Join us online via Google Meet when Rev Roger will lead us in an exploration of how to think about spiritual journeys and how to write a This I Believe statement.
Rev. Rogers Sermon
This I Believe, the sermon
From 1951 until 1955, Edward R Murrow, a journalist, hosted a daily show called This I Believe. He asked famous folks and others to share in five-minute talks their person beliefs in the midst of their daily lives. Whether those lives were seemingly perfect or had been through tough tough times, each would share a small reflection.
Cabbies, celebs, actors, writers.
It reached 35 million people in its heyday.
NPR brought it back for a while. I don’t know its current status.
What I do know is that it is good to visit your deepest values periodically. To see where you are. To see how you’ve changed your mind. To see what might be the spirit that is animating the next thing that is calling you. To say: with full honesty: I don’t know what I think about this, but I do believe this.
This is one thing, you might conclude, that I find trustworthy.
This is one thing, you might say, that has never left me.
Let’s start with something simple. At the end of my bio that I share with podcasters is a straightforward line: Roger still believes that grace and humor will save us all.
I mean, I really do believe that. Humor so we don’t take life — beautiful and bruised old life — too seriously. And grace so that we can always stay connected to the ones in our lives who provide us such meaning and purpose.
So, we are all invited to join in with the spirit of Edward R Murrow and think of the philosophies, values and attitudes that shape our lives.
As a hospital chaplain I asked so many people — people of deep faith, people with no named faith, people with multiple faiths, people who stayed with the faith of their childhood and some who found a new path as adults, people of all kinds — what do you make of it all. Maybe they just got a bad diagnosis and they were feeling like talking. Maybe they were close to death and were thinking about their parents, their siblings, their spouses or partners.
Thinking about their regrets and accomplishments and friends and communities.
So many would say: It’s a cliché, the thing that kept me going was my family, my friends, my faith, my great love.
I believe in the ocean, one person told me who grew up in Connecticut and got out here as soon as he could. I believe in the ocean. Life is one wave after another and low tides and hi tides and beautiful in the morning and beautiful when the moon shines upon it.
Another, old guy who lived way up in the trees outside Woodland Park told me: Every day I fed the animals, the squirrels, the bird, the deer. I’d leave stuff out for them. And they’d come around. I’m proud that I was able to do that and enjoy their company, such as it was. I believe in feeding the animals, I guess you’d say.
If our class on the transcendentalists is any indication, a lot of us, a lot of us, believe in the power of nature to heal.
The rock band REM wrote a song called I Believe, in which they sing:
I believe my shirt is wearing thin, and change is what I believe in.
From what I’ve heard from many of you, a lot of us believe in change too. A change towards human dignity and human rights, a change for the good. Not content to settle for things as they are, we throw out little pebbles on the surface of the pond and try to make some ripples.
We tend as Unitarian Universalists to not accept established answers to the questions and we are fiercely independent about what questions animate our efforts at understanding.
So I think a lot of us believe in change.
One change agent, Patrice Cullors, has a statement about her belief in change and how it fits into community and community and how it impacts change.
Whenever I am in conflict with another person in my life — I chose to be in conversation with that person. The moment I feel impacted by someone I check in with myself to be clear what feelings are coming up for me. Am I hurt by what this person did or what they represent to me in my life? Can I have a conversation with this person to practice a new way of being in relationship with them? I choose to communicate with the person who has harmed me or hurt me no matter how small or big the issue is. My response reflects my belief that we must have a bigger vision for our communities and the people who make up our communities. I believe in coming back into the community and trusting that modeling grounded responses versus reactive vitriol will allow for an opening inside of the relationship that is then modeled inside of the larger movement community.
She believes in the power of community and the smallest relational efforts to stay connected as a model for that larger vision for our communities.
A lot of us Edward R Murrow said in his introduction have traded in our deepest values for bitterness and division. For cynicism or a large helping of despair.
I like to think when the Rabbi says that there is a narrow path that most avoid and a large easy path that most gravitate towards in an act of intentional sleep walking, I like to think the Rabbi meant that the narrow path is living lives out of a place of deep awareness of our deep values and the large easy path populated by most of us sleepwalkers is the path of easy cynicism, despair, passivity, division.
Carl Sandburg, one of my heroes, said this on NPR with Mr. Murrow:
I believe in getting up in the morning with a serene mind and a heart holding many hopes.
I believe in humility, though my confession and exposition of the humility I believe in would run into an old fashioned two- or three-hour sermon. Also I believe in pride, knowing well that the deadliest of the seven deadly sins is named as pride. I believe in a pride that prays ever for an awareness of that borderline where, unless watchful of yourself, you cross over into arrogance, into vanity, into mirror gazing, into misuse and violation of the sacred portions of your personality.
No single brief utterance of Lincoln is more portentous than the line he wrote to a federal authority in Louisiana. “I shall do nothing in malice, for what I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.”
Now I believe in platitudes, when they serve, especially that battered and hard-worn antique, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Hand in hand with freedom goes responsibility. I believe that free men over the world cherish the earth as cradle and tomb, the handiwork of their Maker, the possession of the family of man. I believe freedom comes the hard way — by ceaseless groping, toil, struggle — even by fiery trial and agony.
As a professor of sociology at the University of Louisville, Dr. Charles Henry Parrish, born in 1899 in Louisville, was the first African-American to be appointed to the faculty of a public Southern (and predominantly white) university. Parrish chaired U of L’s Department of Sociology from 1959 to 1964 and was invited to the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Parrish retired from teaching in 1969 and died at his daughter’s home in Newark, New Jersey, in 1989.
As the son of a Baptist minister, I have often wondered why my religious beliefs were not more strictly orthodox. Undoubtedly it was the sort of person my father was, rather than what he said in sermons or pamphlets, that influenced me most. My father’s private secretary was Catholic. It never seemed incongruous to me that he should bring back to her beads that had been blessed by Pope Pius X or that a large picture of the pope should be prominently displayed in our home. Because of this memory, perhaps, the theological technicalities of doctrinal disputes leave me completely unmoved. I believe that every man must find God for himself, and that it does not really matter under whose auspices the search is made.
Nearly always, as I can remember, there were non-paying guests at our house. Uncomplainingly, my mother would do the necessary things to make them comfortable. Sometimes the persons who came were complete strangers. A gospel singer who had missed her train called up from the station and asked to be put up for the night. She stayed for three weeks. A stranded evangelist was with us for all of one winter. I do not recall that anyone was ever turned away. People in trouble inevitably came to my father for help. Although victimized many times, he was always ready to do whatever he could for the next person who asked his aid. He seemed not to think of himself. Yet, he enjoyed a moderate prosperity and his family never wanted for anything. It has thus become a part of me to believe that in the long run, I could never lose anything by helping other people.
The details of my father’s early life have always been a source of inspiration for me. It was a life of struggle. To the ordinary difficulties encountered was added the handicap of his racial origin. He had to fight continuously against racial intolerance. What has become increasingly significant for me was that he fought without bitterness. So far as I know, he never hated anybody. He must have believed in the essential goodness of people. I have come, gradually, to share this belief.
If I have stressed the importance of my father in determining my basic outlook on life, it is not to leave the impression that the influence of my mother has been negligible. It is, rather, that they were of one mind on the fundamental issues. My mother had varied outside interests, too, but her own family was the center of her loyalties. No sacrifice was too great for those she loved. Her devotion has had a profound influence in shaping my evaluations and beliefs.
These memories and impressions of my parents are the materials out of which my credo has been forged. Perhaps they would not have phrased it as I have. They might not have put it into words at all. They lived their faith. Its essence for me is couched on the belief that if I look always for the good in other people, I will surely catch a vision of God.
Eleanor Roosevelt I don’t know whether I believe in a future life. I believe that all that you go through here must have some value, therefore there must be some reason. And there must be some “going on.” How exactly that happens I’ve never been able to decide. There is a future — that I’m sure of. But how, that I don’t know. And I came to feel that it didn’t really matter very much because whatever the future held you’d have to face it when you came to it, just as whatever life holds you have to face it exactly the same way. And the important thing was that you never let down doing the best that you were able to do — it might be poor because you might not have very much within you to give, or to help other people with, or to live your life with. But as long as you did the very best that you were able to do, then that was what you were put here to do and that was what you were accomplishing by being here.
Rosa Parks It’s funny to me how people came to believe that the reason I did not move from my seat was my feet was tired. My feet were not tired. But I was tired of unfair treatment. I saw and heard so much as a child growing up, so much hate and injustice against black people. Long ago, I set my mind to be a free person and not to give in to fear. I always believed it was my right to defend myself if I could. I learned to put my trust in God and seek him as my strength. My favorite book of the Bible is Psalms. My mother used to read it to me when I was a child: The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom should I be afraid?
I believe you must respect yourself before others can respect you. I want to be remembered as a person who stood up to injustice, who wanted a better world for young people, and most of all, I want to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free. I still believe there can be a day when we will have true freedom, a day when we can all get along regardless of our race. This is not a dream. It is alive within the ability of us all. This I believe.
Garcia Marquez: I believe life is the best thing that’s ever been invented.
My This I Believe Statement
I believe in jazz.
Structure and improv. Call and response.
I believe in healing.
I have seen it so often — among many of you, in my own life.
I believe in story. Once upon a time.
I believe everything you ever needed to know could be found in a parable.
I believe with the psalmist that we — you and I and all of us — can know the beauty of the lord in the land of the living.
I believe in dreams. I believe in dreamers.
I believe in something bigger than me, call it god if you’d like. I will. I believe in a god the name of which is many and never to be known but one that I call: love that will not let us go. Fellow sufferer who understands. Holy spirit. Spirit of life. The inner voice of wisdom. The still, small voice. The center who listens and knows.
The god who can be found in the creative moment. Who calls us to our best self.
I believe, more than anything, in people. People who grow. People who snore. People who curse. People who build and give. People who fail. People who love, and love again. People who know wisdom, occasionally.
I believe in the Chesapeake Bay. And the sea. I believe in the rising sun. And my children’s smiles. And I believe in you, in thou. In life.
I believe that anyone at any timecan know the holy way, the good way in life. That each life is holy for its own sake. We are what we’ve got, and I believe that we have more power and beauty and love and compassion than we realize. This I Believe (From Seeds of Devotion, 2021, GraceLight Press, Roger Butts author)