Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author and trusted spiritual adviser offers a follow-up to his classic Care of the Soul.
Something essential is missing from modern life. Many whove turned away from religious institutionsand others who have lived wholly without religionhunger for more than what contemporary secular life has to offer but are reluctant to follow organized religions strict and often inflexible path to spirituality. In A Religion of Ones Own, bestselling author and former monk Thomas Moore explores the myriad possibilities of creating a personal spiritual style, either inside or outside formal religion.
Two decades ago, Moores Care of the Soul touched a chord with millions of readers yearning to integrate spirituality into their everyday lives. In A Religion of Ones Own, Moore expands on the topics he first explored shortly after leaving the monastery. He recounts the benefits of contemplative living that he learned during his twelve years as a monk but also the more original and imaginative spirituality that he later developed and embraced in his secular life. Here, he shares stories of others who are creating their own path: a former football player now on a spiritual quest with the Pueblo Indians, a friend who makes a meditative practice of floral arrangements, and a well-known classical pianist whose audiences sometimes describe having a mystical experience while listening to her performances. Moore weaves their experiences with the wisdom of philosophers, writers, and artists who have rejected materialism and infused their secular lives with transcendence.
At a time when so many feel disillusioned with or detached from organized religion yet long for a way to move beyond an exclusively materialistic, rational lifestyle, A Religion of Ones Own points the way to creating an amplified inner life and a world of greater purpose, meaning, and reflection.
"There's an old saying that a devil is appealing at first but leaves you in despair, while an angel appears terrifying at first but leaves you refreshed and hopeful. This eighth book since Moore's extraordinarily successful Care of the Soul considers loss, pain, conflict, confusion, anger, excess, deviance and other disturbing feelings and behaviors not as devils to be exorcised but as angelic opportunities for deepening and altering the self. Derived from a chapter of the first book titled 'The Gifts of Depression,' the idea is not that suffering per se is good for the soul, but that to regard such visitations merely as suffering is to miss their point and meaning. Art and religion feature more prominently here than psychology, which Moore, a Catholic monk turned therapist, finds too mechanical and fix-it oriented to serve the soul. He adopts F. Scott Fitzgerald's phrase 'the real dark night of the soul' to refer to anything from a short episode to an entire marriage and sees it as an invitation to spiritual cultivation, work that can be intellectual, creative or even physical, but which the monastically trained Moore tends to depict as quiet, solitary reflection. All this is set forth in a fluent, unflaggingly earnest style. Moore, who has an exceptional arsenal of literary and religious lore at his disposal, scatters allusions to figures as various as Madame Bovary, Gandhi, Thomas More and Glenn Gould (no Luther or Malcolm X, though) with dexterity. Short on detail, long on evocation, this book coveys the important if familiar message that spiritual growth entails darkness as well as light. While not exactly a substitute for reading Dostoyevski or Keats, this is perhaps an inducement to give them a chance. Agent, Michael Katz. Author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A Religion of Ones Own
] offers a new vision of how seekers can fashion their own connection to the sacred out of the materials of ancient faiths and everyday life."
"Practical suggestions for crafting ones own religion."
"[Moore's] counsel is consistently sensible and affirming. This book should appeal to many of the unchurched, as well as the faithful across traditions."
"When [Moore] is read closely, his depth is apparent…he stands to make some new converts to the noninstitutional ranks of spirituality."
Every human journey is filled with emotional tunnels: the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship, aging and illness, career disappointments, or just an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with life. Society tends to view these "dark nights" in clinical terms as obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible. But Thomas Moore's extensive career as a psychologist and theologian has taught him that honoring these periods of fragility as periods of incubation and opportunities to delve into the soul's deepest needs can provide healing and a new understanding of life's meaning.
Moore's career as a psychologist and theologian has taught him that honoring periods of emotional fragility as opportunities to delve into the soul's deepest needs can provide healing and a new understanding of life's meaning.
Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference.
Our lives are filled with emotional tunnels: the loss of a loved one or end of a relationship, aging and illness, career disappointments or just an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with life. Society tends to view these dark nights” in clinical terms as obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible. But Moore shows how honoring these periods of fragility as periods of incubation and positive opportunities to delve the souls deepest needs can provide healing and a new understanding of lifes meaning. Dark Nights of the Soul presents these metaphoric dark nights not as the enemy, but as times of transition, occasions to restore yourself, and transforming rites of passage, revealing an uplifting and inspiring new outlook on such topics as:
The healing power of melancholy
The sexual dark night and the mysteries of matrimony
Finding solace during illness and in aging
Anxiety, anger, and temporary Insanities
Linking creativity, spirituality, and emotional struggles
Finding meaning and beauty in the darkness
About the Author
Deeply consoling intelligence... What distinguishes Care of the Soul from the ordinary self-help or inspiration books is the depth and originality of Mr. Moores observations. (Phyllis Theroux, The New York Times) A thoughtful, eloquent, inspiring... discourse on how we can bring imagination, poetry, and yes, soul, back into our lives. (San Francisco Chronicle) In these reductive and fundamentalist times, Thomas Moore asks us to acknowledge the dark moon within us all, to question the workings of a sun-bright culture which demands our happy, healthy productivity at perhaps the cost of our very souls. This is a wise and timely book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough! (Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog and In the Bedroom) All of us go through troubled times, when we lie awake at night unable to sleep, wishing we had a comforting book to read. Now you do. DARK NIGHTS brings solace to the aching heart. (Marianne Williamson, author of Everyday Grace and A Return to Love) Thomas Moore is the master of conveying the insight that the dark times in our lives are not threats but friends and teachers. (Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People) Psssst!
Table of Contents
PART ONE: PASSAGES
1 The Night Sea Journey 3
2 Rites of Passage 23
3 Sorting Out and Starting Over 49
4 The View from the Moon 69
5 Lifes Ironies 99
PART TWO: DISTURBANCES
6 Lovesickness 121
7 Wedding Nights 147
8 Night Eros 169
9 Creativity, the Child, and the Sure-Footed Goat 189
10 Dark Beauty 209
PART THREE: DEGRADATIONS
11 The Deep-Red Emotions 233
12 Temporary Insanities 249
13 The Island of Illness 267
14 The Twilight Years 289
15 Navigating a Dark Night 301