Friday, April 2

Credo - establishment

As I mentioned yesterday, I am endeavouring to put to paper the principal concepts (dare I say, principal principles) which are the matters which I believe. That is all well and good, one might say, but apart from the obvious (and valuable) matter of sussing such things out, wouldn't it be quicker, simpler and better to just say "I adhere to [X] faith/sect with the following variances"?

From a philosophical perspective, I would argue that no questioning individual agrees completely and explicitly with the beliefs of any established sect. The variances may be small (I think that Christopher should still be considered a saint) or they may be large (Trinity, Schminity...there's only one God) but those who examine the fixed precepts of others with an open mind and heart will find things which 'don't work' for them. This should seem reasonable and logical, as no two people are identical nor have the identical set of experiences it follows that no two people would perceive or conceive of the universe in identical ways.

From a semantic perspective, I find a very real problem with describing oneself as 'I'm [X] except'. In this regard, the [X] functions as a label, a shorthand for a system of beliefs, traditions and concepts. A friend of mine (a practicing moderate, reformed Jew) once told me that there are only two kinds of Jews - Orthodox and Orthodox except. That means that the Ultra-orthodox, Conservative, Reformed and Messianic Jews are all the same, they're 'Orthodox except'.

This shorthand makes sense only to those who understand what the original means. Neither having been raised jewish nor having studied Orthodox Judaism, saying 'Orthodox except' is a disturbingly content-free statement. Further, the beliefs and concepts which form the sect/faith are, in and of themselves, labels which describe rather complex and arcane ideas which have far-reaching and, often, unexpected consequences.

From a practical perspective, the idea of '[X] except' doesn't function with where I am at any more than saying 'I'm [X]' does. I COULD say that 'I am ECC', but that statement lacks certain meaning as the exact definition is unclear, even to those in the pews. Let me explain.

I presently attend Light of Christ, an Ecumenical Catholic Church. I have yet to see a formal catechism and, as I explore things more fully, I realise that to draw one up would be nigh impossible. The majority of our parishioners are former RC who have deliberated and discerned and have joined in a new faith community for the 'except'. At LoC, the 'except' varies wildly from person to person and from priest to priest. What they all have in common is that they are all thoughtful, prayerful and right-minded folks who earnestly wish to follow the will of the Divine.

Thus, I consider it important to not to use shortcuts, but rather start at the basics and work through things. I am not saying that these things are right, but rather that (at least at the present) they are right for me.


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