Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Age quod agis: Do what you do

In today's Community Press for Mason and Deerfield Township in Ohio, Father Lou Guntzelman wrote a column called "We hardly are where we are." Father Guntzelman talks about the "distractions" of daily life: "We alone have the power to raise ourselves to a different level of experience, a level that has more charm than mere practicality, more benefit than just doing a job," while quoting Thomas Moore:
"There's no essential conflict between enchanted living and practical, productive activity," writes Thomas Moore, "they can serve each other: one delighting the spirit of ambition, the other comforting the heart."
Father Guntzelman quotes St. Benedict too. One of St. Benedict's "important directives to his monks, and to all people wanting to live a healthy life, was the Latin adage, 'Age quod agis,' which says, 'Do what you do!'" Thomas Moore wrote a preface for St. Benedict's Rule published in 1998.

Preface by Thomas Moore

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Seats available for Thomas Moore's Seminar

The New England Education Institute tells me that places are available for Thomas Moore’s summer seminar, The Life of a Healer: Dealing Effectively with Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Maladies scheduled for August 15 - 19 2005 at the Four Points by Sheraton, Route 6, Eastham, Massachusetts. The Institute’s summer symposia are primarily for mental health professionals but anyone interested in the topics may attend. Register online or by mail.
In 1998, Thomas Moore presented a Cape Cod seminar sponsored by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, called, "The Soul in Psychotherapy" which Tom O’Connell describes on his web site. O’Connell’s involvement with addiction recovery colours his outline — Thomas Moore’s observations were offered to a large audience with varied interests. During his presentation on the last morning, Thomas Moore suggested ten ways for anyone to live soulfully:
1. Love from a deep place.
2. Read nourishing literature.
3. Develop friendships with a few in whom you may confide.
4. See beyond credentials and honours.
5. Be an individual.
6. Work hard, beware of busy-ness.
7. Cultivate Eros, not Logos as your driving force.
8. Tend your home to be your anchor.
9. Be sexual in your own way, in your own time.
10. Be religious and secular with passion and piety.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Soul's Religion

"Every human life is a profound mystery. Deep and invisible currents make us who we are, and the world around us is full of secret intentions and laws. One response to all this mystery is to treat it as a problem to be solved and to do everything possible to be informed and in control. But another way is to bow down in ignorance and confess our limitations. Religion and spirituality, for eons intimately connected, offer creative ways to become people of depth and compassion through embracing mystery."
– Thomas Moore

Anna Weinberg, assistant editor at Book writes a background article about The Soul’s Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life, and about Moore’s approaches in the book.

For BookPage, Karen Jenks, a nurse in Nashville, pens a brief and supportive review saying, "Moore confesses that the religion he envisions in this book is difficult to spell out. Nevertheless, his meaningful presentation is masterful and powerful, in no small measure because the author is intimately acquainted with the lessons himself."

Steve Maynard interviewed Thomas Moore in Tacoma, Washington about The Soul’s Religion. In the article, published 27 April 2002 by The News Tribune and not available on the web, Maynard reports that in addition to commenting on challenges facing the Catholic Church, Moore talked about the place of religion after 9/11:
The terrorist attacks "should be a signal to us that the majority of the world is suffering and is not living the good life that we have," he said. "This is not to blame us for what's happening.... But it's a signal to us, I think, to really reach out and do something about the situation in this world" so that people have the basic necessities of life.
An issue permeating his new book is that many people are searching or are skeptical about religion, while others remain loyal to religious institutions, including churches, temples and mosques.
"Those who are still in the institutions, I think, need to cultivate, develop that deeper soul of their religion and not spend so much time worried about dogma and membership and rules of practice and authority," he said. "Those things are not the essence, they're not the soul of religion."
Besides taking care of one's material needs, Moore said, the soul of religion "is having "great vision about the meaning of your life, about how to deal with illness and mortality, and how to love, how to raise children, how to make community."
Jaye-Q’s Brew, a popular column in The Trinidad Guardian picks up on Moore’s observation that the masculine deity may overshadow the sacred feminine but she does not disappear. For the L.A. Times, Larry Stammer writes a thoughtful and personal review, endorsing the book based on his conviction that Moore’s readers "know him to speak from experience deeply rooted in failings and triumphs." The March 2003 review in Spirituality & Health draws attention to Thomas Moore’s attempts to "keep the sacred and the secular together" ― criticizing "the authoritarianism of Catholicism and the perfectionism of New Age spirituality…"

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Soul of Sex on the Web

“Sex is infinitely more mysterious than we usually imagine it to be and it is only superficially considered when we talk about it in terms of hormones and the mechanics of lovemaking. I approach sex here as a lover of mysteries. I have written about eros in all my books, but here I focus on sexuality itself. I take a long look at the body, especially as it is presented in art and religion, for signs of the mysteries involved in bodies and lovemaking. When I tease out those hidden meanings, I apply them to life and culture on a larger scale with the idea that we might be less depressed and less confused if we were able to make our surroundings more sexual and allow pleasure to be a valid goal in life...
– Thomas Moore

For the C.G. Jung Club of Orange County, Holly Fincher enthusiastically reviews the book from a Jungian perspective, emphasizing sex’s "imaginal qualities," while Bert Archer finds, "There are so many subtleties of meaning and reception involved here – the possibility that sexism, objectification and violence are different in sexual fantasy and play than they are in sexual or social life..." Archer is unconvinced that religious traditions "have much to add to understanding the erotic."

Daniel R. Heimbach, professor of Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary vilifies The Soul of Sex as pagan sexual morality. In 1999 he interprets the book according to his understanding of Christianity and in his 2004 book, True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis, he uses Moore's views to represent a pagan perspective. Heimbach exemplifies the moralism of some evangelical approaches which contribute to current discomfort and confusion about sex and spirituality.

A less extreme position is taken by Robert Sweetman in his review for Pro Rege which explores "topics relevant to Reformed Christian education."
Paul Ladd writes a positive review for BookPage’s July 1998 newsletter. For the Boston Globe, Ellen Clegg writes a review saying that Thomas Moore "strives for nothing less than a new ethic, one that blends soul and spirit and pries loose the grip of prudish moralism."
Debora Myers quotes Moore in her light piece, "An Erotic Life" while Hadley Richarde quotes Plato and Thomas Moore in her essay, "Wonderfully Made".

Spirituality & Health recommends The Soul of Sex and provides an excerpt on yearning.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Writer of "Soulful Sex" Praises Moore

In a recent release, author Diana Laurence pays homage to Thomas Moore and his influence on her writing “erotica with soul.” In the release, Laurence says, "My philosophy is that erotica can be good for you, a sort of literary health food that brightens the spirit, inspires creativity, and helps balance the psyche.” Laurence describes herself as “a devotee of Thomas Moore, the Jungian ex-monk who authored ‘The Soul of Sex.’"

"The 'soul' in my writing can be traced to my appreciation of a broad and spiritual understanding of the place of erotica in life," Laurence said. "What I learned from Thomas Moore is that reading erotica is recreation, but in the literal sense of the word: not just empty fun but an exercise in refreshing the soul. Because the union of sexuality and the imagination creates such powerful alchemy, it can bring us insight into who we are, what we want from life, and how to live more fully and more peacefully with ourselves." Additional information is at Laurence's web site.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life Resources

"The answers to our problems surround us in the many voices of enchanted nature and in the haunting words and images of our artists and religious visionaries. All the insight we need could be found in a library, in the great literature of the arts, humanities, and religions, or in meditation on a single flower in a tiny garden outside the most ordinary house, because nature, as the medieval monks taught, is a book too, teaching those who are willing to be its pupils."
– Thomas Moore

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat write a two-paragraph description of Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life.
L. Gregory Jones who was chair of the department of theology at Loyola College in Maryland contributes a review for the Christian Century in November 1996.
For Bookpage, Jeannie Crawford-Lee, a freelance editor in Nashville, Tennessee provides a brief review.
The Green Teacher issue for Fall 1998 includes a one-page review by Delorme, Jacques, an environmental geographer in Quebec City, Quebec. Jacques concluded,
"Much of Moore's inspiration comes from the alchemists of the Renaissance, in particular Marsilo Ficino, who integrated wonder, magic and art into science. This is a very refreshing perspective and one way of counterbalancing the feeling of powerlessness that can often accompany environmental work."
This book spurs Jeffrey F. Durgee and Robert W. Veryzer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to write a 21-page document entitled, Products that have soul: Design research implications for Thomas Moore’s "Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life".

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Original Self on the Web

"It may be more important to be awake than to be successful, balanced, or healthy. What does it mean to be awake? Perhaps to be living with a lively imagination, responding honestly and courageously to opportunity and avoiding the temptation to follow mere habit or collective values. It means to be an individual, in every instance manifesting the originality of who we are. This is the ultimate form of creativity – following the lead of the deep soul as we make a life…"
– Thomas Moore

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat present a brief review in Spirituality & Health. Joni Praded, in her review for Beliefnet concludes that Moore has created a book for "nurturing the soul, appreciating its eccentricities, and letting those eccentricities take a seat at the steering wheel of our daily lives."

Although Juliet Waters questions how to "market a book about the soul without convincing the world that they have a desperate need for one," she admits after reading the book, "I wouldn't call it in any way a bogus inquiry into the soul." Her review runs in the Montreal Mirror.

Maureen Jenkins talks about the book’s
background and development in her article, "Author offers ways to save self" published 6 March 2000 by the Laredo Morning Times.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Exploring The Planets Within

"Ficino refers to spirit as the food of the soul; through spirit, soul is continuously being created and nourished. As he says, this all may happen naturally (unconsciously), or by art, that is, by conscious intention. This is not to say that we can simply fashion our psychological life at will; the process is more indirect than that, but we can develop an awareness of soul, a psychological attitude, by which we can cooperate and indirectly influence the character of our psychological life. We can nourish the soul and live psychotherapeutically by having our psychological life reflect the heavens. That is what Ficino means by becoming as celestial as possible. We can have depth and variety, movement and form, in our inner world. We can have planets within, with all of their benefits of spirit, like the planets of the outer cosmos."
– Thomas Moore

The Planets Within is Thomas Moore's interpretation of "the astrological psychology of Marsilio Ficino," a central figure during the Italian Renaissance. Spirituality & Practice offered a review with an excerpt on Imagination ― one of "Ficino’s own fundamental tool[s]."

Roberta C. Allen wrote a supportive a four-page review of The Planets Within in which she characterized Moore’s interpretation as "subversive” and “ambivalent." The same review appeared as Sort out Your Daimon on 22 January 2003, only this time penned by "zebra."

Alexandra Hartman refers to Moore’s book, Care of the Soul, in her discussion of Marsilio Ficino and twentieth century concerns, however, we've included the link here because of the focus on Ficino which is central to The Planets Within.

In 2001, Anthony Judge focused on Thomas Moore’s presentation of Ficino, in a paper called "Composing the Present Moment." Following his introduction Judge considers Moore’s approach under the headings:
― Towards a healthy life in the moment,
― Reimagining the world,
― Well-tempered life.

Karen Drye, a student of astrology for over 20 years has written a 13-page biography of Ficino, "Marsilio Ficino, Astrologer And Physician Of The Soul" which references Thomas Moore’s The Planets Within.

The Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Thomas Moore co-edits Lost Sutras of Jesus

"To know only one religion is to know none at all. The stories, devotions and sacred places of an unknown faith bring a richness and depth to our own beliefs. In the realm of the spirit, each tradition enhances the others. Unfortunately, many think of religions as exclusive organizations and systems of belief. We talk about ecumenism but we don't take the next step to experience how a variety of religions can contribute to a full, complex spiritual life."

This book is edited by Thomas Moore and Ray Riegert. On 24 March 2003, Publishers Weekly ran a 6-page special report,
The Quest for Understanding covering trends in religious publishing, particularly the exploration of one tradition by adherents of another tradition. Juli Cragg Hilliard who wrote the article, mentions The Lost Sutras of Jesus which presents the recently-discovered and translated writings of Christian monks who traveled to China in the 7th century -- blending Christian, Buddhist, and Taoist ideas in their religious expression. From the review in Spirituality & Health (no longer available online):
"As the editors note in their foreword, 'Reading these Sutras is like opening a message-in-a-bottle from the seventh century. They tell a tale from ancient times and present a refreshingly new set of teachings. But the real treasure in the bottle is that the message powerfully resonates even today.'"
The Lost Sutras of Jesus:
Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks

Edited by Thomas Moore and Ray Riegert
© 2003, Seastone Publishers [Ulysses Press USA]
ISBN 1-56975-360-1