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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Any tradition may read Gospels as spiritual texts

In a May 2011 issue of The Magazine of Yoga, editor Susan Maier-Moul reviews Thomas Moore's Writing in the Sand: Jesus and and the Soul of the Gospels under the headline, "Book Review: Writing in the Sand ".

She suggests:
"In Writing in the Sand Thomas Moore develops a view of the Jesus gospels as spiritual texts rather than as Christian history or a biography of an historical Christ.

Using techniques of inquiry familiar to anyone who has read his Care of the Soul including respect for metaphor, skill in holding both rationality and literality in check, and a careful review of context, Moore brings a focus on the message of the Gospels through the culture and ideas that were in play at the time these texts were written."
Maier-Moul draws attention to Moore's focus on transformation, shamanism in the Gospels and his sensitivity to language in this book. She includes:
"We are accustomed to the misleading notions of our modern dualism, drawing wiggle-room distinctions between body and mind, or the world 'out there' and its meaning to us internally. Even when we are trying to work with new ideas, the available language is hard to use in a way that really expresses what we experience or suspect.

Moore brings his characteristically responsible use of language to bear on such issues, distinguishing meaning, for example, as something we create, not something that pre-exists our need for it. Spiritual texts don’t tell us what the world means, Writing in the Sand suggests; instead, they wake us up, forcing a change to accepted ideas in shocking ways. We see that our expectations and fear create meaning, that meaning emanates from us, rather than standing outside us."
For the same issue, Maier-Moul writes the editorial "Reading Jesus as a Yogi" in which she references Moore's translation of the Gospels. She shares about herself, "Yoga teaches me to notice and deal with my aversions. I have an aversion to Jesus-speak as wide as a semi using two lanes on I95. ... I’ve been wondering if it would be possible for me to read the ideas put forth by Jesus with my same open mindedness about how to apply them and my equally useful, same skepticism about their translations into contemporary English as I do yoga and Buddhism texts." She suggests such a possibility exists, based on Moore's translation.

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