Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sex stimulates imagination and touches the soul

For National Catholic Reporter, Rich Heffern blogs "Human sexuality — a great and holy mystery" in which he shows spiritual aspects of sexuality after contrasting liberal views of sex with fundamentalism. He suggests writers such as Thomas Moore, Sarah van Gelder, Fr. Diarmuid O’Murchu, Fr. Richard Rohr, Joan Timmerman, and Sam Keen explore how sexuality is a feature of our humanity:
"To say that sexuality is just an animal instinct, an obstacle to holiness, is to say that sexuality has nothing to do with our humanity. But in fact our sexuality is an integral part of our personal and interpersonal identities. From childhood it looms large in our lives, and we must deal with it one way or the other. Thomas Moore, in his best-selling book The Soul of Sex, writes:

"We have a habit of talking about sexuality as merely physical, yet nothing has more soul. Sex takes us into the world of intense passions, sensual touch, exciting fantasies, many levels of meaning and subtle emotions. It makes the imagination come alive with fantasy, reverie and memory. Even if the sex is loveless, empty or manipulative, still it has strong repercussions in the soul, and even bad sexual experiences leave lasting, haunting impressions.”

There is an ancient wisdom, even within the Judeo-Christian tradition, that maintains that sexuality is primarily spiritual, possibly the single greatest source of spiritual vitality in the human psyche. Sexuality is a mode of interaction with divinity."
Heffern mentions the Biblical Song of Songs and writings by St. John of the Cross.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Embrace your difficulties to live soulfully

On 21 March 2010, Rev. Axel H. Gehrmann delivers the sermon "Tending the Soul" for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign. He quotes Thomas Moore's and James Hillman's ideas of soul as well as poems by Mary Oliver and Emily Dickinson. Gehrmann writes:
"As a practicing psychotherapist, Moore says, he is often approached by people who want his help to get rid of certain tendencies of theirs. People ask him to help get rid of their feelings of inferiority, or their habit of smoking, or their unhappy marriage. If he did what they asked, he would be doing nothing all day, but taking things away from people. This is not his idea of being helpful. He doesn’t want to eradicate parts of people’s personality, which they consider problematic. He doesn’t want to be an exterminator of psychological pests. Instead, his goal is to give people their problems back. He wants to help them embrace the difficult aspects of their lives, and think about them differently. He wants to help them see that their so-called problems may actually be essential aspects of who they are. Their so-called problems might have a hidden value they have been unable or unwilling to see."
He includes:
"James Hillman describes the soul not as a substance, but as a perspective. The main activity of the soul, he says, is to turn events into experiences. The soul sees how the countless moments of our lives constitute a meaningful whole.

Tending the soul means taking the time and space we need to let the events of our lives become experiences. It means allowing the deeper meaning to sink in, allowing a sense of wholeness to emerge."
Read the sermon also for ideas expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Kahlil Gibran.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Parrish sees Moore as follower of soul's purpose

Dean of Sancta Sophia Seminary, Rev. Carol E. Parrish, recommends Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels by Thomas Moore. She blogs "... told me of a great book and I have been reading it. I think there are many concepts in it that we can all use when looking for examples of esoteric ideas that Christianity contains. It has been a pleasure to read, and I know some of you who may be looking for lecture topics should know of it. The title is Writing in the Sand by Thomas Moore. I am always fond of his work. An interesting idea he presents is that he could have stayed in the priesthood and become a cog in an organization, or become the person who followed his soul purpose. This is what any and all of us can do — or become — our real soul doing its role in humanity. It deserves serious thought, does it not?"

Parrish writes about esoteric wisdom and the divine feminine — "Sophia Online is designed especially for those who are interested in personal growth and/or non-traditional subjects of spiritual interest. Sancta Sophia means holy wisdom and it is our goal to share Ancient Wisdom. We use the term Mystery School because at another point in time those who sought higher education wanted to explore the mysteries of life and the consequences of ones actions from a higher perspective. Often getting an answer is not as important as the stimulating of more questions."

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Fast Company blog quotes Moore during crisis

While addressing "Valuable Soul Searching in Times of Economic Crisis" for Fast Company readers, Dr. Alex Pattakos refers to Thomas Moore's writings:
"Many of you may remember the words uttered by former U.S. Senator and economist, Phil Gramm, who downplayed the idea that the nation was in a financial recession; instead, he "diagnosed" the situation as a "mental recession," likening the country’s (and its citizens') ills to what we all know as mental depression. In this regard, Gramm provocatively said that "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, ... complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline." Although I don’t happen to agree with Senator Gramm’s diagnosis, I do believe that Americans, like all people, must consciously and deliberately resist the human tendency to become "prisoners of their thoughts." Only in this way may we increase our capacity to cope effectively and creatively with whatever comes our way in life — from the smallest disappointments to the most formidable of life’s challenges. And this includes our capacity, as individuals and as a nation, to deal with the current economic crisis.

In this regard, I learned years ago from Thomas Moore, psychotherapist and author of the bestselling book, Care of The Soul, that our most soulful times are when we are "out of balance," not when we are in balance! In other words, it is when we are facing formidable challenges and when we are dealing with crises, that we are most likely to do some really deep "soul-searching." And it is during these especially difficult times when our will to meaning, that is, our authentic commitment to meaningful values and goals, comes into sharp focus and we are prompted to make key choices about what really matters to us and in our lives."
Pattakos shows ways, "On both personal and collective levels, the "meaning" of the economic crisis also holds the promise of being a transformative experience."

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Care of soul may not accord with expectations

Henk Van de Graaf blogs about beginning to read Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul last autumn in "soulfullness". Before quoting Moore, Van de Graaf writes about himself: "In my past years, long periods of time full of depression, addiction, anger, and self-pity, I was always looking for a way out of this morass of emotion I seemed trapped in. At times, I felt I was broken, of needing to be fixed."

His selected passages from the book include Moore's observation:
"As we stop to consider what is happening to us and what we’re made of, the soul ferments, to use an alchemical word. Change takes place, but not according to plan or as the result of intentional intervention. If you attend the soul closely enough, with an educated and steadfast imagination, changes take place without your being aware of them until they are all over and well in place. Care of the soul observes the paradox whereby a muscled, strong-willed pursuit of change can actually stand in the way of substantive transformation."
Van de Graaf describes more recent feelings of sadness: "That sadness was connected with me, who I was. A deep unhappiness with who I am. A grieving over how ineffectual I have been in changing me life, how I could never met my own expectations or the expectations of others. As I sit here, pondering what words to put down next, I feel that grief welling up again. I have chosen to just sit with this, to see where this trail will take me, not trying to force a new direction."

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Make a home for creativity to live soulfully

Today, Meredith Stern blogs about the idea of home with shared images and poetry. She opines, "We long to be comfortable in our own skin, our own psyche, our internal life. In this internal life we find creativity sitting ... sometimes quietly ... often times ready to explode up out of us. The ultimate creativity is to live mortality instead of avoiding it (thomas moore). It is here that one finds that spark of living from the soul." Her post includes a wood cut by Hari Kirin (Joan Hanley) published in Moore's Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality (2000).

Stern also includes a poetic excerpt by Emily Dickinson:
"We are by September
and yet my flowers are as bold as June.
Amherst has gone to Eden.
To shut our eyes is Travel. The
seasons understand this.
How lonesome to be an Article!
I mean — to have no soul."

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

God's hand may be upon us in our wilderness

In today's blog post entitled "Lent 3C Sermon - Beyond the Wilderness", Rev. Peter M. Carey of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, Virginia mentions the writings of Thomas Moore. Carey writes about wilderness in:
Exodus 3: 1-15
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9
"Going beyond the wilderness is sometimes, in retrospect, where we see that God’s hand was upon us. I know in my own life. When I look now to at a time when I found myself far from home, feeling alone after a significant relationship ended, I see that God was working to open me up to experience more of the Spirit, to experience greater things than my paltry imagination could dream up on its best day. When I look now to that time of mourning for the life that I thought I would have, I see that in the midst of that sadness, depression, and loneliness, God was bringing me beyond the wilderness. Though excruciatingly difficult, it was a soulful time. The modern writer, Thomas Moore (not "a man for all seasons") has written several books on the soul. In Care of the Soul, he writes of the surprising gifts that can be given to us even in these difficult times, and the ways that the life of the soul may be deepened as we move beyond the wilderness. Of course, it helps to have the 20/20 vision of hindsight. If I were now talking to myself then , my then self would tell my now self to get lost, in far more colorful language."
This post includes Thomas Merton's "Thoughts in Solitude."

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Everyday ecology includes collaborative caring

In today's post, "Wild and Wonderful Week", David Elliott writes about Thomas Moore's recent presentation, Ecology of Everyday Life, at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Elliott shares, "[Moore] is currently working on a new translation of the gospels from his extensive knowledge of the nuances of the Greek language and his extensive knowledge of classical literature and metaphors. Some of his themes were: taking care of your home, taking care of the earth, the critical importance of caring for your friends, being in touch with the past, discovering the sacred in nature, needing beauty. I was struck by his understanding of the Greek word therapia which is used throughout the New Testament for healing but actually means caring. If throughout the Gospels you say caring where the scriptures say healing, you get a whole different sense of the meaning."

After mentioning a workshop given by Dr. Randy Bailey of Atlanta's Interdenominational Seminary, Elliott writes that Thomas Moore follows the tradition of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, positioning us as "Collaborators in Creation." He continues, "When I asked Randy where a new foundation then might be found he would point through the sociology of the oppressed in the same direction. Social evolution is alive in us and what we do. Deeply understanding scriptures helps us discern but never relieves us of final responsibility."

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