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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moore ponders care of the soul in this century

Thomas Moore is the keynote speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association’s 2009 Convocation in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. On Thursday 12 November, Rev. Cynthia Landrum, Minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty in Clarklake, Michigan, blogs "Thomas Moore vs. the New Atheists? Buy Me Tickets!":
"So I'm here at the UUMA Convocation, and the keynote speaker this morning was Thomas Moore.

What I took from what Thomas Moore shared with us is that there is a divorce in American culture between science and religion, which is the split between mind/intellect and soul. There's nothing surprising in that idea, of course. But Thomas Moore put it simply pointedly, saying (or this is my interpretation of what he said) that most people stop developing their idea of God as children, and the ideas of God put out there the most in our culture are essentially the God we learn at age 6 or 7. Now, reflecting a bit on what he said, imagine if you stopped your understanding of what math is or literature is or science is or medicine is at age 6 or 7. Why do we think that this childhood idea of God is sufficient? My own question is why do even ministers support, uphold, even preach this childish idea of God?"
Rev. Landrum continues with a discussion of "New Atheists" and Moore’s willingness to debate them.

The same day, Rev. Sam Trumbore who is with the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, also blogs about Moore’s presentation in "Caring for and about the soul" for Albany’s site. After describing Moore’s introduction of Nicolas of Cusa [c. 1401-1464], Rev. Trumbore suggests,
"When we talk about God, we rub up against our ignorance. That ignorance, however, is holy and needs to be honored rather than expunged. This is our post-modern perspective, realizing the limits of our knowing and having to make accommodations for this reality.

Even though Moore was lecturing to us, he didn’t want for us to walk away adopting his ideas uncritically. He claimed that his purpose was not to persuade us of anything. He cautioned us about converting people to anything. Better for us to lead people into their own lives and help them find their own answers – the UU way.

Yet each of us has our own fundamentalisms we want to foist on each other and convert others. Better to let go of such intentions and let the engagement of dialogue do the holy enlightening work all by itself."
Today Rev. Trumbore covers the convocation in his post, "The Need to Care for the Soul" in which he describes Moore’s talk yesterday morning. He writes that Moore values friendship, nourishing food, beauty and a sense of home as contributions to soul.
"Moore talked about one of my favorite Greek philosophers Epicurus. He made the connection with food as nourishment for the soul. Interestingly, Jesus spent a lot of time dealing with food. Changing water into wine is a very Epicurean thing to do after all. Jesus feeds 5000. And what about the Last Supper? In the Road to Emmaus story, Jesus is recognized when he breaks bread. Interesting to look at Jesus as a fellow traveler with Epicurus.

Moore talked about the importance of home to the soul. Our bodies need a place where they feel secure. Even if that is a chair in a restaurant or a park bench. We have a need for beauty, an aesthetic sense that generates pleasure. The arts are important sources of soul food. All forms of pleasure are nourishing to the soul. Moore differentiated passing pleasures from deep pleasures that had enduring satisfaction."
Rev. Trumbore shares,"It was here that the distinction between soul and spirit becomes most clear. The spirit focuses on that which transcends the body. The soul has no interest in transcendence. The soul wants to be here now, to be alive, vital and present." Convocation 2009 concludes tomorrow.

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