The first principle states that we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Many of us raised in the Christian tradition were taught that we are born with our souls contaminated by the Original Sin and to be acceptable to God we have to be baptized to remove the stain. In other words, there is a meta narrative promulgated that people are inherently inadequate and defective.
Father Matthew Fox one of the founders of what is called Creation Spirituality took an opposite position on the issue and maintains that we are born with the Original Blessing not in Original Sin. We are creations of God and in the Genesis story God, at the end of the six days of creation surveys all that He has done and proclaims that what He has created is good.
The perennial psychology which is composed of the teachings of all the great religions tells us that in every human being there is a Spark of the Divine. We are taught that we each are an extension of God’s love of His/Her creation.
The problems start with our human conditioning or socialization as the sociologists call it which can facilitate our growth and development but also traumatize us, abuse us, and instill warped understandings of who we are as a person. As we grow, we lose our innocence and learn that there is evil in the world that produces suffering, anguish, and grief. Into this experience of pain and suffering comes religion which tries to explain the causes of our suffering, our human condition, this “veil of tears” as the Catholics call it, or Maya as the Hindus call it and promises us that the religion and the religion’s representatives have the power to relieve our suffering or at least mitigate it.
Prescriptions are given for how to live, and prayers to say, and regulations to be complied with if we are to be “saved” from our painful existential condition. All along, the idea that we have a self, and ego, that is real is assumed and reinforced.
In Unitarian Univeralism, members covenant together to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and this principle raises at least two further questions: from whence does this worth and dignity come, and what is this object called a “person.?
In this course we will be exploring these questions and attempt to understand from where and what worth and dignity arise, and what comprises a person who possesses this worth and dignity.
- What stands out for you when you compare the "fall/redemption model" with the "Creation Spirituality model?
- What do you think about the idea that there is a "divine spark" in every human being?
- What do you think about the idea that human innocence is extinguished by social conditioning?
- What practices and beliefs have you been taught by religion or secular society that will save you from suffering, condemnation, and death?
- What gives human beings "inherent worth and dignity" if you think they have it?
- What comprises the "self", the personal identity which we create, that seems so real?
- How has your identity, or your sense of self changed over time?
- Is this self which has changed over time real or an illusion?
Take one of the characteristics of comparison of the Fall/Redemption Model and the Creation/Spirituality model and apply it to your own life describing how it has affected your beliefs, your feelings, and your behavior. Once you have created a coherent description, share it with an intimate other or interested person. (The ability to articulate a coherent narrative about the beliefs that have influenced one's life, leaves one in a position of "agency", that is the ability of choose what beliefs a person wants to keep or change in one's life.}
As you compare the Fall/Redemption Model and the Creation Spirituality model, which aspect of this comparison matters the most to you? Which aspect do you think matters the most to the society and culture in which you live? How is this value expressed and manifested in your life and the life of your society?