IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD by Edwin Clark Johnson

IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The prostitute as bodhisattva, or the Tenderloin is closer to the New Jerusalem than you think--in a passionately utopian, not to say silly, blend of sociology and religion. Johnson is an ex-seminarian, with a Ph.D. in counseling and psychotherapy, who worked (1979-80) on a federally-funded study of juvenile prostitution in San Francisco. This led, partly because of Johnson's naive trustfulness, to life-threatening episodes with some very scary characters--a ""journey"" which he mythologizes here as his descent into hell. More significantly, as he hammered out his taxonomy of deviation (""situational,"" ""vocational,"" and ""avocational"" hustlers, etc.), Johnson found that the underworld often belied the traditional wisdom that it was rife with personal misery and social destructiveness. There was a lot of that, of course, but there was also freedom and ecstasy, and much of the evil in this sordid playground had been projected upon it from outside. This realization coincided with Johnson's final discarding of his old-fashioned, uptight, narrow-minded sexual ethics and his blissful discovery that the world can be saved if and when we experience ""God--the central Self, the Hero/Savior, the planetary Mind, the Great Companion and fellow-sufferer--incarnated in our own flesh and heaven manifested here and now."" Johnson expounds his Blakean-Whitmanian-Norman-O.-Brownian faith with great fervor and some eloquence, but most of this reads like a sloppily romantic countercultural dream--and awfully dated to boot.

Pub Date: July 19th, 1983
Publisher: Morrow