaking voice): “Now, Toby, of course this is heaven now and you are my experience of myself in the world, enjoying the world just as it is, but that doesn’t mean the experience doesn’t also include the recognition that the human world—especially the American world—needs a major kind of conversion.”

    Both Starcke and Hartmann are helping move us all to this great shift in consciousness that is happening now—and that includes gay awareness –and that alone can save the day.

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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