August 11, 2005
My recent reading has included a post about credos from Kasturi at Not Native Fruit, and a revisioning of the Nicene Creed by Sandy of Number Five Looks Just Like You, which begins:
We know that one name of God
Creator of Heaven and Earth,
source of all that is seen and unseen...
The confluence of their posts got me to thinking about the sets of words by which we define
as individuals and as communities. Is there a difference between a creed and a credo? The two terms
seem interchangeable, though I can't seem to shake the connotation that creeds are communal and
credos personal. (As I write this post, I also can't seem to shake the melodies of the various
"credos" I've learned over the last decade or so of choral singing, but that's a different
Late last year I bookmarked this post by desertpastor, about nineteenth-century American philosopher and author Elbert Hubbard. Chris offers Hubbard's credo:
I believe in the Motherhood of God...
I believe that God is here, and that we are as near Him now as ever we shall be.
I do not believe He started this world-a going and went away and left it to run by itself...
I believe we are now living in Eternity as much as ever we shall...
Hubbard's progressivism surprised me. (That he lists Whitman as a contemporary prophet isn't surprising; there's definitely something Song of Myself-esque happening here.) Above all, I was struck by how much of Hubbard's creed I can agree with, despite our religious differences. How many of you have had the experience of standing in a house of worship not your own, and joining the congregation in speaking only the parts of their creed which you also believe?
Historically, the best list of what Jews believe has been the 13 Principles of Faith written by Maimonides -- but today many Jews, me included, might take issue with a few of those. (Resurrection of the dead? Huh.) The old chestnut that actions, not beliefs, are what matter in Judaism is a slight oversimplification, but there's some truth to it; maybe that's why Judaism doesn't have a creed per se. But if my distinction between communal creed and individual credo holds, I think Judaism offers room for a variety of credos.
So what's mine? It's a surprisingly tough question. I don't want to risk misunderstanding, or to
lose nuance in the
attempt to speak too plainly about matters which don't lend themselves to
language. At the same time, I don't want to let the perfect be the enemy of
the good; just because I can't be sure of expressing myself perfectly is no reason not to try. My
final caveat is that I'm not sure it's possible for a credo to be comprehensive --
otherwise it would take lifetimes to write, let alone recite! Maimonides came
up with thirteen statements of faith; I set out to do the same.
I believe that this life is holy.
I believe that we are here for a reason.
I believe that mind, body, and spirit are all important parts of who we are.
I believe that creation is filled with the sparks of divinity.
I believe that we all partake in the holiness of what we call, for lack of a better or more precise term, God.
I believe that it is our job to complete the work of creation by making the world a fit home for God to live in.
I believe in the importance of the I-Thou relationship, in which we know each other as manifestations of God.
I believe in fundamental nonduality: that on a deep level all divisions are illusory.
I believe that duality and nonduality can both be true at once.
I believe that all genuine seekers of holiness, who strive to live righteously, are on valid paths.
I believe that we should see(k) blessings in all things.
I believe that there is more to life than this reality.
I believe that we should accept what is, learn to enjoy the journey, and love one another as well and fully as we can.
Wow. That was fun. Your turn. What's your credo? (Feel free to post one here, or to put it in your own blog -- though if you choose the latter, please include a link back to this post so I can find my way to you...)