A Meditation on the Rank of Eagle Scout

This is a guest post by Mormontarian, who describes himself as a small-town Midwest transplant, who grew up on the west coast but managed to flee without turning into a pillar of salt. He is a compulsive communicator, though it helps to read his work as though you were all hanging out at a diner, chatting over greasy-spoon steak and eggs on a slow Saturday morning.

My grandfather was an Eagle Scout. His two sons (my father and uncle) are Eagle Scouts. I (and my three brothers) are all Eagle Scouts. One might call this a family tradition.

My son is not an Eagle Scout. This caused my father some concern. In a moment of “family tradition”-motivated panic, he went so far as to offer my son $1000 if he would earn his Eagle. That was when a series of realizations finally crystallized for me.

The rank itself is burdened with superfluous meaning that has been layered on for a long time. But it was clearly very important to my father, and I admit that I was pretty proud of myself when I got mine back in the day. Was I robbing my son by not pushing him to do this? I wasn’t sure.

So I sat down and took a good hard look at Eagle, breaking it down to the fundamental lessons it seems designed to teach. This required setting aside a volume of mystique and tradition. Is Eagle important because you learn first aid? How to pitch a tent? Who your elected representatives are? Those things are fine and good to know, and having a structure in place to learn those things is useful, but are they the fundamental lessons? Are they the things Eagle teaches?

Ultimately, no. In searching for those, I found three concepts that might be described as pearls of great price.

Lesson the First: Delayed Gratification Continue reading

New Initiative for Children and Youth

With the new way things are done, LDS members who have provided their e-mail address to the Church already know that a new initiative for children and youth will be starting January 2020.

The Mormon newsroom announcement is available online, and there is a FAQ as well.

Seen properly, this is an effort to migrate the ministry for children and youth in the same world-wide egalitarian direction the ministry for adults was redirected in April. Adults can be expected to shift on a dime. But for youth and children and their leaders, shifting on a dime would be rather disruptive.

LDS Church to leave scouting

Very few people who follow the news will be surprised at this development.

From the Deseret News:

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church is ending its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

The expiration date for the remarkably robust, 105-year alliance is Dec. 31, 2019, according to a joint statement released Tuesday night by BSA and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Read the joint statement from the LDS Church and BSA here.

The decision by LDS leaders is part of a broader restructuring of the church’s programs for all Mormon children ages 8 to 18.

“In this century of shared experience, the church has grown from a U.S.-centered institution to a worldwide organization, with a majority of its membership living outside the United States,” the joint statement said. “That trend is accelerating. The church has increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally. In so doing it will be necessary for the church to discontinue its role as a chartered partner with BSA.”

Donald Godfrey, Journalism, and Family History

Donald B. Godfrey, PhD, is a professor emeritus of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. he was the recipient of the 2017 Broadcast Education Association’s Lifetime Achievement in Scholarship and the Mormon History Association’s Christensen Best Documentary Award in 2007. His articles on Mormon History have appeared in the Journal of Mormon History, the American Review of Canadian Studies, Pioneer, This People, and the Ensign. His is the founding directory of the ASU School of Journalism’s doctoral program. he is now retired, living and writing from his home in Arizona.

Kurt Manwaring took a moment to chat with noted journalist Donald Godfrey. The full interview is available at fromthedesk.org. Below is an excerpt.


Kurt Manwaring: You served as president of the Broadcast Education Association. What were your duties in that role and what were some of the biggest challenges you faced in fulfilling the organization’s mission? What are some of its most significant challenges today?

Donald Godfrey: The BEA, then and now, is the premier international academic media organization driving excellence in journalism and media education.  Continue reading

Sacred Oil

This week I was at a Self Reliance Workshop where we have both folks who are LDS and folks who aren’t LDS.

One of the women in the group was suffering a physical ailment. So she requested that two men who hold the priesthood stay after for a couple of minutes to give her a blessing. When one said they didn’t have any consecrated oil to perform the blessing, the woman replied, “Oh, I do.”

A man who is not LDS was lingering, so the woman explained that she was going to be receiving a blessing and invited him to remain, if he wished. They quickly established that he is from a faith tradition where such blessings are performed, and he felt comfortable remaining.

I loved to witness this. I loved the way the woman reached out to one who might feel ostracized and excluded, welcoming him into the experience, yet not forcing him to participate against his will. And I love that she was prepared to be blessed, even had neither of the men with power to bless been prepared.

The next day I was at a craft festival, one of the largest on the east coast. And I happened upon a lovely turned key fob. From my friend’s example, I decided that I, too, will be prepared to be blessed, or prepared at least to facilitate a blessing should a situation like that occur in future.