Reviews: The Kairos & Wrestling With Jesus

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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


About ordering

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

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


Historicity as Myth


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

The Jesus We Never Knew

The KairosThe Kairos: A Novel
By Paul E. Hartman
320 pages, paperback $12.50

Available from
Also available from

Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell

The Kairos is a modern day suspense-thriller set in Jerusalem, then the Seattle Washington area, then deep Alaska. The book description on the back half-jokingly (I think) calls it "Religious Horror" for Christian Fundamentalists. Whatever the horror, it is certainly a thriller. The action keeps moving and the story moves right along with it. The novel's a page turner and an enjoyable fast read. But the hero isn't a government spy, but a religious one, that is, a seeker after truth and a biblical exegete trying to understand and tell the truth about the "real" Jesus Christ. And it's a Jesus we didn't know about.

Kairos is a Greek word meaning an opportune time, a time when God breaks into history. The discovery of new information about the life of Jesus, for instance, could result in a kairos moment when everything everybody thought has to change, and comes to have a new and greater meaning in present time. That's how it is used in this book.

Kairos is also reminiscent of two other Greek words, Kyrios and kouros; the former means Lord (as in the prayer Kyrie Eleison -- Lord, have mercy), the latter means a standing youth (as in early Greek sculpture). The puns are both surprisingly appropriate. For the history-changing moment the main character of the story hopes to bring about involves just who Jesus, as Lord, was as a young man.

The protagonist, Dr. Lute Jonson, has been keeping a secret for years. In his study of the dead Sea Scrolls, he came across references to the life of Jesus as a teenager. The texts reveal he lived in the Qumran community, where the Essenes, the mystical sect of Judaism, are thought to have had a sort of monastery, and that he was thought of as divine because of his ability to work miracles, but he was also a rebel who challenged Jewish sexual taboos by carrying on a same-sex relationship with the boy who'd later be the Apostle John.

As the novel opens, Dr Jonson is leaving Jerusalem--with the hidden texts--to announce their content to the world. Why and how he never quite makes it is the adventure of the story. For obviously the "power that be" are not going to allow such a revelation. The book then is about the stranglehold the institutionalized Church keeps over the real truth of Jesus's teachings.

It's a good novel with a fascinating idea: how would the Christian--and non-Christian--world react to the news that Jesus had a sex life, and that it wasn't quite kosher. In the effects in the lives of a couple of characters, readers are shown hints: a devout Christian woman is horrified at the idea of Jesus as not virginal, a sexually repressed scholar is elated, but confused and frightened by the revelation.

The shocking climax of the story is unfortunately realistic and believable, but in ending the book as he does, Paul Hartman avoids having to deal with the worldwide reaction. (I won't spoil the plot by explaining this.) Since this is a novel and since the premise of Jesus's sexuality is probably possible, but not likely to ever be revealed, there's no need to address that worldwide reaction. And the author turns the plot inward to offer a kind of spiritual, mystical message about the nature of religion.

Throughout the story, Lute Jonson keeps reminding himself that a fundamental message of all faith must be: Fear not. And that's the message the book ultimately conveys: Fear not. It wouldn't matter in the life of an individual or in the history of the world if things changed radically, i.e., if there were a kairos moment in our day -- because, in faith, there really is nothing to fear. That we understand that is itself a kind of kairos.

Link to an interesting interview on a Seattle website for authors and writers with Paul Hartman

Wrestling with JesusWrestling with Jesus
By D.K. Maylor

465 pages, paperback $18.95

Available from
Also available from

Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell

Wrestling with Jesus offers an imaginary and whimsical dialogue with a new age Jesus who shows up in response to the author's writing a long complaint letter to Jesus regarding Christian teaching and interpretation of the Bible.

In the spirit of Neale Donald Walsch's  Conversations with God, D.K. Maylor's book allows Jesus to restate his teachings for modern times. And Maylor's Jesus has quite a sense of humor. A lot of the book reads like a standup comedy duo, with Jesus making outrageous, mostly silly and funny, but occasionally profoundly meaningful puns and jokes.

For all its whimsy and lightheartedness, the book demonstrates the author's extensive study of Christian and pre-Christian history. An ongoing theme is that the story of Jesus as it has come down through history seems a confabulation of myths and Mystery religions in the Roman-Hellenistic empire of New Testament times. Jesus Christ, the God of Christianity, was as much Osiris or Mithras as he was the Nazarene teacher. Maylor and his buddy Jesus have a field day--and a revelation of spiritual meaning--deconstructing the traditional Christian doctrine of Jesus as the sacrificial scapegoat who saves mankind by appeasing Yahweh's wrath with his crucifixion. And, of course, the analysis makes great sense AND offers a much better interpretation of "salvation."

Jesus quotes A Course in Miracles, rails against the multiple and egregious abuses down through Church history, reexplains the Bible and the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, incorporates Hindu and Buddhist ideas of spirit and consciousness, reinterprets the meaning of afterlife, and cites Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now.

The message of this real meaning of Christianity rings true. For all the times the Jesus in this book cracks jokes and makes bad puns, his explication of spirituality is logical and appealing and inspiring.

The book is some 450 pages long, but it reads fast and it's hard to put down because there are just so many good ideas rushing by. If there's a flaw in the presentation, it's that the whimsical dialogue setup allows for sudden changes of topic and some ideas get raised that aren't fully followed through on--but that's a minor complaint. There is so much material in this book, it calls for several readings.

Maylor's Jesus espouses a kind of modern, Buddhistic, mystical transformation of consciousness to discover that self and ego--the things that seem so important to modern day Americans--are really illusory constructions of the mind. What we human beings really are is fields of consciousness conjuring up a world that seems a nightmare vision because we shirk our responsibility to wake up and take charge of our lives, instead choosing to live in the past or the future in regrets and dreams rather than in the true power of the present moment.

The skepticism and ridicule of conventional religion then results in a rich spiritual teaching, appropriate to the 21st Century. This is a marvelous book.

Maylor's Jesus avoids talking about what are called in American politics "social issues." The question of Jesus's sexuality (or homosexuality) never comes up. Jesus doesn't address abortion or contraception or same-sex marriage or prayer in schools or teaching Intelligent Design--though it isn't hard to see that this modernized Jesus would address such issues with loving kindness and no stiff-necked hard-heartedness.

I loved this book and want to recommend it. It stirred up so many wonderful feelings and insights for me.

Both of these books offer reinterpretations of the Jesus story and discover new meaning and richness in doing so. That we can even think such thoughts is evidence of the ongoing evolution of consciousness and the transformation of religion and myth as human beings mature. Modern science and historical awareness have changed how we understand religion. Recreating religion as a carrier of wisdom frees us all from the horrors of the past and, ironically, saves religion by recasting it as a high culture art form with a deep and important message about how to live intensely and awarely in the present moment.

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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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