April 22, 2004

Credo and Meme

So I posted the following in the comments of Teresa Nielsen Hayden's "Things I Believe" post the other day, just about in time for the thread to be in its death throes. I reprint it here; comment, pass along, or roll your own. (Or just have fun playing spot-the-reference, if you're the same sort of pretentious pseudo-intellectual nerd that I am.)


I believe that there are more things in Heaven and earth than anyone's philosophy has yet accounted for.

I believe that stories are more valuable than dogmas. I believe that calling religion "mythology" elevates rather than denigrates it.

I believe that something unseen and numinous moves through people in the process of Art, and calling it "divinity" is as good a word as any. I believe that the work of William Shakespeare is probably all the evidence you need of a divinely-inspired text, and he had lots of stuff to say about women and Jews and Africans that was just plain nonsense, so treat holy writ with caution.

I believe that all beings are Buddha-beings and worthy of compassion. I believe that to live is to suffer, and that there is nothing to be done about this, and everything to be done. I believe that desire is the root of suffering, and this doesn't stop me from fiercely embracing all my own wants and lusts and passions anyway.

I believe that the idea of a god is a god. I believe that our own ability to draw connections between things imbues them with significance, and that our capacity for irrationality, contradiction and magickal thinking is not a design flaw. I believe that whether or not angels and demons exist is less important than understanding that the universe occasionally behaves as if they did.

I believe that the Force flows through everything, and that luminous things are we, not this crude matter.

And I also believe that to reject the world is to miss the point.

(I believe that contradicting one's self is an acceptable position, and that I am infinite and contain multitudes. And I believe that ambiguity is itself a kind of holy state.)

I believe that the deep human need to play dress-up and speak in poetry is a good a reason as any to participate in religion.

I believe that much of our nature becomes clear with the realization that a human being is a sort of big naked lemur that can drive a car, but that our biology is neither an imperative nor an excuse for behaving awfully to each other.

I believe that our culture isn't doing itself any favors with its preoccupation with messianic figures, but I'm as guilty of that fascination as anyone else, so there you go.

On the other hand, I believe there are a lot worse role models than Christ, and that the issue of his literal divinity is hugely unimportant in light of this; see "the idea of a god," above. And I believe that there are lots worse things to build your faith around than "God is love."

I believe, maybe more than anything, that it's often necessary to just let the Mystery be.

I believe that conversations are a hell of a lot more useful than creeds in bringing people together. And I believe thanks are in order to TNH for starting this one.

UPDATE: Never folk to blanch at a challenge of self-discovery, or perhaps exhibitionism, both Matt and Martha have now composed Things I Believe posts on their respective blogs. But of course, all y'all knew that already, because you've gone over there by now, right? Right?

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