A Challenge To Scouting

Episode Two: “By Whom Are We Challenged?” [First instalment here.]


There are several forces in the world which challenge our Scout faith, and many of them have little or nothing in common. We should recognise these forces, however seldom some of us happen to meet the types of people who are swayed by them.

The first type are the atheists – those who do not believe in the existence of any God. They may describe themselves as Materialists, Secularists, Humanists and the rest, but they all say “there is no God”. It is clear that they cannot truthfully take the Scout Promise. No atheist can be a Scout.

The second type are the agnostics – those who say they do not know about God, and therefore neither believe nor disbelieve. They Scout Promise demands a positive belief.

People of both types may try to shake our faith, and that is why it is so important for us to know what we believe. So often we are shaken by some plausible argument when there is a perfectly good answer at hand if we only know what it is. It is, perhaps, tempting to our pride to say that man is sufficient of himself, but two world wars have shown to what depths man can sink when he has no standard higher than himself to aim at. Man may be clever enough to split the atom, but does he know how to control the use of its energy?

The third type is very common, and consists of those who are apathetic about religion, and who are content to follow the world’s standards. They challenge us, rather indirectly, by suggesting that we are too pious, and our standards unrealistic. They may form the majority of the people among whom we live, and it is hard for some of us to be different. We are tempted to copy their example and to follow the easy road.

Next up: “Communism”

The Longest Day

I thought there was something a bit 2001: A Space Odyssey-ish about the photo at the top of this report.

And I liked this bit:

Before dawn, King Arthur Pendragon, 51, the head battle chieftain of the British Council of Druids, led a troop of warriors – all anthropology students from the University of East London – in a dance honouring mother nature, whose effigy was held aloft and illuminated by fiery torches.

Sometimes it can be quite hard to say why the current government is better than its pre-1997 predeceesors, but the fact that it’s happy for the kind of people who like to hang out at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice to hang out at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice, rather than turning the entire area over to a major police operation for a decent chunk of June, is certainly one of them.(See this, for example, in today’s Independent.)

Contemporary Class Struggle

Looking around to see who’s picketing what, I become very confused indeed.

One of my favourite bookshops, Bookmarks in London, was picketed last Friday (quite rightly) by Jews Against Zionism.

And just down the road this morning outside Oxford University Press there was a pro-potato picket which was protesting (quite wrongly) against the OED, and chanting the most ridiculous slogan I think I’ve ever heard anyone chanting: “Couch Slouch In! Couch Potato Out!” (repeat ad nauseam).

I took the photo below on my way down Walton St this morning, though not getting off my bike for long enough actually to talk to any of these eejits.

New Stoa Serial!

Thanks to David, who’s just given me a copy of a splendid and comparatively unknown pamphlet from around 1950, which I’ll be serialising here at the Virtual Stoa over the next few days. It’s very fine, and not very long. Enjoy.

The menace of Communism


The Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association realise the dangers which their members face by the menace of the present world situation to the values in which they believe. This statement has accordingly been prepared by the two Associations for the use of Scouters and Guiders, but to avoid clumsy repetitions by the use of such phrases as “Scouters and Guiders”, “Scouts and Guides”, each Association is issuing its own statement, using expressions directly applicable to its own members.

The Purpose of the Statement

It is clear that the fundamental beliefs of Scouting are often challenged in the world of today. On all sides our minds are assailed by propaganda, and much of it is specious and clever. Unless we understand what our faith is, and our reasons for holding it, we can easily be taken in by some of this plausible argument.

It is therefore vital that all of us should know what we believe should carry it into practice in our lives, and should be ready to proclaim it to others. We must also realise by whom these beliefs are challenged, and what our answer must be when challenged.

In this statement we seek to remind Scouters of the fundamental beliefs of Scouting, over which there can be no compromise, and to ask them to ensure that their Scouts are well founded in these beliefs by the time that they go out to work, for it is then that the full challenge of the world may meet them for the first time.

We can deal with these great subjects in outline only, but those who feel the need of pursuing them at greater length are recommended to turn to the short list of books in the Appendix.


Our beliefs are summed up in the Scout Promise which we have take:

“On my honour I promise that I will do my best –
To do my duty to God, and the King,
To help other people at all times,
To obey the Scout Law.”

We believe also in the Scout method of training, which aims at the development of the character of each individual, through the Patrol System, the Badge System and Woodcraft.

Let us look at our beliefs more closely:

Duty to God

This comes first, because we believe that God is the Creator and the Preserver of all mankind, and has revealed Himself to us. The claims of God on our life and service are total, and are indeed the only total claims that can legitimately be made upon men. His love of us demands in return our love, devotion and duty.

It is not enough to say that we accept the teaching about God but that we are not prepared to take part in worship. It is the duty of every Scout to carry out the obligations of his faith.

Duty to the King

The King is the constitutional head of the State that gives us protection and safeguards our liberties. We are therefore pledged to be loyal and law-abiding citizens, to take our share in the good government of our country through our work and our votes, and to take no part in any subversive action.

Helping other people at all times

As citizens of a free country, we are free to keep ourselves to ourselves, or to be good neighbours, as may please us, but as Scouts we are pledged to be good citizens and to do good turns to our neighbours whenever we can. Our individual and corporate good turns are an expression of our religious faith, for loving our neighbours as ourselves is one of the great Commandments.

Obeying the Scout Law

The Scout Law lays down a high standard of behaviour, which we are proud to do our best to maintain. As all men are precious in God’s sight, it matters how we treat each other. So, whatever the standard in the world around us, we expect our Scouts (as we expect of ourselves) to be honourable, loyal, friendly, courteous and cheerful – in fact, to live the good life.

The Scout method of Training

Our method aims at producing good citizens who, through their training, think for themselves, display initiative, and are self-reliant. Each individual counts. But as none of us is good enough by our unaided efforts to live up to the highest that we know, we realise that it is only by asking God for His help and by faith in Him that we can be our best.

Next Instalment [coming soon!]: “By Whom Are We Challenged?”

Joyful and Triumphant

The new series of Doctor Who ends tonight. I know you don’t come here for Dr Who blogging (you go here, instead, and hasn’t he been doing a good job?), but it’s all been so much fun that I wanted to enthuse in this space ahead of this evening’s finale.

I missed the first episode, watched the second out of a sense of obligatory nostalgia and sort of enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was great; more or less ditto episode three; but the aliens taking over Downing Street were great fun, the first Dalek episode was one of the great TV programmes of all time, ever, and since those shows I’ve been quite uncritical about the whole thing and enjoyed every minute of it all (though I missed episode eight, alas).

It’s been splendid, and I hope there’s a lot more of it to come.

I think (though I may be forgetting something) that it’s also the first time in almost fifteen years that I’ve followed a TV show from week to week, so becoming a regular viewer feels like a very strange thing to be doing (though I think most people find this quite normal). Usually I only watch news and sports programmes on the telly, and when I watch episodes of things, it’s tended in recent years to be from the DVDs (Inspector Morse, Father Ted, Rising Damp, that kind of thing).

World’s Most Famous Icepick Found

From the Guardian:

One of the most notorious murder weapons in modern history, the ice-pick that killed Leon Trotsky, appears to have been found, 65 years after it was apparently stolen from the Mexican police.The daughter of a former secret service agent claims she has the steel mountaineering instrument, which is stained with the blood of the Russian revolutionary.

And, towards the end of the piece:

Trotsky’s grandson Seva Volkov, who lived with his grandfather at the time and still lives in Mexico, is willing to provide samples for a DNA test against the blood on the handle only if Salas donates the pick to the museum in the house where the murder took place.

Good man.