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Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol, and Spirit: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Lore (Cassell Sexual Politics) Hardcover – April 1, 1997
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From Library Journal
Conner (Blossom of Bone: Reclaiming the Connections Between Homoeroticism and the Sacred, HarperCollins, 1993), ethnomusicologist David Sparks, and their daughter, Mariya Sparks, have written an engaging encyclopedia that endeavors to bring to light the queer (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) elements in a variety of spiritual traditions and in the arts. The coverage ranges from Islam to Shamanism to Queer Spirit. A short essay is provided about each spiritual tradition. Over 1500 articles cover individuals (historical and legendary), groups, and symbols. Entries are listed alphabetically and range from a sentence ("Andro") to six and a half pages ("Gallos"). No See references are provided, but a thematic index and a selected bibliography of almost 600 sources appear at the back of the book. Unfortunately, however, bibliographies are not offered for individual articles, and citations within the articles are inconsistent, e.g., under the entry "Sots and Sotties," Ida Nelson's quote gets a proper citation while Mikhail Bakhtin's does not. Such drawbacks make this potentially controversial book less useful for scholarly research. However, it is an interesting and provocative work; no other book presents the queer elements found in such a broad range of spiritual traditions. Recommended for large collections in religion or gay and lesbian studies.?Debra Moore, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles, Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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These problems leave me wondering if the authors just randomly put their opinions into articles as facts or made up original ideas and then inserted them into centuries-old mythologies. I don't know for a fact that they did this, but without any citations to back up what they say, and with lots of ideas presented that can't be backed up anywhere else, it seems a reasonable concern. For the queer person wanting personal spiritual inspiration I think this is probably a great book. In that case, the fact or fiction of the ideas presented is irrelevant compared to the emotional response to the ideas presented. This is one of few books which can make a queer person feel tied to a larger world-wide mythic or religious whole. But for the student of history, mythology, or religion I think sorting through the unsourced mystical assumptions all over the place to find the the few ideas and people that can be definitively grounded will be frustrating.
This book is much more than an exhaustive reference relating to the personalities, events, processes and movements within the realm of gay and lesbian spirituality, it is a pure pleasure to read. The product of meticulous research, this encyclopedia offers detailed yet concise, cross-referenced entries and an index of attributes and traditions as an encouragement to both quick reference and casual browsing. Beyond its obvious usefulness to scholars, this work aims to inspire, entertain and empower, and it is hugely successful in that effort.
It tells a far different story than the exclusively heterosexual roster of saints, sages, demons, demigods and deities that we've all had to live with - and this pantheon is far more fascinating.
The 1,500-odd alphabetic entries ranging from "Aakulujjuusi" to "Zeus" reveal our history, deeply encoded in sacred texts and all-but-forgotten traditions. Just read the entries on the "World Homosexual Movement," the "Order of Chaerona," and the "Han Temple" and you'll realize quickly that we've barely begun to scratch the surface of our old queer race's involvement with the world of the spirit.
A very praiseworthy work!