Posted on March 2, 2014
Creeds – those long lists of things you’re supposed to say you believe so you can belong some place – are everywhere. The issue ain’t religion. The issue is this one component called a creed that is often found in religions. One that doesn’t belong there. It’s a – gasp – separating one. I mean, are people really being asked to lie about what they believe? To separate themselves from what is real for them in order to earn “connection” in a community?
Yep. Yep they are. Case in point: the response I witnessed Nadia Bolz-Weber, famed progressive Lutheran minister of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, give a teenage girl at a speaking engagement here in my community last month. In the Q&A session, the girl said she wasn’t sure she wanted to go through confirmation in her church because she had reservations about some things in the Lutheran creeds. Nadia Bolz-Weber’s response? “The creed is a team sport!” She explained that surely someone in the community believes this line, someone believes that line… so you’re covered! She chose to justify the use of the creed in this way, instead of going all Real on the creed. And I couldn’t decide if I wanted to throw up – or cry.
This opportunity to help was changed into an opportunity to justify making people say shit they don’t believe. How does that help? Well, it makes the kid feel better about lying. So, there’s that. But what it all comes down to is this – why make the kid lie?
Let’s play a game. True or false: Reading bitchin’ blogs is the best way to up your coolness. Now pretend I told you that you have to say you believe it as a condition of reading my blog and hanging out with me. Because, you know, I am such an insecure raving cultish bitch. Game over.
We should never deny what we believe in any given moment – what is, now.
When you’re presented with a concept, in that moment you either believe it or you don’t. It’s there, or it’s not. We should never deny what we believe in any given moment – what is, now. I say this a lot in yoga class – “be with what is [very necessary pause] now.” This is what going Real is all about. Don’t start at a pretend place and think you’ll get anywhere. Start where you really and truly are. Know the place. Examine it. Acknowledge it. Be fuckin’ okay with it. It’s all you got. Or is it?
OMG faith! Of course! The solution to creeds is faith!
Uh, no. It’s kinda the opposite. Faith is a solution to the problem of holding tight to limiting, rigid, supposed-to-believe beliefs.
Faith vs. Belief 101: Faith is being okay that just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s not true. And it is not stating that one very specific possible truth is the only possible truth. It is being open to what could be true. Believing, on the other hand, is different. I present this: In order to believe, you have to get it, be able to make sense of it. In order to have faith, you don’t have to get it, and you certainly don’t have to say it’s true – you just have to leave room for it to be true. Or to not be true.
Hey, what would happen if you wrote your very own Not Creed? A list of all the things you feel you’re supposed to believe – that you just don’t. What about if you just made this Not Creed for your eyes only, and really put your eyes on it?
I did this. And I cannot show it to you. Maybe I’ll show you just one item. Okay. I’ll show you one. But only because I want to give you an example of how not scary this can be. How to just say it like it comes and take a look at it laid bare. So. Here goes. Disclaimer #10: I am about to say something that goes against all Christian creeds. Holy shit. (Or, holy shitting?)
I don’t get – and therefore I can’t believe – that there are three gGod entities that are separate, but whoa – not separate gGods – separate somethings… and all one… God. Oh Gawd!
Many thoughtful, resourceful people spend decades actively trying to get whatever it is we’re supposed to grasp from a concept like this one, and can’t. So, why the bleep is a charitable community organization telling 2.2 billion people that they must say they believe this concept is true to be “in”? Why not ask ‘em to just leave room for it to be a (rather confusing) possibility?
Someone said to me when I was ranting about creeds, that what I have here at Real is the New Good is a creed. Well, I’ve got a core concept that fuels everything in my blog, that’s for damn sure. But you don’t have to say you believe it. Ever. I think I’ll state that core concept now: There is an optimal way to live, defined by using the most objective perspective you can muster to decide which way will lead you to more connection. That to move in the direction of separation is to move in the direction of coming apart – it’s destructive to humanity. It’s what I’ve come around to, through avid pursuit and responsible exploration of all things spiritual. It’s where I am.
I can make sense of any situation using this core concept. It is a common denominator I’ve found in spiritual traditions. It never harms anyone, and I don’t ever go against what feels “right” in my heart – my beliefs. It works because the basis for connection is an authenticity that requires us to acknowledge what we believe. That you acknowledge what you believe – not what I believe. And that you don’t forget to stay open to more.
What the hell did I just say? Don’t believe a word of it.