I recently devoured A Religion of One’s Own by Thomas Moore, writer of another great book called Care of the Soul, which I also read a few years back (and highly reccomend).
I was drawn to this book in large part due to my own interest in issues of meaning. Big, existential questions are some of the most interesting and important ones we can ask. And while none of us really knows the answers, “loving the questions themselves” is some of the best work we can do.
The book encourages us to look around at the wonderful traditions that have been well established and to borrow whatever we feel drawn to. In the age of cultural appropriation, though, this begs the question: is that really ok to do?
One conversation that is important to have around all of this is: what is the fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation?
Moore is clearly encouraging appreciation and one of my favorite parts of the book is list of “things to keep in mind as make a religion of your own.” Item 3 on the list states “Feel that you have a right to learn from and practice anything from the world’s spiritual and religious traditions.” Hell yes.
Another great quote by Moore emphasizes the everyday simplicity of spirituality:
In a religion of one’s own, occasional, simple mystical moments are sufficient. It helps if you take these experiences seriously and make something of them. Adapt them to your life and find ways to cultivate them.
In this book, Moore explores many ways to bring the sacred into the secular including through dream-work, meditation, therapy, sex and eroticism, food and nourishment, and creativity. He also suggests ways to cultivate intuition, which he cites as a skill, and a way to foster self-trust.
Moore also contrasts formal religion with the cultivation of one’s own spiritual life and notes that:
People sometimes turn to formal religion for comfort, but a deep, personal religious sense may require the opposite – the capacity to be with uncertainty, to take risks, to ask the difficult questions, and to avoid the easy answers.
Because this task of meaning-making is so important and valuable to me, you may find this book inspires a mini-course over this coming year… stay tuned!