The Arrival of the Visitors

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Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from, 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


Unpublished manuscripts

About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

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

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  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"

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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

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

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"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

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

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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

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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

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Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Not lashed to the prayer-post

Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality

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

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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


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

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The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016

The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)

You're On Your Own


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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?

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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

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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

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The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

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

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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

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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"

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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

Enigma by Lloyd Meeker

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

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

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

Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness

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


Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance

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

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

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

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.

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

secret matter

The Arrival of the Visitors

from the Lammy-Award winning gay science fiction novel
by Toby Johnson

Revised, updated and
expanded by the author for 21st century readers.
With an Afterword by Mark Jordan
Bonus: "Adam & Steve" -- a whimsical essay about a profound truth


To purchase the new SECRET MATTER
through (free freight),
click here

To order any of Toby Johnson's printed books,
please use to send
the price of book(s) to
(note truncation of last name)

Postage is free
(If you want to pay by check or M.O. or to inquire about postage outside the US,
please send email to
  Be sure to specify which book(s) you're ordering and what your mailing address is.


The Arrival of the Visitors


Kevin Anderson fell asleep worrying about the new job he'd be starting soon after graduation next week in San Francisco the width of the country away.

Kevin was proud of himself for getting this lucrative appointment, but worried his ivory tower schooling in Virtual Architecture wasn't going to have prepared him for the real world work of the reconstruction of the City after last year's devastating earthquake.

He had been working at his computer now for hours, and was a little groggy. He was finishing the final revisions on his senior thesis, "Generating Autosolidifying Plane and Solid Surfaces in Parameter-free Virtual Space with 3-D Force Replication: A Computer-Assisted Energetic Design Model." What's that got to do with the real world, he fretted.
As he prepared for bed, he was also fretting about his roommate's absence. Not that it was unusual for Tim to spend weekends in New York. The City was so close and, after all, Tim had the money to enjoy its cosmopolitan delights. But, in spite of--or perhaps because of--their friendship, Kevin disapproved of what he suspected Tim was doing down there.
Even though unconsciousness came hard for Kevin, once he fell asleep, he slept soundly, drifting in and out of dreams of an idyllic vacation with his family in the backwoods of Maine where his dad had sometimes taken the family when the kids were young. Kevin slept so soundly, in fact, that he was not aroused by all the noise in the yard outside his Harvard University dorm a little after 1 a.m.

For weeks afterwards Kevin was going to regret sleeping through that event.

Timothy Lewiston combed his hair, still wet from the shower. He glanced over at the clock to see it was after 1:30 a.m. Socialback cover hour in New York City, he thought to himself. He'd told a friend he'd meet him between 2 and 2:30 at Zoncko's in the West Village. The cab'll take about twenty minutes, he figured. I've still got about fifteen before I need to leave. He turned back to the mirror.

Tim Lewiston was an attractive young man. He was small but solid. Except for his height he looked all the part of a rangy redheaded Texas cowboy with tight wiry musculature, a brush of reddish hair across his chest and down the centerline of his torso, blue green eyes, and a smile as beguiling as a country cowpoke. His Texas cowboy appearance was a little deceiving. It correctly identified his Dallas roots, but belied the fact that his grandfather had made a fortune in the oil business and had had the incredibly good luck to sell his holdings just before the Texas oil slump in the 1980s. His father, in turn, had the same good fortune to get out of the market at the end of the '90s just before the dot com collapse. Tim's mother and dad had retired to the California gold country about the time Tim started college in Cambridge. They had a ranch in Nevada City and a condo south of San Francisco in Hillsborough. And the family still maintained this bachelor apartment on the Upper East Side, though Tim was now almost the only one to use it during occasional jaunts to New York.

And the fact was, Tim did make those jaunts fairly often and without his parents' knowledge. He wasn't quite ready to tell them yet that he was "experimenting" with his lifestyle, hanging out at the bars along the newly renovated and hyper-chic Christopher Street. A young queer has to learn to hide things, he told himself. Indeed, he'd learned at Harvard he'd survive only if he kept on top of his feelings. Sometimes that had meant being practically merciless and occasionally quite rude.

As he slipped into his clothes, he thought again about the unpleasant confrontation he'd had over dinner with his now ex-boyfriend. And he recalled the conversation earlier in the week with his therapist as he acknowledged the failure of that relationship. Tim had remarked what a cruel joke it was that he felt unloved and unlovable because there were too many people who wanted him and he never knew if it were for his money, his body, or himself. "So I've just never believed in love," he said. "I guess I need to want somebody."

He glanced out the window hoping to find a cab waiting outside the building. He noticed a commotion on the street. A crowd had gathered down by the corner. A number of people were pointing up in the air. At first Tim thought maybe his building was on fire but, before he panicked, he realized they were pointing at something much higher than the building. He stuck his head out to see what was up there, but couldn't see anything.

His curiosity urged him to rush as he pulled on a jacket, locked the apartment door behind him, and waited anxiously for the elevator to let him out on the ground floor.

As he stepped out of the building, he saw people running past him toward the end of the block. He still couldn't see. Whatever's going on is certainly causing a lot of excitement. Maybe the Empire State Building's on fire. When he reached the corner and turned to see what everybody was looking at, Tim realized he should have gone up to the roof where he'd have had a much better view

Tim's worries about love and sex all seemed suddenly insignificant.

Green light flickered over John Marshall's face. Around him in the darkened room of the Space Defense Research Facility at March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA, other crew-cut young airmen steadily watched the hypnotic radar screens sweeping the skies for signs of invasion by missiles or bombers or, potentially even more threatening, space objects, like asteroids or large meteors, or maybe alien spaceships. Sometime in the future--if the current research going on just down the hall, John knew, were successful--such signs would be the occasion for activating the space shield, a force field that would surround the United States stopping all invaders from entering our air space.

Some of the other faces seemed intent, but most looked bored. John had had the job of supervising the radar monitors of the experimental facility now for several months. Most of the time he too was bored. Tonight he was thinking about his girlfriend. Before coming on duty, he'd talked with her on the phone. She'd told him she was going to be away for a couple of weeks on a job assignment. He hadn't liked that. He was jealous.  But he had been too tongue-tied to explain his feelings. She's flying all over the world on assignment, hoping to reestablish her career with CNN after last year's fiasco. It was her own fault. And she's just too intent on this career of hers. But damn it. I can't talk to her about my feelings. If she'd just give me a chance…

After his shift ended, John hung around for a while. He was reluctant to go home. He knew Joan would be there. Probably packing. And he didn't want to face her. I'll just freeze up and we'll both get upset. He drank an extra cup of coffee to get himself alert enough for the forty-five minute drive back to Covina, the suburb they'd agree was halfway between his job in Riverside and hers in Hollywood. And he even smoked a cigarette. He'd quit smoking months ago and was not happy that he'd bummed one without thinking.

Finally he left the station, asking for another cigarette on his way out. He stopped just outside the door to light it. And then stood for a minute looking up at the sky. If only Joan and I could communicate…

It was a dark, clear night. The stars were brilliant. John was surprised how little haze there was. He gazed up at the stars,  testing his memory of astronomy, as he smoked the cigarette. He forgot that he was peeved with himself for smoking it, for not being able to do what he really wanted. John was just thinking he'd identified the star Regulus in the constellation Leo, when suddenly it looked as if a hole had opened in the sky. The stars were blanked out in a circle almost directly overhead.

John blinked and then rubbed his eyes before he looked again. Oh my God. Just then he heard the horns go off signaling an alert.

Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque sang the words of Compline along with the other sisters at St. Benedict's Home. The elderly voices occasionally hit sour notes. Margaret Mary didn't think of herself as as old or feeble as the rest of the sisters around here. But then she thought, down inside, probably none of them thought of herself that way either.

Two years ago, when Sister Margaret Mary came to St. Benedict's she'd been happy to give up teaching and happy to get away from the cold winters back in New England. She'd been looking forward to the opportunity to spend her days in prayer. But by now she was feeling bored. Instead of a house of contemplation, St. Benedict's Home turned out to be an asylum for dotty old nuns. Margaret Mary might not have been so dissatisfied if she finally achieved the kind of mystical, religious experiences she'd longed for as a novice fifty years ago. It seemed like she had been waiting all these years for a chance to discover contemplation. And all she was getting were old women.

The world has changed too much. Nothing makes sense anymore. But better to believe in all those old stories, even if they were wrong, than to believe in nothing. Maybe I'd be better off dead. But, God, I wish just once You'd give me a vision, something to prove all these years of waiting on You were worthwhile.

After night prayers Sister Margaret Mary headed back to her room. As she often did, she went the long way around the outside of the building. She liked getting a little fresh air before bed. She was cantankerous enough herself that if the side door were already locked she didn't mind ringing the bell and making that young sister who was in charge of her wing of the residence hall come let her in, Sister Jennifer. Not a proper name for a nun anyway. She needs a little discipline.

peregrine ventures cover
The night air was cool, but not uncomfortable. Sister Margaret Mary sat down on a bench overlooking the convent garden. She was surprisingly out of breath and felt a sudden pain in her chest. My heart? she wondered, only half-afraid.

She looked up at the night sky, as if she could peer through the heavens into the celestial realms. In lieu of her vision, she reminded herself of the good she'd done in her life, of the success of the students she'd taught over the years. Why just last night I saw that pretty Joanie Salado on TV. Sister remembered Joanie clumsily reading Shakespeare in Speech class. She smiled with the thought that something she'd taught had prepared that young girl for being a TV commentator. And Sister remembered this morning getting an announcement from his mother of Kevin Anderson's upcoming graduation. He was a sweet boy, a little bit of a sissy, but so talented. She used to get him to draw elaborate cartoons on the blackboard to spice up the daily announcements. You'd think he'd have made a better weatherman than an architect, she chortled. And then coughed painfully. She strained to stand up.

This cartoon-like sketch of Kevin, 'Bel, and Sr. Jennifer
by artist Shane Tanner graced the cover of the
1995 Peregrine Ventures release

She limped along the side of the old red-brick building. Coming round a corner, she saw the lights of Los Angeles spread out across the horizon. Just then Sister heard a roaring sound behind her. For a moment she felt afraid. She started to turn around when the sound overtook her. She looked up, thinking it was a jet airplane flying too close to the ground. Instead in the sky above her, moving in with ponderous grace, was a huge darkness. As she strained her neck to see better, a circle of amber lights flashed on above her. It was as though a golden halo opened in the sky. Her fear suddenly disappeared.
Margaret Mary sat right down on the sidewalk with a bump. She didn't feel the clutch at her heart. My prayer's been answered, she thought gratefully. She hadn't expected death to be like this. She hadn't expected God to open a hole in the sky and carry her soul up to him. But here it was happening.

She let her head fall back and she closed her eyes. She could feel the whistling wind blowing across her face and she imagined that now angels were descending from the golden circle in the sky, coming to carry her away. And, very gently, she gave up her soul to the Lord.

"This joint's about as short as it's ever gonna get, Joel. You sure you don't want the last toke?"

"Well, Bunny, since you put it like that," Joel answered, giggling. "Sure I'll take a toke." As he reached for the joint the older lady offered him, he added, "Wouldn't want the joint to get any shorter now, would we?"

"Huh?" Bunny responded quizzically. She had not quite understood the innocent fun Joel was making of her peculiar syntax.

"I'm just as happy with the moodie," Joel continued. "Since the doctor's been prescribing these for me, I haven't been smoking as much grass."

"So I've noticed." Bunny fell silent a moment, staring off into space. The two were sitting on the narrow deck of the Victorian four-plex they lived in on the edge of San Francisco's Mission District. "Look at all the stars," she mumbled under her breath.

"You wanna save the roach?" Joel asked struggling to hold his breath as he passed the joint back.
Taking a look at it in the dim light illuminating the deck from her kitchen, Bunny replied nonchalantly, "hardly enough to make it worth throwing away."

Joel giggled again as he flicked the roach over the railing. As a wave of euphoria rushed through him, he leaned over and gently hugged his friend and neighbor. He felt suddenly warm and affectionate toward her in spite of her eccentricity and occasionally maddening distortion of the English language.

Though now at least in her mid-sixties, Bunny lived just like the hippie chick she'd been as a girl. Her flat next door to his was mostly empty. Unless he invited her over for dinner, it appeared she ate nothing but carrots and brown rice. But in spite of her apparent poverty, she was always bringing homeless people around to share her carrots and brown rice and to get high with her--and, Joel imagined, probably to have sex. "Make love, not war," was one of her mottos.

Bunny frequently went up to Mount Shasta where she was connected with a band of UFO watchers who fervently expected and prepared for extraterrestrials to come rescue them just before the nuclear holocaust or the depletion of the ozone layer or the flood from the greenhouse effect devastated all life on Earth. Bunny herself called the group "fanatics" and had never moved permanently to the mountain commune, but added in her inimitable way that, "Still you never know when you might not want to be there--just in case. After all, you might get a chance to make love with an alien."

"Joel, you know, I'd worry about those moodies if I were you. I don't trust doctors. After all, Goddess gave us marijuana and peyote and magic mushrooms. They're organic. How do you know about these, uh, chemicals? …what they might be doing to your mind?"

Joel laughed to himself for a moment. Of all people to worry about what something might do to your mind! Bunny's taken enough drugs to burn out all the lights in Schenectady. Joel stopped himself, thinking, Oh God, now I'm starting to sound like her.

"But, Bun, they're legal, they're cheap, they're harmless. They've taken the crime out of drugs. And they address the real problem."

"The real problem?"

"Sure. Drugs were a problem of technology. Technology created them, imported them, and sold them,. And the technologization of society got people so uptight they needed or wanted them. And like with all the other problems of technology, the only solution is in better technology. The answer to the drug problem was better drugs that provide euphoria and get you high without doing any damage, dulling consciousness, impeding judgment, or slowing response time."
"I still don't trust the government," she replied.

"Well, at least the government finally started telling the truth about drugs. That's what was necessary before anything could've been done. Now, if only they'd start telling the truth about nuclear weapons and international diplomacy and that force field they want to build in the sky…"

"…and UFOs," Bunny interjected one of her favorite subjects. "After all, the people deserve to know what we all know we know"

Joel was just thinking that Bunny's communication skills might have been a whole lot better if there'd been moodies back in the old days instead of acid, when suddenly Bunny's mouth dropped open.

She slowly began to stand, pointing up into the sky behind Joel's head. "Here they come," she managed to say.

"Oh, Bunny, come off it," Joel commented skeptically, thinking that as soon as anybody mentioned UFOs around Bunny she starts seeing things.

"No, Joel. I mean it. Look."

He turned around.

Joel felt the blood rush from his face. He wondered if Bunny had been right. Maybe the moodies can cause hallucinations.
"Oh my God," she said, "It's as big as if it weren't even there."

Called back to reality by Bunny's nonsensical phraseology, Joel did a little reality testing. He asked himself if what he were seeing slowly move across the sky could be explained as an airplane or maybe the Goodyear blimp.

But no, the flat dark shape, encircled with golden lights, was obviously not a blimp. That just couldn't be anything else but a real flying saucer.

"Damn," Bunny said, "here I am in the City. This is no time to not be at  Mount Shasta."

"Yeah," Joel answered, feeling more euphoria than any combination of drugs could produce. "But you don't need to be at Mount Shasta. They're here, Bunny. They're right here ."

Joan Salado watched TV most of the night, switching through the five hundred and twenty channels the cable brought in looking for new news. She was excited and she was worried. It was almost 3 a.m. and John still wasn't home. She wasn't surprised that he might be held up on base, but still she worried. What if more is going on than is getting reported? What if the Aliens, uh, Visitors--what should I call them?--are hostile? What if there've been attacks?

She'd once read a story about a team of scientists who'd faked an alien invasion in order to get the conflicting countries of the world to see they could cooperate with one another. For a moment she wondered if this invasion had been faked. But she had looked out her own window only a few hours ago and watched the ship move slowly across the Southern California sky. She knew it was real.

Remembering the awesome size of that ship, Joan felt a surge of fear and respect pass through her. The world is never going to be the same again.

That was not an all together unwelcome idea. Part of Joan's upset this evening had preceded the arrival of those spaceships--or whatever they were. Joan was still trembling with the embarrassment of this morning's scene at the Air Force Base. And wondering if her career with CNN could withstand one more blow like that.

A year ago Joan had become suddenly famous as the CNN staffer to report from the Great San Francisco Earthquake. The public loved her and her down-to-earth reaction to and reporting of the disaster. She produced a series blending warm, "womanly" human interest stories with hard-hitting catastrophe footage, characterized by her use of compact, mobile cameras--in which she was sometimes shown climbing through ruined buildings or under collapsed freeways helping perform rescues as well as report on them. Her star was rising.

Just as the quake story was dying down, Joan discovered that a Department of Homeland Security project to generate the space shield had been going on in a facility in the Rumsfeld Research Park in San Francisco and that the experimental device had been turned on at the time of the earthquake. Joan accused Dr. Maxwell Humphries and the military of covering up the fact that this device may have been responsible for triggering the quake.

She'd made a splash in the news with the story, but then the story was squelched by the Pentagon and dismissed as ludicrous and Joan was professionally discredited. She'd been reassigned to the Hollywood office and given jobs reporting on celebrity weddings and fancy night club openings.

Coincidentally Dr. Humphries' research program also moved south to March Air Force Base near Riverside. The move was officially explained as a precaution to protect the delicate equipment which had been damaged in the San Francisco earthquake, but Joan fervently believed the lab was moved to get it away from a fault line so future experiments wouldn't cause another earthquake. In part to resurrect her career and prove she was right and to prevent further earthquakes, she'd continued on the sly to trace down stories about the space shield research.

She'd learned through her current boyfriend whom she'd met at one of those night club openings and whom she'd pursued in part because he was in the Air Force at March A.F.B., that Maxwell Humphries was giving a talk to Pentagon contractors at March just that morning. She'd sneaked into the talk--with her mobile camera tucked surreptiously over her ear like a wireless headset--hoping to get a clue about Humphries' work that could exonerate her.

As the lecture began, Humphries explained that even though the Terrorist War seems to have cooled with the establishment of the U.N. redress and reconciliation courts mandated by Al Qaeda, there was still threat against the homeland. Now it came again in the form of attack by air. The three missile attacks on New York City in the last few years was evidence.
The latest international hot-spot was the Nasserine Civil War. The Loyalists, Humphries said, were believed to control missiles capable of reaching the United States. He reminded the audience that recent intelligence reports indicated that Saudi space-based weapons and even old-fashioned, but still firable, Russian ICBMs had ended up in the hands of the Nasserinian rebels, and perhaps even former Iranian and Iraqi insurgents, South African Reactionaries, Korean Sovereignty Partisans, Russian Neo-Czarists, and who knows how many others.

His project, he explained, has been to create a "space shield" over the country which would prevent missile intrusion. Once expanded worldwide, the shield would be able to block unauthorized military actions anywhere on Earth. And he added that, theoretically, it might even protect the planet from collision with an asteroid.

Joan was just congratulating herself on getting into the lecture--and thinking about how to position her head so the camera would pick up Humphries' every facial expression, when the scientist recognized her in the audience and started shouting, "THAT woman, get her out of here."

She was surrounded by security guards and literally dragged out of the room. She'd never been so embarrassed in her life.
Her supervisor had left her an email notice that he was expecting to see her in his office first thing tomorrow morning.

All evening Joan had been worrying about getting fired and reminding herself that the arrival of the spaceships changed everything. But still John wasn't home. It was admitting to him what had happened this morning that she feared the most. John had never been sympathetic with her effort to undermine Maxwell Humphries' research. After all, he was now working in Humphries' own department. And he'd kept reminding Joan how careful he had to be to not let slip anything about his relationship with her.

Just then, Joan's dime played a gentle ringtone, Edith Piaf's classic L'hymne a L'amour (Let It Happen), resurrected as the poignant love theme for last year's Oscar-winning sci-fi tearjerker romance, When Worlds Collide.
The dime, as they'd come to be called, was the all-in-one, hand-held phone, text and voice messaging device, satellite computer link, gamer, and audio-video save/play pod that, under a number of different brand names, had become the essential work and play tool of 21st century DIgital-MEdia-sophisticates.

L'hymne a L'amour was the signal the call was coming from John.

"Hi, honey," he said. "Sorry I'm so late calling. The base was locked down tight till a few minutes ago."

"I guessed as much," she answered. "Hey, got any hot scoops for me?" She tried to keep the conversation light. She had no intention of mentioning this morning's embarrassing scene, at least not on the phone.

"I probably know less than you do. I haven't heard any news. We've been on red alert since the ship first appeared over the base…"

"Where's it now?"

"Still right overhead."

"Hmm? You think they're interested in the space-shield?" she asked.

"Look, Joan, I probably shouldn't be talking about this stuff. And don't mention the space-shield," he said coldly. "Anyway, the reason I called was to say I was late and to, well, apologize for what I said earlier, I mean, about resenting your assignment…"

"Well, that'll probably change anyway. Everything's gonna change."

"'cept us?" John asked sheepishly, hoping she'd understand the veiled import of his communication.

"'cept us."

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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.

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