Table of Contents
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
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET:
An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
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
The way to get to heaven
Buddha's father was right
Cutting edge realization
What Anatman means
The Myth of the Wanderer
Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss
The World Navel
What the Vows Really Mean
Manifesting from the Subtle Realms
Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal
The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika
Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva
John Boswell was Immanuel Kant
The Two Loves
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: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises 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
Yes by Brad Boney
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
An Interview with Ron 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
The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson
Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray
Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak
Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor
Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien
Queering Christ by Robert Goss
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato
Catland by David Garrett Izzo
Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson
Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main
Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd
Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza
Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson
The Three-Layer Cake and the Multiverse
Joseph Campbell used to joke that the medieval worldview can be likened to a three-layer cake. Ironically, this is the worldview that most of our religions in the West still adhere to despite it’s being outdated by centuries of discovery and observation.
The layer cake consisted of the “Divinity” layer on top, where God lived in Heaven with his angels and favored human souls in happiness and light; the Earth in the middle, where we live and struggle to find meaning and truth before we die; and, of course, Hell on the bottom—“Devil’s food”—where the disobedient angels and damned souls were consigned in suffering. Only the middle layer was accessible to human observation. The other layers were understood only through faith and belief in authority.
For most of human history, the cake was pretty small. It was bound by the land around the Mediterranean Sea. Some explorers had discovered lands beyond this small disk, but what mattered was what was happening right there in Europe, Asia Minor and Northern Africa. And that’s where the authorities were: popes, kings, caliphs and sultans.
From the Age of Exploration in the 15th Century onward, that worldview has been challenged by discoveries that the authorities had no knowledge of. The lands beyond the Mediterranean disk weren’t mentioned in the Bible or the Koran, but they existed. Experience proved it. That threatened authority.
The whole three-layer cake model of the world has now been superceded by the complex multiverse that modern science and theoretical cosmology has developed out of further observation, experimentation and experience. The world we live in now is understood to be a speck on the edge of a run-of-the-mill galaxy located in cosmic space among some 200 billion other galaxies all erupting out in a Big Bang that started some 14 billion years ago. The visible universe is a tiny stratum in the continuum of electromagnetic vibrations; if the full spectrum of vibratory frequencies were laid out along the U.S. West Coast from Alaska to Mexico, the visible spectrum would cover the city of San Francisco. The furthest galaxies we can see—and we CAN see them (amazing!)—are 14 billion light years away. If there are any further away we can’t see them because there hasn’t been enough time for the light to get here. This is no three-layer cake. And popes, kings, caliphs and sultans can’t tell us a thing about it based on their authority.
Observation has revealed a universe totally different from what most people “believe in.” Maybe that is not as surprising as it sounds. After all, the universe as we know it today was only discovered within the lifetimes of many of the people reading these words. It’s still just sinking in.
This causes a tremendous conflict in people’s experience. None of us can actually comprehend that huge cosmos. I’ve been calling it a multiverse, for theoretical physics tells us that not only is it the universe of galaxies stretching out into space, it also comprises a vast variety of possible and parallel universes that exist in various states of possibility. Maybe our Big Bang is just one of billions of Big Bangs in infinitely vast space that have gone on forever with no beginning. Mind-boggling.
What is also mind-boggling—and fascinating—is how modern humans can apparently hold both universes in mind. This is perhaps a symptom of some sort of epistemological schizophrenia or maybe it represents the burgeoning of a new kind of consciousness altogether.
Campbell commented that he was perplexed at the time of the first Apollo moon mission when the astronauts read from the book of Genesis as they orbited over the lunar surface. Didn’t anybody get the contradictions? The two accounts of reality just don’t jibe. Or maybe there was a certain “frission” that everybody appreciated without exactly understanding how or why?
I propose that what this means is that modern humans are inadvertently realizing that “God” and the elements of religion and myth exist in the mind and not in the kind of space that astronauts fly through and into which the multiverse is expanding. There is no conflict between science and religion; they are about different subjects. It really is possible to “believe” in Adam and the Eve in the Garden AND to know that life has evolved on Earth over millennia much the way Charles Darwin hypothesized. While some conservative religious people don’t yet get it, most of us are developing an epistemological sophistication that transcends the contradictions by envisioning a more complex universe that includes mind as well as spacetime, i.e., a multidimensional spacetimeconsciousness.
Something else has developed too. It’s not just which version of history (or psychology) is correct, it’s what kind authority exists to define what’s correct or not. And the criteria for judging beliefs have changed, too. And this is what is really threatening to traditional religion and promises to force it to the higher epistemological sophistication. This idea is very threatening to Church and authority. This is really what the trial of Galileo was about—not what he saw through the telescope but whether a single man’s observation trumped institutionalized authority.
For if “God” and the elements of religion and myth exist in the mind, then their validity is the effect they have on the consciousness and behavior of those minds. The truth of religion doesn’t come from authoritative revelation and it can’t be proved—or disproved—by historical factualities. The truth of religion has to be judged by the behavior of the believers and the criteria for truth is the lives of religious people.
I think the reality is that each of us is on our own to conceive of God and the gods as we choose and the truth of what we believe is how our concepts affect our lives so that we are more cooperative and happier and make other people happier.
Walt Whitman addressed just this attitude in Leaves of Grass: “argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men.”
This is a truly “religious” attitude toward life. And, though conservative Bible-believers/ Creationists probably wouldn’t actually accede to this, this is how Jesus said one could judge religious beliefs: “By their fruits, you shall know them.” The truth of Christianity lies in the generosity, loving kindness and compassion for others that Christians exhibit. And curiously in their relations with homosexuals they don’t seem to behave according to the instructions of Jesus—“Do unto others as you would have them do to you”—and their behavior toward us is a major indictment of the value of believing their particular set of beliefs.
So here’s the message of the three-layer cake and the multiverse: God doesn’t have much to do with it; what matters is how people treat each other. You can believe anything, so long as you are kind and generous and don’t make other people wrong. “Take off your hat to no man,” but be loving to all.
What a revolution in authority this represents. And, I think, it is one of the gay population’s boon to humankind—boon and warning: the way you treat us is the way “God” is going to treat you. Authority has moved from the popes, kings, caliphs and sultans to the individual human heart. This is the essence of modern democracy. And gay consciousness and gay liberation are natural outcomes of democracy: the truth of the heart.
This isn’t how our political foes characterize us, and, unfortunately, I think, it’s not how many of our own people understand their sexuality. A major job of the “gay spirituality movement” needs to be changing how homosexuality is viewed and valued, so that we are seen not as a regressive force, as a progressive one—in consciousness and spirit, a manifestation in consciousness of the infinite variety and diversity of the spacetimeconsciousness multiverse.
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
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
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
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