Dispenza, Joseph Ernest 1942-

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Dispenza, Joseph Ernest 1942-


Born September 14, 1942, in Ashtabula, OH; son of Joseph Frank and Margaret Dispenza. Education: St. Edward's University, B.A., 1968; University of Texas, M.A., 1970.


Home—San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Agent—Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency, 27 W. 20th St., New York, NY 10011. E-mail—[email protected].


Entered Roman Catholic Congregation of the Holy Cross, 1960, teaching brother (monk), 1960-68, legally released from obligations of the brotherhood, 1968; Center for Social Communication, San Antonio, TX, director of Film & Television Division, 1968-69; American Film Institute, Washington, DC, director of education, 1970-73; freelance writer, 1974—. High school teacher and social worker in Terre Haute, IN 1963-66, and Chicago, IL, 1966-67. Lecturer at American University, 1970-73. Founding chair of the Moving Image Arts department, College of Santa Fe; founder of the Greer Garson Communication Center and Studios, Santa Fe, NM, 1987-94; director of the Parcells Center for Personal Transformation, Santa Fe, NM, 1995-2000. Lecturer at colleges and universities; conducted seminars and workshops; consultant to U.S. Information Agency, Action for Children's Television, and film companies. Cofounder and facilitator, LifePath Retreats, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2001—.


Society for Cinema Studies, Institute for Environmental Response (Canada; fellow), University Film Association.


Grant from U.S. Information Agency, 1974, for Latin American tour.


Forgotten Patriot, Dujarie Press, 1966.

Re-Runs (analysis of feature films), Benziger, 1970.

(Contributor) Kathleen Karr and Sali Ann Kriegsman, editors, The American Film Heritage, Acropolis Books, 1972.

Freeze Frame: A History of the American Film, with filmstrips, Pflaum/Standard, 1973.

Advertising the American Woman, Pflaum/Standard, 1974.

The House of Alarcon (novel), Coward, 1978.

Will Shuster: A Santa Fe Legend, Museum of New Mexico Press (Santa Fe, NM), 1989.

The Serigraphs of Doug West, New Mexico Magazine (Santa Fe, NM), 1995.

Live Better Longer: The Parcells Center Seven-Step Plan for Health and Longevity, Harper San Francisco (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

The Magical Realism of Alyce Frank, New Mexico Magazine (Santa Fe, NM), 1999.

The Way of the Traveler: Making Every Trip a Journey of Self-Discovery, John Muir Publications (Santa Fe, NM), 1999.

God on Your Own: Finding a Spiritual Path outside Religion, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2006.


The Death and Trial of Pope Formosus (three-act play), first produced in Austin, TX, at St. Edward's University, March, 1968.

Juarez (screenplay), Capricorn Productions, 1975.

Washington Story (screenplay), 1976.

Author of teleplays for University of Texas. Member of editorial board of Journal of Popular Film and Journal of Aesthetic Education.


Joseph Ernest Dispenza, who once entered the Roman Catholic order as a teaching monk, became a university professor specializing in film. But he left academia to devote several years of his life to studying spirituality within the walls of a monastery. According to his Web site, Dispenza lived as a monk for eight years, the first year of which was in total silence.

Upon returning to public life, Dispenza became an author and spiritual advisor. He was a mentored by Dr. Hazel Parcells, an advocate of holistic healing, and eventually became director of the Parcells Center, which "disseminates information on holistic approaches to wellness," as his Web site noted.

Dispenza has several books of film study to his credit, but is perhaps better known for his more recent books on spirituality and wellness. With God on Your Own: Finding a Spiritual Path outside Religion, the author, noted a Publishers Weekly review, calls upon myriad traditional religious sources to serve "as springboards beyond the trappings of not only traditional Catholicism but any institutionalized form of religion." Dina Komuves, writing in Library Journal, found that Dispenza's book "offers encouragement to all those seeking independence from the secure confines of traditional religious doctrine."

Dispenza once told CA: "It seems to me that there is a difference between writers and serious writers. I have decided to devote the rest of my life to being a serious writer, one who is interested in depicting the fullness of the human condition in order to elevate, enlighten, and instruct. Human emotions are infinite in their complexity, and I am intent upon examining them.

He later added: "I have thought of myself as a writer since I was quite young. When I was eight, I presented my parents with a poem I had ‘written.’ Actually, I had copied it out of a newspaper (which they later discovered). In my mind, it wasn't plagiarism, because I had written it on a piece of paper myself. I didn't know the difference between writing and ‘writing.’

"I hope my books will help take readers off in a direction they had not considered before."



Library Journal, July 1, 2006, Dina Komuves, review of God on Your Own: Finding a Spiritual Path outside Religion, p. 84.

Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2006, review of God on Your Own, p. 57.


Joseph Dispenza Home Page,http://www.josephdispenza.com (March 4, 2006).