Category: Diary

Lunacy in Jerusalem

The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.

Which version of Easter do you prefer?

Easter eggsFor a majority of people in the UK, Easter is mainly about a long weekend, chocolate eggs, and spring. The origins of the spring holiday are disputed but they go back to pre-Christian times, when Pagans celebrated the spring equinox, which was on March 20th this year, and the end of winter.

The word Easter is derived from the name of a Germanic Pagan goddess of Spring, variously known as Ēostre, Ēastre or Ostara. The Easter bunny, accordng to some, was actually a hare, but either way it was a symbol of fertility, and likewise the egg. Chocolate manufacturers, including Cadbury’s, saw the opportunity to increase their profits by creating chocolate eggs as a substitite for the painted eggs that were previously given as gifts.

No one knows if or when the Christian’s Jesus was crucified (a common form of execution by the Romans between 6BCE and 4AD), but it probably wasn’t at Easter. Just as the early church adopted the pagan midwinter solstice festival and renamed it Christmas, they almost certainly did the same with the spring festival.

Discussion about assisted dying on BBC Radio Suffolk

Margaret Nelson from Suffolk Humanists & Secularists and someone from the local hospice will be on Mark Murphy’s programme to talk about assisted dying. Listen on air, online or listen again via the BBC website.

Ipswich Science in the Pub

From John Benton:

“Andy Miles has offered to update us on the goings-on at QED con. If you have any scientific curiosities, feel free to bring them along, and no doubt there will be talk of the current and upcoming solar activity.”

8th May meeting – guest speaker Rhea Williams from the Queen’s English Society

The Society campaigns to encourage high standards of written and spoken English, which have been found to be lamentably low among school-leavers and even university graduates. One of its principal campaigns is for better and explicit English language education and regular constructive correction of errors in English language in schools.

Marriage is about love, isn’t it?

Coalition for equal marriage

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has said that plans for gay marriage were a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. He’s a funny idea about what “human right” means. Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights says:

(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.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Nothing there about gender, though they probably didn’t consider it necessary when it was written.

I didn't ask herThe other week it was the Coalition for Marriage, backed by Lord Carey (former Archbishop of Canterbury), who said that legalising gay marriage would be “an act of cultural and theological vandalism”. In response, Ben Summerskill (chief executive of gay, lesbian and bisexual charity Stonewall) said: “Our strong advice to anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is not to get married to someone of the same sex.”

The coalition’s website warns,

If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People’s careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?

If you’d like to blow a collective raspberry at the silly old bigoted duffers, click here to sign the Coalition for Equal Marriage’s petition. You know it makes sense, unlike the Cardinal and his Lordship.

March meeting – Religion for Atheists?

Do we want it or need it? Alain de Botton has written a book about it, our member Michael Imison has heard him talk about it, and Michael’s going to tell us about it.

Usual place – the Inter-Faith Centre, West Building, University Campus Suffolk.