September interview with Jay F.
Getting To Know Dr. Jay
Theres a famous ice-cream parlor in
Manhattan, NY called Serendipity where I used to go
and get the most extravagant Sundae treat in all
the world in one big bowl with
scrumptious trimmings! Thats what it was like
for me to experience Jay F. Littell, Ph.D.
He is a multi-faceted man abounding in wisdom,
grace, and joy.
Far too many self-help books, for me, are
without charm. So, when I discovered his Soul
Sailing: How life-stories can transform the
voyage, I knew Id found something that
hit the sweet spot.
Dr. Jays book is a comprehensive review of
mens work, and its fun! Its
scintillating! Its a workbook. Whether or not
youre a beginner in this work, or very
experienced, its a treasure-trove of material
to help a man more clearly see his lifes
The authors life is as varied as the
resource material he used for his book: Hes
lived in Spanish-speaking countries, served in Army
Intelligence, has advanced degrees in political
science, attended Harvards Graduate School of
Education, been involved in EST and TA groups,
completed five-plus years of psychotherapy, hosted
a television show entitled Calling All
Laity, and he currently works as a massage
therapist, sings in two-choral groups, and attends
Yes, I am a Christian, he began.
Although, I dont think some of my views
would be accepted in a mainstream church
some traditionalists would be concerned.
I wondered aloud with him
how do we really create a meaningful mission
statement, something that will keep us from
worshipping the wound?
One has to do ones own personal
work, whatever that might be: therapy one-on-one,
or with group activities like MKP, or it can be in
the form of reading Ive done a lot of
In the end, the author said he couldnt
necessarily prescribe one method over another.
However, telling ones own story can help.
Ergo, his cool book.
In the new Primary Integration Training (PIT)
I-Group protocols, we have a man tell his
one-minute short story, and then do it again
going deeper into his soul.
There are three key variables Dr. Jay insists
must be integral to the deeper soul story:
awareness, honesty, and responsibility.
Ive been able to develop my life
mission in a variety of ways, he continued.
Ultimately, I needed to go inward into
myself. I had to be the deep miner, the person who
mines his own deep psyche.
The book begins with a verse from Walt
Whitmans Passage to India:
O we can wait no longer,
We too take ship O Soul,
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to
Amid the wafting winds (thou pressing me to
I thee to me, O Soul),
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
Reckless O Soul, exploring,
I with thee, and thou with me,
Sail forth, steer for the deep waters only,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to
And we will risk the ship, ourselves, and all.
O my brave Soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe!
Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!
Well, then. Is it possible that this poem is for
all of us? Might we all have a common mission?
Absolutely a common mission, he
said, emphatically. I try to get at that in
my book with the concept of telos - a notion I came
across as an undergraduate studying political
theory. Aristotles telos is keeping the end
purpose, or ultimate aim, in mind. The philosopher
talks about the principle of an acorn growing up
into a mighty oak. The telos of individuals is to
live in harmony with one another.
Dr. Jay refers to himself as an agnostic
I think there is a common destiny for
humanity, but Im not sure of the existence of
God - unless its the God within. I believe we
have anthropomorphized God as a white-haired man
who sees all things.
The most valuable part of MKP, for Dr. Jay, was
his opportunity to struggle with his
mission statement: My mission is to co-create
the New Jerusalem here on earth by opening my heart
to centeredness and love, and by helping others do
A mission is different than a cause, the author
noted, referring to the shadows portion.
I can wrap all that energy into a finely
tuned ecclesiastical flag and parade down the
street telling myself, Oh Jay, youre
great! I have to watch myself; there are many
ways to the Promised Land. Instead I say,
Jay, yours is not the only way! I need
to avoid judgment anything that denotes
Im better than you are because Ive done
Dr. Jay tells the story of a time he worked in
Boston as a co-chair of an AIDS-support committee
for the Trinity church.
It was a major downtown church with 1,000
people sitting in the pews on a typical Sunday
morning that had a long reputation for fine music
and preaching. So, I used to say to my committee,
composed of gay and straight people, that the best
thing we can do in raising awareness about AIDS
which brings up two buttons, sex and death
the best we can do is to walk around and act
like normal parishioners. We demonstrate that we
are concerned about this issue, but we dont
I could hear my new friend on the other end of
the phone, choking back tears.
That is the best witness, he finally
I invited him to tell me about the horns.
The horns is the perception that gay
people are going to molest our children, or talk
straight people into sex, or get into
the only thing that
distinguishes gay people from others is who we go
to bed with
and that is behind closed
Dr. Jay recalled a sign hanging over a church
gift shop, with the words of St. Francis of Assisi:
Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary,
use words. I think thats so
Even after reading his book, and participating
in the personalized exercises, I did not know the
sexual orientation of the author. I asked him if he
should have made the book with more of a gay
My agenda is my agenda, he declared,
The gay community agenda is their
His statement surprised me. I inquired
I remember I took in a guy who was
divorced from his wife and we talked politics one
night. He told me he was voting for a candidate
because he favored same sex marriage. I told him
that I was for same sex marriage too, but I was
going to vote for someone else. There are other
pressing issues facing the Republic than same sex
marriage. I know what were facing as a
nation; Im a political scientist by
Dr. Jay said he respects Jesus because the
Biblical figure understood boundaries.
I remember Quentin Crisp, who died eight
years ago and was very active in the Gay Liberation
Movement in England. He was a celebrated speaker,
and author of books, including The Naked Civil
Servant where he wrote that gay is an adjective,
not a noun. Theres a lot of wisdom in that
observation that I am a gay man. I am not
Im talking on the telephone with a man who
tells me that the sublime is the single most
important pursuit in his life, not his sexual
I feel that this is my calling, he
added. My grandfather was a preacher and he
preached as an ordained Presbyterian pastor in the
1900s. He had eight brothers, six who were
also ordained preachers. I knew only one of them,
Uncle Rob. As a boy of ten, I went to his
retirement ceremony at Tioga Street Presbyterian
Church in Philadelphia. Over the years, North
Philadelphia had changed from a predominantly white
congregation to a neighborhood of mostly black, by
1950. I knew only one member of that generation,
and I feel that preaching energy in me. My mission
is to be calling people to their center, the
godhead, and telos. I can get very emotional and
passionate about my mission. And, being a gay man
is a part of who I am.
Dr. Jay and I talked about the City of Enoch in
the Old Testament, and the image of a modern New
I love to sing the anthem The Holy City
which is about the gates being opened wide, where
no one is denied. I am not calling people to just a
religious Promised land, but rather a place where
an individuals telos can be realized and
where he or she doesnt have to worry about
some kind of religious Gestapo looking over his or
her shoulder. Im calling people to a wider
view. And, Im calling them with archetypal
energy, rather than a more restrictive religious
energy. Too bad we have to make that distinction,
but there it is.
I talked a little about my experience in
defining my mission with the help of his book, and
I shared my fear that I believed I was often on a
fools errand - not really making a difference
in the world.
I resonate with what youre saying,
Reid. I talk about that in the book
to define what making a difference means to him or
her. I pose that question, Does one have to
be on the bridge of the starship enterprise to make
a difference or can it be in a smaller way?
Sometimes, just taking a casserole to a person, or
writing someone a note
that can make a big
We can also invoke needed blessings from a
traditional God, or Spirit, or Archangels, he
I want to preach against cynicism. There
is a great message of hope for the world. We can
recreate the energies of our founding fathers, and
help people find themselves in a place of joy and
Dr. Jay refers to Marianne Williamsons
book, The Healing of America, and the
important question she raises: Does the U.S.
government have a mission statement? Thats a
profoundly important question, originally addressed
by our Founding Fathers, but, I would argue, long
since lost sight of. Maybe its time for some
collective visioning on the part of our body
politic. Think the powers-that-be would be open to
an idea like that?
I asked the author if MKP was going
tribal an expression Ive heard
from Dr. Robert Moore.
I dont know as thats not a
. Im going to a Rainbow
Warriors Gathering, so Im going to that
site, or that tribe if you want to call it that. It
doesnt seem to me that the word tribe is
mutually exclusive with MKP. A notion of tribes
could include fathers, uncles, brothers
doesnt have to be a bad thing if the tribe is
aware they are still members of MKP, and the work
that was facilitated for them during their
Dr. Jay referred to what he called the
destructive dualism mentality of Us vs. Them.
MKP calls us to something greater than
thats what got mankind into
trouble in the first place. Isnt MKP about
getting beyond that? Why fall back into good/bad,
Does the author believe we need more mythopoetic
influence in MKP? Yes.
Too many men in MKP are not aware of when
their story is coming from shadow or from gold.
Thats Awareness. Then we have to tell our
stories. Honesty. Then we have to ultimately take
Responsibility for what happened to us.
Yeah, but that could take all night long
Havent you heard? A story has a
beginning, a middle, and an end!
Ah, says I. Theres where Aristotle comes
in with his theatrical principle of catharsis for
us the audience! And ultimately there can be a
healing a blessed treat at the end! Folks,
this is my renewed mission that Dr. Jay helped me
to get to bring joy into the world through
my bold creativity.
Yes! Dr. Jay concluded. Bless
you and all the men who are telling their stories
as they journey toward their destiny their
telos their mission in life. Lets
remember from our NWTA that our missions need to be
something greater than ourselves. We are here to
serve humanity and leave behind a world that is
kinder and gentler than the one we came into.
Check out Jay F. Littell, Ph.D. at www.tellingyourstories.com
Returning to a longtime family retreat on Lake
Michigan, Dr. Littell created Telos Institute, an
educational service offering one-on-one dialogue,
consulting, and workshop on personal and spiritual
A Spiritual Biography
"In his brilliant volume about the Christian
Bible, The Good Book, Reverend Dr.
Peter Gomes, in a chapter entitled The Bible
and Wealth, quotes the familiar From
those to who much is given, much is expected
(Luke 12:48). For many years now, that particular
sentence has spoken to me in a very profound way.
Especially in later years, the concept of
stewardship has come to have more and more meaning
for me. Giving back is an important part of who I
© 2007 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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