Polonius joins the Guides...

So apparently Polonius has joined the guides, while poor old God has been kicked out...
Indirectly I came to faith through the Scouts. So it was with a certain amount of sadness that I saw that Scouting's sister organisation, Girlguiding UK has completed the trajectory it set out on a few years ago in first changing the promise from loving "God" to loving "my God" and now, as from September removing all reference to God. The new promise apparently reads
I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve the Queen and my community
To help other people
To keep the Guide law
Perhaps the Queen will be the next to get the heave-ho if some campaigners have their way, although isn't it strange that God was pushed out first... 

As Richard Hall wrote, over at Connexions, strictly speaking, this has nothing to do with me. I am not and never have been a girl guide. I am currently however, the minister of a church that hosts a guide unit, and, had I been staying beyond the beginning of July, I might have had a sticky situation on my hands come the next Thinking Day Service when the girls traditionally reaffirm their promise. There are many among my church's leadership that might have problems with this decision, and indeed the leadership within the guide movement leadership in our unit may be split... But as I said to one guide leader when the news first broke on Wednesday, my objection is not to the removal of the word God (capitalised or not, mine or whoever's) but the usurpation of God by the self... "To be true to myself" may be a phrase that owes it's origins to Shakespeare's Polonius, (although I wonder if they actually realise that), but despite it's literary origins its inclusion here is ultimately vacuous new-age nonsense, when allied with the promise to "develop my beliefs". This is not simple secularisation, but is rather an elevation of the individual over and above God and others, at its worst actually celebrating selfishness, an idea completely at odds with the founding vision of the Baden Powells, The Scout promise currently is
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best
to my duty to God and to the Queen
to help other people,
and to keep the Scout Law
This may have overtones of Empire and the colonial past that made Robert Baden Powell the slightly strange man that he was, but as Richard Hall says "at least [it] has the merit of directing the scout away from themselves and towards others."
The Guide leadership have made great play of their extensive consultation and the fact that this is all about inclusion, but actually it may end up losing them a lot of venues and ultimately may exclude as many as it now encourages into the fold, because although it is optional you cannot gain the highest honours in Guiding without taking it. 
Currently UK Scouting is also engaged on a comprehensive consultation akin to the Guiding one. I do hope they don't come to the same conclusions.
But as to what happens next Thinking Day, well, I'll be leaving my successor with that joyous decision...

Ooops... I should pay more attention... while cutting and pasting this piece yesterday I managed to lose the first line... It is now restored...


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