2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Paul B. Rucker
- Published on Amazon.com
I stumbled upon a mention of this book in someone's blog and was immediately interested because I was expecting a juicy examination of images of Pagan Gods in relation to gay male psychology and identity, and perhaps spiritual practice. (Books that examine images of Gods in relation to men usually tend to be quasi-Jungian redux-- like GODS IN EVERYMAN by Jean Shinoda Bolen or those written by Robert Bly camp followers, and the rarer ones that relate to current Pagan practice tend to be cursory overviews with the intent of introducing the reader to "Paganism 101"-- this includes even the one such book specifically targeted to gay men, THE PATH OF THE GREEN MAN by Michael Thomas Ford.)
Instead, what I received-- thru interlibrary loan, so thankfully I did not waste my money on this dull book-- was a vapid rehash of historical material relating primarily to how major monotheisms (and a few indigenous cultures) accepted or did not accept homosexuality in men. Plus a very dull continuing exegesis on "topping' and "bottoming" as seen through these cultures, blah blah blah. I suspect others who have sought out this book were similarly mislead by the use of the words "the Gods" in the title. A more accurate title, which would have placed this book on the correct heap of existing material-- material has been covered before, and by more interesting writers-- would have been "MEN, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND RELIGION," etc.
"Gods" in general are *personifications* of the numinous (a term I am using because it embraces the mythic, the mythopoetic, the spiritual, the religious, the archetypal, etc.)-- or more specifically, *aspects* of the numinous. I deal in images of Gods because I am a mythopoeic artist (for examples, you can see my work at paulruckerart.com). In a sentence, I believe that human consciousness meets the Mystery/ that which is Numinous halfway by giving it humanlike (or at least familiar animal-like) attributes. This allows us to create sacred theatre, iconic art,and in a Pagan way, participate in the Mystery in a manner not possible in a monotheism where "God" supposedly encompasses everything.
The Gods, as I am interested in them, are almost not present at all in this book. Other reviewers have judged more sharply the academic content of the material in this book. If I cared enough, I would. Rather, I would like to point readers to more fruitful discussion of Pagan Gods in relation to gay men, in case you too were following a similarly false trail.
Top of this list: CASSELL'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF QUEER MYTH, SYMBOL AND SPIRIT: GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER LORE by Randy P. Conner, David Sparks, and Mariya Sparks. (Disclaimer: My image of "The Androgyne" is featured on the back of this book, which is how I found out about it back in 1997. However, no other book dealing with GBLT in relation to myth and the numinous has come close to this masterwork. I also have an interesting story on my website about how my model for "The Androgyne" met Randy Conner years after its publication.) Also by Randy P. Conner: BLOSSOM OF BONE-- RECLAIMING THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN HOMOEROTICISM AND THE SACRED.
ANOTHER MOTHER TONGUE: GAY WORDS, GAY WORLDS by Judy Grahn (a groundbreaking classic)
GAY SOUL: FINDING THE HEART OF GAY SPIRIT AND NATURE by Mark Thompson (thoughtful essays that go past the "101" approach in connecting gayness with a spiritual life)
MYTH AND SEXUALITY by Jamake Highwater (Highwater is a gay Native American, whose work examines art, myth, culture)
and, for now--
THE HIDDEN SPIRITUALITY OF MEN-- TEN METAPHORS[*]TO AWAKEN THE SACRED MASCULINE by Matthew Fox (*"Metaphors" is his word to re-context the somewhat overused "archetype").
This book deals with homosexuality only in the general context of revisioning numinous masculinity. What impressed me most was his inclusion of radically new "metaphors" that no other "men's studies" authors have offered. In addition to fairly familar faces-- "Father Sky," "the Green Man," and "the Warrior" he presents "Earth Father," "Grandfather Sky"-- and! "The Blue Man." Honestly, I bought the book just for that chapter, because "the Blue Man" is the Divine Face that has mattered most to me in my art and in sacred theatre performance.
Hopefully the above examples will prove inspiring!