Friday, October 1, 2010

Ethics

The Delphic Precepts from Al Khanoum. (copyright free from Wikipedia Images)
I worked hard this week, and actually managed to get first drafts of all but one part of my homework completed. I still have the "names" portion to go over, but that shouldn't take me very long and doesn't get handed in, per se.

I think the most enlightening thing this month is working on my Code of Ethics. I shared it over on Neokoroi for those who are members there. I thought about it for a long time, because this is something that is akin to what I used to do with my Wiccan students long ago. It's important to understand where one's morals and ethics are seated. It's also important to revisit those morals and ethics on a regular basis in order to make sure they are up to date and accurate. Our faith journeys take us along many strange paths, and sometimes what applied at 25 doesn't apply when we hit 40, which is what has happened in my case.

"Harm none," is a wonderful sentiment, and one that I still try very hard to apply to my life. 20+ years of experience at this whole Life Thang has changed my viewpoint of the statement, though. At no point have I ever believed that it is possible to go through life without ever causing any harm to anyone, including one's self. The tenet of "least harm" is what I have tried to stand up for, and in many cases I think I've managed remarkably well. There are times, though, when I have hurt myself or others in very negative ways. Since it doesn't say "harm none to the best of my ability," I decided it was really time to re-write those ethical guidelines. Besides, I had to for class anyhow!

What I decided on was to use the Delphic Maxims as my guide, and cherry pick the ones that mean the most to me and comment on them. Some were obvious: nothing in excess, worship the gods, and even be yourself are all worthy of being included on any Code of Ethics. I also added in think as a mortal, though, and obey the law, because they represent important things to me, ideals that all people should strive for but especially those of us who feel called to minister to others in some way.

The ones I think that will cause head scratching in a *personal* ethical code, though, are crown your ancestors, and honor the hearth. My interpretation of those two is a bit far-reaching, but the ideas are solid. In order to be a good minister, you have to have a good grip on your own past and griefs (your ancestors), and you must have your home life in some semblance of order (hearth).

Of course, my Code is written out and explained in some detail. It will go into my personal minister's manual at the end of the year, something that any person I am ministering to (via weddings, funerals, chaplaincy through hospitals, etc) or for will have access to. I'm very pleased with the end result. I think it accurately describes how I try to run my life, including the places where I am striving rather than actually reaching. I think it's important to set the bar a little high, because otherwise what would you work toward?

I also changed my topic for my seasonal ritual that needs to be handed in. I had originally planned on writing up my Advent sermon, which I have to write for church anyhow, but just expanding it a bit to be more interfaith than Christian. The ideas are so universal it should be easy enough. However, I had been contemplating it while working on other homework and realized a few things.

First, I don't think that TNS has ever had an Hellenic polytheistic ritual done before, and I think I'm the one to add it. Second, if I am chosen to perform this ritual in October, it's going to feel really odd! I'd much rather do something germane to the season. Third, I have been feeling a strong call to write a ritual for personal use that includes a Litany to the Dead or for the dead. In light of all that, my seasonal ritual is actually a full Litany to the Dead, meant to be celebrated in the darker part of the year. It could really be applied anywhere from Autumn Equinox through to Yuletide, though I will be performing mine around Halloween (and perhaps at the Halloween party I'm attending, actually). For me, Hallow's Tide is the time I think of Persephone returning to the dark underground world of her Lord, when she becomes again the Queen rather than the Kore. It is one of my favorite times of year, despite the rain that comes (or perhaps because of it...).

I finished the rough draft yesterday, and plan on doing the finishing touches next week while the kids are at school. It isn't a horridly complex ritual, and can be performed indoors or out. Perhaps I'll share it after it gets marked!

My upcoming oral surgery has me a bit nervous, and that is causing me to be a bit preemptive in writing up my homework. I am so desperate not to get behind due to pain or Vicodin buzz that I decided to have all my homework done prior to the surgery. When I first got home and looked at the amount of it, I was a bit taken aback. I thought I'd set myself up for failure. However, it was a sound idea, and I arranged with my Dean to take my assignments early (the night before the surgery, in fact). I have actually gotten almost all of it done!

I still have editing to do, and I have to go over the drafts of everything. The main body of work, though, is complete. I'm proud of myself, not in a vainglorious way but just in a happy way. I applied myself, and I got the work done. And that despite the fact that my computer was offline most of yesterday and today I'm working in Gray's office hooked up to a short cable and an uncomfortable chair. Yay me!
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