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Renowned Comparative Religion scholar and mythographer, Joseph Campbell was the Great Teacher and "wise old man" of White Crane editor Toby Johnson.
For five summers during the early 70s, Johnson was fortunate to have worked on staff at a Jungian oriented conference center in Northern California called The Mann Ranch Seminars. There he met and befriended Joseph Campbell. He corresponded with Campbell for over 10 years.
Toby's book The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell is available for download from this website.
Joseph Campbell was not himself gay, though he lived most of his life in a little two-and-a-half room apartment on the 14th floor of a building on Waverly Place and Gay Street overlooking New York City's Sheridan Square and Christopher Street. Perhaps he watched from his almost monastic-like urban aerie as street riots ensued from the police raid of the Stonewall Inn in 1969. Though enthusiastically in love with his wife and delightfully ribald at times about heterosexual attraction, in some ways he lived like many a gay man. He was a college professor and scholar. His wife, Jean Erdman, was an illustrious choreographer on the New York scene. They were certainly both acquainted with the sophisticated gay art world. From early on, they agreed not to have "earthly children," but only "spirit children": books and plays and creative productions. They chose a lifestyle other than normal heterosexual family life for the sake of a larger contribution.
Campbell's all-inclusive ideas and his lovingly irreverent sarcasm toward religious institutions provide a framework for understanding religion that gay people can readily embrace.
Keeping alive this vision is the work of the Joseph Campbell & Marija Gimbutas Library on the campus of Pacifica Graduate Institute near Santa Barbara. Membership in the Library supports the kind of revolution in religion most of us seek. Write Campbell & Gimbutas Library, 249 Lambert Rd, Carpinteria CA 93013. (Toby Johnson is proud to report that two of his books are included in Campbell's library, positioned on the shelves just as Joe left them.)
The Joseph Campbell Foundation also supports and encourages Campbell's wise understanding of religion. The Foundation offers internet-based conversations about Campbell's vision. Please consider supporting both the Library and the Foundation.
Campbell is most famous for his advice: "Follow your bliss."
If we gay men were not actively following our bliss, we'd never have come out in the first place.
Joseph Campbell said, "People ask me: 'What about all the evil and suffering in the world?' And I say, 'It's great just the way it is.' What else can you say?"