Author: Margaret

Monthly meeting

Finalising plans for Humanist Week & 10-minute Topics. We’ll be deciding what to put in the display case we’ve booked at Ipswich Central Library for Humanist Week (starts 21st June). Then, if there’s time, it’ll be 10-Minute Topics; everyone writes a subject for discussion on a bit of paper, then they all get mixed up and drawn at random. Any bees in your bonnet this week?

Death in film

The Ceremonies Team keep in touch by email and phone between face-to-face meetings. We’re friends, we support one another, and we share information, observations and ideas.

During on online discussion about films today, Sophie recommended a speech from a Dustin Hoffman film entitled. Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, aimed at fairly young children, with death as its theme. The passage Sophie particularly loves, “for it’s simplicity and dignity and honesty”, is the following:

Mr. Edward Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.”

Humanist contribution to Suffolk Forum of Faiths

The theme for the forum on May 11th 2010 was “What on Earth are YOU doing?”. SIFRE members from the Faith and Belief communities around Ipswich were asked to speak for not more than ten minutes about the activities, aspirations and needs of their particular communities. SIFRE hoped to be able to identify areas of common concern, areas for cross-faith co-operation, which will be mutually beneficial and where one community might be able to help or advise another on issues of common concern.

As no SH&S member was available to attend the forum (it clashed with our regular meeting), I sent a paper, which ends:

We look forward to the day when everyone, regardless of their beliefs, will be treated as individuals and consulted as such, rather than through their “community”. Although some Humanists talk about a “community”, the idea is generally anathema to most of us. Some say that trying to organise Humanists is like trying to herd cats, with good reason, because we like to think for ourselves rather than accept any authority. The only form of “community” we recognise is the one we live in – our street, neighbourhood or district – where we have diverse beliefs, interests and opinions, and where we must try to get along together in spite of our differences. The same applies to society in general.

Click here to download the full text (pdf).

May meeting – planning for Humanist Week

Our May 11th meeting will be a brain-storming session, as we make plans for events over the coming year, mainly for Humanist Week, beginning 21st June, when we’ve booked a display case at Ipswich Central Library for an exhibit.

We’ll be in the lounge at Pinewood Hall, as usual.

Lord Carey’s upset

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has forecast “civil unrest” as a result of recent court decisions involving Christians. This was in response to Lord Justice Laws’ dismissal of an appeal by a Christian marriage guidance counsellor who was sacked for refusing to give advice to gay couples.

The Guardian reported,

Lord Justice Laws said legislation to protect views held purely on religious grounds could not be justified. He said it was an irrational idea “but it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary”.

As Stephen Bates noted, Lord Carey was most upset that his suggestion should be dismissed so emphatically.

Our committee has been refreshed

AGM 2010

Excellent AGM at Pinewood Community Hall last night. For the first hour, our guests were The Worshipful The Mayor of Ipswich Councillor David Goldsmith and Mayoress, Mrs Goldsmith. We talked about their experiences of visiting various faith and community groups in the town, council prayers, and humanist ceremonies (amongst other things).

The picture shows (left to right) retiring group Chairperson Margaret Nelson, the Mayor, the Mayoress, and newly elected Chairperson Andrew Morrison, who’d just got back from his Humanist wedding in Devon – we wish Andrew and Angie every happiness.

The new committee members are: Chairperson, Andrew Morrison; Vice-Chairperson, John Palmer; Secretary, Denis Johnston; Treasurer, John Mellis; committee members Margaret Nelson and Colleen Nunn.

Photo by John Palmer

April newsletter ready for download

April NewsletterOur latest newsletter is ready. Click here to download it (pdf).

Contents include: what group members have been reading, AGM reports, an addition to our Ceremonies Team, and meeting dates for the year.

Members are reminded that your 2010 subscriptions (a minimum of £10) are due now. You can pay by cheque or standing order.

For help with pdf files, click here.

Are Christians being persecuted? I don’t think so.

Late on Easter Day, BBC One aired a programme that asked, “Are Christians being persecuted?” (you have 6 days left to view it on i-Player). Presenter Nicky Campbell (of the Big Questions, Sunday’s God-slot programme), implied that they are. There was no attempt to present a balanced report. Instead, we got the usual aggrieved BA crucifix wearer and nurse who was sacked for offering to pray for a patient – anecdotal “evidence” of people being mean to Christians. They introduced Polly Toynbee as “President of the National Secular Society”, not the BHA, which was typical of the sloppy approach.

Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia has blogged a fair assessment of the programme. I’ve complained to the BBC. Maybe you might do the same?

“… the creeping influence of liberal, secular society” weakens resolve against sexual abuse, apparently

As the Catholic church has to find £millions to pay compensation to victims of clergy abuse, the excuses being trotted out by the hierarchy are staggeringly creative. Archbishop of Westminster the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholics in England and Wales, told the BBC’s Newsnight programme, “The level of abuse in the Church is actually quite small in terms of the overall levels of abuse in any country.” Now Pope Benedict, in his pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, blames the abuse on “the creeping influence of liberal, secular society for weakening resolve against it.”