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Alternative medicine: trick or treatment?

Edzard Ernst is the first Professor of Complementary Medicine in the United Kingdom. In 2008, Ernst and Simon Singh published Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. Professor Ernst will be the inaugural speaker at Ipswich Skeptics in the Pub.

A Visit to Down House

I’m not one for traipsing round stately homes, being of the opinion that once you have seen one Queen Anne chair and polished mahogany table you have seen them all. However, when the Woodbridge U3A group planned a visit to Down House – the home of Charles Darwin – I thought this might well be worth a visit. And indeed it was.

The house is important because it was there that Darwin not only wrote his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, but applied scientific reasoning and performed numerous experiments to confirm that his ideas were sound.

The time scales are surprising. Darwin moved into the very substantial Down House in 1842, but this was a full five years after his journey on the Beagle. Perhaps, even more surprisingly, it was only after another seventeen years of reflection (and probably worry) on what he had observed on that voyage that Darwin published his greatest work.

Humanist Week

International Humanist Day is on 21st June, the summer solstice. This year, British Humanists will be marking Humanist Week from 21st to 27th June with a variety of events. We’ll have a display in one of the cases at the entrance to Ipswich Central Library.

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.