credo

A friend of mine asked point-blank what her friends believe. As in Believe, the big faith question. I get more of that than most, because unlike most of my friends and colleagues, I remained a Christian in the Episcopal denomination in which I was raised, regularly attend church, and yet do not denounce my Wiccan, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Catholic or Jewish friends. The fact that they consider this rare saddens me.

On the one hand, I believe faith is an ongoing question, a journey for self-improvement and seeking greater meaning and harmony in our lives. There is an element of truth in all faiths (though it is REALLY hard to find one in the World Church of the Creator). Who am I to say that God visited us only once, in the person of Jesus Christ, to speak to only one group at one time? Who am I to say that he has not visited in many forms, under many names? Have we not entertained angels unawares?

To that extent, I cannot simply say, "It's doctrine. Accept it." That is the way of the fundamentalist, the devotion to credo over questions. Those who take Scripture at face value, after thousands of years of translations done by men of various beliefs and politics who needed their own spin on each translation, boggle my mind with their nearsightedness. Few realize that the true sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, as they love to crow on the late-night televangelist shows, but lack of hospitality to visitors.

Unfortunately, no one can give proof, no matter what they say. None of us were around when the great miracles described in the Bible, Qur'an and Torah occurred. None of us have personally seen a miracle, though a few events could possibly come close. Few of us have truly heard the voice of God, and if we did, we likely mistook it for something else.

The search for proof eventually ends up back at the fundamentalist, who tells you what you should believe and do and sign on the bottom line, and we will give you everything packaged in a nice bundle, no thinking required. That was why some who have asked could never really get behind my faith - they wanted me to prove with specific recitation of Scripture that my belief was the One Truth.

To which I can only reply, "Faith is the evidence of things unseen." If we had proof, we would not need faith. We could point to the parting of the Red Sea and say, "See? There's God."

So instead, I believe what feels right to my heart.

That a benevolent God would want me to care for others and treat every one of his children with respect, especially those in need.

That he would want me to care for his earth to the best of my ability, and teach my son to care for it as well.

That as a loving father, he would want me to seek balance and calm through prayer and meditation, and attend church services as a weekly reminder of my spiritual path. Because together we can do more good than we can alone.

That I should use the talents and gifts God has given me in furtherance of his service, whether that is wrangling my team to raise money for cancer research or singing in my choir to help the spiritual experience of others.

And I believe that the only true blasphemy is to presume to know the mind of God, to take his place as judge of all the earth and condemn others in his name.

Although I could quote Scripture to my purpose, others could find just as many Scriptural examples to prove me "wrong." I cannot, therefore, rely on holy books as more than a guide and reminder, a wonderful metaphor.

From time to time, my newspaper will have a battle of letters to the editor over the question of Genesis. Creation vs. evolution. They bash away at each other until something shiny passes and they wander away for a while.

You know what I believe? Creation as described in Genesis is the best proof we have that God exists.

Consider the story of Creation. First the earth was formed, and the oceans. Then life began in the oceans. Plants grew. Then sea creatures, then land creatures. Finally man emerged to take his place as king of the earth.

See? It's the exact same order as evolution.

How would the old Jewish men writing down Genesis for the first time know that sea creatures came before land creatures? That man came last? The humanocentric view would have placed man at the beginning, guiding the creation of the earth. Those old Jewish men were not there when the sea creatures emerged onto land, or when the monkeys descended from the trees.

Genesis is a metaphor for the evolution of the earth, exactly as the "theory" of evolution would prove millennia later, and there was no possible way they could have known. That whole business with the apple is a marvelous metaphor for sentience, the sense of self and conscience that distinguishes humankind from the animals. We knew that we were naked, and we clothed ourselves.

The fact that the holy books contain the story of events none of the authors could ever have witnessed is the greatest proof to me that God exists, and speaks to us from time to time. Perhaps not a burning bush, and often we mistake his voice for something else. We cry out for proof, and when it appears, we push it aside. We are contrary people, after all.

At heart, I suppose, I am a humanist Christian, if such a thing can be allowed to exist. We are put here to serve God's purposes by serving one another. And I continue to strive against that one great blasphemy, to presume to know the mind of God.

As to the afterlife, I guess when I die, I'll find out if I'm right, or if I'm toast.

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