A Unitarian congregation in Camp Springs rewrote the Ten Commandments last weekend. The result sounds a little like what Moses might have produced after two weeks with a 1970s encounter group.
"Thou shalt cultivate personal self-respect and self-love and honor it in others" is number one on the list developed by the Davies Memorial Unitarian Church.
"Care, act, reflect, communicate! Begin at home but move beyond into the world and econsphere," reads another.
Being Unitarians, a people who eschew authoriatarian absolutes as mice avoid cats, the group proposed calling its version the "Ten Suggestions for the Human Race."
The projects began two weeks ago with a sermon by the Rev. Fred Le Shane. The pastor led his congregation through a review of the Ten Commandments: how they came to be and how scholars over the ages have differed on the Old Testament account of how God gave the Commandments on tablets of stone ot Moses on Mount Sinai.
"When Sinai and Yahweh (God) are gone, when it is all a myth, a legend -- there are no Commandments anymore, are there?" LeShane asked rhetorically, reflecting the Unitarian tendency toward agnosticism and disavowal of creeds. "But there are internal commandments, ways of looking at things which we feel are important to us"
He asked the congregation to draw up its own "commandments which have grown out of our expericnce with life" as a modern version of the Ten Commandments.
Missing from the result that emerged from last Sunday's services are the injunctions of the Mosaic code against coveting thy neighbor's ox, let alone his wife. Committing adultery isn't mentioned, nor is the stricuture against bowing down to graven images.
Instead, the Unitarian version suggests: "Live with respect and wonder for the good around us... Thou shalt protect the ecosystem... Be humble in thine absolute uncertainties... Live in peace with others, repecting the rights and protecting the property of all ... Thou shalt have a sense of humor."
One of the Camp Springs congregation's Suggestions (they used the terms "Suggestions" and "Commandments" interchangeably) is to "refrain from giving commandments."
Their final word of wisdon: "Search for and be responsive to the truth as it becomes revealed in all thisngs and accept the consequences."
When they finished, the congregation found they had 11 points instead of 10.
What do you expect when you try to write the Ten Commandments with a committee?