I started this discussion in the cover letter for the August newsletter. Just about every religious tradition in the world, whether they call themselves a denomination or a movement, has something one is to believe if one is to be a part of that tradition. It may be a part of their principles, creeds, sacred writing, or even spoken about as a “what we believe” statement. Each is clear on what it is they believe. A belief is the acceptance that a statement or body of writing is true or that something exists. It does not necessarily mean that you know it is true or that something exists, rather that you are choosing to accept that it is true.
Beliefs are ideas. Read more
I am always grateful to my readers who
offer me inspiration as I work my way through this A to Z blogging challenge.
My friend Jerry suggested I blog about opinions because everyone has one. His
reason reminded me of what my wife Zoe says about opinions, which is actually a
line from the 1988 movie The Dead Pool.
“Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one and everyone thinks everyone
The dictionary defines opinion as “a belief or judgment
that rests on grounds insufficient to produce
complete certainty” and “a personal view, attitude,
Opinions are not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. They are simply what
one personally believes. Some people change their opinion on something over
time. However, sometimes opinions become so ingrained in our psyche that they
are no longer an opinion, but a belief. If enough people hold the same opinion,
it can evolve into a belief system.
The other day I was at the grocery store and this older woman, well older then me, offered to help me reach a package and then proceeded to tell me how awful my life must be and how seeing people like me made her feel so much better about her life. I was not quite sure how to respond, so I thanked her for her assistance and told her that I prayed God would continue to fill her day with opportunities to feel better about her life.
Her comment to me got me questioning how we describe our lives. Do you describe your life by talking about how hard it is, or as I heard one person say once, “life sucks and then you die.” Or are you more on the attitude of life is good. Read more
A few weeks ago, I talked about Satyagraha and wrote about it in response to a question about what I believe. The reality is that the question I answered is not what I believe; it was about what I know. There is a difference between what I believe and what I know. I have been told many things in my life. Some which I have believed and some of which I have not. Sometimes I can believe that what you tell me is true for you. At the same time, I know it is not true for me.
A few things got me thinking about the difference between belief and faith. One of them was a conversation I had with a friend of mine about my meeting with the Permanent Ordination Council when I was seeking ordination. One of the questions I was asked was about how I reconciled being a lesbian and being Christian. I told them that for me, it was not a question of reconciliation, but about faith Read more
Recently, someone told me they had read something I had written a few years ago asking people to talk or write about what they believe. They said they had never read my what I believe statement. While I have written it out before, what I believe is ever evolving as I evolve.
Over the course of my life, I have come to develop some fairly simple, but powerful beliefs that guide my life. What I believe has been influenced by what I learned while attending Hebrew School, growing up in a Jewish home, my study of scripture, and my readings. Probably most influential in my life has been the writings of a diversity of sacred texts, Ghandi, and don Miguel Ruiz. Read more
Teaching courses, such as the one I do at SUNY Brockport, means that I have the opportunity to interact with people from a wide diversity of belief systems. It is always amazing to me how a group of people can have such diverse perspectives and beliefs on everything. One of the things we have been discussing all semester is how beliefs and knowledge are socially constructed and so deeply embedded in our culture and our way of life that rarely do we think about or acknowledge that these are belief systems or that there are other ways of being in the world. One of the things a few of my students were discussing recently were those things they lost and unlearned as they have grown up. Don Miguel Ruiz talks about this as the domestication of the planet in his book The Four Agreements. Read more