Psychotherapist Thomas Moore writes on archetypal (Jungian) psychology, mythology, and the arts. But the former Roman Catholic monk is more known for his writing on spirituality. His 1992 book Care of the Soul reached the top of The New York Times bestsellers list. The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life, a companion to his earlier book, was published earlier this year by HarperCollins.
I want to start with your own journey, which is illustrative of the combination of somebody that was hungering for more but was also kind of launched from within a religion, an organized religion.
At 13 I left home to enter a monastic order, essentially. It was a prep seminary, called a minor seminary, preparing for the real thing. But it had a lot of the monastic style to it, and I stayed with that community studying to be a priest for about 12 to 13 years.
I decided to leave just before I was to be ordained a priest. I just outgrew it or something, or I just felt changes in me. I tried to be a musician, because I love music. But I just couldn't shake the interest in religion. I ended up finally at Syracuse University in New York, where I could study religion as not related to any particular church or tradition and where I could study the arts and psychology in relation to religion. It was wonderful for me.
At what point did you become a professor?
After getting my degree, I taught psychology for a year because I couldn't find a position in religion. Then I found one at Southern Methodist University. In some courses, in the connection between religion and psychology, I focused a lot on mythology, and so I was doing both things.1