Category: Diary

Radio review of the Sunday papers

Margaret Nelson from Suffolk Humanists will review the papers with Rachel Sloane on BBC local radio. Can’t be sure of the exact time, but from about 7 am.

BBC Radio Suffolk is on 95.5, 95.9, 103.9 & 104.6 fm. See the link on the Radio Suffolk website to listen online if you’re not in the area.

The “true meaning” of Xmas?

XmasThe Church of England has challenged the Royal Mail’s move to issue festive stamps without a Christian theme. Santa, a snowman and a reindeer are among the festive images on the Royal Mail’s 40th set of Christmas stamps. The church “regretted” Royal Mail’s decision not to launch “Christian themed designs reminding people of the true meaning of Christmas”.

Link: BBC NEWS | Business | Church challenges festive stamps

So let’s get this straight shall we? What is “the true meaning of Christmas”?

A Small World

StarsThis talk was prepared for a Faith & Reflection Day at Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, on 3 November 2006. The event ended the school’s One World Fortnight. I had to skip a chunk of my talk because the previous speakers overran (don’t you just hate it when that happens?), and we were running out of time.

The other speakers included a Jew, a Unitarian, a Buddhist, the Mayor of Woodbridge, John Gummer MP, a Hospice Chaplain, the Bishop of Dunwich, a Quaker, and the local Vicar, who said he agreed with everything I said.

Since I started this sentence, the Earth’s travelled 100 miles around the Sun, the Sun’s moved 1,000 miles in its circuit of the Galaxy, and the Orion Nebula’s moved 100,000 miles relative to us. A few years ago, NASA took a photograph with the Hubble Space Telescope, leaving the shutter open for 10 days. The 10-inch square photograph is of an area of space that to the naked eye is about the same size as a grain of sand viewed from 6 feet away. To cross it at 10 times the speed of light would take 300,000 years. There are about 1,500 galaxies in the picture, each containing billions of stars. Here we are, whirling round a relatively small star, a tiny planet in all the vastness of space. It’s a small world.

RC Bishop attacks faith school plans

Catholic-crossThe alternative to secular multi-culturalism is not an enforced integration, such as we see in France. What is required is a proper and mutually respectful co-operation between religious faith and public authorities.

Official: Britons waste energy

EarthBritish people waste more energy than the inhabitants of any other major western European nation, hastening climate change and adding £2.5bn to annual fuel bills, according to research.

Link: Independent Online Edition > Environment

An ICM poll conducted in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, showed that the British seem less concerned about global warming that our European neighbours.

  • 71% leave appliances on standby
  • 67% boil more water than needed in kettles
  • 65% leave chargers plugged in
  • 63% don’t turn off lights in empty rooms
  • 48% use the car for short journeys
  • 44% wash clothes at 60F
  • 32% leave the engine running while the car is stationary
  • 32% use the tumble dryer when the washing line could be used
  • 28% have the central heating on in an empty house
  • 22% turn up the thermostat instead of reaching for a jumper

If you’re not one of the culprits, good for you – Humanists should care for the environment. But have you considered everything?

Calling all Humanist, atheist or agnostic teachers in Suffolk

If you are involved with RE teaching in Suffolk you’ll know about the new RE syllabus that was launched at Endeavour House yesterday.

Now that Humanism is officially included in the syllabus, we must provide teachers with the resources to teach it. RE is often taught by non-specialists and teams that change from term to term. Teachers who are new to Humanism will find it especially difficult to work out how to approach the subject. One teacher has already told me that he has difficulty with including Humanism in the syllabus because “you don’t have festivals and rituals, like the religions do.”

SH Chair on Anglia TV

Suffolk Humanists Chair Michael Imison will make a brief appearance on ITV1 in Anglia TV’s ‘Late Edition’ regional politics programme, talking about faith schools.

Cabinet split over new rights for gays

The cabinet is in open warfare over new gay rights legislation after Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, who is a devout Catholic, blocked the plans following protests from religious organisations.
Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, was so angry with the move that he wrote a letter to Kelly three weeks ago, telling her that the new rights should not be watered down.

Link: The Observer | Politics | Cabinet split over new rights for gays

The new anti-discrimination legislation for gays and lesbians is infuriating homophobic religionists, who want exemptions on religious grounds. If further exemptions are allowed, they’ll be legitimising prejudice. Expect more rows before the issue is resolved.

Secularism could be an election issue

VoteSecularisation is not on the retreat in western Europe. Yet it is true that new threats to individual liberties and to the religious neutrality of governments are coming from many (not all) organised religious denominations. National situations are somehow different from one another, but nowhere in Europe is the society going back to the time when a common set of religiously-based beliefs was the one and basic common ground for values and views shared by almost every member of the society itself.

Link: Organised religion and its threats to a secular liberal state – Activities and Papers – Think Tanks – Members – Liberalism