Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism

In talking about the different ways the LDS Church has implemented Scouting, compared to other chartered organizations, I can't help but think about different modes of baptism as well.

A few years back, a story hit the news circuit about how the Catholics would no longer accept LDS baptisms but rather require that converts from Mormonism to Catholicism be rebaptized. This was supposedly a blow to our attempts over the past decade or more to appear more Christian to other churches around us.

Well, in case you hadn't noticed, we don't accept anyone else's baptism. So what's the big deal if they take ours or not? I know it's strange that Catholics and Protestants would share their baptisms with each other but not with us. It does display a lack of respect and understanding on their part. But if someone has left the church and joined another one, shouldn't that just be considered standard practice that they are baptized by their new church?

An influential leader in the Episcopalian church, Carolyn Tanner Irish, was raised LDS, left the church when she went off to college, and eventually joined the Episcopalian ministry and became a Bishop in that church. She was never rebaptized, but some people wanted her to, since the Episcopalians don't accept our baptism either. It was ruled, however, that since back in the day when she left our church for theirs, they did accept our baptisms; even though that policy was changed later, she would not have to then be baptized again.

We believe that a baptism must be done by the power of the Priesthood and in the right form, under direction of the appropriate presiding authorities according to the keys they hold. If anyone rejects that covenant and goes after what we would consider to be a false church, who cares if they are rebaptized or not? It's nice to know we have that power and that we are guided by revelation to make those decisions, instead of having to just argue about what policies to set.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Chartered Organization

There's a story making its way around about LDS parents who volunteered for a non-LDS Pack until their religion became known, at which point they were basically kicked out.

It's unfortunate that there is still misunderstanding about the nature of our beliefs and whether or not we are Christian. It's too bad helpful volunteers were turned away. It's also too bad people don't seem to understand that there's nothing wrong with the Christ Covenant Church deciding they didn't want the Stokes volunteering.

The chartered organization has a great deal to say about how the units it sponsors are run, including who it chooses as adult leaders of its programs, but there are many other unique things about how we implement Scouting.. Members of Varsity Teams can be aged 14-17, but in LDS units, they are only 14-15. (If you really want to get into it, the Varsity program was started by members of the LDS church and very few units are chartered by other groups, but that's a different conversation.) Venturing Crews can consist of both boys and girls aged 14-21, but in LDS units, they only take boys aged 16-17. LDS units don't use the Tiger Cubs program, which interestingly enough was the reason the Stokes didn't have their sons join the LDS Pack in their ward; they wanted their youngest son to be a Tiger Cub. Webelos aren't allowed to go camping in LDS units. Boys in an LDS-sponsored 11-year-old patrol can only go camping three nights during the year and are not allowed to have activities with the deacons, except in special, pre-approved occasions.

Need I go on? We do things differently. I know there are LDS units that have had non-LDS parents as volunteers, and I know there are LDS units that have rejected non-LDS parents as volunteers. There is not clear direction on the matter, so it's obviously something left up to local leaders to decide.

The LDS Church has a lot of sway over directions that BSA takes. We are the largest sponsor, both in terms of units and number of boys. It's my understanding that until recently, the Methodists had more boys, but since we had more sponsored units, we could still outvote them. As it is, they're not far behind us in terms of total number of boys, but we have over three times as many units as they do. Doing the math, you find that LDS units have on average the lowest number of boys per unit at 11, a full 2.5 SD below the mean of 27. We break up our units based on wards, which leads to an unnaturally small number of boys in each. Really, each quorum should be a patrol in a stake troop, but I digress.

We just really shouldn't get so worked up about others doing things differently than we expect, when we also do many things differently ourselves. Part of the strength of the BSA is the flexibility they give COs to adjust the program as they see fit. We benefit from it and should allow others to take advantage of that option as well.

General Conference

I had a great time tweeting conference earlier this month. It was a pretty amazing experience. I watched every session, didn't fall asleep during any of them, and got great messages out of them.

I have an archive of about 20,000 tweets with the #ldsconf hashtag. I've played around with it a little and will be posting soon some analysis of it. I plan on doing a comparison of what people were tweeting about compared to what each speaker's talk was about. I'll probably start with a more general word analysis first, then be a little more thorough on certain talks. I just think it would be interesting to see how well the message people were getting matched up with what the speakers were actually saying.

Just to throw out something to think about while waiting for further analysis, the top words, each with over 400 appearances are:


Those are in highest frequency to lowest frequency order, but I've left off the numbers, so it doesn't distract too much. It's interesting that the three standalone letters are the prophet's initials, TSM, and they also happen to be letters that commonly show up after an apostrophe. I'm assuming that's why the word "don" made the list, as it should have probably been "don't". I may have to try stripping out apostrophes and running the numbers again to see how that changes things.

Stay tuned.