Saturday, September 26, 2009

Does therapy support useful commodification?

In his blog post,"Dysenchanted Worlds: Rationalisation, Dystopia, and Therapy Culture in Ninni Holmqvist’s The Unit", Eric Repphun writes about the possible utilitarian role of therapy that supports disenchantment, while naming one of Thomas Moore’s popular books that calls for renewal of enchantment.

After quoting from Slavoj Žižek’s book, The Monstrosity of Christ, Repphun continues,
"This paints the whole of The Unit in a new light and draws out the fact that the novel voices a criticism of the whole edifice of contemporary spiritual/therapeutic culture, most visible in the New Age movement, which often calls for a reversal of disenchantment and the creation of a 'reenchanted' world (and here Thomas Moore's best-selling book The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life is but one example). Viewing it from the angle set out by Ninni Holmqvist’s The Unit, what is going on in the development of the whole therapeutic ethos is in reality very different. In important ways that go largely unspoken, the world of universal individual achievement, the world where we can go to a yoga class or purchase ancient Mayan herbs to mediate the effects of a stressful life, is a world not unlike that of the Unit, and we, as its residents, are not unlike the human capital that is corralled there to serve a purpose and then to be discarded when our usefulness is finished. All of this raises a series or vital, necessary question: Is therapy really just another management technique and, worse, one that many people gladly submit themselves to? Are we concerned with all of this healing and wholeness because it allows us to more effective employees, voters, and consumers? Is all of this a symptom of the commodification of the human subject? Is the New Age, rather than a new era of freedom and respect for the individual, in reality an ideal embodiment of disenchantment and a pathway to an even more dysenchanted world?
Repphun raises a concern that Thomas Moore and James Hillman address in their writings, given their concerns with "normalcy" and who decides its criteria. The publisher of The Unit responds to Repphun's post on his site.

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Shift suggests dwelling in the kingdom of God

Today, Barrie Maclaurin, a horticulturalist in London U.K., blogs
"Thoughts on the current God debate and baptism" with references to Thomas Moore’s latest book, Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. Maclaurin writes, "Thomas Moore, in his excellent book: Writing in the Sand, makes the point that until we have gone through a process of metanoia, a radical shift in our ways of thinking (and living), we will, like Nicodemus, never understand what Jesus meant when he said: "I tell you that no one could see the kingdom of God unless he were born from above." I take this to mean in part that we have got to shift our vision not away from the current science-orientated arguments but through science."

While sharing that his partner, Jeff, and he are to be godparents to their neighbour’s daughter, Maclaurin describes their individual responses to their new roles. He includes about himself, "There is a very strong tide that flows through me that is constantly seeking the strength, the confidence and the knowledge, to put to rest my own doubts about my own faith and reassure those closest to me ― not so much in Christianity as it now is ― but in the existence of God. Like Moore, I have difficulty with, and indeed am personally distracted by, people that constantly profess their particular interpretation of Christ's mystery and mission. They are usually judgemental, subjective and completely disrespectful of those not sharing their view."

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Spirituality & Practice reviews Writing in the Sand

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality and Practice review Thomas Moore’s new book, Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels:
"In this ambitious work, Moore sets out to present "a completely new Jesus, a figure I believe any 21st-century person could adopt as a focus for a vibrant and intelligent spiritual life, one that doesn't defend itself against the shadow elements." He has aimed this lively portrait of the Man from Nazareth at seekers of all types and people of different religions. Moore wants to reinterpret and re-imagine the stories and the imagery of the Gospels, which he sees as "an intelligent and profound source of insight into the essential problems of the human race."

The first thing he deals with in this soulful treatment of the mysterious depths of the Gospels is the kingdom of God. It is not a description of the afterlife but an inner dimension that is expressed through healing, wakening, caring for, and calming others. "The kingdom is not a place," Moore continues, "not a thing, not an institution, not a membership. Maybe it is most like an attitude, a way of seeing, a turn of imagination that makes all the difference."
The Brussats show support for Moore’s writing by stating,
“Moore is right on target when he writes: "The Gospels do not focus on a plan for spiritual self-improvement and a virtuous personality. They are not a set of platitudes about living properly but rather a restructuring of the human imagination about how we can be in relation to each other and to the world. They offer a new way of imagining the human worldwide community."

There are four key elements in the kingdom: basilea, metanoia, therapeia, and agape. Moore covers them all. With a boldness that challenges the traditional image of Jesus, the author starts with a section on Jesus the Epicurean, using it as a chance to ponder the allusive meaning of the wedding at Cana story which embraces marriage, a change of vision, pleasure, and the transformed life. Moore's interpretation will have little resonance with those in the Church whom Jung once characterized as "a misery institute." But for many of us, it will be refreshing and exhilarating."
The review page offers an excerpt from Writing in the Sand about Vision.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Home connects the poetics of everyday life

Judith Fertig writes "Coming Home to Yourself: When Your Home Expresses Who You Are" for Natural Awakenings, focusing on our associations with the word home.
"Regardless of whether home is a room, apartment, cottage or mansion, how homey it seems depends first on two physical factors: light coming in on two sides and a view of greenery or sky, according to Clare Cooper Marcus, professor emerita of the departments of architecture and landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley.

"We yearn for nature," she observes. “"Houseplants or a view of a garden is a universal desire." In her seminal book, House as a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home, which resulted from her work on a low-income housing project and a series of case studies, Marcus came to understand that "People consciously and unconsciously use their home environment to express something about themselves."
Fertig also quotes Jill Butler, author of Create the Space You Deserve: An Artistic Journey to Expressing Yourself Through Your Home"The whole idea of a house became skewed when we worried more about resale value than actually living there," she continues. "It’s time to consider their return on our emotional investment." When writing about rediscovering who we are now, Fertig includes:
"Thomas Moore, in Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life , recalls a "reading" he did of one woman’s dwelling. "My idea was to see the house’s poetry and alphabet, to understand the gestures it was making in its architecture, colors, furnishing [and] decorations, and the condition it was in at that particular time." After the exercise, he notes, "We both felt unusually connected to the place." More, "I was motivated to reflect on my own home and to think more deeply about the poetics of everyday life."
The second half of Fertig's article describes creative renewal through thoughtful decorating.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Heart becomes earth with slight shift of breath

In today's North Bay Practical Spirituality Examiner, Amara Rose writes, "The art of awareness: painting your aliveness on life's canvas" She opens with, "As we move into the next phase of our global renaissance, copious creativity is the key on which our elevation will turn. How deeply are we willing to tap our inner reservoirs? And, can we expand our perception of what constitutes "art"?" Rose presents the ideas of Jose Argüelles and cross-cultural exchanges based on "art." She includes,
"The universal urge toward the aesthetic is coded into our DNA. Theologian and author Thomas Moore writes, in Care of the Soul, "Children paint every day and love to show their works on walls and refrigerator doors. But as we become adults, we abandon this important soul task of childhood." When we relinquish this soul expression to professional artists, "we are then left with mere rational reasons for our lives, feelings of emptiness and confusion, and a compulsive attachment to pseudo images, such as shallow television programs. When our own images no longer have a home, a personal museum, we drown our sense of loss in pale substitutes, trashy novels or formulaic movies."

Because art arrests our attention, living "artfully" might require of us something as simple as pausing: taking the time to shift from acquire to inquire, to let go of buying more in favor of being more. This is what honoring our collective creative impulse can do for humanity: restore us to wholeness, holiness, health. "Whole", "holy" and "heal" all spring from the same root. To be whole is to be balanced and harmonious in body, mind, soul and spirit."
After providing links to additional resources, Rose concludes, "And if we make a subtle shift — move the "h" in heart from the start of the word to the end — we create "Earth". We live in a heart circle. Earth Heart. The beat goes on."