Traditionally creeds are communal texts read and repeated in worship to remind the faithful of common beliefs. Religious historian Jaroslav Pelikan describes a moment in the spiritual development of a people—speaking of the Massai of Africa—where they can no longer repeat the prayers and creeds of their teachers but must find their own words for their own context. In many ways, the same is true of college students moving away from family, neighborhood, and hometown and trying to find beliefs and a voice that is truly their own.
For this assignment, compose a personal credo that distills your unique approach to life into a short statement of no more that 250 words. We’ll have time to add flesh to this skeleton later, but for now you’re simply defining your belief as precisely as possible. For this exercise to be meaningful, you must make it wholly your own. This short statement isn’t all you believe; it’s simply a way to introduce others to some things you value. In spite of the name, your credo need not be religious or even public. You may decide to focus on commitments to family, service, political action, or the arts. As you look for a focus, try to choose concrete language and to find something that helps others understand your past, present, and future choices