[lit-ideas] Believing in Wonder and honoring those who do (and who do not)
- From: eternitytime1@xxxxxxx
- To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 04 Jan 2006 18:30:36 -0500
Hi, While if you are in the UK and are an adult, you will be barred from being a scout leader as a strict atheist. But if you claim to be an atheist and are a young person involved in scouting, you are (as in David Ritchie's daughter's case with Girl Scouts-though they are, I though, pretty loose in their interpretation [unless she is in Venturing?]) But, scouting does incorporate what is often thought of as a 'spiritual' path in terms of a more holistic viewpoint of living (ie as well the physical, psychological and emotional). Would not someone generally have a bit of a faith in some aspect of a particular religious tradition if one were to join a church or synaguogue (unless it was for the community aspect, maybe?)? The concept here is that scouting allows for the growing of alot of things--whether it be the concept of caring for others, learning about how to take care of the environment/outdoors/leave no trace principles, community/world involement, physical as well as spiritual development. Actually, though, the concept of what is spiritual development/what is 'god' is a bit more complex that simply 'I don't believe in god'... and it is, actually, fairly broad. You have to be pretty hard-core atheism to not believe in SOMETHING as a "Higher Power" ... (even "Science" can be construed as a 'higher power' for some...even in my traditional scouting world, there is an incredibly broad interpretation--there are Wiccans, etc. who are all part of Scouting--and the idea is to honor them all. More inclusive than exclusive.) But, yes, there is a belief in scouting that it is helpful for your personal growth and development to believe in SOMETHING. (someone, something, somewhere, whatever...) Personally, while I know people here don't agree with me <g>, I find it grand fun to believe and I believe in all sorts of things at all and they change alot. (my Theory of the Month Club, you know.) But, I like to play with ideas and concepts, too...even while I take it all very seriously...trying to find my way and help others find theirs, too. The words/meaning allowed within the World Scouting Movement to be said instead of 'god' is fairly broad. I have read, in fact, several alternatives crafted by Baden-Powell, even, to address the issue. Right now, the biggest issue in Scouting in BSA with this second 'g' is that there are members of the Humanist Religious tradition who are arguing a case for themselves/their kids--as believing in People or Humanity as a Higher Power. It's an intriguing argument (irene/andy wouldn't agree with them, i don't think <g>) as they see that the changes in the world definitely must come from People--and they believe that we have it in us to create this. There is also the thinking that, just as the UK did, those in BSA need to see the whole spiritual development as one in progress-that just as we don't kick someone out for being overweight but wanting to be in shape/working towards it--we need to rethink the concept of thinking that a kid is born with a 'belief' or has no questions...as he saw the concept of being outdoors as one which creates a 'natural spiritual' dimension (to paraphrase very looselyl) I do recognize, though, that on this list <wry look>, it would appear that even having the wonder of Nature and interpreting that as "God" would be cause for ridicule...instead of honoring someone's faith...and enjoying the fact that someone is motivated to wonder by SOMETHING. (hard enough to get people to go out and return to their three year old wondering minds when they see a squirrel run across a lawn...) anyway, this is from the World Scouting website... Best, Marlena in Missouri CAN SCOUTS NOT BELIEVE IN GOD? Q - Can Scouts not believe in God? We have Buddhist Scouts, and Buddhism doesn't foresee God's existence. A - One of the three main principles of Scouting is "Duty to God". However, the word "God" can mean different things and nobody has the right to impose his or her concept of God on other people. For example, it is true, as you say, that Buddhists do not share the concept of a "personal" God like Christian, Muslim or Jewish people. Does this mean that Buddhist people are atheists? The concept of atheism is very tricky. Let me give you an example - a Hindu mystic, Swami Vivekananda, said: "In the same way that certain religions in the world call a man who does not believe in a God existing outside his person an atheist, we, for our part, say that an atheist is a man who does not believe in himself. Not believing in the splendour of one's own soul - that's what we call atheism." In the constitution of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, you can find the following definition of "Duty to God": "Adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom." There are three parts in this definition: (1) adherence to spiritual principles, (2) loyalty to the religion that expresses them and (3) acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom. I think that any believer, including Buddhists, can agree on this definition. Download the chapter 7 of "The Green Island", a novel telling how a national programme team in a given country of Central and Eastern Europe is working to develop the youth programme for their Scout association. Chapter 7 is about spiritual development. It explains how we should understand "Duty to God" and how Scouting can contribute to spiritual development, which was also called by our Founder Baden-Powell "a natural form of religion": "The natural form of religion is so simple that a child can understand it. It comes from within, from conscience, from observation, from love, for use in all that he does. It is not a formality or a dogmatic dressing done from outside, put on for Sunday wear. It is, therefore, a true part of his character, a development of soul, and not a veneer that may peel off." You could also download the background paper and the report on the WONDERforum recently organised on spiritual development. There you will find a lot of information related to your question, particularly a definition of the "Scout approach" to spiritual development: The Scout Approach The role of the Scout leader relating to spiritual development is not to give religious instruction, nor to tack religious observances onto Scout activities. It is to use the kind of experiences offered by Scouting to help young people discover a spiritual reality and incorporate it into their own lives. In fact, Scouting proposes a 5-step approach to spiritual development. 1. Enable young people to experience spirituality through Scout activities In many cultures, the term "God" designates, on the one hand, the Creator or source of everything and, on the other hand, absolute goodness or a principle of salvation which pervades the history of humanity. There are thus two possible ways of discovering God: by exploring the wonders of creation and nature; by experiencing life within a human community. Traditional Scout activities do indeed permit these types of experiences: - Hiking, exploring, camping and actions to preserve the environment all enable young people to discover and admire the wonders of nature and life itself. - Welcoming, learning to listen, building relationships with other people, however poor or destitute, showing compassion, sharing; co-operating within a team, sharing responsibilities, serving others, etc. All these are activities which aim at discovering and developing a human community. 2. Making time for young people to discover and express the meaning of life A Scout leader also needs to propose opportunities for evaluating and celebrating experiences, in other words, to provide activities which enable young people to analyse their own experiences in the light of the Scout Law and Promise, in order to discover their meaning and value. It is through these kinds of activities, which include moments of silence, meditation and expression, that young people can experience the need to pray and worship. 3. Help each individual to identify with his or her spiritual and religious heritage A major concern is how to help each young person make links between the experiences gained within Scouting and the spiritual and religious heritage which has been transmitted to him or her by the family and local community. With the onset of adolescence, it is normal for a young person to challenge this heritage, question its relevance and have doubts. It is necessary to pass through this stage in order to truly adopt this heritage and develop an adult approach to spirituality, religion and faith. 4. Encourage internalisation and personal commitment Spiritual development only has any sense if it becomes internalised and leads to personal commitment. This is why one of the essential criteria for progression is the application of acquired spiritual and religious values in daily life. 5. Develop open and respectful attitudes One of the fundamental convictions of the Scout Movement is that spiritual development should bring people together in fellowship, instead of separating them or bringing them into conflict. Since modern societies are those which thrive on communication and exchange and comprise a multiplicity of cultures and faiths, it is essential to prepare young people for such diversity. They need to overcome prejudices and develop open-mindedness and respect for faiths which are different from their own, whilst being able to express their personal convictions without aggressiveness. -----Original Message----- From: Paul Stone <pas@xxxxxxxx> To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Wed, 04 Jan 2006 15:55:57 -0500 Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: 2006 reading lists At 02:54 PM 1/4/2006, you wrote: >The Scouts here stopped barring gays in 1997. They >bar paedophiles (and atheists). Wow... that is too funny [the atheist part] not to be true.
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