Philosopher and best-selling author Sam Keen (Fire in the Belly) has long been interested in exploring the connections between sexuality and spirituality. In his seminars and lectures, he uses storytelling to open people up to the sacred dimensions of their lives. Keen himself is a relaxed and perceptive raconteur whose easily shares his own experiences as a thinker, spiritual pilgrim, outlaw, son, husband, father, and lover.

Keen is in fine form on Sex and the Sacred: Conversations with Sam Keen, three half-hour videos (Applewood Communications Inc., Box 148, Belleville, Ontario, Canada K8N 5A2, 613-967-8520). At his ranch in northern California, he reflects upon spiritual journeys, spirited love relationships, and long-lived marriages. The intent is to explore the mystery and the multiple meanings which grow naturally out of the confluence of sex and spirituality. As in his workshops, Keen provides ample moments of delight, shock, and enlightenment.

In "Breaking Taboos," he discusses the ecstasy of sexual intercourse as two individuals move beyond themselves to a primal unity and harmony. Orgasm, under this rubric, is "a parable of all the spiritual disciplines."

Keen also interprets the role-breaking dimensions of the Garden of Eden myth and the story of the Prodigal Son. He points out that the movement from religion to spirituality involves rebellion in the spirit of Jesus, Muhammad, and others. The challenge is to find your own way in the wilderness and to fashion a spiritual path which acknowledges the power, passion, wonder, and creativity of sex.

In "The Erotic Life," Keen states that living and loving in a spiritual way means giving full play to the senses. He is convinced that "there are no sexual techniques. There is only the treating of that other person as a marvel, as something to be delighted in, to be cherished, to be enjoyed."

Still maintaining his distinctive outlaw perspective, Keen offers some controversial assessments of homosexuality and the procreative purpose of sex. He moves on to a critique of the cultural fantasy of "instant intimacy," arguing that spiritual love relationships need to simmer during years of pain, compromise, ennui, and forgiveness. Keen admits that it usually takes 15 years to create a truly intimate relationship.In the final program, "Loving the Unperfect," Keen continues his commentary on long-lived relationships. There comes a moment when both partners discover that they are willing to live with the character flaws, personal drawbacks, and foibles of their mates. Husband and wife accept what Keen calls the gnarls and the twists in the other's personality. Sex, in this context, is transformed into "an abiding kind of desire, care, kindness." Nonetheless, lovers must honor the distinctive side trips their wild and mysterious partners may chose to take on their mutual spiritual journey.

Some of the ideas presented in Sex and the Sacred will be familiar to readers of Keen's groundbreaking work The Passionate Life This author's insights never grow stale. From the perspective of his own long second marriage, Keen brings authenticity and honesty to his discussion. These three videos will make wonderful discussion starters, whether you are contemplating a relationship, struggling to create one, working to maintain one, or celebrating a long one.