Category: Diary

Prayer

The most odious of concealed narcissisms – prayer.

What God wants

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.

Ipswich Science in the Pub – Radiation risks

Monty Guest runs Suffolk Radiation Technical Services Ltd which provides advice on radiation protection to companies and organisations throughout the UK.

United Nations event in Ipswich

UN logoThe local United Nations Association group organises an annual inter-faith Celebration of Human Rights in Ipswich. This year the event was on the 10 December and the theme was ‘The Family’, based on Article 16:3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” This was my contribution (MN).

What do we mean by “the family”? I imagine that when the UN declaration was drafted immediately after the Second World War, it might have been generally assumed that a family consisted of two heterosexual parents, some children, and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. British families have been described as having 2.4 children, because that was supposed to be the average number of children in nuclear families. Many families aren’t like this.

A few days ago, research from The Centre for the Modern Family was released. They’d interviewed 3,000 people. Fewer than a fifth of them thought they were part of a traditional family. Eight in ten said their families didn’t conform to the stereotype of two married parents with two or more children. The report indicates that family structures have become more diverse. A quarter of couples are childless and a fifth of the population lives alone, and more of us are likely to view families with single parents, same-sex parents or unmarried parents as “proper” families. Some families include people who aren’t related to one another, such as step-families or adopted families.

So ideas about what is “natural and fundamental” have changed, though not everyone will like this. Some families are treated more favourably than others by the state, depending on where they live. We’re fortunate to live in a developed country with welfare benefits and resources to care for children who don’t have families, though the system is far from perfect. In many developing countries, things are different. Many children orphaned by AIDS in Africa, for example, are raised by ageing grandparents or older siblings, and in many parts of the world, groups of orphans could be described as families, since they care for each other without parents.

January meeting – a game of Diversity

We’ll be playing Diversity, a non-competitive educational game devised by Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource that teaches you about the different faiths and beliefs practiced in the county, including humanism. Long term members may remember playing it a few years ago, but you can always learn more. The game tends to prompt lots of discussion, so no one ever seems to finish it.

Click here for more about the game.

December meeting – 10-minute topics

The popular format where everyone comes with suggestions for topics for discussion, then write them on bits of paper, and the pieces of paper go in a hat, is back. Is there something you want to talk about? As usual, guests are welcome and there’ll be refreshments. Note that we’ll be in our new venue at University Campus Suffolk.

Click here for printable maps and directions (pdf).

UN Day Celebration

Every year the local UN Association organises an inter-faith Celebration of the Universal Charter of Human Rights. This year’s theme is the family, based on Article 16:

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Let’s dance

Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.

A poem for Armistice Day

PoppyToday is Armistice Day. This is an extract from a recent humanist funeral ceremony; a poem chosen by a daughter for her father, who’d served in North Africa and Italy.

George Fraser Gallie wrote a number of poems whilst serving in Italy and North Africa with the Royal Engineers around 1943, when he was twenty-one. They’ve recently been discovered amongst his papers by his son. This is one – 

Operation Christmas Child – “racist & poisonous”

OCC logoIt’s Operation Christmas Child time again, when well-meaning people are encouraging their children to fill shoe boxes with gifts for needy children overseas. But Operation Christmas Child, run by the evangelical American organisation Samaritan’s Purse, has a destructive agenda. Please don’t support them. Click here to read about “Mad Missionaries and Toxic Gifts”.

The BHA has some suggestions for alternatives to Samaritan’s Purse – click here to see their website.

There is a Campaign against Operation Christmas Child, that describes OCC as “Racist & Poisonous”:

What most people don’t know is that the organisation behind it – Samaritans Purse – is run by that well known islamophobe Franklin Graham – who calls Islam “a very wicked and evil religion”. It’s the same group that rode with Israeli army convoys into Lebanon during Israel ‘s 1982 invasion, and again followed US troops in to Iraq to claim Muslims for Christ.

In 1990 they sent 30,000 arabic bibles for US troops to hand out to the defeated Iraqis – literally at gun point. In Afghanistan their 2003 report proudly declared that with help from the Canadian military; they got “MUSLIM children in the capital city of Kabul to celebrate Christmas for the first time”.

Their stated aim is the “advancement of the Christian faith through… the relief of poverty”. Christian leaders in the UK have condemned this version of Christianity as “racist” and “poisonous”. 

Their poison isn’t just directed at Muslims, they refer to Hindus as being “bound by Satan’s power” and were caught preying on Catholic earthquake victims in El Salvador in 2001- refusing them temporary homes provided by US AID unless they first attend a half hour evangelising “prayer” session. Afterwards Frankilin Graham gloated that in one village they converted 150 Catholics.

You can be sure that Samaritan’s Purse has an equally bigoted view of atheists.

Click here for an example of Samaritan’s Purse literature that’s delivered to children.

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