A vade mecum in support of self-crafted faith, so broadly accepting that it’s definitely not the holiday gift for your fundamentalist brother-in-law (unless you’re looking to pick a fight).
“To create a religious life of your own,” writes former monk and psychotherapist Moore (The Guru of Golf, 2010, etc.), “you have to think things through and be critical of the information you find.” Christopher Hitchens would add that you have to suspend disbelief and reason, as well, but the author is ready for such objections. Indeed, he holds that the one in five people who are self-identified atheists or agnostics can live religiously meaningful lives, even if they “probably don’t want to use the word ‘religion,’ ” observing ancient traditions without necessarily believing in their divine authorship. Moore professes to being guided by Taoism, Christianity, Greek mythology, Buddhism, Sufism, Transcendentalism, and Native American belief, a smorgasbord that would cause conniptions in religious purists of every conceivable stripe. Yet, quoting from the works of the earthly saint Simone Weil, the author isn’t prescribing a cafeteria-style, selective faith so much as taking each faith seriously and working hard at it—as Weil said, “Each time you consider a spiritual tradition, think of it as if there were none other.” Some of Moore’s recommendations are rather painfully obvious: Pay attention to your dreams and keep a notepad by the bed to record them; bring spirituality into the bedroom in other contexts; honor the muse; play nice. Some are even a little hippie-ish: “Get a beautiful edition of the Tarot Cards. They are full of traditional images that relate to your life. Read them as you read a dream.”
A well-meaning book that wears its spirit of tolerance on its sleeve, and tolerance isn’t a bad thing—no matter what Stephen Dawkins or Billy Graham might have to say about it.