Republished from Miracles magazine, July/August issue (Jon Mundy, publisher)
TITLE: A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World
AUTHOR: Thomas Moore
PUBLISHER: Gotham Books (Penguin Group)
REVIEWED BY: Celia Hales
Thomas Moore’s writings on the soul have a particular interest for students of A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love. And this book, A Religion of One’s Own, he views as a sequel to his well-known, well-recognized Care of the Soul. Notice the following quotation, a quotation that fits right in with the philosophy of ACIM and ACOL:
“Bliss is the joy that arrives when you are released from the pressure to be a small self. Bliss descends when you open yourself to life in all its abundance and breathtaking power and let it so suffuse you that you forget your worries about being somebody and justifying your life. You give in. You let life take over. You become a holy person instead of a secular egotist, and you then you discover that your holiness is the base of your own religion.” (89% through the kindle book)
A Course in Miracles affirms that happiness—another term that includes bliss—is one of the several functions that are given to us. (The other principal ones are forgiveness and salvation.) And A Course of Love strongly recommends giving up the little self and substituting the larger Self. Both ACIM and ACOL say that we must give up the ego.
I suspect that Moore has read A Course in Miracles, as have most religious leaders of today, but he does not lean on its philosophy to any real extent. The similarities to ACIM and A Course of Love are, instead, perennial wisdom with Moore’s particular take on today’s plight. The thesis of A Religion of One’s Own is that we have been living too much of a secular life, a life that has failed us, and it is mandatory that we overturn this tendency by sampling the rich heritage in religion, mythology, psychology that is available to us. Throughout this book, he gives hints of how to incorporate this heritage into our modern day life.
Moore’s ideas are sometimes startling. He gives a great emphasis to intuition, or what ACIM and ACOL would turn guidance. But he recommends somewhat magical techniques for ascertaining intuition, from casting runes to tarot cards to reading tea leaves. He sees these methods as practical ways of enhancing our intuitive leanings. He does not overlook the role of the psychic in utilizing these methods effectively. He sees dreams as a particularly effective way to give us direction in life, believing that a dream diary fits right in with a life of prayer, mediation, and quiet reading.
Moore returns to his favorite individuals in this book, building on a short list that he has developed in previous writing. His favorites are headed up by James Hillman, his mentor and the inspiration for much of his writing in the Neoplatonic tradition. Others cited include Emerson, Thoreau, Thomas Merton, Jung, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Moore builds from his counseling practice to give anecdotes from his patients, disguising their identities. He gives his wife great credit for helping him to live a monastic-like life outside of the monastery, but one that is erotic also. He believes that all of us would benefit from just such a peaceful retreat from the world, even as we go out daily from our retreat to earn our living.
Early in this book he affirms, “This new kind of religion asks that you move away from being a follower to being a creator.” (4% into the kindle edition) This is a primary emphasis of A Course of Love, in which we are encouraged to move into Christ-consciousness and then, by sustaining this new state of being, create a new world. Moore also affirms the value of waking up and staying awake, an emphasis of both ACIM and ACOL.
Yes, there is much in Moore’s latest offering to interest students of both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love. He does use the concept of soul repeatedly, and this is a word that Jesus avoids, most of the time, in A Course in Miracles. But Moore says that we need a “religion that comes out of our hearts and minds and is tailor-made to our own values and sensitivities.” (5% into the kindle edition) Readers of A Course of Love will immediately recognize the similarities.
Moore’s writing invites soul in the Ray Charles tradition. His prose is often mesmerizing in its impact.
A Religion of One’s Own is an important book, fully promising an enthusiastic following in line with Moore’s earlier Care of the Soul. A wholehearted recommendation.