Tuesday, January 10, 2017


All sorts of us "SAY WHAT" is going on inside us in all sorts of ways.

Place, time, setting, culture and untold more  craft and tone our "SAY WHAT."

Consider English literature, and the varied "SAY WHAT" of
Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats, and e. e. cummings.
These writers' "SAY WHAT" is important to them,
and say it quite variously, again, toned and crafted by
their persons, time, place, culture, and untold more.
Stammering to "SAY WHAT" is ultimately WHAT
prompts various faith creeds,
again, so tellingly influenced by
the people involved, the times, the setting, the culture, and ever so much more. 
For example, the Athanasian Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Apostles' Creed.
Let's run our eyes, minds, and hearts over the most familiar of these:

Original Apostles' Creed (390 AD)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
      he descended to hell.
      The third day he rose again from the dead.
      He ascended to heaven
      and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
      From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy catholic church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,
      and the life everlasting. Amen.
Now, let's fast forward to our time and place,
and again run our eyes, minds, and hearts over
a right here-and-now creed.
Caly McCarthy put pen to paper, well, actually, finger to keyboard,
and scripted her spiritual "SAY WHAT," her creed. 
Caly is a college senior, and a lifelong Methodist. 
Caly's "Preface" gives context to the crafting and toning of her creed.

 Preface to “This Apostle’s Creed”
In pre-school I was a reluctant drummer boy in the Christmas pageant.  In first grade I learned the names of the disciples.  In third grade I received my own Bible, complete with a translucent blue carrying case.  In fifth grade I declined to memorize the Beatitudes, despite the lamentations of my Sunday School instructor.  In sixth grade I became a Sunday School dropout and instead participated in a weekly simplicity circle.  In eighth grade I was confirmed.  In ninth grade I started worshipping at an Episcopal church. 
In twelfth grade I articulated my worldview to my favorite high school teacher.  It largely consisted of the cosmos, and evolution, and consciousness.  He asked me if I was an atheist, knowing full well that I was brought up in the church.  I blanched, feeling that accepting the word expunged any sense of the sacred, while also acknowledging that I had grown deeply unsatisfied with the creeds and prayers that I read each Sunday.  Stalling, I asked him how he would define an atheist.  His stare indicated that mine was an unnecessary question.  He answered, “One who doesn’t believe in God.”  I shifted uncomfortably.  I realized later that I should have asked him how he would define God.
Since that point I have continued to ponder both my understanding of God, and my place in the church. 
In an effort to articulate my philosophy of life and my religious development, I have revisited the Apostles’ Creed.  I hope that the sentiments expressed in the Creed help to explain my calling to protect the dignity of all beings and to mend the broken systems of food, labor, and environment. 

This Apostle’s Creed
(Updated by a present-day disciple of the Cosmic Christ)

I believe in God, the Mother Almighty,
creator of Heaven and Earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen. 
I believe that humans are the Universe aware of itself,
and that with this realization come the responsibilities
to honor the dignity of all beings,
to practice humility,
and to contextualize human history in deep time.

I believe in Goodness, personified through Jesus Christ,
the first person to be recognized as a child of God,
who was brought into this world by the Holy Spirit,
born of an unassuming young woman,
suffered under abuses of power,
was put down, put out, and put away.
When despair ran rampant he made himself known,
teaching that life persists, and love wins. 
He once walked this Earth,
and he comes again each day, made manifest in different vessels. 
I believe that metaphors are concentrated truths,
too often diluted by literalism,
and that Christian rituals
are one articulation of the Ultimate Reality.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the whole universe,
the presence of life-giving persons,
the forgiveness of errors,
the restoration of harmony,
and the life everlasting.  Amen. 
So, the ancients, Caly, and now you and I. 
How do we "SAY WHAT" is ultimately WHAT
as we experience that?
How do we script our creeds?
Well, let's have a go at writing them out.
Let's "SAY WHAT" is in our minds and hearts about
the Ultimate as we sense that.
It will be more than a statement for others.
It will be a revelation to us.
Of course, our real creeds are not concepts papered.
What we really believe is not so much scripted in our words,
as it is articulated in our attitudes and actions.
"By their fruits you will know them."
(Matthew 7:20)
That's our "SAY WHAT."
To help us get a true read on that
it would be a big boost
to regularly huddle with a for-real friend,
one who will honestly read us to ourselves. 
What fruits are we producing? 
How do our attitudes and actions write us real?
It is not at all comfortable.
It is incredibly helpful. 
Great being with you.
Til soon,
John Frank
P.S. Each of her four years in college
Caly has submitted a written piece about her faith
as part of an application for a Methodist college scholarship.
She received those Methodist scholarships
for three years of college. 
The year she submitted her preface and creed
she did not receive a Methodist college scholarship.