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Thomas Moore: Accounting for the Mysterious 

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Popular spiritual books author Thomas Moore burst onto the New York Times Bestseller List in 1992 with his first book, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. Moore's 14th book, A Religion of One's Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World (Gotham Books), just published in January, is a guide for people who are searching for deeper personal meaning in an increasingly secular world—whether they are practitioners of traditional religions, spiritual seekers, agnostics, or even atheists.

Moore, who is also a psychotherapist and former member of the Catholic Servite Order, will be visiting Garrison Institute in celebration of his latest book. On Monday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m., Moore will give a free public talk titled "A Religion of One's Own," focusing on grounding spirituality according to personal searching and intuition. From March 31 to April 2, Moore will also lead a retreat on "The Orange Box: A Conversation with Thomas Moore," which, in the words of retreat organizer Katherine Gottshall, will be a "soul salon celebrating the holy fool and the importance of neighborhoods, festivals, carnivals, conferences, and gatherings around fireplaces and long kitchen tables." According to Gotshall, the "orange box" refers to the Nike shoebox, which has "Just Do It" printed inside its lid, and will be converted for retreat attendees into a "container for catching dreams" in relation to topics such as deepening a sense of community, organizing creative gatherings, and designing soulful spaces. (845) 424-4800.
Thomas Moore's Public Talk at Garrison Institute
Thomas Moore's Retreat at Garrison Institute

It feels like A Religion of One’s Own has come about at just the right time. How did the book come into being?

Thomas Moore: Well, it’s hard to say where these things begin. I think probably the immediate thing was, I travel a great deal in many parts of the world and I always have my ears open to hear what people are concerned about. And one of the things I’ve heard for years now is that so many people have been brought up in a particular religious background—a traditional religion that was just part of the family life. And people have gotten a lot of good things from that experience. But two things happen. One of them is that they get tired of it or angry at it. So we have a lot of angry people out there, angry at formal religion. And the second thing is that they just sort of grow out of it. They just aren’t interested anymore. And I think that has to do with the changes in culture right now. Books are going out right now too, so it isn’t surprising that religion is not disappearing but not being quite as popular.

I want to write to people who are looking for alternatives. And I wanted to say that: you know the way you’ve understood religion in the past, where you’ve signed up, you believe what you’re told, and you do what you’re told? Well, those days are over. Nobody wants to live that way anymore. And so I recommend that people take responsibility for their own spiritual life whether they’re in a formal religion or not. I call that having your own religion.

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