There was a time in my life when I was very religious. I was very spiritual, too, but it’s difficult to argue that term holds any substance now (it’s a topic for another day, but one needs only to peruse the profiles on any online dating site, or Facebook for that matter, to understand how a word like “spiritual” can be granted so many meanings by society that it, ironically, has no real meaning at all). What I mean is that while I had my feet firmly planted in the “it’s a relationship, not a religion” camp of modern Protestant Christianity, I also understood what most people in that camp know and a few sometimes acknowledge the unspoken disclaimer to that phrase: “…but, yes, it’s mostly a religion.” No religion should, or really could, come to a point at the heart of the matter where faith – or some related mental caveat – is no longer necessary (there are no “Eureka!” moments in any religion of humankind), but if the entirety of a Christian’s experience consisted of following the inner voice of the Christ, who resides in their heart, with the Bible as supplement to establish boundaries, provide lessons, light the path, etc., then Christianity – the Word, the Creeds, the Church – becomes simply a construct that lends legitimacy to millions of people kind of making things up as they go.
The fact is that Christianity is a very specific, tangible thing. And with the Bible designated as the authoritative text, the fact that it asserts itself as the Word of God – and quotes God backing said assertion – means that there is no ambiguity about God either. If one claims to be a Christian and to believe in the Judeo-Christian God, they are professing to believe specific, unavoidable things. The clearer it became to me that the vast majority of modern Christians avoid this implication and, therefore, do not fully know what they profess, the more determined I became to make sure that was not the case with me.
That decision was part of a larger transformative process that I’m more than certain will show up here many times, but for now the crucial point is that when (spoiler alert) I understood that Christianity was not what I believed, I also understood that such a statement required that I know and state what I do believe. Thus was born my “Living Creed” – an honest and unflinching accounting of what I absolutely believe. I revisit it regularly because beliefs can certainly evolved over time, but I also use it as a compass to understand when I am not acting true to myself and as an affirmation for those times when acting according to my beliefs turns out to be the harder, more confusing, or even more painful course. As I did at the launch of the old LitA, I wanted to post my Creed here and use some subsequent posts to re-explain the aspects to myself:
I believe: in constantly learning; in reading as breath; in art as music, movies, and limitless forms of expression; in cycles of time, existence, love; in the Quiet; in the Tao (naturalness, vitality, “effortless effort,” refinement, detachment, flexibility, and spontaneity); in writing; in playing; in listening; that words are inherently imperfect, but powerful and beautiful when brought to the quick; in learning myself and the paths to make me better…and committing myself to those paths daily; that there is nothing more attractive than intelligence, deep eyes, and sharp wit…nor more dangerous; that there is nothing sexier than confidence, determination, and tangible anticipation; that the things that make you happy should be the most important things in life; that kids are incredible; in being active; in opening myself to the ways that life can leave you breathless…and in the pain that comes with being so open; in diving in, jumping off, standing firm, and crossing metaphorical streams with all determination and integrity.
- A rare find…
- Saint Patrick