Joe Perez is a beacon in the integral movement. His writings on integral theory, Christianity, sexuality, spirituality, social issues, politics and other areas are rich offerings of an integral mind. His blog entries have been among the most exciting and sharp pieces I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter.
Last month I was finally able to sit down to read Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God, a book that is his intimate account of his discovery of integral theory, struggles with mental illness, living with AIDS, mysticism and the intersection of Christianity and homosexuality. It’s a heart-wrenching, humourous, uplifting and intellectually deft memoir.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the book for me is Joe’s reaction to his first encounters with the integral theory of Ken Wilber. Like Joe, I experienced the heady excitement of finally having a map of reality that was less fragmented and partial. Coming upon integral at the right time brought a dizzying clarity, a worldview earthquake and a demand of every ounce of humility available for Joe, myself and many others. There’s no going back up that rabbit hole and, in Joe’s words, “the world sure looks different from Wonderland.” Sharing in Joe’s experiences was a much needed reminder of just how thrilling, scary and satisfying the first tastes of integral can be and were for me.
Joe is a broad thinker, writing one day about J.R.R. Tolkien’s importance in “reimagining and reinvigorating Roman Catholic mythology into new modes of expression that are compatible with the postmodern mind, responsive to the demands of religious pluralism, and bursting with ecological sensitivity”, writing during another about the value of masturbation as a sacred act and on others about politics, homophilia, mental illness, and mysticism. He offers up beautiful glimpses at his life through many essential facets and brings it all together with seams, cracks and tremendous honesty.
You can hear Joe Perez in dialog with Ken Wilber in “Soulfully Gay: Out of the Closet, Into an Integral Embrace” and read Ken’s full forward to Soulfully Gay. Joe blogs frequently at Until.