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Care of the Soul: Angels and the Brain

There’s little room for wonder and real poetry in the mechanical metaphors we use to describe ourselves.

Cherub statue in forest with sun


Years ago when I was frequently on book tours, I’d come home tired and people would say, “Your batteries must be low.” I usually answered, trying not to sound too smart-alecky, “I don’t have batteries. Look.” I’d lift my shirt in the back. I didn’t like the electrical metaphor for how I felt. “Actually, I’m tired from meeting so many interesting people,” I’d say.Now the metaphors have changed, but they’re still often mechanical and I still disavow them. “You must be wired to be a writer,” people say. “No, I have no wires,” I respond. “But I do love to write.”I don’t take care of my body because it’s such a wonderful machine. The universe doesn’t work like clockwork, and my family is not a social unit.The trouble with our contemporary metaphors is that we talk about ourselves as though we were machines or objects. Our metaphors betray the extent to which our very idea of ourselves has been affected by the influence of modern science, technology, and psychology.This trend toward talking about ourselves as machines is not recent. The French physician and philosopher La Mettrie wrote books with titles like …

Thomas Moore has been a monk, a musician, a professor, and, for the past 30 years, a psychotherapist practicing archetypal therapy with a spiritual perspective. His latest book is A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World.

About the Author

Thomas Moore is the New York Times best-selling author of Care of the Soul, as well as many other books on deepening soul and cultivating a mature spiritual life, three of which have received the Books for a Better Life Award. At turns he has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, a psychotherapist, and an S&H columnist. 

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