During the last two years I have read a number of books by Thomas Moore. Moore is a popular lecturer and writer in North America and Europe. At one time Moore lived as a monk in a Catholic religious order for twelve years and has degrees in theology, musicology, and philosophy. In the last decade or so he has written numerous books about the "soul" and it's need for care and it's relationship to religion, sex, marriage, and life in general. His most popular book, The Care of the Soul was on the New York Times bestseller list for forty-six weeks. I have always appreciated Moore's writings because he integrates religion, philosophy, the arts, psychology, mythology, and sociology in a way that make his writings and reflections unique and interesting. Over the years I have noticed that the social sciences are particularly prone to attempts to trump and compete with each other, philosophy against religion, psychology against sociology, religion against psychology, and so on. Moore makes no attempt to assert one discipline over another but rather to illustrate how they each are intertwined together and have something important to contribute to the human experience.
Yesterday while reading his book Care of the Soul I was intrigued by what Moore had to say about fundamentalism and spirituality and I would like to pass along for every one's consideration some of Moore's comments. Moore says this about what he means by fundamentalism, "There are many kinds of fundamentalism--Jungian-Freudian, Democrat-Republican, Rock Blues", etc...he goes on to add these critical comments about the "nature" of fundamentalism, spirituality, and religion in general. "Often, when spirituality loses its soul it takes on the shadow-form of fundamentalism..."The intellect wants a summary meaning--all well and good for the purposeful nature of the mind. But the soul craves depth of reflection, many layers of meaning, nuances without end, references and allusions and prefigurations. All these enrich the texture of a an image or story and please the soul by giving it much food for rumination. Rumination is one of the chief delights of the soul. Early Christians theologians discussed at length how a biblical text could be read at many levels at once. There were literal meanings and allegorical meanings and anagogical (concerned with death and afterlife) meanings. They typically explained the Exodus, for example, as allegory about freeing the soul from imprisonment in sin. But this was not the only meaning of the story. This practice suggests an "archetypal" reading of the Bible, regarding its stories not as simplistic moral lessons or statements of belief, but as subtle expressions of the mysteries that form the roots of human life...If we deprive sacred stories of their mystery, we are left with the brittle shell of fact, the literalism of a single meaning. But when we allow a story its soul, we can discover our own depths through it. Fundamentalism tends to idealize and romanticize a story, winnowing out the darker elements of doubt, hopelessness, and emptiness. It protects us from the hard work of finding our own participation in meaning and developing our won subtle moral values. The sacred teaching story, which has the potential of deepening the mystery of our own identity, instead is used defensively in fundamentalism, to spare us the anxiety of being an individual with choice, responsibility, and continually changing sense of self. The tragedy of fundamentalism in any context is its capacity to freeze life into a solid cube of meaning"....and finally he concludes with this comment: "When spirituality loses contact with soul and these values, it can become rigid, simplistic, moralistic, and authoritarian---qualities that betray a loss of soul".....I find these latter comments pregnant with hope and endless potential possibilities....Bilbo