Gay Spirituality: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

Toby Johnson, Author, Edwin Clark Johnson, Author Alyson Books $13.95 (275p) ISBN 978-1-55583-523-1
We postmoderns are developing a whole new approach to religion, argues former Catholic monk Johnson, thinking of it as mythic and metaphorical, not literal and legalistic. He contends that this is due in large part to the infusion of a gay sensibility into contemporary religious life. Gay people, writes Johnson, are in a good position to rescue the ""life-enhancing, mystical-consciousness-inspiring, all-loving spiritual core of the religious instinct"" from evil, oppressive churches because many gays ""feel the loving, religious sentiments deeply,"" but ""do not fit into the Church."" Some parts of gay spirituality (like a positive sex ethic) are new, says Johnson, and some of gay spirituality consists of putting a gay spin on many traditionally religious themes. That Johnson apparently believes metaphor is a new ingredient in religious life is just one of this book's many flaws: scholars from Karen Armstrong to Janet Martin Soskice have shown conclusively that thinking metaphorically is actually a very old way of doing religion, trumped by empiricism and literalism only since the Enlightenment. A second flaw is Johnson's caricature of Christianity. He assumes, for example, that the handful of Christians who believe AIDS to be God's punishment for homosexuals represents all of Christendom. But perhaps most disturbing is Johnson's assumption that he speaks for all gay people. Some homosexuals and lesbians may be inspired by the vague spirituality Johnson sketches, but most gay members of established faith traditions will find little here that is of use. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-1-59021-022-2
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