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  • #16
    I have some things to offer if I can get my dropbox account to work.
    In the mean time, I vibrate/agree with much that has been said. The idea that "my religion is better than your religion" has been the basis of many a war.
    ""The biggest problem I have is religious bigotry with the middle school age boys--they seem to see things so black and white. The muslim and hindu boys get called 'terrorist' -- that sort of thing. The elementary age newbies are pretty nice and the high schoolers are starting to get more tolerant again"" is true to my observation.
    Fifty years ago (!), I remember an Jr. High English class that devolved into a discussion of the causes of war, specifically WW2. One of my classmates expressed a disbelief that the Holocaust ever happened. The story was a made up piece of propaganda from Zionists (this from a 13 year old ?). Well, I had never seen Mr. Emler get so red in the face or act so obviously self controlled. He carefully and slowly explained he had been in the Third Army that had liberated Buchenwald.. In carefully crafted sentences he described , in no small amount of detail, what he had seen and done. The "disbeliever" had no answer to this. No one asked him where he got his story, but it was implied from his family. Such personal, eye witness testimony has a never forgotten effect. No one there was going to accuse Mr. Emler of being a liar.
    So it is with religion. We get it first from our folks, to be accepted whole or rejected, and add to (or subtract from) it with our own experience and research. If we can gain the courage to do the research.
    But it is the personal testimony that ultimately counts. What have you experienced? What have you personally seen and can testify to? Can you believe the witness of people long dead and gone? Do you require your own "miracles" to prove your faith or are the stories and events recorded by others sufficient?
    In a Christian sense, we don't have big miracles any more. One has to look for small ones. What some might say is a "coincidence", another might see as a SMALL miracle, some proof of the spiritual. Help given when needed that has no real physical explanation, but it was there, none the less.
    I hear the same ideas when I speak to my Muslim and Buddhist acquaintances. We ultimately must accept "the other's" testimony as to what they have seen and felt and experienced. And compare it to ours.

    Wouldn't it be neat to have a "Bill Nye The Science Guy" for religion?


    • #17
      Last year I wrote this "musing" for our troop site. It seems to me that it tries to address this to some extent. It certainly does reflect my personal approach pretty well.


      At a recent cub scouting family campout, I had a parent who had been asked to do a “Scout’s Own” ask what he might consider in relation to his personal belief. When I tried to explain the need to be as general as possible in his comments, as he was not familiar with all the spiritual beliefs of the group, he admitted that would be difficult because of his own strong faith and the obligation he felt to make that known. I was unable to stay, but he was thinking about bowing out of the commitment because of his personal conflict. That may very well have been a good decision if he truly was unable to speak in a broadly spiritual manner; and it certainly showed to me his concern about others who might not like to be targets of proselyting.

      It seems important to me to attempt to shed light on this important and sensitive part of Scouting, the “Scout’s Own”. That is the correct name; it is not a Scout’s Zone, as some have suggested. Scouting is nonsectarian in the matter of the scouts’ spiritual lives. As such, the term “Scout’s Own” means a period of inner reflection based on the personal spiritual belief of an individual scout or scouter. This reinforces the basic understanding behind the twelfth point of the law, Reverent: A scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful to his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.

      Understanding that the word God or god has many possible meanings and interpretations is necessary in order to truly grasp the complete nature of this idea in scouting. Accepting almost all forms of spiritual possibilities reflecting a power greater than ourselves, and the place of the family in these concerns is paramount in Scouting’s spiritual tenets. Sometimes youth, especially those in adolescence, are in that personal searching stage of spirituality; and an aware leader will try to give them as much flexibility as they can in these matters. Only if an individual, youth or adult, absolutely refuses to accept any form of spirituality would be grounds for non-participation in Scouting.

      Doing “duty to God” is part of the Oath; each scout and scouter pledges this on his honor. Living up to the Oath and Law, to the best of our abilities, is the basis for how well we adhere to Scout Spirit. Scouters and Scouts need to regularly reflect on this, recognizing that their honor is tarnished when they do not do their best. Reverence is not the last law, it is the final point of the twelve parts. As a major component of the Scouting compass, it joins with the first point to tie them into a whole.

      Ponder this and turn inward and seek your personal Scout Spirit.


      • #18
        So far .... I'll have to say your "experiment" has failed. I've yet to see atheists posting (could it be that they're shut out of the program) to explain their positions. Same goes for the Agnostic, Jews and the Buddhists. All I seen here is how Christians have figured out a way to massage their religion into faux religious programs to prove that they are open minded, and accepting of others beliefs. It's a pointless thread ......


        • #19

          Originally posted by Tampa Turtle View Post
          I really smack down disrespect to others--I would not tolerate the 'Jesus' remark because that would be offensive to other scouts. But I think we have a relatively diverse Troop for our part of town.
          Tampa, I'm not trying to call you out here but rather typing under the category of speaking from the heart. I suspect the quote above gets to the crux of the issue for many Christians, and I know it does for me. I don't offer Jesus to offend but because it's my tradition. It's offered in love. It's not meant to proselytize but rather is the most intimate way I know to ask for blessings. Why is that so intolerable? I think Q made a good point that I agree with in that I would much rather have somebody offer me a blessing from their belief system than to try something more generic or to accommodate my belief system. I may not understand or believe but I trust their heart to be right.

          I have some thoughts on the restrictions on worshiping interfaith but that's probably another thread altogether. I wonder if maybe the Scouts Own answer is simply to stop trying to make something common and just offer facilities for individual faith traditions.

          le Voyageur, the welcome mat was placed on the stoop, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What options would you offer to the question of how to make meeting invocations (or benedictions) more tolerable?


          • #20
            Originally posted by le Voyageur View Post
            So far .... I'll have to say your "experiment" has failed. ... It's a pointless thread ......
            Impatient, much?


            • #21
              Originally posted by le Voyageur View Post
              So far .... I'll have to say your "experiment" has failed. I've yet to see atheists posting (could it be that they're shut out of the program) to explain their positions. Same goes for the Agnostic, Jews and the Buddhists. All I seen here is how Christians have figured out a way to massage their religion into faux religious programs to prove that they are open minded, and accepting of others beliefs. It's a pointless thread ......
              To be fair, most of the folks on here would be of the Christian flavor, I'd wager. You do have a point about them trying to massage their message to be the least offensive as possible and I think that is the wrong way to go. It's your faith, share it with others. And when it's someone else's turn to share theirs, respectfully listen. I think people are thinking that their faith is attacked and feel the need to defend it when other faiths or lack thereof are talked about being added. All spirituality should be welcomed, I learn from you, you learn from me. Don't water down your message, tell it, then be accepting when other views are expressed.


              • #22
                Originally posted by skeptic View Post
                Last year I wrote this "musing" for our troop site. It seems to me that it tries to address this to some extent. It certainly does reflect my personal approach pretty well.
                Interesting. Thanks for sharing it.

                Originally posted by skeptic View Post
                Understanding that the word God or god has many possible meanings and interpretations is necessary in order to truly grasp the complete nature of this idea in scouting.
                This reminds me of an essay that is part of the UUA religious emblem program (and can be found on the UUA website). I don't think they would mind me reproducing it here. I like this very much, but of course, it's from my faith tradition. Your mileage my very.

                When Others or You Say “God”
                By Rev. John. A. Buehrens

                If you are like most people, you are probably puzzled at times when other people use the word "God." That's not surprising. Different people use the word at different times in very different ways.
                Some are angry, cursing: "God d—n it!" Others just feel helpless: "God help us!" Some feel awe: "God, how beautiful!" Others feel glad: "Thank God for that!"

                Some say "God" only in worship or in prayer or in private. Others are more public in their discussions of God. But who or what do we mean when we use the word "God"?

                There probably can never be just one answer to that question. There are many different ideas of God in our world. Different religions see God differently. Even within a religious group, different people may have different ideas of God.

                People who do not believe in or use the word "God" may also have different ideas of what they don't believe in! Occasionally I have asked such people to tell me more about the God they don't believe in. Often I find that I could not believe in such a negative God either.

                One tradition says we can never understand fully what God is, only what God is not. A friend of mine says that's because "'God' is not God's name; God is our name for that which is in each, but is greater than all" (Forrest Church).

                Respect for the Beliefs of Others

                Respect for other people is tied to respect for different ideas about God. After all, different families, individuals, and religious traditions have ideas of God that surely differ.

                One Native American idea of God spoke of the Great Spirit as being in all things, asking only respect for all that lives.

                In Judaism, when a young person asks, "Why do we say 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and our god?'" the answer is, "Because every generation must come to God in its own way."

                For most Christians, God is a Trinity—Creator, Christ, and the inspiring Holy Spirit guiding faithful believers.

                For Hindus, there are many, many gods—but all as aspects to one divine reality, Brahman, to which each individual's soul, or atman, is also related.

                Buddhists decline to argue about whether there is a soul or no soul, God or no God. Instead they see compassion and respect for the Buddha nature in all beings as leading to Enlightenment.

                Islam calls all the various tribes and peoples of the earth to abandon their idol-worship and to submit humbly to the one unseen God.

                Religion can seem to make trouble if all it teaches is that one set of beliefs is the only right way to believe or that one group is better than others. But religion almost universally teaches that we should treat others with respect because we are all sisters and brothers, children of the same Mystery.

                When You Say "God"

                Deciding what you mean when you say "God"—or choose not to say that word—should probably be a lifelong process of religious learning and thinking. My own ideas about God have changed a number of times. Yours probably will too.

                "I found God in myself and I loved her—I loved her fiercely," said Ntozake Shange in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. That's good. But then there's Mother Teresa, who saw God in others—especially the poor and the dying. That's even better.

                A hymn I like is "Bring Many Names" (#23 in Singing the Living Tradition), which celebrates many images of God. One verse has God as a women scientist! "Strong mother God, working night and day, planning all the wonders of creation, setting each equation, genius at play..." Another depicts a warm, forgiving Father. God is seen as both old ("grey with endless care... wiser than despair") and young ("eager still to know, willing to be changed by what you have started").

                A great minister, John Haynes Holmes, once said, "When I say 'God' it is more poetry than theology. He meant that he didn't have any very dogmatic ideas, but he did have heartfelt intuitions of God. Best of all, when he said "God," he also felt called to help end prejudice and injustice in whatever way he could.

                Emerson spoke of "the Soul of the Whole." Like the prophets, he warned that everyone worships something—money, status, their own ego or group. What about you?

                God-Talk in Public

                Some God-talk doesn't mean very much. On the dollar bill it says, for example, "In God We Trust." To which cynics often add, "All Others Pay Cash."

                Other uses can mean more than they usually do. The U.S. pledge of allegiance speaks of "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all." Like the Scout Oath ("I will do my duty to God and my country...") such uses depend for their meaning upon personal understandings of God and of duty.

                These public, symbolic uses of God-talk become problems if they are used to force anyone to say what they don't believe or to believe in particular way. When they are voluntary, however, public pledges or prayers can give people a chance to express human solidarity and humility.

                When others say "God," you are given a chance to learn more about them—how they think about God, what they believe about human living and dying, and how their ideas may differ from yours. Just use respect. The same applies when you yourself say the word "God." Try not to use it to make yourself feel superior, either for believing or not believing. Use it with humility. Use it only when it expresses your solidarity with others.

                The Reverend John Buehrens served as President of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations from 1993 to 2001 He is the author, with Forrest Church, of A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism.

                copyright 2010 Unitarian Universalist Association 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2800
                Last edited by Rick_in_CA; 05-23-2014, 12:52 PM. Reason: Fixing some odd formatting issues


                • #23
                  KDD, regarding how Jewish prayer is different than Christian, I'm not positive on Christian services but in Jewish services there are a fixed set of prayers to choose from. That way everyone can join together in saying them. Nearly all of them have a melody that goes with them and are often sung. I like it because it becomes a meditative thing for me. Very calming.

                  I googled Jewish Boy Scout Invocation and found a page that contains a prayer called the Hiker's Prayer. It starts with "Master of the Universe, Grant me the ability to be alone; May it be my custom to go outdoors each day Among the trees and grass, among all living things. And there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, To talk with the one to whom I belong." It was written by a rabbi that lived in the 18th and 19th centuries and was a very interesting person. I have a hunch it was not originally called the Hiker's prayer

                  Rick_in_CA mentions being "ambushed" by a prayer and I must admit I've been there. Now, an invocation is just a time to wait out. It's just my opinion, but some sort of recognition ahead of time that an explicitly, say, Christian prayer is coming would help a lot. That and some invitation for people of other faiths to bring their own would be very welcome.

                  I agree with the sentiment that if a "prayer" is not inspiring, then what's the point? Maybe it gets down to trying hard to follow the 12th point, seek your own passion and go out of your way to respect that of others.

                  Pack, if you can simplify the rules to one sentence and use them generally somehow, I think it would be great. Consider this version 0.1. with an open copyright. So far I'm pleased with the results.

                  Shabbat Shalom everyone.


                  • #24
                    Play nice.
                    How's that work for you?


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by packsaddle View Post
                      Play nice. How's that work for you?
                      Win all you can.


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by qwazse View Post

                        Impatient, much?

                        No, sadly it's reality ... BSA has played the game of religious openness very well, and it's unofficial religion has always been and will always remain conservative christianity. Those of us who are outside of this box are forced to breathe this second hand smoke of religious indifference at nearly every BSA function we attend... Round Tables, District Committee meetings, Summer Camps, NCS, Council short, we get no choice. It's forced on us.....


                        • #27
                          God = MY god.

                          god = YOUR god.

                          It's not like it's his name or anything, it's just a noun used to describe one's deity. The distinction being, my god vs. your god, as if any of the major religions allow you to "own" god in the first place. The "my god/your god" discussion is only for political posturing.

                          Ever wonder why god never told us his name?

                          If one knows someone's name they have power over them. If I'm standing in front of a crowd of people and say stand on one foot and whistle Dixie. Everyone will smile and pretty much ignore me except for a few who think it might be fun. But if I know someone in the crowd by name and say, "John Smith, stand on one foot and whistle Dixie", the only one who will be affected by the comment is John Smith. Thus no one knows god's name because no one can have that much control over him/her. Ever wonder why all the Biblical talk about god knowing and remembering one's name? Ever wonder why god refused Moses' request for his name? It all makes perfectly good sense to me.

                          Most of the bigotry, hatred, animosity, whatever, is not a result of multiple gods, but of multiple traditions we use to be able to say my god is better than your god. It even works within a single religion. One has Orthodox Jews and Reformed Jews for example, and can anyone count how many different flavors of Christianity and Islam are out there?

                          So then one is called upon to do an invocation for a gathering. The first jumped-to conclusion is we gotta play nice for the "non-whatever I happen to be" people. If I'm an Evangelical or Baptist, I'm going to probably rankle the Roman Catholics more than the Jews and Muslims who basically are ignoring what I may say anyway.

                          The problem is not the religion, the problem is the traditions about religion that cause the most harm. I can live with the wisdom of god's moral code of ethics, but I surely have many problems about the one's created by human "wisdom".

                          As an ordained minister, most people in my council/district do not know that. Those that do and have asked me to provide clergy/chaplain functionality to an event have always received a respectful and polite "no, thank you", from me. Do I still counsel and do ministry for individuals or groups of like tradition people? Yep, but I stay away from the political side of the whole issue.

                          Which is kinda what I'm not doing on this thread.



                          • #28
                            I'm gonna put a piece of tape over the upper left corner of my screen and write "Religion and Ethics Thread" on it.

                            Thank you JBlake/stosh, thee speaks my mind. When I am asked to say a grace, or open a meeting with a prayer, I recognize the difficulty of being "inclusive". As a Quaker, it is easy for me to be spiritual without being too Christian (!), but I also find that when someone else offers a prayer for our group, I have come to accept that , hey, if someone asks their g(G)od to bless me, in whatever form that blessing may take or become, who am I to deny it? Woodbadge teaches that "all feedback is a gift". I think all blessings are a gift , too, be it asked of God, or Allah, or Buddha or Manatou. .

                            I could see a non-believer asking that we all accept the gift of life, be it accident, coincidence or intended. Some could accept it easier than others. Some will always resent the gift, being (they think) unearned or not created by themselves.


                            • #29
                              SS, other than the oats I don't know much about Quackers other than a friend told me they don't have clergy. In a service they congregation just sits in a room and if someone has something to say the stand up and say it. Sounds a lot like this thread.


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by packsaddle View Post
                                Play nice.
                                How's that work for you?
                                I'm completely missing the reference. I suspect it's not good, so please explain.