...living in a collapsing culture.
Children, and especially teenagers, long to belong - they need the peer group, the comradeship, the sense of adventure as they discover the world together. And never more than now, when the world is a lonely place, and that sense of adolescent angst, of wondering where-I-fit-in which can so easily descend into self-massaging egoism and an obsessive belief in one's own importance and thence into misery and self-destruction.
They need a group that brings them together for great and good things, to meet God, to know about love and service of neighbour, to seek out ways of helping others daily. They need a sense of belonging not just to one another, but to a loving Creator and to a tradition and heritage that has given them a home-base, a nation, a set of values that they did not invent for themselves.
And so a once splendid organisation, the Girl Guides, has opted to do the opposite. In place of lifting up girls' hearts and minds to the great, the true, and the beautiful, to service beyond self and to an understanding of the grand and good things they could do in the world, the organisation has decided to enforce a rule that there is no absolute truth, that a promise cannot be made to God, and that the only measure of anything is "me, Me ME". A new promise is to be imposed, banning any reference to God and instead insisting that the children swear to be true only to themselves and their beliefs - including, presumably, belief in anything at all - and for good measure there is to be no notion of country either, as the children must only be committed to "my community".
I'm only too familiar with the processes that brought this about - the awkward committee meetings at which everyone tries to sound open and friendly and everything seems to be negotiable, so any specific commitment to a previous certainty looks harsh and unhelpful...the blandness with its faint undertones of boredom...the genuine desire to update a good project, combined with the lack of faith in the project's deepest roots. Oh, dear. Why couldn't GirlGuiding have got a grip and recognised that belief in God is the one great certainty of the 21st century?
It won't work. A few years back, the same organisation announced that it was dropping the word "Girl" from its title because it seemed outdated. I well remember this, because I was in correspondence with them at the time about various daft ideas they were pushing forward, and a letter from HQ passionately defended the banning of the word "Girl". Then, suddenly but without fuss, it was back again and is now so much part of the formal title that they've merged the two words together Girlguiding to form a trendy logo/slogan/marketing device.
Allow God back in, ladies, and get real. Be part of tomorrow, not part of the collapse.