Core Beliefs

Let your life speak!

A life where belief and practice come together.

A life where words and actions become one.

A life where soul and role are an integrated whole.

A life that is rooted and grounded, connected and whole.

What is a core belief?

For me, a core belief is something that drives me forward. It puts my life in order and makes some sense out of the chaos. It is a guidepost. And as it comes into play within me, it is also expressed and reflected in everyday actions, reactions, and interactions; giving authenticity, integrity, and wholeness to my life.

Core beliefs take anchor within my soul in such a way that they make an indelible mark on my heart.

They change me. They change my heart and my understanding of everything. They give me “new eyes” with which to see.

Core beliefs give me something to stand on, to speak out from; something from which to guide my life.

This indelible mark on my heart leaves me with an outward, visible response to this world’s culture and the core beliefs that create it.

Far too often, rather than take a stand in response to a destructive culture, Christianity has become a reflection of culture, in a sort of symbiotic or codependent relationship where the culture (through materialism and power) has given a sort of sustainability to religion (its edifices and authority); and religion (through turning away or acceptance of destructive practices) gives culture and government its blessing; easing its guilt.

Below is a statement of core beliefs from which I can “let my life speak”; a life that is on a path of becoming integrated and authentic, rooted and grounded, connected and whole.

Core belief:

There is “that of God” in each person.

Not just believing this a little, but total belief . . . fully living it out.

Can “that of God” live in my enemy?

If I believed this, would war be possible? Or would peace reign?

What if we really believed this?

Core Belief:

Having “that of God” within means that each person has an Inner Teacher, Inner Light, a still small voice within.

Each person’s responsibility is to listen and wait on guidance from within.

Core Belief:

Every person is exactly where they are meant to be in life.

This comes from the confidence that we are created with a divine purpose and a guiding hand on our lives. What do we do with each moment of life? What does each moment have to teach me? Am I fully present, aware, and conscious each moment with each person I encounter?

Core Belief:

Prayer and worship is primarily silence, waiting, and listening. Experience of the Divine is the goal of prayer and worship.

In silence, we wait on God… listening. We know that this is the only way to seek divine guidance.

We also know that this is the essence of relationship:

Mother Teresa was once asked in an interview, “What do you say when you pray?” She replied, “Nothing, I just listen.” So the reporter asked, “Well then, what does God say to you?” He answer, “Nothing much, He just listens.” (Shane Claiborn, Prayers for Ordinary Radicals)

Five Testimonies: Expressions of Belief

Does my life speak? If so, then how? What are my core expressions of belief? What is the visible evidence of invisible belief?

In the 1600s, testimonies are what Quakers called these “expressions of belief”… and they still do.

This is how we testify or bear witness to our core beliefs.

I must ask myself daily if I am living these expressions of belief.  Following are the expressions of belief followed by the queries I must challenge myself with every day.

INTEGRITY (authenticity)

What is my response to a lack of meaning in my life? What is my response to my birthright gifts? What is my response to making a difference in life? What is my response to injustices, to people that are marginalized and disenfranchized: homelessness, poverty, racism, inequality, prejudice, etc?

  • Who am I?
  • What are my birthright gifts?
  • Am I using them daily?
  • Do they define for me why I am here? What my purpose is?
  • Is my interior life in alignment with my exterior life?
  • Career: “all of the productive and creative activity a person does throughout the lifespan (whether paid or unpaid). In this sense, life, work, and the person become a seamless, integrated whole.” Has my “career” made a difference?
  • “Am I living the life that wants to live in me?” (Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak)
  • Do I act, listen, and speak from the heart
  • Does my Role match my Soul?

PEACE (non-violence)

What is my response to war? What is my response to politics and partisanship? What is my response to personal conflict? What is my response when the integrity or identity of another person is violated? What is my response to injustices, to people that are marginalized and disenfranchized: homelessness, poverty, racism, inequality, prejudice, etc?

  • Am I living with peace at the center?(out of a foundation of silence, listening, mindfulness, & presence)
    • Interactions (people)
    • Reactions (problems)
    • Proactions (planning)
  • Am I living with violence at the center? (out of a culture with violence at its core)
    • External violence (crime, war, domestic violence, etc)
    • Internal violence (criticism, ignoring, cliques, being better than, pride, etc)
  • “Presence is realizing that in every encounter with another human being, we do not walk away the same; we leave a changed person for the better or for the worse; am I a giver or a taker?  Is my presence life-giving?”
  • “Violence is any way we have of violating the identity or integrity of the other.” (Parker Palmer)

Shalom: A right relationship with all things: myself, others, community, the earth, the universe, God.

EQUALITY (non-judgement, all created in God’s image)

What is my response to injustices, to people that are marginalized and disenfranchized: homelessness, poverty, racism, inequality, prejudice, etc? What is my response to ALL forms of inequality . . . whether or not it is something I agree or disagree with?

  • What do I pay attention to? Do I see those that are marginalized… invisible?
  • Are they my friends? Do I express a sense of welcome to all… or just certain people?
  • Do I value the “least of these”? Am I open to their ideas? Do I solicit their input in important decisions? Do I listen to and understand their struggles?
  • Do I take a stand against injustice in any and every form? . . . no matter the cost?
  • “Friends were some of the first to value women as important ministers and to campaign for women’s rights; they became leaders in the anti-slavery movement, and were among the first to pioneer humane treatment for individuals with mental disorders, and for prisoners.” (Wikipedia: Quakers)

SIMPLICITY (sustainability and stewardship)

What is my response to Black Friday? What is my response to the extreme consumption of our society? What is my response to materialism? What is my response to career advancement? What my response (and attachment) to money and possessions? What is my response to the destruction of the resources of the earth? What is my response to environmental issues?

  • Is my life/work a reflection of what is most important in life?
  • Am I using my “resources, including money and time, deliberately in ways that are most likely to make life truly better for oneself and others”
  • Am I “more concerned with one’s inner condition than one’s outward appearance and with other people more than oneself” (Quaker Testimony of Simplicity, Wikipedia)
  • Do I make enough money for my basic needs? If I make more, why do I make more? And what do I do with it?

COMMUNITY (an interdependence that results in the full expression all of the other testimonies)

We are not here alone. We are one body, here to express the Light and Love of God and carry to ALL the expression of this Love and Light without neglecting any.

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What is the Quaker faith? It is not a tidy package of words which you can capture at any given time and then repeat weekly at a worship service. It is an experience of discovery which starts the discoverer on a journey which is life-long. The discovery in itself is not uniquely a property of Quakerism. It is as old as Christianity, and considerably older if you share the belief that many have known Christ who have not known His name. What is unique to the Religious Society of Friends is its insistence that the discovery must be made by each man for himself.

No one is allowed to get it second-hand by accepting a ready-made creed. Furthermore, the discovery points a path and demands a journey, and gives you the power to make the journey.

— Elise Boulding, 1954 (quoted in PhlYM’s F&P)

4 Responses “Core Beliefs” →
  1. “The response to war is to live like brothers and sisters. The response to injustice is to share. The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope. The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness. To work for community is to work for humanity. To work for peace is to work for a true political solution; it is to work for the Kingdom of God. It is to work to enable every one to live and taste the secret joys of the human person united to the eternal.”
    — Jean Vanier (Community and Growth)

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  2. marlene johnson

    June 14, 2011

    This the truth…<3

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  3. “The weak teach the strong to accept and integrate the weakness and brokenness of their own lives.”
    “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” (Jean Vanier)

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  1. exactly where I am meant to be? « Living with Open Hands

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