Saturday, May 30, 2015

Credo and Mission Statement - Aliquippa Center for the Study of Culture and Belief

We recognize that COMMUNITY shapes our actions and deeply informs our beliefs. We therefore seek a careful and thorough understanding of the local community in which we are situated. Additionally, we are interested to understand how our participation in broader (non-local) communities contributes to and challenges our experience of shared community life. Most of all, we desire to interrogate how historic belief systems (and their contemporary manifestations) can deepen our understanding of community and its impact on our experience of being human.
We are convinced of the importance of the geographic locale of the CITY as a forgotten and rich place in which one can experience both the fullness of communal life as well is its profound absence. Further, we recognize the city as one of the most obvious examples of humankind’s successes as well as its failures. We seek more fully to understand such failures and more deliberately to celebrate such successes. More than many other geographic locales, the city forces one to confront cultural extremes. Our intent is to study the culture of our local city in order to understand how life in Aliquippa can both inform and be informed by historic and contemporary communities of shared belief and practice.
We seek to deepen our awareness of MARGINALIZATION as it is manifest in our local community. We recognize the experience of otherness as a central theme of the most enduring belief systems. We desire to uncover and celebrate how living on the margins can be of benefit to the human experience. We labor to understand the varied manifestations of marginalization that are characteristic of our local, city community. We seek to critique unjust marginalization and challenge the communal practices that sustain such life-hindering injustices. Above all, we wish to demonstrate how responsible commitments to historic belief systems speak to the experience of marginalization and in so doing promote sustainable community even in the midst of genuine difference.
We believe that CONTEMPLETATIVE EDUCATION is a necessary prerequisite for responsibly challenging those elements of communal life that hinder human flourishing. Although the need for contemplative education is not unique to the city of Aliquippa, the necessity of such practices is particularly evident herein. More than the mere acquisition of either knowledge or skills, a commitment to contemplative education calls the student to an active and critical engagement with the most enduring human questions and problems.  Contemplative education must therefore cultivate an awareness of historic belief systems, demonstrate how such belief systems speak to enduring human questions, and encourage an active dialogue that inform the practices, problems, and possibilities attending one’s experience in a particular community. We are committed to providing ongoing and progressively more developed environments wherein the virtues of contemplative education can be both observed and practiced by various citizens of the Aliquippa community.
We celebrate the enduring promise of HOPE as a fundamental expression of the human experience. We seek to recognize varied manifestations of hope in our community, desiring always to interrogate the reasons for hope’s presence and the ways it might be employed in service to responsibly enriching our experience in community with one another. As yet another essential element of enduring belief systems, we seek to understand how such historic belief systems both create and sustain hope in even the most difficult of circumstances and most seemingly hopeless communities. We are convinced that hope’s presence is an essential element of all personal and communal change and desire to provide opportunities for citizens of Aliquippa to employ the tools of contemplative education in order to gain a fuller awareness of their own hopes as well as the hopes of those members of their broader community. In all we do, our desire to fuel and direct responsible and grounded hopes among citizens of the community of Aliquippa.

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