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Re: SCA is different things to different people

Poster: "Terry L. Neill" <longshipco@hotmail.com>

Elen Prydydd wrote:
>Speaking as someone who's been in a grad history program for the last 
>year and a half, I do not think of the SCA as an historical group 

Speaking as someone who'se been in the SCA for 22 years and used to run 
around with some of the founding members when I lived in the West, the 
SCA never WAS an historical group.  It wasn't meant to be that.  It's 
*evolving* in that direction over time.

The original invitation to the original party held in Diana Paxton's 
(Diana Listmaker's) back yard (and on display at TYC and 3YC) invited 
everyone to come as a character from Aurthurian Romance, the Middle 
Ages, Faerie, Tolkien, or any other swordbearing culture.

Our roots are more on Fantasy and Science Fiction than in History.

>I don't want to denigrate anyone's efforts, but by academic standards 
>our research is pretty low-level, for the most part. 

Our research is not meant to be up to academic standards.  Personally, I 
doubt even the research of the most historically accurate Civil War 
groups is up to academic standards.  And why should it be?  We aren't 
academics.  This is a hobby.

Our research is leaps and bounds better than it used to be.  And it's 
getting even better every day.  The level of effort and research 
required for entry into the A&S orders is rising every year.  That's 
because we now know volumes more than we knew then.  Back then someone 
with my level of knowledge about Norse culture would have been elevated 
to Laurel on a cheering platform.  Now that level got me inducted into 
the Pearl last year.

This is as it should be.  Now I have the work of all those older 
Laurels, Pearls, Rose Leaves and Jambs d'Lion to work with.  I didn't 
have to do my own research from scratch so much.  They have done some of 
it for me. I am walking up steps they built and am obliged to build 
additional steps for those who come after me.

>But I do think we are something more than a party organization, if 
>something less than a truly historical association.

Oh, I agree completely!  There used to be a hot and heavy debate that 
because we party, and aren't 100% historically accurate, and have stick 
jocks, party mavens, bunny fur, mail bikinis, vampire teeth and elf 
ears, we did not deserve our 501(c)(3) non-profit educational status 
with the IRS.

But that attitude completely overlooked all the education we do!  Even 
the worse elf-eared, bunny fur-wearing, vampire toothed person who ever 
showed up at an SCA event learns *something* about history.  And those 
with more clues learn so much more.  We educate constantly.  Even 
moreso, IMHO, than we party.  And there's nothing in the IRS regs that 
say you can't party *and* teach!

I'd love for the SCA to turn into a 100% historical re-encatment 
organization tomorrow night.  But for that to happen, a vast majority of 
us all would have to want it.  I have no desire to *make* the SCA be 
more accurate against the will of us.  That would have no purpose and 
wouldn't work, either.

What is happening, slowly, over time, is that more and more of us *are* 
concerned with history more than parties, elf ears or pointy hats.  The 
peer pressure is notching up in small bits.  Imagine showing up for 
Crown tourney this fall in carpet armor and duct tape.  A perfectly 
acceptable practice a while ago is terribly gauche now.

Gentle peer pressure and changing attitudes will turn us more in that 
direction in the next 32 years.

What I love about the SCA is that it is so broad. It is a weakness and 
our greatest strength.  There is room for everything from the Enchanted 
Ground to vampire fangs.  And every year, I hope, the fang-wearers find 
clues more quickly.

I look around me now and see so much movement toward historical 
re-enactment.  So much more than there used to be.

But let's not shame our organization for not being what it was never 
conceived of to be.  Let's instead do all we can, by example and gentle 
pressure, to lead it to where we would like it to be.


Terry L. Neill                          Anarra Karlsdottir
The Longship Company, Ltd.              Bright Hills, Atlantia
www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/        ěstvik Vikings

            It Takes a Viking to Raze a Village


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