The Novitiate





Contact Us


Table of Contents


Search Site


home  Home


Google listing of all pages on this website


Site Map


Toby Johnson's Facebook page


Toby Johnson's YouTube channel


Toby Johnson on Wikipedia


Toby Johnson Amazon Author Page

Secure Site Comodo Seal

Secure site at

https://tobyjohnson.com



rainbow line

Also on this website:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.



Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from smashwords.com, the Apple iBookstore, etc.


Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III


Gay Spirituality

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness


Gay Perspective


GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe


Secret Matter


SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan


Getting Life

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods


The Fourth Quill

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil




Two Spirits
TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams



charmed lives
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers


Myth of the Great Secret


THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell



In Search of God


IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD: A Mystical Journey



Unpublished manuscripts


About ordering


Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series


rainbow line

  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

rainbow line

  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness


Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"


About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996


The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate


A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality


Why gay people should NOT Marry


The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage


Toby and Kip Get Married


Wedding Cake Liberation


Gay Marriage in Texas


What's ironic



Shame on the American People


The "highest form of love"


rainbow line


Gay Consciousness


Why homosexuality is a sin


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


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


The Gay Succession


Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?


The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter


Was I (or you) at Stonewall?


Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium


Easton Mountain Retreat Center


Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism


The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey


The upsidedown book on MSNBC


rainbow line


Enlightenment


"It's Always About You"



The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara


Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara


You're Not A Wave



Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging



Toby's Experience of Zen




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



What Anatman means



Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal



The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika



Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva



John Boswell was Immanuel Kant



Cutting edge realization



The Myth of the Wanderer



Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss



World Navel



What the Vows Really Mean



Manifesting from the Subtle Realms



The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse


The est Training and Personal Intention



Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven


rainbow line

Gay Spirituality


Curious Bodies


What Toby Johnson Believes


The Joseph Campbell Connection


The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)


Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy


The Two Loves


The Nature of Religion


What's true about Religion


Being Gay is a Blessing


Drawing Long Straws


Freedom of Religion


rainbow line


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


Having a Church to Leave


Harold Cole on Beauty


rainbow line


Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption


Not lashed to the prayer-post


Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality


The Monastic Schedule: a whimsy


Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process


Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)


Redeem Orlando


Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar


Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson



rainbow line


Mystical Vision


"The Evolution of Gay Identity"


"St. John of the Cross & the Dark Night of the Soul."


Avalokiteshvara at the Baths


 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


Sex with God


Merging Religion and Sex


Revolution Through Consciousness Change: GSV 2019


rainbow line


The Hero's Journey


The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016


The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)


You're On Your Own


Superheroes


rainbow line


Seeing Differently


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


Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom


What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?


rainbow line


The Vision


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside


A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside


The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


rainbow line

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


rainbow line


The Secret of the Clear Light


Understanding the Clear Light


Mobius Strip


Finding Your Tiger Face


How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated


rainbow line


Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube


rainbow line


About Alien Abduction


In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke


Karellen was a homosexual


The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance


Intersections with the movie When We Rise


More about Gay Mental Health


Psych Tech Training


Toby at the California Institute


The Rainbow Flag


Ideas for gay mythic stories


rainbow line


People


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 Mark Thompson


About Sterling Houston


About Michael Stevens


The Alamo Business Council


Our friend Tom Nash


Second March on Washington


The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"


rainbow line

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: 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


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 Revotutionary 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 Traditons 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


Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez


That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco


Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman


Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang


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


What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett


Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans


Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen


Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden


The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood


Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman


The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak


3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke


Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak


Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon


Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message


Life Interrupted by Michael Parise


Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire


The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman


Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny


Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman


True Religion by J.L. Weinberg


The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer


Everything is God by Jay Michaelson


Reflection by Dennis Merritt


Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson


Hard Lesson by James Gaston


God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson


The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson


Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther


Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen


The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether


The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber


AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar


Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost


The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal


Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal


In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane


Walking on Glory by Edward Swift


The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey


Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire


In Search of Lost Lives by Michael Goddart


Queer Magic by Tomas Prower


God in Your Body by Jay Michaelson


Science Whispering Spirit by Gary Preuss


Friends of Dorothy by Dee Michel


New by Whitley Strieber


Developing Supersensible Perception by Shelli Renee Joye

Sage Sapien by Johnson Chong


Tarot of the Future by Arthur Rosengarten


Brothers Across Time by Brad Boney


Impresario of Castro Street by Marc Huestis


Deathless by Andrew Ramer

The Pagan Heart of the West, Vol 1 by Randy P. Conner

Practical Tantra by William Schindler

The Flip by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson




Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:




Gay
Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe


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







Gay
Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness



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








charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman







secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction

updated







Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance





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






The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE




johnson-the-fourth-quill-audiobook
The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here






Two
Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams




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






Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III








In
Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld










The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.




rainbow line



Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.





Marynook Novitiate of the Marianists




The first year of religious life is novitiate, a year of monastic training outside the formal educational system. It is focused on spiritual development and initiation into the styles and lore of religious life.

After
high school, I joined the Brothers of Mary (Marianist), the order of teaching brothers who taught at my high school in San Antonio, Texas. The school, Central Catholic, is loosely connected with St. Mary's University which the Marianists also run in San Antonio.


MArynook Old Main
For my novitiate year with the Society of Mary, I lived on a farm in the Mississippi River bluffs of Wisconsin, a life wonderfully monastic, prayerful, and peaceful. The novitiate was called Marynook, a Catholic pun on the name of the lake in the town of Galesville, Lake Marinuka, named for an American Indian “princess,” granddaughter of Winnebago Chief Dakora.

We rose early to spend a couple of hours at prayer before breakfast and housework chores each day. During the m
orning we attended classes in theology, scripture, prayer, and asceticism (the practice of religious discipline). After lunch we played soccer or softball for an hour or two and then worked around the property, picking apples in the orchard, bringing in bales of hay from the fields, clearing brush, or inside, doing laundry, making apple sauce from the orchard harvest, preparing dinner.

The late afternoon was taken up with spiritual reading and prayer. The recitation of the rosary was followed by dinner. Most of our meals were eaten in silence while one of the novices read to the rest of us. Over breakfast we were usually read the life of some saintly character; over lunch, news and social commentary; over dinner, a religious but often entertaining novel. To celebrate special occasions the rule of silence was dispensed and we were allowed to talk.

And at any rate, every evening after dinner we’d always have an hour or two of recreation when we could do as we wanted and talk as we pleased. Usuallyon an outing every week or two we’d get an all-day recreation to go on an outing, climb a mountain, swim in the Mississippi, or ice-skate on the lake. While the Marianist novitiate was definitely “monastic,” we were teenagers and a kind of summer camp quality was programmed in to keep us entertained.


After recreation the evening generally consisted of meditation, study period, night prayers, and bed. Except during the recreation periods, we were supposed to maintain silence and at night we were bound under a strict Grand Silence, which was not to be broken for any but the most extreme emergency.


marynook main entrance
The conclusion of night prayers, called Compline in the Catholic Divine Office of Hours, was especially spiritually touching. Most nights Compline ended with the prayer Hail, Holy Queen. It’s a familiar Catholic prayer. We did our prayers alternating daily between English and Latin. The Latin version of this prayer has a beautiful and haunting Gregorian melody, Salve Regina.


chapelOn special feasts of the Blessed Mother, they’d turn out all the lights in the chapel except the spotlight on the statue of Mary (on the left in the photo) and we would sing this poignant melody in the dark. It was magical. Then as the ritual ended and we would stand up from our places in the pews, we would begin to recite under our breath Psalm 51, Miserere Mei.

We’d whisper this aloud to ourselves as we walked down the two flights of stairs, then out into the courtyard and over to the dormitory buildings and up the stairs there to our rooms. “Have mercy on me, O God, According to your great kindness, And according to the multitude of your mercies, Erase my iniquities, Wash me completely from my iniquities, And cleanse me of my sins.” The psalm is quite long and took all the way to the room to complete.

In English, it’s a little guilt-ridden, isn’t it? What would eighteen-year-old boys know about real iniquity? But in Latin, it was entrancing, especially the way the muffled drone of the chant rose and fell as we came round and round down the stairwell, then dissipated into the darkness as one by one we went different directions to get to our rooms.



marynook courtyardOur nights were quiet. The presence of God hung over the house, bearing us into solitary sleep and away into our dreams. I especially liked the nights. I remember lying in bed watching the clouds blowing over the river-worn bluffs across the valley from the novitiate. I cherished the solitude of that time. During the day we had very little time alone. Despite the silence, we were together, the thirty-some novices and about six faculty, almost all the time. 
novitiate class


The Novicemaster, Father Herbert Pieper, S.M., was a wonderful old man with the quick mind and mentality of a rebellious teenager.
Herbert Pieper SMHe taught us to cherish the styles and rules of religion and monastic life not out of fear of punishment but out of personal responsibility. And he introduced us to some of the most avant-garde ideas in modern Biblical scholarship. He played taped lectures to us from retreats for nuns by the then very far-thinking exegete Barnabas Ahern, C.P.

Fr. Ahern was a Passionist. It’s an order that preached retreats, especially for other Catholic religious orders; Ahern inadvertently helped foment the sea-changes that happened in American Catholicism in the 1960s by telling nuns and school sisters what the Bible really was.

Like those nuns, we learned that the holy texts had to be interpreted in the context of their own times and according to the genres and literary forms in which they were written. It may seem obvious in an English literature class that poems should be studied as poetry, novels as fiction, and literary criticism as expository prose, but that’s not how the literature of the Bible has traditionally been studied. The poetry, fiction, cultural commentary, theater, history, and legalities have all been lumped together and treated as though they were all alike with the same subject matter and same rules of interpretation and same literal authority.

Modern Scriptural exegesis, for instance, showed that the Book of Job was a Hebrew endeavor at a Greek tragedy; Job was no more historical than Oedipus, though, like Oedipus, he was a kind of Everyman dealing with important human issues. This form criticism, as it was called, revealed that many of the stories in the life of Jesus were recounted in an ancient Hebrew allegorical style called midrash which applied traditional cultural symbols to current events in order to place the events in a larger context. The visit of the Wise Men to the Infant Jesus was a prime example. According to modern scholarship, the story of the Magi was not intended to describe an historical event; it wasn’t written in the literary form of an historical account. It was an allegory about the universality of Jesus’s wisdom which his followers would later recognize applied not only to Israeli Jews but to
Greeks and Persians and Egyptians, even Romans.

Indeed, the gospels themselves were epic poetry more concerned with meaning than with news reporting. These were heady thoughts, radical discoveries for teenage boys.


 (I would later have Barnabas Ahern as a Scripture professor at C.T.U. (Catholic Theological Union at Chicago) when I was with the Servites. Barnabas Ahern CPHe was a remarkable man; I served Mass for him once and he went into ecstasy at the Consecration—the other server and I looked at each other in wonderment, thinking maybe he had died and we should call for help, but then came to and then wept profusely throughout the rest of the service.)





The Assistant Novicemaster, Brother Mel Meyer, was an accomplished and multi-talented artist and sculptor. Bro Mel Meyer ona his scooter in EuropeHe had just spent the previous year, studying for a graduate degree in medieval art history, driving around Europe on a motor scooter, visiting monasteries and photographing Gothic churches. Chartres CathedralHe showed us slides of his photographs of cathedrals, like Chartres, and of stained glass windows. Bro. Mel romanticized monasticism.

making frescosHe had us make our own frescos; he got us to call ourselves monks, not teaching brothers. He taught us we were part of a long history, and showed us religion as art-form and expression of beauty.


I was appointed house librarian and given the job of recataloguing the library of devotional literature of several thousand volumes. 
library The problem with the library at Marynook was that librarians had rotated through that job every two weeks for years just like through the jobs in the barn or the kitchen; there’d been no consistency in how the books were organized. So, for once, one person was going to recatalogue the entire library following the same organizational scheme and interpretation of the Dewey Decimal system. It was a great assignment.


in the snowIt kept me from being assigned to the garden or barnyard jobs, for which I was especially grateful when the temperatures were below freezing and the fields were covered with snow.


I did work in the kitchen— and that proved to have significant consequences in my life. It meant that one day I was going to be able to say I knew how to cook for large groups. (That's how I got the job at the Mann Ranch Seminars, where I would meet Joseph Campbell, ten years later.) This was one of those things like in Arthur Schopenhauer’s idea of life like a novel where chance events turn out to be leading agents in the structuring of your life.


Brother Cook, who was in charge of the kitchen, was newly assigned to the novitiate this year. And halfway through the year he was hospitalized in nearby La Crosse. The novices weren’t supposed to know the truth, but it was understood that he’d had a nervous breakdown under the stress of managing the kitchen, especially sticking to the tight budget. He was gone for several months, and three of us who’d seemed to enjoy being assigned to kitchen duties were allowed to take over his role. We learned to cook for thirty to forty people and to manage a professional kitchen.

cooks in kitchenIronically, one of the other novice cooks got over- enthusiastic and, just before Bro. Cook returned, prepared a celebratory dinner, with Cornish game hens and a dessert of Dates Supreme with whipped cream. He blew the budget for the rest of the year. 

Poor Bro. Cook. I have wondered, in retrospect, if Brother’s nervous breakdown were more likely a sexual/homosexual crisis brought on by his being assigned to the novitiate with all these sexually-repressed but hormonally-maturing young men. Whatever it was, his crisis would change the course of my life.

As librarian, I was able to spend long hours, in the dead of the starkly beautiful Wisconsin winter, reading and studying the books. I discovered a God much grander and more worthy of interest than the moralistic and doctrinaire God I’d been taught about in catechism. I discovered the mystics. I discovered the appeal of the divine wilderness, where no one is at home save God. And it was not unlike the wilderness of stars that I had for so long yearned to traverse in science-fiction fantasy.

St John of the Cross -- Salvador DaliI learned about Brother Lawrence and the “practice of the presence of God,” a fundamental aspect of what I would later learn as meditation practice. I read Saint John of the Cross. (The Salvador Dali painting, The Christ of Saint John of the Cross, hung in the stairwell outside the library.)

I discovered the Jesuit paleontogist/ mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin before most Catholics were allowed to know about him and his vision of evolution as the self-creation of God.


Thomas-Merton-looking-like-TobyI fancied myself a disciple and fellow traveler of Thomas Merton, the 1930s communist-radical turned Trappist monk and social commentator who’d become a spokesman of American Catholicism after his spiritual autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, was chosen by the Book of the Month Club. He too romanticized monasticism. (I would grow up to look surprisngly like Merton.)


Read more about Marynook--with a funny story: The Daily Schedule

In July 2020, the Marianist Social Justice Initiative released a YouTube video titled: Living Our Marianist Charism: Embracing the LGBTQ+ Community. This strikes me as remarkable. Here's a link:
https://youtu.be/_ItQVlyXjd4



rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine 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, four 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 and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

 back to top


BACK to Toby's home page


valid html

Visitors
Essential SSL