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
Articles and Excerpts:You're Not A Wave
In the modern liberal
democratic world, we have a right to choose our religions and to
believe anything about religion we want.
The basis of gay rights in America is specifically the
religion guarantee of the First Amendment. In coming out openly gay and
being good people who are interested in spirituality and the meaning of
life and seeking to create community around us, we are in fact making
up a religion of homosexuality.
If citizens have a right to choose whatever religion they
no matter how nutty, and if they can choose religions that object to
homosexuality on a moral basis, then homosexual citizens have a right
to choose a religion that encourages homosexuality on a spiritual
basis. We have a right to make up our religion just as much as
Fundamentalist Christians make up theirs.
Since the objection to homosexuality is primarily religious, it has no place outside the churches. Homosexuals have a right to disagree with conservative Christians over the interpretation of the anti-gay texts in the Bible, just as much as Protestants can disagree with Roman Catholics about the authority of the Pope. If they can have splinter sects of Christianity, then we can be a sect of a pro-gay, life-positive religion. This is homosexuality as religion. And so laws against homosexuality are unconstitutional and un-American because they discriminate between people on the basis of their religious beliefs.
It's time we redefine "God." It's time to create a God who lives with us, who struggles with us to love life, to love it even while we suffer, accepting the good and the bad as different faces of reality. It's time for a God who works with us to deal with the problems of life, not one who causes the problems to test us, as he tested Job, or to punish us, as he punished Adam and Eve, for the satisfaction of his immense ego.
The conclusion to reach is not: there is no God. But rather: God is the consciousness that is me. Each of us has to say: "What I am is consciousness experiencing itself and willing its own expansion and evolution." All the stuff that I think of as my ego and my precious self is just a distraction from the realization I am God observing my creation from a particular perspective and declaring, unconditionally, "It is good."
We are God acting in the world. How else can God do anything except through human beings? The Sun cannot change things on Earth except by evolving conscious beings who understand their role as carriers of consciousness and can manipulate matter to serve consciousness. God effects change on earth by our behavior. As we realize we are God creating the universe, we can relax our resistance and create a better world.
To the extent that we can get back to that simple consciousness, we let go of the distractions and let the will to evolve operate. The will to evolve is what human beings experience as love. True love is the will to put another's spiritual growth before our own out of appreciation of who the other really is.
The call to remember that you are a momentary manifestation of God is God calling to himself: "Time to wake up."
Time to change how we think. Time to love our life wholeheartedly. We can't waste our life wishing we were somebody else, somebody we are not. We can't waste our life feeling guilty or perverted about who we are, regretting we are not normal, regretting we don't have children, or that we look like what we do and not like a dream we have. We can't waste our life wishing that it was different people who have made us their friends and loved us and taken us to their beds. It's time to be glad of everything that has happened to us.
During the times of agony and crisis--the times we most
remind ourself to love life--of course, we experience the pain. You do
not say "I like it" when it is awful. But we can say: "This is part of
life; this is what I'm getting to experience as my world. It is great
even though I'm hurt and crying."
Loving life means looking back on everything that's
us and seeing that it was wonderful because it has made us who we
are--along with all our intentions and motivations to make things
different. The point of the whole universal process, from our
perspective, is for us to have the experience we are having. This is
the "punch line" of life, the "Secret of the Ages."
The act of choosing your life includes choosing being gay. It does not mean surrender and acquiescence--though that might be called for in the end. It means active participation in the way the universe is manifesting itself to you, and as you. It means recognizing and embracing the karmic patterns that intersect as your life, accepting the possibility of heartbreak and death as part of being human, accepting old age as part of life, accepting that too many of your friends have died. Finally, it means accepting the joy and beauty that are yours because you are alive.
The Bodhisattva saves himself and all beings by taking on
the suffering of the world. That is to say that in order not to suffer,
you must embrace suffering. For when you can say yes to it, it isn't
suffering. The little summary of hippie countercultural wisdom,
Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment says: "When you learn to love Hell,
you will be in Heaven."
Heaven, after all, is an attitude: this experience that I
having right now--no matter what its contents--is, in fact, God
enjoying being alive. Heaven is the Sun shining on all that it has
given birth to, and--in us--being pleased with what it's become. For
us, our homosexuality is our experience of heaven.
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.