Review:  Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology

by Michael Brewer and Thomas Alan Berg


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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

PLAGUE: A NOVEL ABOUT HEALING.

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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

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

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

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



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

Meditation

Historicity as Myth

Pilgrimage

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

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 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

Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler

Sanctity & Male Desire by Donald Boisvert

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


Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson



It's Always about the Journey



Out and About with Brewer and Berg

Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology


By Michael Brewer and Thomas Alan Berg

2005

Word+Image and Brewberg Productions, DVD, 85 minutes, $19.00

Authors' website: brewberg.com




Available from Amazon.com for purchase or streaming

Out & About with Brewer & Berg: A multidimensional travelogue

Also available for Kindle and ebooks.

5 stars

This review appeared in White Crane Journal, #69 in 2005,
the year the DVD was released.

Reviewed by Toby Johnson

    A new way of producing and publishing the information that used to be limited to books is now beginning to appear. It’s in the form of the television show on DVD or videotape.
Joseph Kramer’s EroSpirit has been producing high quality lectures and programs for video in the area of spirituality and sexuality for some years now (Fire on the Mountain: An Intimate Guide to Male Erotic Massage is perhaps Kramer’s classic masterpiece). Last year Bruce Grether produced Mindful Masturbation for Men on DVD in that same area of enlightened sexuality. These “television programs” for private, individual viewing take advantage of the visual nature of sexuality. Needless to say, sex books benefit from ample illustration. And a visual presentation about sex is an excellent way to convey material about spiritual meaning, a “gimmick” to get viewers to open their minds and receive more information than they were expecting.

This reviewer’s “wise old man” Joseph Campbell used to tell stories about his travels in India. One I especially resonated with was about visiting the “erotic temple” at Konorak near the holy city of Puri. The outside of the temple is decorated with images of people in all sorts of sexual positions. Campbell told how he asked several different people in the crowd what was the meaning and purpose of the erotic imagery. A Brahmin priest told him the sexual images were to keep demons out of the sacred interior because they would be distracted by the porn and stay outside. An expert on Indian history explained how the images manifested the Tantric period of Hindu religious evolution. Well, that was interesting, Campbell said. But the best answer came from a very old yogin who apparently lived on the grounds of the Temple; his answer was “What else would you put on a temple?”

Out & About with Brewer & Berg — Searching for a New Mythology by Michael Brewer and Thomas Alan Berg is another example of the television program as personal production and as a medium of information exchange about spiritual matters. The “gimmick” here is not sex—though there is talk about sex and beauty in the program; the gimmick is the travelogue, the same gimmick Joseph Campbell was using to tell his innocent little joke about the natural sexual content of religion and spirituality.

There’s a joke in our culture about having to sit through “other people’s home movies,” but the reality is that most of us really do enjoy hearing about our friends’ travels; we enjoy hearing about exotic places; we enjoy seeing sights of the wide, wide world that’s just too big for any of us to get to go everywhere. The travelogue is one of the ways we live vicariously as world travelers and, indeed, as sense organs of the Earth itself. We human beings are how the Earth gets to perceive the “colorful, fluid, infinitely various and bewildering phenomenal spectacle” (to use Campbell’s words) that is life on Earth.

I quote liberally here from Joseph Campbell because Brewer and Berg do so also in this first of what they plan to be a series of travelogues communicating wisdom about gay and lesbian consciousness. The set-up of the video is that these two old friends (from San Francisco ’70s) travel from Switzerland (where Brewer now lives with his husband) through Italy and back. Along the way they share the sights they see and they talk candidly about their spiritual lives as gay men as they immerse themselves in Italian and Catholic history—with all its complicated, confused, and ambivalent layers of homosexuality.

They start their journey appropriately at the home of Carl Jung on Lake Zurich and so establish a context for their spiritual quest: searching for a new mythology that subsumes Jung’s vision that the old religions represent symbolic clues to the nature of consciousness. Religion is to culture what dreams are to the individual: clues to what’s going on at the deepest levels of reality.

Both Brewer and Berg were inspired back in the late ’80s by Campbell’s interviews with Bill Moyers (PBS’s “The Power of Myth”) in which he presented that kind of all-inclusive, Jungian vision of human religious consciousness. From Campbell, they learned that the spiritual life is a “hero’s journey,” and so one of the ways of experiencing it, investigating it, and communicating it is through the journey.

The video is entertaining and visually interesting just for the sights of Italy. The two go to Rome first and visit the Roman Forum (and the adjacent Coliseum) and the Vatican—talk about different ideas about homosexuality! They discover marvelously homoerotic art in St. Peter’s and question what was really going on in the life of Jesus and the Apostles. Then they head north toward Florence, along the way stopping at Niki de St. Phalle’s Tarot Park, an amazing garden of mosaic sculptures inspired by Antonio Gaudi portraying the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck—here’s a sight most of us have probably missed even if we’re well-traveled in Europe. Their visit next to Pisa gets them talking about the importance of having a good foundation.

Finally they arrive in Florence and climb up to the top of the Duomo, the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, and visit the Uffizi Museum and the Gallery dell' Accademia and its most famous piece of art, Michaelangelo’s David. In an amazing manifestation of the very creative techniques they have been discussing, they meet a stunning a young man outside the gallery who looks almost exactly like the statue come to life in flesh and blood. (And in the Jungian universe, coincidences are always significant.)

Michael and Tom are delightful fellows. They’re modern gay men with a playful sense of humor and appreciation of gay irony. They are fun to talk with, fun to travel with. In the course of the hour and a half travelogue they share quotes and comments from many more modern spiritual guides beyond just Jung and Campbell (and they mark the gay ones with a little rainbow flag!) and they successfully communicate their message that gay identity has important spiritual resonances and implications.

The video is a little fast and jumpy—perhaps appealing to the “MTV generation” with all the fast cuts and spinning pans and flashing captions. One might complain that whichever of the travelers did the editing got carried away with the special effects panel in their computer’s video-editing application. Maybe next episode they’ll slow down just a little and let us see more of what they’re seeing. And I certainly look forward to a next episode. The teaser at the end tells us they’re going to Greece next. Maybe the homosexuality won’t be so ambivalent in that culture’s history!

This is a wonderful contribution to the discussion of gay spirituality, a new medium for conveying important and needed insights, likely to reach people the printed word no longer reaches. Out & About with Brewer & Berg is a philosophical travelogue of Europe with two zany guys in an amazing documentary of their vision quest in search of a new mythology that includes gay and lesbian consciousness. This is a delightful adventure, innovatively filmed (with European sights I'd never seen before) with lots of Joseph Campbell's appealing wisdom. I totally concur with the provocative worldview Brewer & Berg proclaim.

So, in light of that story about the old yogin at Konorak, if we’d asked Joe Campbell about the appropriateness of a travel  video to frame an exploration of gayness in the grand scheme of things, he’d likely have answered,  laughing, “What else but a travelogue would you put on the outside of a hero’s journey?” It’s always about the journey, isn’t it?





Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of
The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell, Gay Spirituality, Getting Life in Perspective and other novels and books





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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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