The gay-affirming books and magical novels of Toby Johnson

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Toby Johnson is a gay spiritual writer, novelist and progressive thinker.

He was a student of the comparative religions scholar Joseph Campbell;
he applies Campbell's sensible, modern approach to understanding myth and religion
 to the issue of gay people's enlightenment, spiritual growth and happiness.

This page contains information about Johnson's published books.
This website contains excerpts from Johnson's books
as well as original essays about gay spiritual meaning.

The home page contains an annotated list of articles available here.

The Table of Contents page contains links to every article by short name.

While you're here, please take a look around.

You will undoubtedly be surprised by some of the ideas presented
--hopefully, very pleasantly!

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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

The purpose of homosexuality

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

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

The gay-affirming books and magical novels of Toby Johnson

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Gay Perspective
Gay Spirituality
Secret Matter
The Fourth Quill
Lammy-nominee 2004

Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe
(includes postage)

Lammy-winner for Spirituality/Religion

Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness
$20.00 (includes postage)

Lammy-winner for Science Fiction

Secret Matter
A sweet soft sci-fi romantic comedy about gay innocence and truth telling
$15.00 (includes postage)

The Fourth Quill

A touching and mystical tale of AIDS and the spiritual wisdom of A Course in Miracle, originally published as PLAGUE
$18.00 (includes postage)
Getting Life in Perspective
Finding Your Own True Myth
Two Spirits charmed lives

etting Life in Perspective

A gay spiritual romance novel set in the 1890s
$18.00 (includes postage)

Finding Your Own True Myth: What I Learned from Joseph Campbelll

A Spiritual autobiography
$18.00 (includes postage)

Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

A Western genre novel, gay romance, set in the 1860s, in collaboration with Walter L. Williams
(includes postage)
Lammy-nominee 2007

Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

An anthology of 37 gay positive stories with "a touch of the Twilight Zone"
(includes postage)

Click on the cover for description, order info and to read an excerpt from the book

Click on title to go to the full webpage on this site

Purchase options below

  (See bottom of page for out-of-print titles and manuscripts)

For information about: 1) other ways to order, 2) buying from gay booksellers,
3) payment by check or money order or 4) for shipments outside the U.S.
see about Ordering books by mail

Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Spirituality:
Gay Spirituality
Lammy-winning GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness.
Lethe Press  brought out a new edition of GAY SPIRITUALITY in 2004.

Gay Perspective
Toby Johnson's 2003 Lammy-nominated book is
GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us
about the Nature of God and the Universe

This book has been re-released with lots of new and updated content,
and a new Preface, by Lethe Press: White Crane Books
(and a beautiful new cover by Peter Grahame*)

 *Peter Grahame's book Contemplations of the Heart: A Book of Male Spirit, Photography, Digital Imagining and Text,
can be previewed at Peter and his life partner, Henry Seale, own and operate Ironic Horse Studio in Albuquerque, NM.


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The Spiritual/philosophical Autobiography

Finding Your Own True MythToby Johnson's spiritual/philosophical autobiography, Finding Your Own True Myth—The Myth of the Great Secret III, is both a loving memorial to Joseph Campbell and an original extension of his work. Johnson, later a psychotherapist, religions scholar, novelist, and gay spirituality writer, offers insight into the vital role that myth—and insight into myth—play in the modern world and inspiration for anyone seeking coherence and meaning. A wealth of personal anecdotes and teaching stories are woven throughout the text to provide practical applications for these lessons and concrete examples of their power to change lives.

From Joseph Campbell, the renowned comparative religions and mythology scholar, Toby Johnson derived his central insight that there is a “new myth” arising in human consciousness. This is the understanding of the nature of myth itself, a “meta-myth,” the “myth of myth,” according to which our lives are always giving us clues to the secret of our true and deepest nature, and our salvation comes from following our own unique clues.

One of the clues that many cultures share is the tradition of the “wise old man,” the elder who serves as guide, teacher, and companion, helping others on the path to enlightenment. When Toby Johnson, a young Catholic seminarian, left the monastery on his own unconventional spiritual journey, he had the good fortune to find such a teacher in the person of Joseph Campbell. Johnson says in the introduction: Joe demonstrated how to gently leave behind the na´ve religiousness of youth and find wonder, meaning, and bliss in a new post-mythic, but re-mythologized, spiritual consciousness.

FInding Your Own True Myth: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III   $18.00

The ADD TO CART buttons will allow you to purchase a copy from the author (autographed if you'd like) and pay thru Paypal.

Toby Johnson's book are now released by Lethe Press:

The Gay Novels:
Two Spirits
Secret Matter
The Fourth Quill
Getting Life in Perspective

two spirits
TWO SPIRITS is a collaboration between noted anthropologist and renowned gay scholar Walter L. Williams professor at the University of Southern California and gay novelist and spiritual writer Toby Johnson.

Set in the 1860s, it's the story of a young Virginian, fresh out of the Civil War and struggling to find love and manly comradeship without understanding what that means, who inadvertently gets himself assigned to be Government Indian Agent to the Navajos at the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner in the New Mexico desert, a kind of concentration camp experiment in Indian management. The young protagonist comes to appreciate the plight of the Navajo after he falls in love with the Two-Spirit/berdache/ healer. Together the two lovers manage to get the "experiment" declared a failure and so  liberate the Navajo people and get them back to their sacred homelands.

Says W Randy Haynes (Cherokee) author of the gay murder mystery with an Indian detective, Cajun Snuff:

    "Two Spirits is a spectacular tale based upon the 1860's eviction of the Navajo people from their sacred lands. The reader is transported to an earlier era where little known spiritual traditions were, until recently, unmentionable outside some Native American cultures. With an obvious love and deep respect for the Navajo, Williams and Johnson expose a clash of cultures that will stun many. Two Spirits, a treasure to read, is a rare combination of historical fiction and spiritual wisdom at its absolute finest."

Navajo/Dine scholar Wesley Thomas provides A Commentary at the end of the story discussing the current state of Navajo/Dine culture.

This is a wonderful love story with an adventuresome plot in the style of Western genre, but with a delightfully gay twist and a good and very palatable dose of sensible spirituality.

Two Spirits recounts the true history of Native American cultures -- including same-sex marriage. So-called "gay marriage" was practiced on the American continent for untold centuries before the Europeans arrived. People we'd call "gay" today were revered members of the tribe. They were the storytellers, priests, doctors, ambassadors, counselors. They were the ones who kept culture alive -- just as gay people are today (but with much less thanks and recognition from the mainstream culture).

"A treasure to read"

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo  $18.00

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Two Spirits
                    audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here

Walter Williams and Toby Johnson (editor) also worked together on Williams' novel of Pacific Island cultures and 18th century whaling, set during the time of the Civil War.

Spirit of the Pacific is a dramatization of wisdom from Japanese Buddhism and Hawaiian shamanism

Spirit of the PacificWhaling ships in the Aleutian Islands, Confederate raiders and Union naval vessels in Maui, sloops and skiffs in the Hawaiian Islands--ships sail into the unknown and change lives. This is the story of Eddie Freeman, an African American slave from South Carolina, who escaped slavery in 1860 and got involved in the Civil War in a way that he never would have expected. Eddie learned not to be afraid of change and the unknown. Eddie was attracted to his own sex, and in 21st century nomenclature would be called gay. But in his day he was just a young man trying to find love and give affection. This is a story about the unexpected twists and turns of life, and how sometimes a person must travel one way to get to the other, become a sailor to find solid land, go to the Arctic to get to a tropical paradise. It is about giving up one’s home to find a better home. It is a story about learning to transcend the polarities of slave and free, sacred and profane, love and hate, human and animal. Most importantly, it is a story about learning to transcend the polarity of life and death to become one with nature, experience limitless love, gain absolute happiness, and achieve true spiritual freedom.

Spirit of the Pacific is available from in kindle format and in third party hardcopy.

And from in ePub and other digital formats.

Secret Matter"Toby Johnson's fly blend of sweet romance, social commentary and entertaining science fiction
gives new meaning to the concept of a 'genre' novel--
the sort of easy-going read rarely found in gay fiction, and very welcome." Richard Labonte

SECRET MATTER is a science-fiction romance novel. It won a 1990 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Science Fiction. In 1999, it was one of five books nominated to be the first ever inducted into the Gay Lesbian Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
In November 2005, Lethe Press brought out the current updated, expanded, and revised edition for 21st century readers.

The story tells of the arrival of a race of aliens. They have cameleon-like autonomic functions in their skin coloration which reveal their emotional and psychological states. Thus they are fundamentally unable to lie. For them homosexual activity is consistent with their biology and normal in their culture. Recognizing our society's objection to homosexual activity, however, they try to hide their true nature. The tension created between the two cultures confuses their mission in coming to our world.

The plot is a sweet love story about the relationship between a young gay man and one of the aliens. Through several levels the protagonist slowly uncovers the truth about the aliens' "secret life," including, finally, the fact that they aren't really alien at all, but rather come from a parallel world of Earth. The punch line is that in the creation myth of the Garden of Eden in their world their "Adam & Eve" did NOT commit original sin and their reward was both their inability to hide the truth and, incidentally, their homosexuality. The novel is about the importance of coming out and the innocence of gay experience.

Arthur C. Clarke was a great influence on Toby Johnson's thought and writing style.
Here's his piece In Honor of Sir Arthur C. Clarke

The excerpt from Secret Matter describes The Arrival of the Visitors
starburstIn June 1999, the US national gay and lesbian science fiction fan club, the Gaylactic Network, nominated SECRET MATTER for induction into its newly created Hall of Fame. This was the first year of the Spectrum Awards and the Gaylactic Network Hall of Fame. SECRET MATTER was chosen as one of the five nominees out of all the gay and lesbian sci-fi ever published up to that time.

Secret Matter $15.00

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The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE: A Novel about Healing is the story of an AIDS educator who uncovers a misconceived plot to suppress an effective cure for HIV.  As he begins to realize the sinister nature of his discovery, he is forced to take seriously the teachings about healing and about the nature of evil presented in A Course in Miracles, which he has been talking about with members of an AIDS support group he facilitates.
While structured as a thriller, the novel is an uplifting presentation of the wisdom of ACIM and of the delightful little spiritual classic The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment and Ursula LeQuin's classic novel The Lathe of Heaven.
This novel is an example of science fiction as modern day mythology.

Originally published by Alyson Publications

Rereleased by Lethe Press, 2012 with changes and a Foreword by the author. $18.00

Plague cover
The excerpt from The Fourth Quill is a dramatization of a story that Joe Campbell used to tell about the Mahayana Buddhist myth of the Bodhisattva as world savior and a paradoxical presentation of what we usually think of as suffering. The tale is called The Fourth Quill
Read more about The Fourth Quill

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The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. click here

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getting life in perspective

"There is a fresh naivete in [Toby Johnson's] style that rings pleasantly in the ear, like the memory of a 'boy's book' enthusiastically devoured at age 12. Against the sour punk of so much of today's gay male fiction, Getting Life in Perspective is a treat." 

                    Marvin Shaw

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE is a post-modern novel about a big city literary editor who, when faced with serious illness, retires to the country to relieve stress and to write the novel he's always been intending to write. Living alone in a ramshackle old mansion in the Texas Hill Country, he begins to imagine that the characters of his novel are real. Two young gay men from the 1890s then appear to him and recount the story of their lives.
In the turn-of-the-century story, the two characters, having managed to find one another against great odds, seek refuge in a gay utopian colony in Colorado loosely modeled after Edward Carpenter's farm in Sussex, England. There they discover a gay positive, post-Christian, Whitman-inspired spirituality.
The writer is never clear whether he is seeing ghosts or simply very vividly creating his novel. But the Topper-esque ghosts playfully assist him in coming to terms with his own self-pity and fear of dying.
It's a sweet, occasionally sexy, historical romance with a contemporary spiritual/philosophical message woven in--along with justs a touch of the Twilight Zone.

Read about The Clear Light Colony from GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE.

Getting Life in Perspective  $18.00

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                        Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham.

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charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by Toby Johnson and Steve Berman

Spinning Straw into Gold

odern society, including--and maybe especially-- gay culture recreates its own mythological traditions in "the old-fashioned way," by telling stories.

Gay storytelling engender myths, allowing the negative elements that traditional society and religion has placed on homosexual identity to be transformed and uplifted.

White Crane Books, an imprint of Lethe Press (Steve Berman, editor/publisher), announces an anthology of writings that do what good myths and storytelling are supposed to do: inspire and evoke meaning (especially out of despondency and darkness), to cheer, to place life in larger context, to hint at secret meanings--stories that inspire gay men to think positively about themselves, their lifestyles, their bodies (of any type), and, especially, their own spiritual paths.

Charmed Lives $18

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Gay Spirituality

Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and
the Transformation of Human Consciousness
(click on title for more info & reviews)

The answer to what gay people are here for!
Lambda Literary Award winner
Spirituality/Religion 2000
Nominated Best Gay/Lesbian Non-Fiction Book of the Year
ForeWord: the magazine of independent and university presses.

   A new edition of GAY SPIRITUALITY was released by Lethe Press with a beautiful cover featuring art by Stevee Postman.

"...quite simply the best, sanest, most readable book on the subject I've come across..." a reader wrote in email.
[Gay Spirituality] is the book that Walt Whitman might have written if he'd studied with Joseph Campbell. It combines an unflaggingly exuberant, life-affirming tone with impressive scholarship and interpretive flair. And, like Whitman, it convinces not by argument but by its presence. The clarity of the author's mind--as well as his evident kindness, wit, and intellectual daring--has produced what is not so much a book as a soul-replenishing companion, a guide, and a friend." Stephen Mo Hanan, The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Gay Spirituality  $20.00

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Gay Spirituality is available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here

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gay pespective cover
Gay Perspective:
Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about
the Nature of God and the Universe
(click on title for more info & reviews)

"An illuminating, honest, provocative, and significant exploration of gay spirituality. This is must reading for all seeking the spiritual element in the gay experience."

--Malcolm Boyd,
Take Off the Masks, Gay Priest,
& Look Back in Joy

--Mark Thompson,
Gay Spirit, Gay Soul, & Gay Body

"Toby Johnson reveals how gay male sensibility contributes to the leading edge of culture and consciousness, and can even revolutionize religion in ways that benefit everyone. You may never view your role in the scheme of things in quite the same way.

-- Bruce P. Grether,
Mindful Masturbation: Transforming Male Self-Pleasuring into a Spiritual Practice

White Crane Books/Lethe Press - $20.00

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Gay Perspective is available in digital formtats

Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here

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the price of book(s) (freight within the U.S. and tax, if applicable, are included) to
(note truncation of last name)
(If you want to pay by check or M.O. or to inquire about postage outside the US,
please send email to

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There's a field to give instructions for autographing.
Since the cost includes postage, the price from the author and from discount internet booksellers is about the same since they add postage.
BUT if you're buying other books and the combined total is over $25.00 you can save money with their free shipping.
If you're going to order gay genre books, please order from a gay community bookstore, like Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia.

Gay Spirituality from an independent bookstore near you
Gay Perspective from
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Secret Matter from an independent bookstore near you
Getting Life in Perspective from
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Two Spirits from an independent bookstore near you
Charmed Lives from an independent bookstore near you

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Meet Toby Johnson & Kip Dollar

Now out of print
Myth of the Great Secret

 The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
Published in 1992 by Celestial Arts,
a revised edition of a book by the same name (with different subtitle)
published in 1981 by William Morrow

Used copies are available from resellers. Click here.
A "Second Revised Edition" is in the works. In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld  Click here.

Toby's 1983 book  In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld (published under the name Edwin Clark Johnson) is available used from resellers. Click here.

A scan of the pages of this book is available for download. Click here.

A Search for Spiritual Meaning in the Face of Emptiness

Toby Johnson's first book was titled The Myth of the Great Secret: A Search for Spiritual Meaning in the Face of Emptiness. It appeared in 1981 and was revised in 1992.

It contains a chapter on Werner Erhard and est that is not included in the revised edition. (That essay is available on this website. Click here.)

Used copies are still available. Click here

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Manuscripts in progress
You're welcome to preview these books.
Please send comments.

Awakening: A Novel of the Millennium

Bowman's World: the sequel to Awakening

Last Update: 09/02/2018

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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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