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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Soulfully Gay
How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God
Joe Perez
Integral Books/Shambhala 05/07 Paperback $16.95
ISBN: 1590304187


Joe Perez is a Seattle-based writer who is the founder of the popular Gay Spirituality and Culture weblog. His writings have appeared in the Weekly News, Bay Windows, Seattle Gay News, Texas Triangle, the San Diego Update, and other publications. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied Religion and Philosophy. He then attended the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Here he shares passages from his blog from November 2003 through December 2004. In the foreword, Ken Wilber salutes the honesty of Perez's quest:

"Joe Perez is as truthful an artist as you are likely to find, certainly in today's atmosphere, where irony has replaced authenticity and surface veneer is valued over depth. Joe has followed his pain as it descends into madness and his ecstasy as it ascends into God, has refined sincerity itself as a way to understand his Christianity, his sexuality, his madness, his mysticism, and bundled them up in an integral embrace, and told the truth about them all."

Perez was 34 years old when he wrote these blog entries. He had already been to hell and back through the death of his best friend, testing HIV-positive at age 24, and drug addiction which led to his being committed at 30 to a psychiatric ward. Perez charts his religious journey through Catholicism, agnosticism, and mysticism as well as his struggles with the homophobia of religious people and New Age seekers alike. The over-arching theme of these blog entries is to trace what it means to be soulfully gay and alive to the nuances and complexities of culture, politics, and philosophy.

Here are just a few of the interesting facts, details, quotations, reviews, and cogent commentaries he includes:

• his belief that "the world has reached a point in the evolution of consciousness where people are outgrowing Christianity's hostility and hatred toward the body, sexuality, women, and homosexuals."

• his self-description as no longer a Roman Catholic but a catholic in the truest sense of the word, open to the truth wherever it appears in the wonderful awesomeness of the human adventure.

• his interest in conscious astrology as a tool for introspection and to probe the unconscious mind.

• a quotation from Ram Dass: "The deeper your spiritual practice, the more you are aware that everybody is androgynous."

• a thank you letter to Jesus acknowledging how important his life really was.

• the suggestion that we embrace our inner weirdo.

• a piece on the pleasure in writing as a spiritual discipline.

• in-depth commentary on the works of Ken Wilber and his integral model.

• his perception that the reading of blogs is a modern form of pilgrimage.

• The comradery of gay and queer men around the world who are assuming their mission as agents of Spirit, however they understand the term.

For more on Perez and his quest for liberation, check out his website www.joe-perez.com.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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