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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moore: Looking for Jesus in the 21st Century

According to publisher Hay House, "Most people are familiar with the Gospels of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus, but how many of us have looked into their deeper meaning? In his new book, Writing in the Sand, renowned scholar Thomas Moore finds striking new insights in the rich stories and imagery of the Gospels, recasting Jesus not as a teacher of morals and beliefs but as a healer and a spiritual visionary. Read on as Moore shows us in this highly original take on the Gospels, a more human Jesus whose teachings act as a guide to creating a happier and more meaningful life."

Thomas Moore writes the following for Hay House's email newsletter, under the Barque headline above:
"The good news is that we are creating a new world order in which the first task is to heal each other.

The Buddha begins his teaching with the simple observation that there is suffering in the world. Jesus similarly focuses on the sickness of the soul that affects people individually and socially, physically and spiritually. This perception of sickness is central, and healing is his signature activity. Jesus does not teach how to be virtuous, how to be saved, or how to be a good church member. He says nothing about memorizing dogma or following a strict set of moral rules. Instead, he continually demonstrates how to be in this world as a healer.

I know a Christian minister who is an instinctive healer. Everywhere he goes, he sees need when it is present. Where others overlook a person in distress, he stops to find out what is wrong. He has a Gospel instinct and knows intuitively that the role of minister is to heal.

I know several ministers who don't have this gift. It doesn't come with ordination. I do have a Buddhist friend who responds similarly, and, to my mind, his healing reactions place him in the kingdom Jesus envisioned. He is a Buddhist by affiliation, but his way of life is precisely in tune with the way Jesus taught. He found his way into the kingdom through Buddha.

The Gospels use several words for healing, but the main one is therapeia, "therapy." Plato used this very word in the dialogue Euthyphro, where Socrates defines it as "service of the gods." When you heal, you are doing sacred work. The Gospels appeared 400 years after Plato, and yet they, too, emphasize the word therapeia, a word so important that it could identify the Gospel spirit wherever it appears. If you want to live the Gospel philosophy, you have to know what it takes to be a healer.

I understand that this word healer sometimes seems romantic, but in fact it represents a cold, clear, harsh reality. People suffer — emotionally, physically, spiritually, and relationally. They need help. From time to time we are all in need of healing, and we are all called to be healers.

There was a time in my life when I needed healing. I had just gone through a divorce. I was fired from my job as a college professor — the only career I wanted at the time and one in which I had invested years of study. I was so upset that I felt sick and sores appeared in my throat and mouth. In reaction, I became too dependent on a few close friends, and many people around me pitied me and told me, essentially, to grow up. But another friend, James Hillman, a Jewish man who had written many things critical of Christianity, visited me and gave me some food, a glass of wine, and some thoughtful, friendly counsel. I have never forgotten his generous response. From my point of view, he was a healer in the spirit of the Gospel.

Healing is an altruistic action, in the root sense of the word — other . You think about the other person's welfare. You are profoundly convivial, meaning that you "live with" others, not just for yourself. You heal because of your empathy for the suffering of the other.

In the Gospels, Jesus never frets about himself. He is always in response mode, noticing suffering of all kinds and responding to it with a healing word or touch."
The Hay House newsletter continues, "'Thomas Moore's groundbreaking reinterpretation of the Gospels shines a new light on the profound teachings of Jesus, offers readers a long-awaited, modern, practical application of the scripture, and illustrates the 21st-century relevance of Jesus' visionary philosophy,' says Deepak Chopra. Delve deeper into Thomas Moore's Writing in the Sand: Jesus & the Soul of the Gospels , available now at Thomas Moore is perhaps best known as the author of the New York Times bestseller Care of the Soul. His other works include Soul Mates and Life at Work. You can meet Thomas Moore this Fall when he makes a rare appearance to talk about the Gospels and healing at Hay House's I Can Do It! Conference in Tampa."

This description outlines Moore's presentation in Tampa on Sunday 22 November 2009, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.:
The Soul of Medicine
Through stories from Thomas Moore’s patients, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, Thomas speaks to the importance of healing a whole person—body, soul, and spirit, a person with emotions, history, family, and work rather than simply treating a body. He gives advice to both healthcare providers and patients for maintaining dignity and humanity during illness and treatment. Providing spiritual guidance for dealing with feelings of mortality and depression, Thomas encourages patients to not only take an active part in the healing process, but also to view illness as a positive passage to new awareness and possibilities for life.

While we don’t fully understand the extent to which healing depends on attitude; a sense of meaning; a healing atmosphere; spirituality; and the support of family, friends, and community, it has been shown time after time that healing needs to focus on more than the body. The future of medicine is more than new technical developments and research discoveries; it lies also in appreciating the state of soul and spirit in illness!
Check out a recent a Barque: Thomas Moore Work post for an interview with Thomas Moore on Hay House Radio.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Listen to Moore talk about a university's soul

Ashley Dischinger describes Thomas Moore's presentation at Elon University on April 23, 2009, provides a link to a minute-long YouTube video, and shares this photograph of Moore, in her blog entry for today. Dischinger writes,
"Moore quoted the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclites in reference to the infinite possibilities that the soul has to offer.

“Heraclites says this: ‘You can never discover the limits of the soul,’” Moore quoted. "'No matter how many roads you are to take, so deep is its mystery.' So you can’t even define the soul."

Heraclites was one of the first people to discuss the soul in terms of death. Moore stresses the importance of thinking about the soul in these terms, though he admits it carries an "unfathomable depth." Still, he encourages the audience to reflect deeply about the state of their soul because "the closer you get to yourself, the closer you get to your soul."

Moore then applied this mentality to the idea of the university. He sees education as having the potential to offer more than just the obvious tools to students willing to learn.

"There is something of great depth in the soul of this place," he said. "We will never figure out what we are doing and who we are in this place. It will remain mysterious and that’s a good thing."

But rather than allow the mysteriousness give to frustration, Moore believes the university should strive to preserve its history. In this way, he says the university will maintain, rather than lose, its individuality and depth.

"This place is going to be like no other university," Moore said. "Don’t compare yourself to Harvard or the other places. Your soul can be lost. So it’s very important to maintain your individuality as a university."
According to Dischinger, Moore also "emphasized the importance of the university doing its best to prepare students beyond a shallow, intellectual education."

For another blogger's reaction to Moore's presentation, read "Telling Stories" by J. Ruth Kelly.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

University education may be therapy for soul

Elon University’s student newspaper, The Pendulum, reports Thomas Moore’s presentation last night, "The Soul of the University."

Reporter Rebecca Smith quotes Moore, "Education, if it touches the student's soul, is a kind of therapeutics, in the sense that you are not just teaching and instructing the person, but the education itself can nurse the soul," Moore said. "It can give ideas to the student that will actually help them deal with life, and find out who they are. Education can do this, and maybe should do this."
"He said that the soul has a dark side, but that people often do not mention this darker side. He said he does not romanticize this soul and referenced his psychoanalysis work. Moore said the people who call him are all going through tough times, and that attention to our souls primarily happens when things are going badly.

"When it comes to the soul of the university, let's not romanticize it or sentimentalize it," Moore said. "Let's realize that people are having wonderful days and going through wonderful experiences, and they are going through terrifying and terrible experiences, and going through loss."
Smith touched on Moore’s references to the value of ignorance, the role of art, and contributions to community.

According to Smith, Moore also said he was at Elon University "to celebrate the career of Richard McBride, who is retiring at the end of this academic year." McBride is the university’s chaplain.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What is the difference between spirit and soul?

Today, Daphne Michaels, president and founder of the Vibrational Health Institute, posts Thomas Moore’s three-paragraph response to "What is the difference between spirit and soul?" on her eponymous blog. Moore talks about time and direction.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Moore speaks at Elon University this Thursday

Elon University promotes Thomas Moore’s appearance, Thursday 23 April 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the Whitley Auditorium, when Moore will talk about "The Soul of the University":

"An education in soul would include preparation for a life work, contributing to society, making a home, marriage, raising children, illness, dealing with emotional and relationship issues, and developing a spiritual sensibility ... It would culture a person, give him depth, and prepare her for citizenship, leadership, and a rich life."

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life is sponsoring this free event. The university's web site offers directions to the campus. Read an earlier Barque notice about this engagement.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Publishers Weekly reviews Writing in the Sand

Publishers Weekly reviews Thomas Moore’s newest book, Writing in the Sand: Jesus & the Soul of the Gospels in its newsletter's Non-fiction — Religion section for 13 April 2009:

Writing in the Sand by Thomas Moore
Hay House, $22.95 (168 pages)
ISBN 978-1-4019-2143-3

"Drawing on his background in theology, world religions, art history, psychology and mythology, author and psychotherapist Moore (Care of the Soul) proposes a fresh way of looking at the Christian gospels for those who once loved the texts, but no longer find them challenging. Moore believes the Jesus of the gospels was calling people to be open to life rather than attach themselves to a fixed teaching. He reframes the wedding feast at Cana — said to be the scene of Christ's first miracle — as "the first lesson in Jesus spirituality: Be human, understand the importance of play and simple sensual pleasures and listen to your family. Then go deeper." In Moore's reading of the gospels, Jesus himself is earthy and spiritual — a man clearly on the side of moderate sensual delight. Fans of Moore's previous books and readers who share his view that Jesus was not concerned with creating a religion or a plan for self-improvement, but was instead interested in a restructuring of the human imagination, will find plenty to ponder. (May 1)"

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Moore: "To incorporate" is more than "to know"

On page 10 of the March 2009 (42:3) Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association newsletter, Rev. Wayne Walder interviews Thomas Moore, this year's featured speaker at 2009 Convo in Ottawa, Canada, November 11-16, 2009.

Moore talks about teaching his daughter, his early years, the role of a holy person, and showing appreciation. He also asks a question about UU approaches for Walder to answer at the end of the interview.

During the interview, Walder asks about competition, fear and jealousy among ministers, "We have a shyness or a fear of being criticized by our colleagues. There is of course, a wonderful support system among our colleagues, AND a significant amount of jealousy, competition, and mistrust. People are shy about bringing their insights into the light."

Moore responds,
"When you spoke, I was thinking of a group I was with when I was in my 30’s and 40’s – a group in Texas that was a group of psychologists trying to create an outgrowth of Jung’s psychology. We were not a formal group but we knew who was in our group. One thing I really noticed, there was a great appreciation for each other. There was a great wish for each other’s success. We all wanted the others to succeed, I think. That was one thing that was really strong.

This was unusual for me because I had been teaching at a University where the opposite was the case. At the University there was all this envy and jealousy and whenever you succeed, your job was threatened. It was a very strange situation. I was in that position myself, I saw some need, I responded to it. I had very large enthusiastic classes. And it shocked me that my colleagues hated that – they wanted me to fail. And I thought what kind of an organization is this where the people in it want me to fail? It’s a very strange situation. And that’s where the envy and jealousies came through. It’s so different from this other group – just the opposite. What was the difference? It’s really hard to say. One difference in the Jungian group was that we were all engaged in creating something."
"When I stuck my neck out where the world thought I was crazy, I would get a letter from one of my friends in this group telling me how great they thought I was. They told me how much they appreciated my ideas. Those letters and that support meant everything to me. I didn't have to have it from others in the world, but if I got it from my peers, it meant everything. And it kept me going. What I’m saying, I think is, you might consider putting together some "habits of appreciation". If people could understand how important it is to hear appreciation for their work, in a very real way, they might do it. I don’t mean just standing up and giving someone a gold watch, that kind of thing. But in a very real way, saying: "I’m behind you," "People may not understand what you’re doing, but I’m really behind you on this." I think that kind of thing within a community would help tremendously."
At the end of the interview, Moore talks about UU ministers modeling what they learn and want to teach others. Moore says, "If you incorporate wisdom or spirit into yourself, and are transformed by it, people will notice. I don’t think personally – and this is based on my own experience – I don’t think it’s necessary to have vast knowledge of all these different resources. What I have to be able to do, what you might consider, is to notice how "what you are learning", melds with "what you already know". Because then what we know and what we learn can come together as a new dimension of "who we are". When I do that, I’m not trying to find one more thing to use as an example. I’ve become deeper. What I discover also helps me give more colour and depth to what I already know and can teach."

A Unitarian Universalist minister on sabbatical responds to the interview, showing her appreciation for Moore’s observations.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Barque begins its fifth year of foolishness today

Tom Gilbert writes about Holy fools in the Albuquerque Christian Examiner, ending with a quote from Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul: “The path of soul is also the path of the fool, the one without pretense of self-knowledge or individuation or certainly perfection."

Gilbert includes Symeon of Emesa, Basil, and Francis of Assisi as fools for Christ. He writes, "Most of us would consider being called a fool an insult. Fools are senseless, careless and lacking wisdom. However, fools can play an important part in our gaining perspective about life. Medieval kings found value in the jester - someone who hid his wisdom behind riddles and jokes. A holy fool can give us insight into the spiritual dimension. This is worth exploring."

Barque: Thomas Moore celebrates its anniversary on April Fool's Day. It foolishly began 1 April 2005.