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Editor's Note by Toby Johnson
An introduction to the new editor and a hint at the magical mystical dimension to the reality that guides us through our lives with coincidence and miracles.
Leathersex & Spirituality by Bobby Gray
Floridian Bobby Gray addresses a vexing issue in the construction of gay culture and gay spirituality, in particular. For it turns out that, contrary to popular expectation, many men who participate in the intense, "kinky," "bizarre," and fetishistic styles of sex, classed loosely as "Leather," report that their interest is based not-as the superficialities of the style would suggest-in anger or dominance or vengeance, but rather in hope for spiritual illumination and out of a drive for transformation.
Arousing the Genitals of Jesus by Joseph Kramer
Former Jesuit Joseph Kramer, founder of the Body Electric School and the Celebrating the Body Erotic trainings, only partly tongue-in-cheek, applies the Pauline theology of the Mystical Body of Christ to the case of gay men practicing sex- and body-based meditation in Taoist and Tantric tradition. As some people are called to be the heart or the mind or the hand of the Body of Christ, so others must be called to be the genitals of Christ.
Bodhisattva Watchby Toby Johnson -- [Click title to read a wonderful Buddhist story}
The Mahayana Buddhist myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara offers a mythological image of the classically gay traits of sensitivity and generosity, lovableness and sweetness, attractiveness and youthful vitality and pluckiness.
Joseph Campbell and the Lunar Vision by Toby Johnson -- [Click title to read a short article about Joseph Campbell]
Joseph Campbell, though not himself gay, offered a way to think about truth and religion that seems especially appropriate for gay people. The attitudes that follow from his matter-of-fact and compassionate way of looking at things would result in the world of acceptance and honor we as gay people long for.
Metamorphosis: Simple Exercises in Spirituality by Bob Barzan -- [Click title to read article]
The creator and past editor of White Crane offers ten sensible suggestions for practicing spirituality. From freeing yourself from the mass media, to changing religious paths, gardening, volunteering, to developing a new love relationship, Barzan shares ideas for deepening experience and seeking spirit.
Music Review by Bob Barzan
Revels, under the artistic direction of John Langstaff, has produced recordings, books, sheet music, and even workshops demonstrating the use of traditional material in creating spiritual rituals for today.
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"White crane spreads wings" is the name of a move in T'ai Chi Ch'uan. My partner, Kip, and I have been practicing T'ai Chi for several years. Central to this Taoist editation-in-movement is the notion that all things unfold naturally in their time, like a flower opens its petals in spring or a great bird spreads its wings in expectation of flight. The task of practitioners of the wisdom is to participate joyfully and intentionally in the unfolding.
Last summer, as I was preparing a speech I was to give at the Joseph Campbell Library in Santa Barbara, I got a call from gay mytho-historian Randy Conner (author of the remarkable Blossom of Bone). Randy said he had learned Bob Barzan was planning to retire and that White Crane was likely to disappear unless a new editor came forward. Randy suggested I take over that role.
My initial reaction was to say: "No, I don't want a new responsibility." I'd been a gay therapist, a gay social science researcher, a gay activist, a gay community organizer, a gay health educator, a gay bookstore owner, a gay spiritual writer and novelist--and Kip and I are now looking into developing a gay country guesthouse. I was reluctant to commit to yet another gay venture.
But I had just been writing that Joseph Campbell, my friend and mentor and "the wise old man" of my spiritual journey, had urged "follow your bliss." Well, spreading the news that gay identity confers a sort of spiritual vocation has been my "bliss" through all those--not very lucrative but always fulfilling--roles I've played. Say "YES" to life was Joe's sage advice and "doors will open where you never even knew there were going to be doors."
To seek to perceive larger patterns than just my own wishes, I did a Tarot reading (using Anna-Marie Ferguson's Arthurian Tarot deck). I drew three cards. The first was The Sun: it means "yes" (I'm a Leo, born in early August when the Sun is in its native house.) The second card was the Five of Cups: in the Arthurian Tarot it is associated with the longing of the Lady Elaine for the handsome but ever-elusive Lancelot. The card shows Lancelot, bare-chested, gazing over the castle battlements toward Camelot. It's the only "homoerotic" illustration in the deck. The third card was the clencher. It was the blank you're supposed to take out to use in case you lose a card. Well, the blank is meaningful in itself as the reminder that the future is open and we can make of what we will. But there was more: the illustration borrows a background motif from the deck: a basilisk, with wings extended, holding out the sword Excaliber. (I've reproduced the illustration on the cover of this issue.) How much closer could the Arthurian Tarot get to "White crane spreads wings" than this card?
A sign of "karmic destiny"? Perhaps. A synchronicity, certainly.
So I said yes. I think this is what it means to live spiritually: to understand that the events of our lives resonate with--and reveal --otherwise unseen, "mystical" patterns that can only be understood from the higher perspective we call "spirit," and then to make decisions with faith in these patterns, especially as they appear in coincidence and synchronicity, weaving--out of the chaos and chance of life--patterns of beauty and coherence.
No doubt life is unfolding as it should. The great bird spreads its wings. The Tao manifests itself. Doors are opening.
Come, enter them with me, won't you?
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