Book Review:
A Religion of One's Own

You may be familiar with the book, Care of the Soul, a bestseller by Thomas Moore. His newest book, released earlier this year, is entitled, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World. In it, he presents numerous ways to develop one’s personal spirituality. He reassures the reader that “It can be accomplished inside or outside a traditional religious organization.” Moore’s background gives him a unique perspective regarding the spiritual and secular sides of life. He was raised in a Catholic family and he studied for the priesthood; at 26, before completing his preparation for that vocation, he left his religious order—he went on to obtain his PhD in religion and to marry and have two children.

According to Moore, one key aspect of creating one’s own religion is feeling free to draw upon spiritual traditions from around the world. Whatever your own background, you can study various religions and try different types of practices, such as meditation, prayer and spiritual reading. He also discusses how nature, art and music can play important roles in a personal religion.

Moore talks in detail in the book about how he practices his own personal religion, and that helps the reader gain a sense of what it means to approach spirituality in this way. Among other things, working with dreams has been a significant practice for him. He writes that dreams “are an open window allowing fresh information to enter from elsewhere.” He also gives examples of people who he believes created their own religions—they include the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and the naturalist and writer Henry David Thoreau.

Perhaps a quote from the book’s introduction best summarizes what Moore is getting at when he refers to a religion of one’s own: “I’m recommending a courageous, deep-seated, fate-driven, informed, and intelligent life that has sublime and transcendent dimension.” His book provides many valuable suggestions and ideas regarding how one might go about living such a life.

See more features from the June 2014 issue