That is a fantastic thread from Lyman Stone, I love where his argument ends up.

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As an aside, it’s dead important to remember antiquity is no guarantor of orthodoxy. From the New Testament its clear heresy became an immediate problem. I didn’t get involved in Buddhism but I was involved with stoicism, after reading about Adm. Stockdale, as a Christian thinking it could be “baptized”. Which isn’t to say none of it is true. But it was ineffective, I didn’t just feel less pain, I felt less. Only later did I rediscover Christian criticism from Pascal who said the stoic mistake is that it says we can always do what we may only sometimes do, and Augustine who pointed at that those great masters of themselves committed suicide an awful lot. I bring it up because stoicism seems very akin to Buddhism. We think just because something is less degenerate than modern times it’s good whereas it could just be a different trap.

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Many Americans share Tucker Max’s convoluted religious beliefs. This makes evangelization much more challenging than it was before. Shocking that Tucker Max could utter this:

“And I think if you actually look at the teachings of Christ, and definitely the teachings of Buddha, they say the same thing.”

Sad situation that this is where some former mainline Anglo-Germanic-Nordic Protestant Americans end up. Seen former Catholics and Evangelicals fall into the same traps as well.

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As a plug for a Scouts alternative, I grew up in Christian Service Brigade and went to the Sequoia Brigade Camps here in northern California. CSB was founded in 1937, and continues to help young men learn from older men about how to live biblical and masculine lives. It's a wonderful organization.

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Thanks, I hadn't heard of this group. Unfortunately, I see the reason why: they have little presence outside of the Great Lakes and the NE Corridor. A so-so presence in CA.


I've tried to decide how I should approach Scouts for my boys. I know good men who are involved. I live in a very conservative area, which means most of the BSA troops here aren't so different from those of my childhood. No girls that I can see. I'm not sure what tools are available to keep out kids who are not a fit, or if you'll eventually get your troop kicked out of the organization for it. And obviously if you go to a big camp somewhere, it's going to be increasingly unrecognizable from our childhoods.

There is a group in town called Trail Life that is explicitly conservative and Christian, but it remains much smaller, I think in my town it's about 4 young families, no boys older than maybe 12. There's surely something lost in going from Boy Scouts to Trail Life and not having that "Eagle Scout" brand, in many cases a family tradition.

Though I say all that about the "Boy Scout" brand, but my own experience of Boy Scouts was bad. And it's not that there was pedophilia or any weirdness, it's that the emphasis was on earning merit badges that have nothing to do with being a skilled outdoorsman, which was what I hoped to get out of it and most people would imagine the organization is about.

There's no emphasis on learning to start a fire without a match, or learning to trap a rabbit and cook it, or even learning how to pitch a tent. IIRC you could be an Eagle Scout, even 30 years ago, without touching any of that stuff. I think the Camping badge was required, but the requirements were extremely basic. Instead, it seemed like most of the effort went to filling out merit badges that were more like homework assignments for school.

If you learned anything cool or interesting, it was basically by accident, outside the structure of the organization. I had a friend with an outdoorsy dad who taught him to do things, and their father-son activities seemed to me 100x more interesting than anything in Scouts.

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Everything I learned about the outdoors, campfires, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing came from my experience in Christian Service Brigade and their summer camps. I especially treasured the opportunity to be a camp counselor during my summers in high school. It was cool to go from being a young camper to being the counselor who lead the campers, and how everything in the troops and camps lead back to Christ.

CSB is trying mightily to hold on, and I think that it could be a safe harbor for conservative boy scout troops or churches looking for a men's ministry which is explicitly about older men mentoring younger men. If you're interested in starting something, I recommend reaching out to their main office! They'll put you in touch with whoever has the Great Lakes region under their purview.

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That sounds great. But sorry if I was unclear: I was pointing out the strength in the Great Lakes region, but I'm in the South. The closest location to me on that map I linked is a 5-hour drive away.

I'm also definitely not good enough on my outdoor skills to be much of a mentor in that domain. I'd like to develop them further, but I also want my sons to have a chance to be better than me.

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No worries! From my experience, every group needs a mix of dads -- some who are more outdoorsy, some who are more mechanical, some who are a bit more nerdy about books or theology. Somewhere in that mix a young man will find the right mentor and model for him, and along the way he'll absorb the other stuff. Good luck finding the right solution for you and your sons!

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