The Eloquence of Silence: Surprising Wisdom in Tales of Emptiness

The Eloquence of Silence: Surprising Wisdom in Tales of Emptiness

Thomas Moore, ovato, Calif.: New World Library, 2023. 185 pp., paper, $19.

Thomas Moore, best known for his celebrated book The Care of the Soul, is a Catholic monk turned psychotherapist. He has written extensively over the past three decades on the intersection of spirituality and psychology and how each provides a lens into a greater understanding of the self. Many of his works use stories from various traditions to highlight his points, and The Eloquence of Silence is no different.

In this slim book, Moore focuses on the bright side of emptiness. In a technology-driven society, where attention spans have shrunk to subatomic size and any lull in the constant input of information and entertainment defies the norm, Moore makes a case for embracing silence as a balm and teacher.

Moore’s writing is simple, but his words are chosen with care. Drawing from a wide range of spiritual traditions, philosophical insights, and personal anecdotes, Moore explains the need for regular pauses in our lives to recenter ourselves. We have been trained to view an empty vessel as something that needs filling—by turning on a podcast while out for a walk or by responding to work-related text messages while dining with a friend—but in so doing, we lose sight of the essential things all around us.

Moore conveys abstract ideas in a clear and accessible manner. A genuine authenticity in his language encourages readers to embark on their own introspective journeys and discover the profound depths that silence holds. His imagery is vivid and evocative, and his artful language creates a mood of quiet that befits the subject.

Readers are likely to be familiar with the tradition of emptiness in Buddhism, and of course Moore’s background as a brother in the Servants of the Holy Paraclete gives him great insight into the Roman Catholic contemplative tradition. But The Eloquence of Silence draws on other traditions as well. Several of the introductory stories to his brief chapters are tales of Nasrudin, a figure of Muslim folklore known as a trickster.

This is a hopeful book. Moore sees silence as more than a respite from the challenges of a busy life: his emptiness is also a source of strength and clarity. The collected stories and Moore’s insightful analysis encourage readers to embrace silence to navigate the complexities of the modern world and find solace amidst the chaos.

The Eloquence of Silence is a call to find a place for stillness every day, and the book’s format aids in that aim. While it can be read in one sitting, reading a bit at a time may be more effective, allowing space for consideration in between. Each chapter is very short; there are over three dozen stories in less than 200 pages. The Eloquence of Silence is best viewed as a contemplative text, ideal for placing on one’s desk or nightstand to read one tale at a time.

Peter Orvetti


Peter Orvetti is a writer and former divinity student residing in Washington, D.C.