“Credo” is Latin for “I believe.” Unitarian Universalists believe that only the individual can decide what to believe. A program called Building Your Own Theology encourages personal clarification of beliefs, and ends with each participant writing their own credo. Here are credos written by some members of our congregation.
~ Lavon Hodges, 2016
Here is my credo: Happiness is the truth.
~ Michael Noel, 2016
The universe is aware and has a purpose: increasing consciousness! Our purpose is to be the coworkers for our local deity to maintain the balance of creation and to reduce the chaos. Justice and compassion are means to support our own and the divine evolution. Live your values and theology, as often and as completely as you can.
~ Anonymous, 2016
To know all, is to love all.
You can’t judge a book by its cover.
There is no wealth like your health.
People are born basically good, but circumstances can enhance or detract from that.
Religion is how you “try” to live your life, and treat all things and beings in the world.
Our job on this planet is to learn how to be in the “now”, and to help each other.
Do unto others, as you would have done to you.
~ René L. Castle, 2016
- humans are defined by our relationships to other humans, to the web of life, and to the universe there is a universal force that provides the energy and impetus for each of us to manifest our reality
- are many paths to the universal truths
- we are learning, thinking, feeling beings
- because we suffer and die, we put energy toward finding the meaning in our lives – individually and collectively
- altruism is a biological imperative, in addition to being a social benefit
- I should leave this world a better place than I found it
- transformation is desirable and possible
- Ultimate Reality is a massively parallel, multi-player shared experience (like those online games)
- life is iterative (a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result)
- in love and grace
- I *can* make a difference in the world
~ Lorie Miller, 2016
I believe that the Universe is a living, breathing, pulsating entity. Its origin is the collective light from all existing organic matter. The Universe is responsive; exchanging/sharing energy from those who exist within it. What is drawn from this source needs to be replenished so that the connecting spiritual Light continues to provide.
The shadows in my life are also those of the Universe’s. I acknowledge and validate their existence, for they provide life lessons for me to live by. Even within this collective existence, I, as a individual, is still responsible for my own actions, thoughts and feelings. I own who I am.
Because I believe the Universe’s energy is interchangeable, so is death. Energy after death returns to the connecting light and when the Soul releases itself, returns back to another life form.
Based on my religious beliefs my vows are as follows:
- I will replenish what I have drawn by looking for those daily events where my actions can contribute to greater good.
- I believe I am the Light, I am the Love, and I am the Peace.
- Into my heart, into my soul and into my spirit, I am you and you are me. We are one.
- I will be mindful, present and joyful for what has been placed before me.
~ Diana Dickerson, 2016
that I can make a difference
that I can help others by sharing my things, gifts, talents, and energy
that I am part of a big, shared, eternal energy
that I am at my best when I am in cosmic harmony
that I am in charge of my own destiny
that I need to be more inclusive and accepting
that I need fewer things
that I need more order
that learning makes me grow
that teaching makes me whole
that love is food for my inner energy
that I bring my own peace, or chaos, with me wherever I go
~ Beth Ogilvie, 2016
I don’t believe in a personal God who arranges everything, but I experience god in the mountains and canyons and forests, in sunrise and starlight, in birdsong and windsong, in the feel of the earth beneath my feet.
I don’t believe in a creator God who made everything, but I experience grace every day – in the gifts that bring life (earth and air and sunlight and water); in rainbows and sunsets and flowers and children; in holy moments of shared connection.
I don’t believe in a parental God who looks after us, but I experience god’s love through the people of this religious community, in the shining smiles and the shared tears.
I do believe in miracles; in salvation and redemption; in good and evil.
Evil is the abuse of power – physical, social, economic, or political – hurting another for one’s own ends. There is much evil in the world today, both personal and institutional.
Good is revering the sacred circle of life; walking softly on the earth; playing a humble and respectful part in the “interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”; creating a world community that affirms the equal dignity of every human being and respects the dignity of all beings.
I believe the gift of life is a blessing.
I believe our lives matter, and what we do with our lives matters.
I believe we each have access “to that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures” that brings us out of ourselves in reverence and awe.
I know we can’t do it alone – and luckily we don’t have to. In community is our salvation. That’s the whole key, right there.
Finally, I believe in the redemptive transformative healing power of love.
~ Rene G. Castle, 2016
I feel the need to offer some explanation because what I wrote speaks strongly in the biblical language of a parental God. The God I speak of is not the traditional patriarchal authoritarian. I view God as the force that is the universal nature and organizing principle of creation. The nature of the universe cannot actually be a watchful parent unless we look to the universe and its ways as a model seeing the patterns and wisdom within those ways. My deliberate use of biblical God language is political action that seeks to reclaim God language (and God) from the constrained, complete, judgmental, unambiguous, literalist’s understanding back to its original unbounded, limitless, affirming, veiled, mystical understanding.
This I believe God spoke to me
Inside the beginning there was no matter/energy; there was no space/time; nowhere existed for anything to be.Inside the beginning for an infinite instant at the creation of the universe there was only infinite possibility. Inside the beginning; within the infinity of time within time, the improbability of the universe instantly became a certainty. The nowhere could not last forever and the nothing fractured into existence. Matter/energy and space/time burst forth and moved outward.
~The universe was born~
As creation moved outward, parts gathered together and new possibilities arose. Given time and a continued state of possibility, that which can will happen. New creation is formed from what came before. New wholes are created from stable structures of constituent parts.
~The universe organizes~
Each new creation in turn becomes new parts for further levels of organizing. Each creation exists simultaneously as a structure of constituent parts, a whole in itself, and a sub part of a larger whole. Creation expands outward into ever increasing complexity of diverse layered organizations.
~The universe organizes and evolves~
As the universe evolves, the nature and behaviors of each new structure is novel and cannot be predicted from the nature and behaviors of its constituent components. The nature of the whole is only revealed after it exists, because the created whole transcends the sum of its parts.
~The universe organizes, evolves, and is mystery~
In the beginning matter/energy combine to form subatomic particles.
Subatomic particles combine into hydrogen.
Hydrogen combines in stars and form heavier elements.
On planets elements combine to form inorganic and organic compounds.
In water organic compounds organize into cells.
Groups of cells organize to form tissues, organ systems, life, and conscious life.
Life and conscious life organize into communities of communities.
You are both more than the sum of the parts that make you and more than a part of the whole of which you are a part. You are both constructed of universe and a part of the universe. As a structure of constituent parts, you exist as ever-changing cells and chemistry coming and going, dividing and dying. As a whole you exist but for a few fleeting years then perish. As part of the whole that is me you are eternal. You are all three simultaneously. You are paradox. This is who you are: more than a collection of parts, more than a transient whole, you are part of the all that is me. The ultimate meaning of you exists in the part of you that is me.
Remember your three identities in balance:
When you over eat of the tree of parts you are diminished and forget your identity transcends your parts. When you over eat of the tree of self you suffer ego, anxiety, and fear of mortality having forgotten your immortal connectedness to all. When you over eat of the tree of oneness you experience distance and loose connection and care for the unfolding present.
As the Divine, mystics come to me with great questions and I answer as they ask and can understand in their language. Scientists come to me with narrow exact questions and I answer as they ask and can understand in their language. Be humble, cautious, and unsure of what you believe and what you believe I have said for you are but a small part of me and know but a shadow of me. I speak to others in ways they understand yet you do not. Learn from them to learn from me. To be yourself take your ways from my ways. Growing, loving, blooming, and dancing into the mystery of ever expanding, interconnected diversity is our way.
Self-awareness and wanting were gifts so you may direct your own growth and blooming in accord with our divine ways. Yet, self-awareness and wanting causes you suffering for being separated from each other and the divine. Love and empathy were gifts so you may have your suffering eased, be bound one to another, and recognize your essential oneness. Beauty was a gift so you may know our ways when you see them and hear them. Be vigilant that wanting does not grow too strong within you and become corrupted into anxiety, fear, and hate. Be vigilant that love is not misdirected from its purpose of joining you together and become corrupted into idolatry.
You are the children of God who have grown beyond being children who are obedient and lack power. You are the children who have grown into willful adolescence; a perilous transition period of childish arrogance, irresponsible lack of self-restraint, and shortsightedness combined with the great power of adult knowledge and strength. The path ahead may hold much darkness, suffering, and loss for you and our Earth. As a parent, I am here with you to guide you forward but cannot ensure your safety or success. You have asked for and I have granted you dominion over the Earth, though it is not yours alone. You now have great power to destroy, protect, or create as you choose. The Earth was my creation. Now, at least for a time, it will be our creation. Be mindful, deliberate, and responsible for the world you create. Do not stand stubbornly arrogant against me, denying your nature, and corrupting your gifts or you and the Earth will suffer; perhaps even perish. Choose instead to follow my lead and your nature so we may create beautifully complex diversity and dance with love together into the future.
~ Nancy Harrison, 2007
After losing belief in my religion and in God as a preteen I went through life reasonably content, but occasionally felt that something was missing. The Building My Own Theology class enabled me to figure out that I was missing two things.
One was the ability to pray in a way that was meaningful to me. If I tried to pray to a heavenly father or mother or to the universe or to the earth or to a tree or an unseen spirit I always felt unheard, so I avoided calling my thoughts prayer. After reflection, I’ve found that if I don’t address prayers to anything in particular, the idea of prayer can work for me.
When the sky reminds me of the vastness of the universe I can say that I am awed and profoundly grateful to be part of that universe, and grateful that its powers have arranged my atoms and molecules in ways that allow me to appreciate its beauty and perhaps understand some of its workings. To me, that’s a prayer, even if I express it only to myself.
When I walk in the sunshine or rain, through the trees or on a beach, I can express my appreciation of the beauty and workings of our wonderful planet and the web of life of which I am a part. That’s a prayer that I am happy to pray very often.
When I’m sad or afraid or needy, I can remind myself that my mind and body have the strength to get me past bad moments and solve many of my problems. That prayer can motivate me to do what needs to be done. I can also remind myself that other people or animals will comfort me if I just ask.
That brings me to other thing that was missing in my life: the comfort provided by the belief I had as a child that someone was always watching me, and caring. The Building Theology class helped me to realize that people, human beings, have always cared what happened to me—not just my family and friends, but strangers as well. Whenever I have literally slipped and fallen in public, strangers have rushed to ask if I’m o.k. They cared. When I haven’t been o.k., they have cared enough to help me. Twice in my life I’ve lost my purse with all my money and identification. Both times, strangers returned it to me. They cared. More distantly, thousands of strangers make my life possible, growing food, packing it, transporting it, selling it; others build systems to bring natural gas and water to my home so I can enjoy a hot shower; and on and on. All those people doing their jobs care about me, even if we never meet, and I care about them.
I trust in goodness in people. I have faith in it. But I also know that it’s unreliable. I’ve been fortunate that when I needed help, people were inspired to do good rather than taking advantage of my weakness to fill their own needs. People are not always sufficiently inspired.
Organized religion has several important functions, but I think the most important one is to encourage people to do good. We do good by caring for ourselves, for people and other living things, and for the earth itself. I trust the people in this church to do those things. When we read together, listen together, sing together, and pray together, I believe that you are paying attention and caring about what we say and hear, and being inspired to do good. I joined this church because I believe in it and in you.
MY TEN COMMANDMENTS
- Care for your own health, both mental and physical. Do all you can to avoid becoming a burden to others.
- Care for children, especially your own. Provide nurturance and discipline, meet material needs, insure education, provide health care, and inspire them to do good.
- Care for other human beings. Help them relieve fear and sadness, answer difficult questions, obtain justice, and overcome obstacles and weaknesses. Inspire them to feel hope, to provide care for others and for the Earth.
- Recognize and work to overcome the natural human tendency to favor people like yourself and distrust and fear people who are unlike yourself.
- Care for other living things and for the Earth. Tread lightly. When you must kill, do it with respect.
- Use no more of Earth’s resources than you need, not forgetting the need for joy. Limit yourself to two children.
- Leave places and people better than you found them.
- Sustain beauty. Create it if you can.
- If you can, teach.
- Recognize and work to overcome the natural human tendency to confuse your beliefs with truth.
~ Jo Murdach, 2016
I believe in the here and now: the sun and moon, the trees and flowers, the rocks and rills, the animals and plants.
I believe in the spirit which animates it all — animate and inanimate.
I believe this spirit is precious; to be cherished and nurtured in all beings, especially human.
I believe in the “inherent worth and dignity” of all human beings, such that they, especially, should be respected, helped, and cherished.
I believe each life is a gift to be loved and held dear and sustained, both physically and spiritually.
I believe it is each one’s responsibility to act in such a way as to promote these values in our world — locally, nat
~ Donnie Rett, 2010, updated 2019
From the age of five, I have always attended church. I went with whatever neighbor family invited me.
My parents were not “churched” and attended only at Easter, Christmas, and whenever “my” church’s youth group was doing something special. I attended Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches and revivals. When I was 13, a new United Church of Christ was built six blocks from my home. Some school friends were planning to attend, so I did too. Finally I could go to church without someone inviting me! I was baptized, confirmed and married in U.C.C. — four different congregations in fifty-some years.
The church in Akron had a fantastic youth group. We travelled to New York, Chicago, and St Louis. After marriage, my (formerly Catholic) husband was comfortable with U.C.C., and we stayed with it coming to California. Then the congregation in San Leandro disintegrated. I was lost. Trying to figure out why church was so important to me, although I don’t consider myself “religious” was an enigma. I puzzled over it, and finally decided to try the Unitarian Universalists. I attended “Building Your Own Theology” class at Starr King. — Here are thoughts and feelings that resulted:
- I believe in god – a god that is mystical, mythical, magical and unexplainable; as unexplainable to me as to the ancients.
- God is a baby’s smile;
- A wildflower peeking through a crack in the pavement.
- Openness, understanding, acceptance, love.
- Undoubtedly, above all else — god is love.
- I believe in Jesus. His famous works were largely metaphor; but being metaphor does not make his teachings any less valuable as a beloved teacher.
- For me, spirituality is wonder, awe, reverence — whether it be art, music, literature, or the magnificent forces of nature.
- It is a circling hawk, a redwood tree, a waterfall
- It is the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa
- The Bible, the Koran.
- I believe religion consists of the honored stories, age-old myths and sacred ritual that carry life’s most precious lessons.
Religion is honoring our ancestors and their ways; it is holding fast to comforting beliefs, repeating that which gives us strength and hope.
Religion gives us a way to survive in times of extreme stress – illness, bereavement, disaster.
- I see church as a place where people gather to share experiences of their god – of hope, of wonder, of miracles. They gather to offer and to accept loving care; to celebrate what they have in common, and to understand their differences.
A church strengthens and improves us. It makes us whole. A church is a beloved community.
~ Jackie Black, 2019
I believe the universe is a magnificent creation, but all scientific evidence suggests that it created itself, and all the mechanics that make it work have developed because they DO work. Examples: evolution, the symbiotic relationships of plants and animals. I see nature as a self created intelligent design, awesome, wonderful, still mysterious. Many people have attempted to get away from the man-like form (God, the Father) earlier people have used to depict God so they have tried for other definitions: So the oft heard answer to, “Do you believe in God?” is “It depends upon what you mean by God.” Love, Life, Nature, a Spirit of Good within us, perhaps the Intelligence of the Universe. The concepts can be endless. For me the term God, since it’s meaning can be so diverse, is less than a useful word.
So I deny the existence of a personal God. Atheist yes, nihilist no. In denying god, a nihilist believes in nothing, no meaning, a bleak philosophy. To me no God, no Scripture, means we have the opportunity to create our own purpose, giving meaning for our lives without relying on authority. The existentialists say we have the absolute responsibility to “give meaning to life and then to live it passionately and authentically.” (Kieregaard freely translated)
I believe all religions have developed not only as a means of social control providing codes of conduct and giving legitimacy to rulers, but most especially they were developed to explain a world full of mysteries, many which still exist, but many more that are now understood thanks to the brilliance of scientists whose work has answered so many questions myths attempted to answer. No way could I be content with beliefs based on the very limited knowledge of people who lived two thousand years ago. The Christian Bible was written by men reflecting the culture and knowledge of their time and for that reason often does not represent the best of our attitudes and beliefs. Surely the best ideas attributed to Jesus are worth preserving. Other dictums in those pages had best be examined and accepted only when they represent the spirit of a loving Jesus and not ignorance or bigotry. Modern spiritual approaches benefit from taking from many religious and philosophical traditions the most meaningful ideas to benefit individuals and all of humanity. And the best ideas tend to show up in all religions.
My quarrel with most organized religion is not just that it presents myths as truth. I see it responsible for most wars, atrocities, oppressions, executions, genocides. Greed or fear may be the underlying motivation but difference in religion is the justification. It divides people when what this world needs is the sense of our common humanity, a realization of our connection to all life on this planet. We know now that our DNA closely replicates that in other animals and, remarkably, we even find ourselves not too distantly related to an oak tree. We need to feel that oneness and take care of not just ourselves and our planet but all living things.
It seems there is an almost universal need to counter the knowledge of our mortality with the hope of an afterlife. Since lives from earliest times and many places today have so often been full of hardship, grief, deprivation and oppression, how attractive the idea that there is a paradise to come. I find the idea far fetched, not supported by real evidence and I don’t need it. I have built my paradise, even allowing for recent terrible losses, right here in this life, a beautiful adventure, the result of good fortune and good choices. Of course the opposite is quite as possible and many people do make their own lives a Hell on earth. To me the doctrine that says not actions, but faith alone determines who scores a reward in the afterlife is particularly unacceptable and especially when Salvation is promised regardless of the evils committed.
I seek to recognize religious interpretations that are quite different from mine but worthy because they teach respect and love and confirm ethics and kindness and rights for all people without the idea that they have the only right religion and can therefore impose their beliefs on others.
Some believers I have known have been intent on saving me from damnation, but I am quite sure I am safe, even in the eyes of most religious people who value action over belief. Ideas of Heaven and Hell as reward and punishment have been useful tools for social control. Many religions have offered that carrot and stick approach to morality. I believe true morality needs no such persuaders. One must do what is right as best as one understands it and is capable of it from a deep feeling of caring for oneself and all others not for some outside reward. The sense of a life well lived is its own reward.