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A man for all seasons of the heart
A Religion of Ones Own" is by Thomas Moore. - photo by Jerry Johnston
Thomas Moore has a new book out.

And thats good.

It gives me a peg (newspaper lingo for an excuse) to write about a man Ive admired for many years.

If I told you Thomas More, the 16th-century author of "Utopia," was a man for all seasons, youd say I was master of the obvious. But Im talking about Thomas double-O Moore, an American author and former monk. And the seasons he mans are pain, joy, fear, desire in short, seasons of the heart.

His most recent book, A Religion of Ones Own" (Avery, $17), is about finding a spiritual path through the marshes and thickets of the secular world. Like his other books, it is about finding and nurturing our souls.

I heard him speak about the book in a West Coast bookstore not long ago. I liked what he had to say that night. I also liked the way he said it.

Moore has mastered the art of living in the present moment. His mind doesnt race ahead or drift off. He listens attentively, monitors his emotions and remains open to any and all spontaneous impressions that come his way.

That ability, often associated with Buddhism, is the polar opposite of a performance. A performance is canned, prepackaged. Living in the moment is about being aware.

That may also sound like being self-conscious, but its not.

Self-conscious people posture. They screen their reactions, then strike a pose.

People who live in the moment react immediately and honestly. They think lifes too short for poses. In fact, they think life is barely long enough for sincerity.

I hope this isnt overreaching, but when I read the scriptures, I see that quality in Jesus. He didnt posture. He didnt fret about the morrow. He embraced the moment. He was 100 percent authentic and aware of everything around him.

And Ive known others with that same gift.

When poet William Stafford would answer a question, hed often include a play-by-play of his feelings as he felt them.

You maybe noticed I just grimaced, hed say. Or, Your comment sent a chill through me. Did you see me shiver?

Thats a man living in the moment.

After Moores presentation at the bookstore, I went up to get a book signed. I told him I am a religion columnist and believe many things he said. But, I said, my readers who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints like it when I am able to find a source in Mormonism for the things that writers in other faiths had to say.

He said, for him, religious truth rounded into a whole at some point. And he told me he thought people who sought ways to see their own religious traditions with fresh eyes and new perspective were doing a good work.

But it does take imagination, he said, handing my book to me. The inscription inside was his reaction to the very things I had said to him while he was signing it.

For Jerry, hed written. Be strong. We need you.

In that moment, I vowed to try harder to live in the moment.

In fact, in my moment with Thomas Moore, it seemed like the only way to live.
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