Monday, May 31, 2010

Pain and pleasure shape soulful personalities

On her Huffington Post blog this week, Dr. Judith Rich writes about ego and soul perspectives in her entry, "Soulful Living: Why Is Cultivating the Soul So Painful?" Her quote from Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul, includes his observation, "A soulful personality is complicated, multifaceted, and shaped by both pain and pleasure, success and failure. Life lived soulfully is not without its moments of darkness and periods of foolishness." Rich also echoes Moore’s distinction between cure and care, while suggesting "The soul begs us to turn toward our pain, not away from it, for there in the midst of our suffering, lies the path to liberation." This week's post attracts more than 80 comments that also contribute to creating a community for soulful living. Rich’s post last week, "How to Know the Way of the Soul" updates last year's list of ten ways to live soulfully.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blogger recommends Writing in the Sand

In a blog post called "soul musing", blogger AMF comments on Thomas Moore’s recent book about the Gospels: “I am appreciating the joyous thoughts on life, to be more specific, Jesus's life, as written by Thomas Moore in his newest book, Writing in the Sand. I picked it up at the most auspicious moment, as I had recently sent an email of discontent to a local pastor after I listened to his sermon." AMF’s email addressed the pastor's description of karma and his response asked about grace and sin.

AMF continues, "I didn't think much more about my email until today as I read Moore's book on the Gospels. Moore actually gives me another perspective on what grace can mean in the context of receiving grace and giving grace. The manner in which he depicts pieces of the Gospel are refreshing, so much so that I wish to reread them to really hear what Jesus had to say ~ not as a zealot trying to save the world, but (as Moore describes) one who came to heal the world. Moore is very philosophical and spiritual in his description of Jesus without being confined by dogma of any one faith. This allows his interpretations and exploration to be very freeing."

She writes, "The complexity of it all is overwhelming, even I struggle as I type these words. I pray that anyone who reads this not be turned off from the book if my words offend. Instead, visit your local library, check out the book and read it with an open mind and spirit."


Monday, May 24, 2010

House Calls with My Camera showing until Oct. 11

Carol Goar, a member of the Editorial Board at The Toronto Star writes a column, Glimpse into a lonely, hidden world," about a current exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario of 36 photographs taken by Dr. Mark Nowaczynskiat. The exhibit, House Calls with my Camera shows, according to Goar, "a Toronto doctor's photo essay of elderly Canadians trapped in their homes and forsaken by the health-care system. They're too frail or disabled to get to a physician's office. And physicians are too busy to come to them."

Goar writes, "The exhibition delivers multiple messages. It challenges young doctors to revive a tradition that never should have died. It forces health-care bureaucrats to acknowledge that the rush to schedule more high-volume procedures and produce more measurable results is leaving those who built this country behind. And it offers the public a rare glimpse into the keepsake-stuffed apartments and rundown homes where seniors live, fearing institutionalization as much as death. Take an hour to see the display. Ask yourself if this could be your grandparent or parent — or someday you."

GTA readers of Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul in Medicine may wish to visit this exhibit in its second floor gallery. The photographs are on display until 11 October 2010.


Ordinary acts and arts favoured by the soul

The Upside Life blog features "The Ordinary Arts We Practice Every Day" by Barbara Taylor. Taylor's entry focuses on Thomas Moore's observation, "The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest," a favourite Moore quote on blogs and Twitter, although the reference is more often to "ordinary acts." Taylor writes:
"One thing I love about Moore’s writing is that he is prone to blunt, powerful statements. For example: "No one can tell you how to live your life. No one knows the secrets of the heart sufficiently to tell others about them authoritatively."

For Moore, living soulfully isn’t about curing, fixing, or other popular psychological and spiritual concepts aiming at self-improvement or an ideal existence. Soulful living is instead about meeting life each day while remaining mindful of spirituality.

When I remind myself that the "ordinary arts" I perform each day are important components of my soul work, I find myself making a mental and emotional shift. There is nowhere better or more important to be than here and now, engaging in these “mundane” tasks.  It’s a feeling of sweet relief."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Christianity represents spirit and soul

Ian Kellogg offers his student intern sermons, delivered at Knox United Church in Didsbury, Alberta, including today's "Flames of spirit; embers of soul" on his blog, Sermons from Didsbury 2009-10. In this sermon Kellogg suggests, "When individuals or communities are inspired, the results are not always holy." He talks about spirit and soul and their distinctions according to Thomas Moore. Kellogg writes:
"But even when we in the church get it wrong, God in the form of Spirit, Father, and Christ, offers us what we need to regain our balance. In the church and in our lives we need the power of the Spirit. But the good news is that there are also other elements in our life with God to help keep us balanced.

One way to understand this is with the concept of soul. I used to think that soul and spirit referred to the same thing. But then I read the 1992 best-selling book Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. Moore makes a distinction between soul and spirit. Spirit, he writes, is connected to consciousness, thinking, idealism, and activism and it is oriented to the future. Soul on the other hand is connected to the body, the unconscious mind, feelings and tradition and it is oriented to the past.

But despite these differences, soul and spirit complement each other. Both can be seen as a kind of fire. Spirit is like an out-of-control flame that signals action, danger and change. Soul is like the glowing embers in a hearth fire; a fire that has burned down, become tame, and which we can rely upon for warmth and comfort.

Spirit without soul can be ungrounded and dangerous. And soul without spirit can be lifeless. But when they work together -- when with Grace, our spirit is grounded in soul and our soul is enlivened by spirit -- then life flourishes."
Kellogg includes, "And so in Christ's church we have idealism and spirit, which is represented by soaring buildings, tall steeples, and ambitious missions to work for the reign of God. And in Christ's church, we also have the comfort and grounding of soul, which is represented by the communion table and the baptismal font. At the Lord's Table we remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in a simple meal of bread and wine. And at the font, we are initiated into the Way of the Cross using that most common and essential element, water."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do we need to charm the economy back to life?

Vicki Flier Hudson quotes Thomas Moore in her blog post "Efficiency or Charm: What’s It Going to Be?" for High Road Global Services. She attributes to Moore, “When we tell stories of the past, do we emphasize efficiency or charm? Do we ride the Orient Express because we know it will arrive on time? Do we visit Antarctica because the accommodations are so comfortable? Ultimately, what satisfies the soul is that which is captivating, spellbinding, or full of charm.”

Hudson continues, "That statement made me freeze, forget the dinner I had planned to get on the stove, and reach for the computer to write this entry. Now let me clarify something right away. I am a big fan of results when I work with an organization. One of my biggest work-related challenges is when I give a two-hour workshop for a conference, for example, and I may never get to know the impact of what I offered. Similarly I worked in software development for many years at my former job, and my left-brain was always looking for a way to make things more efficient for better results. After all, you can’t just do something for the sake of doing it. Whatever you do should have significance for the organization, and that significance should be measured. 
Or should it?"

Hudson discusses efficiency and enchantment with economics and concludes, "And I believe that while we do need efficiency, we may need charm even more. We do not necessarily need to fix what is broken from our down economy. We need to enchant it until it comes back to life."

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Adjunct professor recommends Moore's work

Today Matt Carolan posts recommendations for his philosophy and mythology students in "Oft-Mentioned Resources for my Students" on his blog Psychopompadour. He includes the work of Thomas Moore and Moore's mentor, James Hillman. After recommending Moore's book, Dark Nights of the Soul, Carolan writes, "I have taught the mythology class unconsciously using Moore's expanded idea of the "liminal" experience and rites of passage; both he and I being heavily influenced by the work of anthropologist Victor Turner. All of life contains times of disorientation, sometimes at intense levels. This is not theoretical darkness. It is unique darkness for your own life, and it will hurt. From this idea and experience I have formulated my own humble notion of "generative darkness," into which we reach as we stand at its perimeter, to pull out as if from a grab bag, some great gift for the next phase of our life." Check out Carolan's complete list for additional references.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Health care needs sensitivity to whole person

Dr. Marcus McKinney, Director of Pastoral Counseling and Community Outreach at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford Connecticut, reviews Thomas Moore's new book, Care of the Soul in Medicine. McKinney observes:
"If you have ever been in a hospital - you will appreciate this book. Like taking a trip to a foreign land, when we enter a hospital, we enter into a whole new world. It has new language, unique rituals we know little about, white uniforms, requirements and rules that demand very different uniforms for me as a "customer". Our mutual goal (hospital staff and me as a patient) is healing. comfort and good quality medical care. And then there is the "illness", the "symptom", the "diagnosis".

In the complexity of our treatment, we do not lose our basic nature — human beings needing care — and the kind of care that benefits from high tech medicine yet also needs sensitivity to me as a whole person. Thomas Moore reminds us of Soul, those deeper things that attend to our needs (how a person approaches us, talks to us, what a room looks like when I am waiting, how food helps me feel better, etc) whether I am sick or not."
In the book, Moore acknowledges McKinney's support while exploring its themes.