"God" stuff

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makr
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"God" stuff

Post by makr » Mon May 30, 2011 8:31 pm

Recently on twitter, there has been a discussion of "duty to God" in the scout promise and how that actually reflects in real life programming and usage.

Pages 101-106 in the Scout Leader's Handbook is relevant to this discussion: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/5e2 ... 2788ed/106

So lets talk.

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Robert D White » Tue May 31, 2011 2:46 pm

Makr,

As an Area Chaplain, I have to declare a bias on this topic. :D But, my observation has been that this principle of Scouting has been given short-shrift for a couple of reasons:

1) Many Scouters don't know how to include "duty to God" in their programming. Part of that reason is the limited amount of time spent on this topic in Woodbadge Part I training. I've even had to "strongly encourage" my fellow trainers to include a Scouts Own in training sessions. Since I haven't been to, or been part of the training team, on a Part II, I'm not sure how this topic is dealt with there.

One of the key challenges is understanding the spiritual development of youth and how you can impart an age-appropriate spiritual awareness to the Youth.

2) There's a hesitation by Scouters on including a "duty to God" component in their programming for fear of offending youth, parents, other leaders, sponsors, etc. Yet I've seen numerous examples of multi-faith approaches in the Leader and Scouting Life magazines which would help allay those fears. One of my key challenges in developing Scouts Owns or other program activities, has been moving from my own Judeo-Christian perspective to that multi-faith approach, but I've been able to do this.

In particular, a local Colony Scouter invited me to present a session on the different faith holidays taking place around December 25. I had a great time researching and developing this and was wonderfully surprised by the depth of knowledge that Beavers had about Eid, Hannukah and Kwanzaa along with Christmas.

3) Some of the available resources - Let's Celebrate or Let's Celebrate 2 - come from a Judeo-Christian perspective and many Scouters or youth may not have the knowledge of/ability to adapt it for a multi-faith approach. It is a challenge, but can be done. I've often thought of approaching Scouts Canada about developing a resource which includes information on other faith groups and multi-faith resources. Alas, time has prevented that at the moment.

There are a number of resources out there, including those written by B-P. If you can get past some of his era-related views, B-P was ahead of his time when it came to teachings on spirituality.

Another resource is the Golden Rule Workshop, which looks at how various faith groups express "do to others what you'd have them do to you" and how you can create you own expression of this. But, as much as I've tried, I haven't been able to get this on the training schedule in my Area.

Scouts Canada's focus on "duty to God' is the development and awarness in the Youth and Leaders' lives of spirituality. It's my desire to see this become as significant a part of the program as the rest of the programming elements.
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by mic_diegel » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:07 pm

Doing one's duty to God should not be hard. Scouts Canada does not define how this is to be done, but only that it is to be done. In the early years of Scouting it was assumed that most people were Christian; although, BP did not feel that non Christians should be excluded and therefore he never defined duty to God.
Several years ago I attended a Gilwell Reunion at Blue Springs and was appalled by the behaviour of some of those attending the Scouts Own. They loudly, at least so that those around them could hear, critisized those leading worship for being too Christian and these were people wearing the Christian religion in life award. When I attending a PT I crew later and seemed to become chaplain I told the trainers I knew the routine and would keep things general I was told that I had to be true to my beliefs because if I could not be true to them no one would see me as sincere. Therefore I adopted the military chaplaincy model of prayer which begins with words to the effect that as a Christian I pray thus... Later I studied interfaith peace intiatives at the ecumenical centre in Geneva, where it became clear that in order to work together we had to respect ourselves and when others saw Christains giving up beliefs just to work together the feeling they had of Christians was that if that is all your faith means to you, it must not mean much.
Duty to God is very easy, but many people make it too hard. Duty to God is being true to what you believe while respecting what others believe. This does not mean that we should, nor can we in any way shape or form, try to convert others.

Rev. Michael Diegel
Chaplain 1st Rosthern SK
Luthern Scout/Guide Relationships -Lutheran Council In Canada
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Errol Feldman » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:48 pm

As a matter of fact Rev. Diegel, B.-P. DID define "Duty to God" in his "Scouting for Boys" which unfortunately too few Scouters today have read. I quote from the Official Handbook for Boy Scouts, Special Canadian Edition, 18th Edition, November 1937. First of all in his "explanation of Scouting" notes in the beginning he says:
We do not interfere with the boy's religion, of whatever form it may be, though we encourage him to practice whichever he professes.
He further defines religion (p.238) as;
1st: Love and serve G-d; 2nd: Love and serve your neighbour.
Finally in a very complete discussion of religion (p.321) B.-P. states, in part:
All organisations of this kind would fail in its object if it did not bring its members to a knowledge of religion - but the usual fault in such cases is the manner in which this is done. If it were treated more as a matter of everyday life it would not loose its dignity and it would gain a hold. The definition of religious observance is purposely left elastic in this book in order to give a free hand to organizations making use of it, so that they can give their own instruction in the matter. In our Association, dealing as we do with those of every faith, we can not lay down strict rules - if we would.
He goes on to say (p. 320)
It is expected that every Scout should belong to some religious denomination and attend its services.
It is more than clear to me what is meant here, and our Religion in Life Awards are there to help the Leader and the Youth in this striving to do "My Duty to G-d".
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Robert D White » Thu Jun 02, 2011 7:09 am

Padre Michael brings up the example of the Canadian military chaplains as an example. I just finished writing a feature article on this for a magazine and the inter-faith model is a suitable one in dealing the duty to God.

Military policy requires a multi-faith/inter-faith approach but doesn't require chaplains to do something outside the bounds of their own tradition nor compromise there own theological position. I have done this as I've approached teaching/practising duty to God in my own Scouting experience.
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by dermanus » Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:28 pm

I'm an atheist, so I hope I bring a different angle to this discussion.

Although I was a very aggressive atheist in my past, I'm more moderate now. I was intolerant of differences, now I'm more accepting. Part of that was fueled by feeling like an outcast from society (this was before the recent popularity of atheism because of people like Dawkins, Hitchens and the like). I no longer feel that way.

Specific to Scouts, I take a very holistic approach to the 'God' question. Being that I don't believe in a personal god of any kind, I emphasize the inter-connectedness of our whole world, which I think works very well with the emphasis on stewardship that Scouting has.

When I get down the basics, I think many of my values parallel those of my theistic colleagues. We both believe in something greater than ourselves. We both believe in using the faculties nature gave us to improve the lives of those around us (not just humans). We both believe there is more to our lives than getting material possessions. The fact one of us got there by Jesus and the other by Seneca is irrelevant to the laws of Scouting.

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by jkeess » Sun Jun 26, 2011 3:58 pm

Ho
It really is about time we dropped "Duty to God" in the promise if we're going to go about claiming we're a multi-everything organisation. It's fascinating to see that SC has a Religion in Life award for Buhddism but excludes most Buhddists from joining - truthfully and fully - as Cuhddists don't believe in God! Of course, there's always the argument that you can interpret the word in your own way, but we could take that further with just about every word in the promise and have it mean essentially nothing.

Other socuting organisations have dropped the word as have the guides, and it's about time Canada follows suit.

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Scouter Harry » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:42 pm

jkeess wrote:Ho
It's fascinating to see that SC has a Religion in Life award for Buhddism but excludes most Buhddists from joining - truthfully and fully - as Cuhddists don't believe in God! (edit)

Other scouting organisations have dropped the word as have the guides, and it's about time Canada follows suit.
Care to cite examples here?
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Nick Pearson » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:51 pm

Our Council just did a WB1 training course at a Buddhist Temple, to whom many of our members are attached to. It was a council course, and well attended by all areas.

It is not SC policy to exclude members based on their religious beliefs
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Mike Stewart » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:57 pm

Although Scouts Canada requires a Duty to God, they define this very loosely. I may be wrong, but from my understanding it doesn't require belief in a deity, just spirituality of some sort. Having said that, I know that Scouts Canada has never turned anyone away because of their beliefs.

John, do you have a specific example of Buddhists being excluded from Scouts Canada?
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by makr » Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:09 pm

Ahem..

According to WOSM's constitution:

Article II, paragraph 2: "Adherence to a Promise and Law"
All members of the Scout Movement are required to adhere to a Scout Promise and Law reflecting, in language appropriate to the culture and civilization of each National Scout Organization and approved by the World Organization, the principles of Duty to God, Duty to others and Duty to self, and inspired by the Promise and Law conceived by the Founder of the Scout Movement in the following terms:

The Scout Promise
On my honour I promise that I will do my best—
To do my duty to God and the King (or to God and my Country)
To help other people at all times and
To obey the Scout Law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scout_Promise

I briefly scanned the promises from all over the world and the vast majority have an element of spiritual being in them.


I'd also invite you to read the wiki article of buddhism, as the first sentence seems to contradict comments earlier in the thread. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Errol Feldman » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:23 am

Mike Stewart wrote:Although Scouts Canada requires a Duty to God, they define this very loosely. I may be wrong, but from my understanding it doesn't require belief in a deity, just spirituality of some sort. Having said that, I know that Scouts Canada has never turned anyone away because of their beliefs.
That's why Scouts Canada now has a Spirituality Badge in the RiL series Mike. The Spirituality Badge is only for Youth as far as I know; not Leaders.
John, do you have a specific example of Buddhists being excluded from Scouts Canada?
Of course he doesn't; and if so, I am sure that the Council Commissioner will crack down there real quick.
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by jkeess » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:23 pm

Of course he doesn't; and if so, I am sure that the Council Commissioner will crack down there real quick
While it's too sensitive (ie, recent) to talk about, I've personally seen a Buhddist referred to national and not allowed to exclude part of the promise. Higher "authority" (as it's really very silly to talk about authority with regards to volunteers) was part of the problem, not the solution.
I'd also invite you to read the wiki article of buddhism, as the first sentence seems to contradict comments earlier in the thread. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism
If you take Buhddism a little mroe seriously than a quick look on Wikipedia, you'll learn that in most traditions, Buhdda is regarded as "the Enlightened One" who found peace through the middle way, monasticism, selflessness and non-attachment to material possessions. In this sense, Buhhda is someone to emulate, not to worship. Again, if you're coming it at from a European perspective, you'll see something where there is not.

The fact of the matter is that "God" is an Abrahamic concept and merely playing fast and loose with definitions is papering over some deep-rooted biases in the culture of Canadian scouting. I wouldn't ask my youth to take the word "duty" lightly, and there's no reason I should do the same with something as important as the word "God." There's nothing wrong with a Spirituality Award (and the Rover level is actually pretty slick), but even "inter-" or "multi-" faith programmes are really Protestant theology with slightly different language.

As for examples:

Guides of Canada


I promise to do my best,
To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada.
I will take action for a better world
And respect the Guiding Law.

Netherlands - the use of the word "God" is optional:

I promise to do my best
(with the help of God)
to be a good Scout
to search for and encourage the good consciously,
to help everyone where I can
and to live by the Scouts law.
You can count on me.

Israel:
I promise to do my best to fulfill my duties to my people, my country
and my land, to help others at all times and to obey the Scout
Law.

India:
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best
to do my duty to my Dharma/God and my country,
to help other people and to obey the Scout/Guide Law

Iceland. "god" is spelled in lower case as it is recognised that "God" really means "Yaweh:"

I promise to do all in my power:
To do my duty to god and my country
To help others and
To obey the Scout Law.

Hong Kong Guides:

I promise to do my best
to be true to myself, my God/faith*, and my country,
to help others, and
to keep the Guide Law

As for WOSM, in 2001 it was recognised that:
Throughout its history the World Scout Conference has recognised the
need to adapt the language and emphasis of its expression of the
fundamental principles to ensure that it reflects the culture and
civilisation while remaining faithful to the essence of the fundamentals.
The selected extracts from Resolutions made at World Scout
Conferences since 1924 reveal a fascinating picture of the manner in
which the participants have striven to maintain the integrity of Scouting
throughout some cataclysmic changes.

Under ‘Duty to God’ the text does not use the word ‘God’, in order to
make it clear that the clause also covers religions that are nonmonotheistic, such as Hinduism, or those which do not recognise a
personal God, such as Buddhism. …… A careful analysis of the
Founder’s writings shows that the concept of a force above man is
basic to Scouting. The whole educational approach of the Movement
consists in helping young people to transcend the material world and
go in search of the spiritual values of life.

...

Thus, in the many NSOs in which there is a membership of widely
varying cultures and backgrounds, there may be a range of forms of
words used in making the Promise – the version used by an individual
Scout being that approved for the e particular circumstances of culture
and religious belief of that individual
Also, check out pages 7 and 8 here. BP had given countires such as Finalnd the right to exclude "God" from their national promises as early as the 1920s (although this practice ended in 1932.) Still, it's a clear sign that removing the word was not foreign to those who founded WOSM, and that it is possible to have spirituality (ie, "force above man" - or the primacy of planet Earth) in scouting without imposing "God" on everyone.
Last edited by jkeess on Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Errol Feldman » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:07 pm

jkeess wrote:
Of course he doesn't; and if so, I am sure that the Council Commissioner will crack down there real quick
While it's too sensitive (ie, recent) to talk about, I've personally seen a Buhddist referred to national and not allowed to exclude part of the promise. Higher "authority" (as it's really very silly to talk about authority with regards to volunteers) was part of the problem, not the solution.
It's not that I doubt what you say; I doubt the details and will personally check it out a Natioal this morning. I will get back to you.

On the other hand, to be strictly honest with you; it is my personal belief that while Agnostics should be welcome there is NO place in Scouting for Athiests.
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by jkeess » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:16 pm

Even if these people were moral, knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers with a good knowledge of world religions? That seems - very contrary to the spirit of scouting.

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Errol Feldman » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:42 pm

jkeess wrote:Even if these people were moral, knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers with a good knowledge of world religions? That seems - very contrary to the spirit of scouting.
I can not imagine that the people you describe would then be ATHIESTs; Agnostics yes; Athiests no.

AND it would be nice if you used a real name so we would know with whom we are discussing. Thanks ;)
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by jkeess » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:54 pm

Wow, that's amazing.

My name is John Keess of 5th Fredericton, and that statement is base. We've had humanist philosophers since the Greeks and in their modern form since the Enlightenment. Just because someone believes in acting morally for the sake of being moral (as opposed to a fear of Hell or whatever your particular book tells you) surely doesn't mean you're immoral.

And, as it happens, the current Dalai Lama disagrees with you:

"I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion."

If we're going to entrench religiosity and exclude atheists, we might as well ban homosexuals again. Given that the Canadian Forces allow ahteists to serve, Atheists sit in Parliament and teach at universities, it seems amazing that SC would exclude a significant segment of the population. I'd much rather deal with a committed atheist than a non-observant "believer."

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by makr » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:15 am

But that's the key here, Religion versus spirituality or rather how each are apart of each other, but you only need one to make the promise.


I would argue that developing a universal responsibility is something spiritual because it means you're setting yourself to be responsible to others. Not necessarily a "god-like" being, but an example would be picking up trash in your community. Maybe you didn't have to, but because you believe in the community you did.

In this sense, Buhhda is someone to emulate, not to worship. Again, if you're coming it at from a European perspective, you'll see something where there is not.
Strictly speaking, the Abrahamatic god was(is?) someone to emulate, and in that specific teaching something to worship. We're getting into semantics here, both views wish one to emulate and aspire to.


In terms of the scout promise here in Canada, the word "god" is a placeholder for faith, religion, spiritual entity you wish to emulate, flying spaghetti monster, whatever. The point being is that your professing a promise on your honour, to this spiritual concept. All of the current published by SC is very clear on this and by assuming the "god" referred to by SC is the Abrahamatic one shows just as much bias. ----Now let me be clear, I'm not naive enough to believe that BSC and SC always thought this way. I full-well know if you didn't go to church or whatever, they wouldn't hesitate to boot you from the group. I mean when I attended a Salvation Army scout troop, I had to make a pledge along with the scout promise. However, the only way to change that and to think outside the box is to leave bias at home, get all scouters on the same page about spirituality in scouting and be glad you can have a many kids with many spiritual beliefs in the same troop.

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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Nick Pearson » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:47 am

Quick aside, but the Rover level Spirituality is weak-sauce.

It's a slightly upgraded Venturer level, and in no way should that be considered a young adult/Rover level of work or understanding needed to get that award.

It does not push the capabilities nor understanding of a Rover. Yes, it could be done at a Rover level, but it is not required to be.
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Re: "God" stuff

Post by Errol Feldman » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:50 am

makr wrote:But that's the key here, Religion versus spirituality or rather how each are apart of each other, but you only need one to make the promise.


Strictly speaking, the Abrahamatic god was(is?) someone to emulate, and in that specific teaching something to worship. We're getting into semantics here, both views wish one to emulate and aspire to.


(CUT) ...I mean when I attended a Salvation Army scout troop, I had to make a pledge along with the scout promise. However, the only way to change that and to think outside the box is to leave bias at home, get all scouters on the same page about spirituality in scouting and be glad you can have a many kids with many spiritual beliefs in the same troop.
I think that you will find Mark that "special interest" groups, according to BPP, may be closed groups and have a right to special requirements for membership. LDS is one I believe.
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