Moore, Thomas (William) 1940-

views updated

MOORE, Thomas (William) 1940-

PERSONAL: Born October 8, 1940, in Detroit, MI; son of Thomas Benjamin (a plumbing instructor) and Mary (a homemaker; maiden name, Owens) Moore. Education: De Paul University, B.A., 1967; University of Michigan, M.A., 1969; University of Windsor, M.A., 1972; Syracuse University, Ph.D., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Woodworking, playing the piano.

ADDRESSES: Home and Office—P.O. Box 291, Shutes-bury, MA 01072.

CAREER: Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ, assistant professor of psychology, 1975-76; Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, assistant professor of religious studies, 1976-83; practicing psychotherapist, West Stockbridge and Amherst, MA, 1985-92; writer and lecturer, 1992—. Founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Imagination; fellow of Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

AWARDS, HONORS: Syracuse University fellowship, 1972; research grant, Glassboro State College, 1976; grant, Van Waveren Foundation, 1990.


The Planets Within, Bucknell University Press (Cranbury, NJ), 1982.

Rituals of the Imagination, Pegasus Foundation, 1983.

(Editor and author of introduction) James Hillman, A Blue Fire: Selected Writings, Harper (New York, NY), 1989.

Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism, Spring Publications (Woodstock, CT), 1990, 2nd edition, 1994.

Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992, revised edition published as Care of the Soul: How to Add Depth and Meaning to Everyday Life: The Illustrated Edition, 1998.

Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationships (includes audio cassette), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Meditations: On the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

(Editor) The Education of the Heart: Readings and Sources for "Care of the Soul," "Soul Mates," and "The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life," HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life As an Act of Love, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

(Author of commentary) The Book of Job, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality, illustrated by Joan Hanley, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Also author of A Permian Symphony (for two narrators and a large symphony orchestra), music by John David Earnest. Author of foreword, Stalking the Soul, Helen Marx Books. Contributor of numerous articles concerning Jungian and archetypal psychology to books and periodicals.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Philodendron, a novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Thomas Moore is a scholar, theologian, and therapist whose books focus on the lack of spirituality in modern life and ways to revive it. Michael S. Kimmel, a Los Angeles Times Book Review writer, found that although Moore's philosophy is rooted in conservative theology, the author also "rides the crest of the New Age's second wave," tapping into a profound desire for meaning in life. Moore's work is much more grounded than most in the genre, according to Kimmel, who observed: "There's nothing glamorous or seductive in his books, no channelers with crystals counting up past lives, no mythopoetic male drummers off bonding in the woods, no Birkenstockfooted purveyors of herbal elixirs as conduits to cosmic consciousness. Moore promises less—much less. His books may tap into that same hunger for meaning, but his table is set with much simpler fare. His recipe for soul food offers contemporary seekers a turn inward, a groping toward something deeper and more authentic, a way to ground experience in ways less tangible and material, and yet deeply fulfilling and satisfying."

The call of spirituality came in Moore's youth; at thirteen he joined a religious order and served as a monk of the Catholic order for twelve years. As an author, Moore's first popular success was Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, published in 1992. It was on bestseller lists for many months and sold more than a quarter million hardcover copies. William A. Davis commented in the Boston Globe that Care of the Soul is "about self-discovery and self-acceptance rather than techniques for self-improvement and realization of one's potential, the gist of most pop-psych books." In this volume, Moore urges readers to embrace a "soulful" acceptance of life as it is, rather than pursue a doomed quest for perfection. Davis noted: "Like Zen, Moore says, soulfulness recognizes that life is full of foolishness and absurdities. 'It's not inspiring—it's about not being able to find all the answers.' … Caring for the soul usually involves striving less and listening more, Moore says. 'You have to stop trying to understand everything and stop trying to make everything better through heroic efforts.'"

In his next book, Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationships, Moore concentrates on a soulful approach to personal relationships. Then, in Meditations: On the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life, he draws on the many years he spent in a Catholic monastery before deciding to embrace secular life instead of the priesthood. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, Meditations "makes a simple point: The monastic life offers lessons that, once learned, will enhance the spiritual dimension of daily life." The text is comprised of brief prose selections, referred to by the author as "seeds," each of which illuminates a valuable aspect of monasticism.

In 1996 Moore produced a sequel to his bestseller Care of the Soul. The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life focuses on how to experience spiritual growth amid the mundane details of everyday life. "This important book will dare many to believe that life really is full of enchantment," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "if only we can go beyond our habitual literal-mindedness and narcissism to experiment with that broader state of attunement that Moore calls soul."

Moore explored a different aspect of spirituality in The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life As an Act of Love. As the author explains in his introduction: "This is a book about human sexuality, but it contains no information on biology, anatomy, or health, and it has little to say about techniques and relationship." Instead, The Soul of Sex focuses on "the importance of incorporating sensuality and sexuality into all aspects of one's life," as Pamela Matthews noted in a Library Journal review. Chronicles of the sexual lives of famous figures include that of Marilyn Monroe and, more controversially, Jesus Christ. In Moore's reading, according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, "Jesus is epicurean in his love of life, and each of us can expand our vision of sexuality to include the energy that creates beauty and builds friendships and community." To Booklist's Donna Seaman, this book is an "energizing, innovative, and accessible inquiry into the true nature of human sexuality," and helps readers "envision a world in which eros is celebrated rather than condemned."

The occasion of another book on spiritual matters, Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality, led a Publishers Weekly critic to comment that "cynics may roll their eyes" at what might seem a saturation of the market. But, the reviewer added, the new volume "deserves a wide readership." Building on the themes of Care of the Soul, Original Self is a slim volume containing some fifty short reflections, each of which opens with a quotation from such writers as Emily Dickinson. The author, who advocates being open to life and to recognize the qualities of gender and youth, "looks for the sublime in the humble," as Graham Christian put it in a Library Journal review.

In his 2002 book, The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life, Moore "reimagines religion not as a set of beliefs or a strict moral code, but as a romantic adventure," said a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In an interview with Judy Roberts in the same magazine, Moore defined a "soul's religion" as a belief system that goes beyond organization and moral emphasis to uncover "a more fundamental, more basic, primal sense of reverence for life, for nature. It's a deep sense of community, a real personal sense of values and morality, a vision for oneself about being in the world, about raising children, about being connected to others, about death."

In The Soul's Religion Moore recommends a religious approach that embraces wonder and uncertainty, "a willingness to move through life without a plan or goal," as Karen Jenks wrote in a BookPage assessment. But the author also pulls no punches: Moore "neither coddles the ego nor offers fast and easy solutions to life's problems," wrote June Sawyers in Booklist, "but instead encourages being open to mystery." In a review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat for Spirituality & Health, the critics noted the spiritual influences that drew Moore to his conclusions: "Zen taught him not to hang on too tightly to the truth; Taoism tutored him in the art of yielding; the Christian mystics encouraged him to rest in the cloud of unknowing; and the Sufis and Native Americans made it clear that being a holy fool is a modest approach in a world of clashing 'isms.'"

Commenting on Moore's body of work, Kimmel said that the author "answers a difficult call, to minister to the loss of soul in contemporary life … and to do it in a style that is immediately accessible for mass readers, and instantly usable in everyday life…. Drawing on Jungian archetypes, ancient mythologies and folksy philosophy, Moore's books are prose-poems of compassion and tenderness. His soothingly graceful prose is a balm for egos battered by hostile takeovers, anguished divorces and do-it-to-them-before-they-doit-to-you public philosophy."



Booklist, December 1, 1993, p. 659; November 15, 1994, p. 559; January 1, 1996, p. 868; May 15, 1998, Donna Seaman, review of The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life As an Act of Love, p. 1562; January 1, 2000, Ray Olson, review of Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality, p. 832; February 15, 2002, June Sawyers, review of The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life, p. 970.

Boston Globe, May 3, 1992, p. B42; July 13, 1992,p. 38.

Boston Globe Magazine, March 6, 1994, p. 9; April 21, 1996, p. 18.

Christian Century, June 1, 1994, p. 584.

Commonweal, August 14, 1992, p. 35; September 9, 1994, p. 20.

Entertainment Weekly, July 8, 1994, p. 49.

Library Journal, October 15, 1993, p. 111; March 1, 1994, p. 138; January, 1995, p. 109; June 15, 1995,p. 111; June 1, 1998, Pamela Matthews, review of The Soul of Sex, p. 134; March 1, 2000, Graham Christian, review of Original Self, p. 98.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 17, 1993,p. 14; March 27, 1994, p. 1.

New York Times, April 23, 1995, p. 44.

New York Times Book Review, March 11, 1990; August 16, 1992, p. 25.

Psychology Today, May-June, 1993, p. 28; March-April, 1994, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, April 6, 1992, p. 42; December 13, 1993, p. 57; November 14, 1994, review of Meditations: On the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life, p. 34; April 8, 1996, review of The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, p. 60; June 8, 1998, review of The Soul of Sex, p. 54; March 6, 2000, review of Original Self, p. 103; March 18, 2002, review of The Soul's Religion, p. 96, Judy Roberts, "PW Talks with Thomas Moore," p. 97.

U.S. Catholic, August, 1993, p. 48; April, 1994, p. 48.

Utne Reader, January, 1993, p. 120.


BookPage, (June 13, 2002), Karen Jenks, review of The Soul's Religion.

Spirituality & Health, (June 13, 2002), Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, review of The Soul's Religion.*