Credo: I believe … that there is nothing other than what is; that there is no being other than this being; that only in the mind is there any other being; and that it makes no sense to do to any being what you do not want done to you.
Participants in UU classes on building your own theology (BYOT) are encouraged to make a lifetime practice of writing and revising a credo. Any of these credos is a work in progress. Obviously. The one above was written today.
The much longer credo below was written soon after completing a class and was archived, dated July 24, 2011. The first session of this BYOT class led by intern minister Joe Cherry was held in the Lindsey-Priestley room at the Hewett Centre, UCV.
[Introduction to Credo]
A couple dozen of us were sitting around a long table in Lindsey-Priestley. On that first day of BYOT, the Reverend Joe Cherry – as we are all are so pleased to call him now – had given us an exercise that for me proved to be the foundation of the whole course. Each of us in turn was saying what we believed in. There was a catch. We had to use just one word. As my turn approached, I was thinking, “This is going to sound ridiculous.” Well, my turn came, and I said it anyway: “Being.” That was it. I now had something to build on. And that is what I did. I started to build my own theology.
When we come here on Sunday and look at the Order of Service, we may or may not read these words on the cover:
“We are a community of diverse beliefs and shared values. In fellowship with one another, we seek spiritual growth, social justice, and environmental sustainability through worship, ethical action, education and artistic expression. We welcome all who would join this compassionate and visionary community.”
“We are a community of diverse beliefs …”
To become a Unitarian Universalist, you make no doctrinal promises, but you are required to do much more. You are required to choose your own beliefs – you promise, that is, to use your reason and your experience and the dictates of your conscience to decide upon your own theology, and then you are asked to actually live by that theology. You are asked to take your chosen faith very seriously.
So said Marilyn Sewell, Minister Emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, in an internet article that Joe quoted from in his last sermon here, on June 12.
It could not be clearer: We are required to choose our own beliefs – that is, to use our reason and our experience and the dictates of our conscience to decide upon our own theology, and we are asked to actually live by that theology.
Building out from that one word “being” on the first day of class has included so many words that my credo now has three parts. It is of course a work in progress. As Marilyn Sewell also says:
And there’s another theological perspective that Unitarian Universalists have concerning truth: we believe in evolution – not only evolution of life forms, but evolution of thought and evolution of moral and ethical understanding. So the truth that I embrace today may not be the truth I embrace tomorrow. Revelation is not static, but is ever unfolding. More and more will be revealed. Our part is simply to be open, and thirsty, thirsty for the truth that would be ours – but just for the time being. Such a stance keeps us humble – and awake. When we venture into the Mystery, we are entering the ground of the infinite with the powers of a finite mind. An awe- filled agnosticism is perhaps the better part of wisdom.
Note: The Mary Sewell quotations above are from “The Theology of Unitarian Universalists.” In what follows, “an Iland, intire of it selfe” is from John Donne (Meditation XVII); and “thy will, not mine, be done” is a common reordering of “not my will, but thine, be done” from Luke 22:42 (KJV).
And now, to that credo, a prose poem in three parts:
Being, Doing, and Loving
Being: All That Is … Happening Now
Being is all that is, the known and the unknown. Being is what is happening now. Nothing is apart from being; no being is apart from what is happening now. No being “is an Iland, intire of it selfe;” nothing exists apart from what is happening now. Nothing exists in any form imaginable, even as thought or belief, apart from what is happening now. Being is what is happening now, including all thought and belief. Being includes awareness – of being, of what is happening now. Being is what is happening now, the known and the unknown. Being is all that is.
Doing: Being Here Now
• Do no harm. • Love all being. • Learn by doing. • Practice loving kindness.
• Do today what is to be done today. • Do now only what is being done now. • Be aware of being: what is happening now. • Be aware of being what is happening now. • Give thanks to all for all that is, for being, for being aware of being.
Loving … All Being: Wanting Nothing
Be well. Want nothing. Live simply. Thy will, not mine, be done. Once needs are met, all want is in the mind. This want is caused by thought and nothing else directly. Thoughts just come and go unless they’re played with. Play with the thoughts that help, but let the others go. Practice letting go, wanting nothing, not even to be wanting nothing. Live simply. Love just being. Love only being – in all its forms. Love all being. Live simply. Want nothing. Be well.
[and so to]
Grace and Blessing
Thanks to all for all that is happening now, the known and the unknown. May all be well, wanting nothing and giving thanks to all for all that is, for being, for being aware of being. May it be so. Amen.