The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love

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9780060186975: The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love

In our age of science and psychology it's tempting to think of human sexuality in terms of biology and interpersonal relationships. But this new book by Thomas Moore regards sex as an experience of the soul and emphasizes the themes of fantasy, desire, meaning, and morality. In The Soul of Sex, Moore turns especially to religion, mythology, literature, rites, stories, and visual imagery that see in sex some of the most profound mysteries of life. He finds spirituality inherent in sex and at the same time explores the many ways in which spiritual values can sometimes wound our sexuality. He recommends chastity and celibacy for everyone--as aspects of sexuality and not only as literal lifestyles--and presents them as a means of developing a sensuous spirituality.

The Soul of Sex also establishes the principle that one can't have a fully satisfying sex life in a world that is asexual and antierotic. Thomas Moore recommends many ways in which society could tone down its moralism and create a public life that is erotic, one that affirms desire and pleasure. He sees widespread attention to sex in the media as a symptom of our failure to find a positive place for sex in the culture, and he spells out an Epicurean way of life in which the simple, deep pleasures of good food, friends, family, home, and intimacy with nature provide an appropriate erotic base for a fulfilling sex life.

This is a book for any individual of any gender or lifestyle who is trying to integrate sex into the rest of life. It is also a tool for couples, helping them to explore their sexuality with honesty, appropriate emotional complexity, civility, and comfort. Moore argues that sex should be at the center of life and at the top of our priorities and if we don't give sex its due, it will haunt and consume us. But when sex has a soul, deep pleasure and meaning find a common home, and in that sense this book is a sex manual for the soul.

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Review:

As in his previous bestsellers Care of the Soul and Soul Mates, Thomas Moore wants us to think more deeply about the spiritual implications of everyday life. Which is to say that this is serious stuff--anyone looking for sexy beach reading won't find it here. What does interest the popular theologian, therapist, and former Catholic monk are the historical, philosophical, religious, and psychological aspects of sexuality that people tend not to consider. "We have a habit of talking about sex as merely physical, and yet nothing has more soul," Moore begins. If only we realized that fact, he then argues, it might relieve us of the guilt we so often feel over our own sex lives. "The problem may be that we are accustomed to imagining morality from a purely spiritual point of view as a way of limiting rather than enhancing sexuality," he continues. Yet if we paid more attention to beauty, sensuality, and pleasure, writes Moore, we might actually enhance our spirituality.

There's much more to this wide-ranging meditation, which moves from the history of the word "orgasm" to the mythic presence of Marilyn Monroe. Those willing to follow Moore's mind as it courses through these subjects will find it a fascinating journey, one that ends by stimulating their own thinking about the relationship between sex and the spirit.

From the Back Cover:

In this provocative and highly original work, the bestselling author of Care of the Soul and Soul Mates at last restores sex to its rightful place in the human psyche. Describing sex as an experience of the soul, Thomas Moore here brings out the fully human side of sex -- the roles of fantasy, desire, meaning, and morality -- and draws on religion, mythology, art, literature, and film to show how sex contains the most profound mysteries. While finding the spirituality inherent in sex, Moore also explores how spiritual values can sometimes wound our sexuality. He recommends many ways in which society can tone down its moralism and create a public life that is erotic, one that affirms desire and pleasure. He interprets the media's obsession with sex as a symptom of our failure to weave sex into the whole of life, and spells out an Epicurean lifestyle where the simple pleasures of good food, friends, family, and intimacy with nature give our sexuality a broad and supportive base. Blending rather than opposing spirituality and sexuality, The Soul of Sex offers a fresh, livable way of becoming more deeply sexual and loving in all areas of life.

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