Coronation is coming up soon. In this kingdom, it's customary for the peerage orders to be called into court (each order separately), and for a spokesman of the order to acknowledge the new king and queen and promise to uphold the laws of the kingdom and keep doing the things that peers do. Sometimes this goes well and sometimes the spokesman says things on behalf of the order that not all order members agreed to. I've begun agitating for a fixed text from within the order.
So anyway, today the incoming king and queen sent email to the peers about ceremonial stuff, including an innocent mention of the orders swearing their oaths of service. This has caused some... discussion... on the pelican list. (The pelican is the peerage for service; among things, we have a high concentration of rules wonks.) The laurel list (arts), so far, has been silent. I cannot speak to the chivalry, as I'm not a member.
After some of us said "um, not quite", one of our newer members asked "why such animosity that you don't want to swear an oath of service?". Well, there are a couple issues, but at least for me, they have nothing to do with animosity. I have nothing against the incoming royalty. These are purely matters of principle -- but important, strongly-held principle.
First and foremost: the word "oath" (or "swear", which to me implies "oath"). I do not swear oaths to people. An oath is a grave matter involving God; this is not a matter for participation in a hobby, no matter how much I enjoy that hobby. I don't even "swear" when being seated on a jury; I'm sure not going to do it in the SCA. I don't care whether my persona would have (though I think she wouldn't); my persona must always be limited by what I, real-world me, am permitted. The SCA is not play-acting in the way that a theatre production is; while we take on personae, we are also still us. We are not merely portraying characters.
So I won't "swear", but I will "promise" or "affirm". If my word is not good enough unless accompanied by the word "oath", then there is a deeper problem. But I don't think that's the case -- within the SCA, I think my word as a peer and as an honorable person is good enough, so why require extra stringency?
(There is a secondary matter of just what we are promising to do. Some people make vague oaths "to serve the kingdom", without defining the parameters. That's bad, and a lie -- we all have concerns that would trump the SCA. I will not say that lie, and I don't like being asked to ascent when someone else says that lie. Yes, we all know what is really meant, but words are important. As peers and presumably role models, we should strive to say what we mean and mean what we say.)
It's gotten to the point where I hesitate to go up when the order is called, because I'm not sure what the spokesman is going to say and I might not want to be seen to be bound by it. And sometimes the spokesman has the clue but the king and queen don't, so they'll say something like "we'll hear your oath now" and the spokesman doesn't correct them becuase that's seen as rude. Oh well; more often than not I don't even make it to Coronation anyway. (This time, for example, it is being held on Erev Pesach.) If I were going, I would just try to get that spokesman role for myself. But maybe, by having this discussion, we've raised just a little bit of awareness, and maybe it will still be there the next time this comes up.