Here's an interesting point to ponder. On page 50 of the Autumn 2006 issue of the Baker Street Journal, the editor's "Commonplace Book" contained a note from a frequent contributor to the BSJ who was credited as being a member of the Baker Street Irregulars:
“I am no longer a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, so while it was generous of you to include an investiture after my name in the Whodunit? section, it is neither appropriate nor welcome.”Wow. Quite a statement. So I throw the point to you, dear readers. Should a member of the BSI, after attaining an Investiture - admittedly a very coveted accreditation in the Sherlockian world - renounce his or her association with the group ? Or should an Investiture be treated like a religious ordination or regal investiture - it's yours for life?
The person in queston is, in fact, not just a (Morley-Montgomery Award-winning) contributor to the BSJ, but one of its past editors. So maybe the more pressing question is why he felt it right to resign as a member of the BSI.
The person in question doesn't have to share his reasons with us, though it is disheartening - disturbing, in fact - to know that someone can be so disillusioned with the BSI as to renounce his membership. As to your question, Scott, the situation reminds me of Arthur Conan Doyle's decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church, of which someone commented to me that the Church wouldn't recognise such a decision, the official attitude being, in effect, 'You can't resign, but I can sack you.' That's not an attitude I want to see in the BSI. Whether or not to remain a member should surely be up to the individual, though I sincerely hope that no one else will wish to resign his or her membership. - Roger Johnson
The only way you're going to take my investiture is to pry it out of my cold clammy dead fingers!
That said, I am sorry to hear that a distinguished Sherlockian has come to feel such negativity about the BSI. Can't we all just get along?
If my interpretation of what the person concerned has said to me is correct, he reached a point where he felt that, over the years, he had given the BSI a good deal of time and labour in at least a couple of official capacaties, and that the BSI offered little in return, apart from an invitation to an annual dinner which he did not especially enjoy. His feeling, as I understand it, is that not everyone enjoys being a member of every club; but because his enjoyment of the BSI had come to an end, he was not extending that lack of enjoyment to be criticism of the BSI or its leadership.
Not being a huge fan of the large, unruly event (as he views it) that the BSI's annual dinner has become, he and a number of others developed plans for an informal Saturday dinner, to be along the lines of the old BSI dinners of the '30s and '40s, which would be attended by some 20-30 people - an experiment of sorts, not intended to be a challenge to the BSI or to the BSI dinner (indeed, the head of the BSI was on the list of invitees, and Saturday was specifically chosen to allow those who wanted to to attend the BSI dinner as well).
At some point in the process, it seems, there were a number of people who were sufficiently unhappy with the official BSI dinner, and they forced the issue to the extent that a smaller group met at the same time that the official BSI dinner was taking place: giving the impression that they were making a direct challenge to the BSI and its current leadership.
This 'challenge' now seems to have been extended to the Morley Montgomery Award function, which is what I believe has led Scott Monty to raise the question here.
The question of whether or not one wishes to remain a member of an organisation has to be a personal decision; but surely it should be a decision backed by conviction? If feelings are strong enough that it is felt 'splinter' groups should hold events at times which clash with official events, the time has come to 'renounce' the 'Shilling', and say 'I no longer wish to be associated with this group'. Whether or not the BSI should delete an individual's Investiture on request is another matter. An Investiture probably is 'for life': that doesn't mean that the individual(s) concerned have to use any title the BSI has given them, but I do believe that, if an individual is doing this or that to splinter, or fracture, an organisation, something more symbolic should accompany the gesture: something along the lines of tearing up the Investiture certificate and returning the pieces along with the shilling.
Perhaps it is time to consider adapting the mode now used in popular culture -
"Mr X (formerly known as [insert])." or
"Mr. X (not formally known anymore as [insert]."
In either eventuality, I think that we should respect DP's wishes and that in no way do they diminish his existing contributions to the game or demean those that may (or may not) come in the future.
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