Rites of Passage

Below are the credo statements of the Coming of Age Candidates.

Cooper

In plain truth, science is my religion. I don’t believe that god made the world in 7 days, but instead believe the theory of evolution.

In my personal view, religion can lead to fanaticism, which in turn leads to war. Some examples of this are the crusades, The Holy wars, and even WWll with the Nazis. They were all caused by people thinking that they were superior because of their race and religion.

In some religions, it says that the world is young and only a couple thousand years old. There is lots of evidence to support otherwise, such as human skeletons being found that are 75 thousand years old and the dinosaurs, which lived 65 million years ago. Some religious stories sound more like tales from ancient mythology, sounding to fictional to be real.

Some people believe that we have a destiny, that our paths are all ready decided. In Norse mythology, a serpent named Ragnar, which translates to The Doom of the Gods, was sent to devour the world. In one story, it said that it would come and fight Thor, the god of thunder, and that it would kill him and devour the world. The story all ready says what will happen when Ragnarok comes, and tells he will be victorious.

Instead I chose to believe in fate. With fate, you still have specific things that will happen, but your actions decide how that will affect you. In another version of the story of Ragnarok, it says that the fate of the serpent is that it would come fight and eventually kill Thor. It doesn’t say which is to be victorious though. In the end, Ragnarok poisons Thor, and after Thor defeats the serpent, the poison kills him. He chose his own fate. He could have failed, and then the serpent would have devoured the world. Either way, Thor would have died, but he still fought. He did not do it because he was told too, but for the greater good.

I feel as though we should make our own paths through life based on how we want to act. We are told that we can be whatever we want to be, but to most, this seems impossible. Some of our dream we want to achieve, such as an astronaut, President, or a pilot, seem to crazy to ever achieve. But they’re not as long as we give it our all to achieve it, and even if you fail, you can’t say you never took a risk and tried to make your dreams come true.

This relates to me being a UU because of our rationalist tradition.

Nicolas

To achieve happiness I need to know that I made a lasting contribution to this world, to the people around me and that I have had an enjoyable life. These are my two core values. These core values are what I strive to accomplish every second of my life in order to be happy.  Making a lasting contribution gives meaning to my life. If you are a rock thrown into a pond and you don’t make a ripple, then what is the point of being thrown into the pond? This metaphor applies to me in life. I believe that I want to live a meaningful life to those around me. I want to hit that pond and make ripples everywhere, I want to leave a legacy. To me making a contribution to this world is to improve on our human lives. This could be through science, business, humanities or on a local level like supporting my family. Making a contribution to this world sustains me in times of difficulty. When I face a hard choice I make the choice that best sets me up to make a contribution to people around me and that makes me happy. Making a lasting contribution makes me feel connected to something larger than myself.

Striving to have an enjoyable life gives me joy. An enjoyable life is one where I am in a good place financially and I can choose to do things I want to do. If you only live once and it wasn’t enjoyable then what did you get out of it? To me the answer to this question is nothing. That’s why I strive to make my life enjoyable, so I have the sense of accomplishment that I got something out of life.

Focusing on my core values gives me meaning to my life. Striving to promote these two core values of mine makes me feel that I am apart of something bigger than myself. When my rock sinks into that pond I want the ripples around me to know that I strived to live a meaningful life. I feel that making a legacy and leading an enjoyable life will lead me to that meaningful, balanced and happy life.

Sophia

When I sat down to write this I thought it was going to be a pain in the neck. Which wasn’t entirely wrong, but then I thought of all of you, and said, “Well, this can’t be that hard, obviously these people have thought about this and survived the mental strain.” But it was interesting after I  actually gave it some thought and got some help from my mentor Jason, for which I want to thank him immensely.

I found that it was easier to say what I didn’t believe in than what I did. I went through a lot of drafts that weren’t really relevant before I actually got the point where it would get my beliefs across without reciting an extended version of War and Peace. I found that for me God didn’t play a part in my life, as I had never been raised as a theist. I know that UUCA and Unitarian Universalism is something that I can stay behind for the foreseeable future. I also found some parts of Buddhism that spoke to me when the 8th grade RE class visited the Monastery, mainly that meditation definitely worked to relieve my stress.

Jason also mentioned “flow” as a suggestion for something that might be meaningful to me. When I read about it I realized that it described experiences I have had playing volleyball. Volleyball is really important to me, and if you have some time after service, I’d be happy to tell you all about it. Otherwise, it might be best if you don’t get me started talking about it.

But back to flow. The flow state is a period of time where you are intensely focused on a goal, and that was why Jason brought it up. I compared it to the moment right before you score a point in volleyball. Everything is clear and you know exactly what you have to do to hit it just right. I found a description of flow relating to sports. It said, “Engaging in a challenging athletic activity that is doable but presents a slight stretching of one’s abilities is a good way to achieve flow. Sometimes described by being ”in the zone,” reaching this state of flow allows an athlete to experience a loss of self-consciousness and a sense of complete mastery of the performance.”

I thought this definition nailed it on the head for me, a clear point of view and focusing on giving it your all. I figured that this was an important part of what I believed, that “stretching one’s abilities is good”. Not just in sports but also as a good way to go about life, try your hardest plus a little bit more. It won’t always work like that and I’m aware, life isn’t perfect and the ideal circumstances almost never happen. Red lights when you’re in a rush to get somewhere or that mystery person who ate your lunch when you clearly labeled it with your name. Or when the bra you loved that was the perfect fit was discontinued and is no longer being sold. Sorry if that last one only made sense to half of you.  I think that I can apply these beliefs about the world, mainly the flow state, UUism, and meditation to my life. I don’t strive to change the world. Unless I get some big opportunity to fix some major problems, I plan on keeping it small. Marching with others in pride parades or asking people to stop using derogatory terms for people that are different from them. I know that UUCA is a place where I can grow and expand on these beliefs, and for that I am grateful to you all.

When I was younger, I didn’t understand why a community was so important. But now I think I’m starting to get it. Thank you for listening.

Max

You know, its hard to think of any cool upsides to my name except for my friends calling me “Mad Max”

Anyway, I’d like to start off by saying that I feel that this coming of age program has really helped me understand what I believe. Ever since I was a little kid, I was taught about god and his teachings. I do believe in god, but I do not see the importance believing god is human. I believe the important thing about god is using the lessons he tough us about compassion and courage and doing the right thing. I believe that god is something that leads us through life, keeping us out of harms way and making us better people. I used to think about how none has a choice whether they want to be on this earth.

Now I think about how receiving a life on earth is a blessing. What do I value most in life? The endless opportunities I am given. I tend to forget that I have such an encouraging family that I know will support me no matter what I decide to do. I am thankful that my parents work as hard as they do to ensure my future stays bright. I have so many royalties that I might not even deserve, but that I do appreciate. I feel like the challenges I face in life are a gift. Especially now that I prepare to start high school, I feel that each hardship I overcome leaves me a better person. This might sound cliché, but my father always tells me, “Everybody has challenges, these ones are yours.” I know all throughout my life I will be constantly pelted with anger, depression, and frustration. But this will just remind me that I’m on the right track. Because the road of a truly successful life is the one with the most the most speed bumps. I realize that I have one life here on earth, and I am determined to make the very most out of it.

Karina

During this class, I learned a lot about myself. I learned what I believe in and I learned how to figure out what path I want to go on. Writing this made me think a lot about how my life has been and how it will be in the future.

Being able to make connections with others and not being scared to talk to new people is important to me. It helps me make my family bigger. It helps me have people to know and talk to about life. This past year, I met some people who helped me keep my mind off of all the rough patches with my closest friends. They helped me concentrate on other things instead of thinking about everything bad.  I’m glad I met them because they have helped me.

Being a part of a community helps me get more involved with other people. It helps with having other people I can hang out with or talk to instead of the same people all the time. These communities become my family. People I will always have in my heart. Becoming a part of different communities and families keeps me on my toes. I always have something to do with the many communities I am involved in. The focus is on now and keep moving forward.  Some examples of communities I love are: my school, my neighborhood, UUCA, the community of people who come from my dad’s culture and country.

This year I made my family bigger. It’s been a great year overall. I thought about my life more than I ever have before. I figured out what some of my beliefs are and I continue to learn more about them.

Fiona

As a progressive individual, I strongly believe in the positive change and unity of humanity. I believe that people are born inherently good, and that in order to keep this pure, one must do good onto others as they should do onto you. From growing up in a Unitarian Universalist church, I learned to be accepting and loving towards all people. This plays a large part in my beliefs. My perception on religion, life, and people is built by Christian ethics, Unitarian Universalist principles, comfort, and an open mind. I know that a conclusion hasn’t been made on where we come from or an after life, hence my openness and acceptance of other religious preferences and views.

 A consistent motif for my beliefs is comfort. By believing in a God, I have a way to cope with change and loss. It gives me a stable force that I can constantly turn to for an explanation as to why things happen the way that they do. By having reassurance that “God has a plan,” it gives me a purpose. It provides me with positive energy and hope for negative events that may occur. I believe in a God for the reason that doing so gives me strength and a sense of safety.

Believing in a “creator” has helped me realize my own self value, as well as that of the people around me. This has given me a newfound  appreciation for small things that I did not take time to notice before. I feel gratitude for so much more than I did previously,  for the reason that I am motivated to take time out of my day to be aware of my surroundings and to really notice the beauty in everything. I know that my beliefs in an existential creator may be wrong, but I do know that the gratitude and want to do good that has been enforced by my notion is genuine.

I identify as a Christian when asked, but I strongly disagree with a multitude of messages enforced by the bible. I do not believe in Hell and I do not believe in the perverted and dictating God some people associate with Christianity. I believe in God and science. I believe in unity, but not  religion. And I believe in love not hate, no matter the motif.

Sarah

I get asked what I believe in quite often. I get asked if I believe in God or any other form of being. Now, I’m not saying that no one believes that there is a god, but everyone has a different view on what they believe to be a god. You could be a strong believer and feel as if he controls every aspect of your life, or you could simply just pray to him every now and then.

I do not come from a religious family. It’s more of a spiritual family, I guess. So when I talk about God I’m kind of just going on what I know from everyone else telling me. What I do believe in, however, is making your own dreams come true. I believe in science being the reason the world is the way it is now. I believe that fairytales and other mythical beings exist. Technically I’m atheist. That’s the label that people use. But did you know that if atheism was considered a religion, it would be the fourth largest religion in the world? That’s millions of people that believe in the fact that there is no God. Millions of people who may not believe in him because they might not feel he cared about them, or let bad things happen to them.

A couple months ago, the only reason I came to church each Sunday was to see my friends and the fact that my mom works here. I would probably be sleeping right now, trust me. But, in a way, I guess, this place has kind of become my second home. I was up late at night a couple weeks ago, and I was talking to my friend about what Unitarian Universalism is. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think much more like a UU than I thought. The things I said, the way I communicated with my friend were just so similar to what everyone has told me that being a UU is. And even though I may not believe in the same god that everyone else believes in, I still feel connected to this place.

So I don’t necessarily believe in God. Who cares? It’s just a choice that I’ve made. I’m still the same person that I was before I started talking about this with you guys, and I’m definitely still the same person I was before I knew I was atheist. The point I’m trying to make is the fact that I am now realizing how much I love this church, and this community. Thank you for listening, and accepting me into our community.

Keith

My credo is about values I believe in. My values are to stay positive. It’s not always easy, especially when things get tough, but it helps you to persevere. I believe in love without judgement. I also believe that every person has value, even Donald Trump…

I believe in fortitude. Fortitude is when you have the strength and courage to face adversity. For example, when I was in 5th grade I had to move to a new house and new school. I was scared to walk into a new environment. But I was brave and did it.

Everybody wants happiness. Whether it’s new cars, new shoes, new games, or…putting a wall in Mexico. For me it is sports that brings me happiness because I enjoy being active and having fun. When I play basketball with my brother and make my 3-point shots and get into a close competition, I feel joy. When I live in the moment, I feel happy.

I believe you should focus on what you have and not what you want to have. When I look at Snapchat, sometimes I want to be doing what other people are doing and not what I’m doing. The Buddhist teachings remind me to let go of my wants and desires and be happy with what I have. I can’t always do it but I try.

There is also something called work, though, and that can make life stressful. It can be the most frustrating thing sometimes, but you just have to do it. Just do it. I struggle with doing my homework every day. That’s something I really need to “just do.” I believe in staying positive. I believe in love without judgement. I believe in fortitude, happiness in the moment and that I must “just do it” when it comes to work. I believe when things go wrong, if I follow these values I will be fine.

Coming of Age Ceremony

Bridging Ceremony