Monday, June 29, 2009

Simplifying leads blogger to re-enchantment

Quotes from Thomas Moore's The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life book-end today's post, "Enchanted Living" on The Accidental Traveler. Kate McDonald writes,
"At the point when I first encountered the book, it was a breath of fresh air to me as a person who had a hard time getting still. In devouring it, I discovered the depth of my busyness. I felt convicted by [Moore's] take on food and friendship and nature... all things to be savored that had gotten buried under lists and lists of tasks.

Now, in re-reading portions of the book, I find he’s given words to the longings I feel gaining strength each new day.

I always wondered why adults complained about not having enough hours in the day and now I know. Regretfully, I know.

I dream of gardening and reading on the front porch and waking up naturally instead of to the annoying alarm on my phone. When I think about simplifying life and cutting down on the things I own, I just feel this rousing of my soul.

And I don’t want to ignore it."
McDonald describes comforting her son during his fever. She includes, "I feel compelled to simplify my life... not to just wave the white flag of surrender to the American pace of life and hope for the best, but to listen to the cry of my soul... and to begin to discipline my life in a way that affords my soul less activity and more life."

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Writer talks about female desire and celibacy

Casey Fleming writes "On Celibacy and Desire" for her blog Take Me with You. She reminisces about reading the poem, "Celibacy at Twenty", twelve years ago when she was this age and recounts a moving conversation with a co-worker whose husband was serving overseas.

Fleming writes, "Celibacy and sexual energy do not have to be mutually exclusive, and I'd go so far as to argue that they rarely are. Thomas Moore, one of my favorite thinkers, admonishes Christians for a too limited and misguided understanding of celibacy, and describes Jesus Christ as a symbol of the 'sexual celibate', a man who did not have sex, but for whom the body and sensuality were of utmost importance in his interactions, teachings, life, and, clearly, in his death. Many couples intuitively understand his concept of 'sexual celibacy'. They purposefully inject celibacy into their relationships and marriages for certain time periods either to reignite passion and lust, to adhere to a religious principle, or to respectfully address more pressing aspects of their relationship, more pressing needs."

Celibacy at Twenty
by Sharon Olds

After I broke up with someone,
or someone with me, days would go by,
nights, weeks, soon it would be months since I had
touched anyone. I would move as little
as possible, the air seemed to press on my skin, my
breasts like something broken open, un-
capped and not covered, the buds floated in the
center at the front, if I turned a corner too
fast I would almost come. Swollen,
walking like someone carrying something
filled to the brim, the lip of the liquid
rocking, taut, at the edge, at the top——
and at times, in the shower, no matter how quickly
I washed I'd be over the top in seconds,
and then the loneliness, which had felt enormous,
would be begin to grow, easily, rapidly,
triple, sextuple, dodecatuple,
the palm fronds and camellia buds bent
double under a campus sky of iron.
Later, when the next first kiss would come,
it would shock me, the size and power of happiness,
and yet it was familiar——lips aching and
pulling, hands and feet going numb, I'd be
trying not to moan, streaming slowly
across the arc of the sky——it was always
a return, the face in the dashlight closer
and closer, like the approaching earth,
until it is all you can see. Each time,
I wanted to be coming home
to stay. But every time I went
from months of hunger to those first kisses,
soon there were the last kisses, and I
felt I stood outside of life, held
back——but no one was holding me, I was
waiting, very near the human,
my violence uncommitted, I was
saving it. Once I stripped and
entered the pit I did not want ever to come up out of it.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blogger begins reading The Soul's Religion

Roger Hiduk starts yesterday's blog post about "Organized Religion and Transcendence" with a two-paragraph quote from Thomas Moore's The Soul's Religion that includes, "People know intuitively that some kind of spiritual life is necessary, and so many are searching on their own or joining new churches and communities. They distinguish sharply between the personal spirituality they have found and the religious institution they have abandoned."

Hiduk muses about differences between spirituality and religion: "My experience the last few years has been that people I used to label "unchurched" still sense and long for transcendence. They find it in sex, drugs, music, nature, and anywhere that provides it. The problem is that they find the church completely irrelevant to their lives, so they will not find it there."


Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't freeze life into a solid cube of meaning

While exploring "The Failure of Fundamentalism" in a blog post, Jack Heppner draws on Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul with the quote, "I would define fundamentalism as a defense against the overtones of life, and the richness of imagination."

Paraphrasing Moore’s outlook, Heppner writes, "But our souls crave more than fundamental facts and cookie-cutter molds. They thirst for nuances and overtones, for imagination and heart. Our souls look for meaning behind stories and allusions to the secrets that lie hidden beneath the factual rubble they get covered with. Our souls know instinctively that there is more to reality than statistical data and foolproof boxes in which to store all our experiences."

Heppner then describes his changed approach when reading the Bible: "I no longer feel a need to defend the historical accuracy of every word in each of the gospels, for example. I am free to allow all four writers to draw on the rich pool of memories about Jesus and craft them into unique stories specifically suited for their varied purposes. Even if that means they contradict each other at times. The Bible is a window through which I can see the heart of God and the varied experiences of his people – not an exclusive repository of data that answers every question directly every time."

He may enjoy Moore’s new book, Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels (2009) and Moore’s foreword to Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories (2008), edited by G. Elijah Dann and published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

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