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Essential Gay Mystics Hardcover – January 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Essential (Booksales)
  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Book Sales; Reprint Edition edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785809074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785809074
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Books about homosexuality and religion have traditionally attempted to reconcile "sin" with a modern understanding of sexuality. Andrew Harvey's The Essential Gay Mystics, however, is predicated on the assumption that sin and sex don't need to be reconciled and that gay sexuality is innately spiritual. Excerpting passages from 60 gay and lesbian writers--covering 20 centuries and at least a dozen traditions including classical Greek, Native American, Sufic, and Christian-- Harvey explores a variety of religious and sexual experiences. His extensive research, empathetic perspective, and compelling grasp of spirituality make this book not only unique, but also vital to an understanding of contemporary theology and religion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Nowadays there are so many anthologies dealing with gay and lesbian topics that it is almost impossible to find an unfilled niche. But writer, poet, and teacher Harvey (Journey in Ladakh, LJ 6/15/83) has discovered a rich vein in this collection of spiritually tinged texts. The key insight informing his selections here is that the Source of all Godhead is both masculine and feminine and exists in a unity that includes both. The homosexual can be thought to mirror this unity and viewed as enigmatic fertility and power in a special way. Appropriately and wisely, the selections are geographically diverse and come from many different religious traditions. In some instances, the writers are not strictly speaking believers at all. Among historical texts, the reader finds that the selections are all open gay and lesbian readings, though they have not traditionally been given such interpretations. Recommended for both academic and public religion collections.?David S. Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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We are the conduits of spiritual insights, graces, and wisdom throughout time.
Timothy J. Gallagher
His arrangement of mystics throughtout history and by culture is well suited to this type of study.
John Beeler
Some assume the form of ardent love lyrics and psalms to male and female beauty.
William Courson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By William Courson VINE VOICE on June 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Andrew Harvey was born in south India of British parents in 1952 where he lived until he was nine years old, a period that he credits with shaping his sense of the fundamental unity of all religions and providing him with an uplifting vision of a world infused with a sense of its own sacredness. He left India to attend private school in England and entered Oxford University in 1970 as a history student. Notwithstanding the fact that he became the youngest person ever awarded a Fellowship to All Soul's College, among England's highest academic honors, at the age of 21, by 1977 Andrew Harvey had become disillusioned with life at Oxford and returned to his native India. The following year he met a succession of Indian saints and sages and began his long study and practice of Hinduism.

In 1992, he met Dom Bede Griffiths in his ashram in southern India near where Andrew Harvey had been born. It was this meeting that helped him synthesize the whole of his mystical explorations and reconcile Eastern with Western mystical paths. Andrew Harvey has taught at Oxford University, Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the University of Creation Spirituality as well as at various spiritual centers throughout the United States, and maintains a spiritual direction practice in New York City. He today lives in Nevada with his husband Erick.

Generally, Western culture separates sexuality from spirituality in very much the same way that it separates the sacred from the events and processes of everyday life. It may therefore come as something of a shock to the average reader that there exists such a category of beings as `gay mystics' identified synchronously by both their sexuality and their pursuit of the sacred.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By James Sheffield on July 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Westerner brought up in a culture that separates sexuality from spirituality, it had never occurred to me there could be gay mystics who could be identified. Quite frankly, I had never given much thought about any kind of sexuality of the mystics. I knew that St. Augustine regretted his profligate youth, and that St. Francis of Assisi was a notorious hoodlum, but the idea that they had had sexual desires never occurred to me. Perhaps I was naive, and probably the closest I came to such thoughts were from Nikos Kazantzakis' book, Zorba the Greek, (the movie starred Anthony Quinn), which underlined the conflict between flesh and spirit,
between Dionysus (sometimes called Bacchus) and Apollo. In his greatest film, Kazantzakis also carried this conflict into the life of Jesus called The Last Temptation of Christ. Those who did not understand this theme picketed the movie houses at the time of its release. Look at Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. You may remember that Sean Connery won a British Academy award for best actor in this story of 14th century monks in an Italian abbey where someone is committing many murders. Both of these stories have homosexual incidents in them. Yet, somehow, I could understand that; after all, these were sequestered men living alone without women, similar to military or prison life and homosexual tensions are unbearable for some.
The evolution of psychological theories since Freud, Jung, and Adler has moved to an "integral approach," linking body, mind and soul in balance as a holistic unit. In the past, spiritual and other psychologists have treated body, mind and soul as if they were separate entities, whereas, in order to reach the wholeness of spirit, the oneness of the universe, and we must include our bodies and minds.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John Beeler on March 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Harvey has assembled an amazing collection of Gay mystics and their writings. His arrangement of mystics throughtout history and by culture is well suited to this type of study. I enjoyed the profiles of each mystic and sailed from one to the next. The writing of these ecstatics and enlightned ones was truly a blessing to find. I told a co-worker I was reading about gay mystics and she said "I didn't know there were any". The next day, I was able to show a deluge of them via the book and her own androgenous currents broke through. Thanks Andrew.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It has been an accepted fact for some time that gay persons of both genders have always figured among the artistic and cultural elites of societies around the world. While most cultures have never officially recognised or sanctioned gay sexual activities, many have at least quietly tolerated the presence of gay persons given the contributions of many talented individuals to society. This has likewise been reflected in the religious and spiritual realm.
From ancient Greek society to today's varied cultures around the world, there are commonalities of spirit and sensibility that can be traced as common threads. This text, part of the 'Essentials' series, examines various mystical and spiritual writings by gay persons across time; however, not all the authors represented in this text are gay. Some (such as Shakespeare) might have been bisexual, or heterosexual, but still seem to be able to tap into that voice which seems most representative of and represented in the gay community.
There are nine chapters to this text, exclusive of the introduction by Andrew Harvey. The first two chapters look at ancient Greece and Rome, including Sappho (of course, perhaps the most famous of the gay ancients), Pindar, Empedocles, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripedes, Plato, Theocrius, Vergil, Horace, and poems from the Galli, gender-variant priests of the Cybele.
Chapters three through five look at native American traditions, Far East, and Persian/Sufi traditions. These include We'wa, Hasteen Klah, Qu Yan, Kukai, Zeami, Basho, Attar, Sadi, Hafiz, Iraqi, Jami, as well as the modern Mohawk descendent, Maurice Kenny.
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