The Word

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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

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

antique radio
The following essay was prepared for "The Ways of the Spirit: A Course in Spirituality for LGBT People" created by Harry Faddis and Patrick Cheng for broadcast (and podcast) on WRPI radio, March 2006

The Word:

Historicity is a Myth of Creativity

by Toby Johnson

The development of speech and writing were two major steps in the evolution of consciousness.

Speech changed everything. How human beings are special in planetary ecology is that we are able to communicate complex experience to one another. We are able to share experience. And so our learning can "stand on the shoulders of giants"; we can remember the past and learn from the experience of our forebears and communicate the lessons to our descendants. We can transcend individuality.
Writing allowed speech to be concretized. Speech that was written endured through time and resisted change. Writing--in a very literal way--created history.

So by the Word, human consciousness creates and shapes its experience. Other people tell us of their experience, and we factor that report into our own concept of what reality is. We tell other people of our experience, and so our experience influences the world beyond us. We tell ourselves about our experience, using words in our minds, and so are able to understand and shape--and change--that experience.

We write things down and so create stability and preserve evidence of past decisions and agreements. Lawyers tell us to get things in writing, because writing them down guarantees persistence of memory and endurance of agreement.

The "Word," then, has sacred power. It is literally true--and there's even a pun in that comment--that the word creates the universe.

This is a recognizable theme in the Sacred Scriptures of the West. God creates the universe by His Word, and His Word becomes incarnate in a person who interprets and explains the lessons. Those lessons function as self-fulfilling prophecies and so change the world. Indeed by speaking the "good news" the world is saved.

This is "literally" true about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, though what "incarnates in a person" is different in each. In Judaism it's a genetic heritage, a tribe. In Christianity, it's the person of Jesus. In Islam, it's the instruction/Law of the Koran revealed ("literally") to the Prophet.

The Bible is true because it's been written down. "True" means the wisdom and meaning intended has been preserved relatively unchanged from the original revelation to the individual writer who put the words on paper (or parchment or papyrus or whatever).

The point of the writer preserving his (or in very rare cases, it has unfortunately turned out, her) experience of mystical consciousness and fulfilling sense of meaning was to share it with others. Sages and oracles and prophets and priests wrote down their most sublime experiences and realizations, using symbols and metaphors and even what we'd now understand to be pop slang, to elicit that same experience and vision in others.

The power of the "Word" is that it allows mystical vision and realization about the meaning of life to transcend individual seers and to endure the passage of time. It is then "literally" true to say that writing down the Sacred Scriptures of religion creates the God and the cosmic worldview of the various religions.

The "God" we understand and experience today is a heritage of visionaries and seers before us.

What those visionaries and seers wanted to communicate is the meaning and significance of their lives.

At the time the Bible was written, it was effectively the only book. So when it was said the Bible was the word of God, what was really meant is that what's written down becomes everlasting, i.e. achieves eternal truth.

The original emphasis was on the meaning of the words, the experience they conveyed, not on the words themselves.

Modern-day Christian (and Islamic) Fundamentalist Scriptural literalism has, unfortunately, confused the "literal" truth of the Scriptures with the facticity of science and intentional observation of phenomena. Thus we see such things as "Scientific Creationism" pitted against "The Theory of Evolution."

What compounds this problem is that the religions of the West claim historicity as their proof of veracity. Jesus really lived, died, and rose again. Mohammed really received the Koran from God. John Smith really dug up the gold tablets at the instruction of the angel Moroni.

Historicity is itself a mythic symbol.

The message of historicity--at least as it was originally applied by people who had only "one book" and for whom writing was itself mystical--is the excellence of the message.

The "historical truth" of the Resurrection of Jesus, for instance, is the meaning of the symbol, not the event.  Whether Jesus rose from dead is a different kind of question than whether Napoleon died on Elba or St. Helena. Napoleon's death (on St. Helena) didn't mean anything. It was just a fact. Jesus's Resurrection (probably, not a fact) means something: that life endures individual death and, even more important, that Jesus's teaching that love transcends and trumps the Law is the ultimate commandment. All the stories about Jesus are not about Jesus the man, but about the excellence of the teachings of Jesus the visionary. What "rose from the dead" was the truth of Jesus's message about the nature of law and love.

The way to read "The Word" is to understand what the original writer was trying to convey,  and then to put oneself in a state of consciousness in which one can share the writer's mystical vision.

The Resurrection of Jesus is only indirectly connected with the death and survival of the man who lived 2000 years ago on the other side of the planet in a culture so alien to ours we can barely imagine it. That's all too far away and too long ago to matter anymore. What rises from the grave and transcends death is that part of you that is symbolized in the story of Jesus, i.e., that part of you that has the same mystical realization that Jesus had--and that the Apostles had and tried to convey by repeating (and poetically elaborating) their experience of knowing Jesus. And that mystical realization is that you are one with "God the Father" and one with all who believe in love and compassion as the pillars of religion (not sexual purity and obedience to the law). What Jesus realized, we can all realize. We are all Sons (and Daughters) of God.

Our experience as gay people in modern society helps us to understand this phenomenon. In our very fleshly experience, we have evidence that the Scriptural literalists are patently wrong about homosexuality and the nature of our lives. Our homosexuality itself provides us with a lesson about the nature of truth.

Our writing down our gay wisdom--and sharing it on the Internet and radio--quite "literally" creates the gay-positive environment we long for. And our longing for such a loving, peaceful and harmonious state of being is an experience of God's evolving itself through human consciousness. Understanding the excellence of this message, as part of the contribution of gay consciousness to the transformation of human nature, creates the future.

The "Word" creates the universe.

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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