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General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Fri 1st Feb '08 11:51AM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
That's the question I have been asking myself recently.

I am already a member of the Brights and I support the aims of the BHA, but I've never previously been one for joining groups.
http://www.humanism.org.uk/site/cms/

For those of you that don't know much about Humanism and what it is about, it can be summed up by the mission statement on the BHA website.

Our Vision
A world without religious privilege or discrimination, where people are free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values.

Our Mission
The British Humanist Association exists to promote Humanism and support and represent people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.


I've often said that if I was religious I would probably end up being a priest, and as an enthusiastic Bright and someone who believes in the progress of science and the essential goodness of human nature it seems like a good thing to be a member of.

Would be good to garner some opinions from the daddy massive.
    

Mrsham
I lost my toes in a game of blackjack
Fri 1st Feb '08 2:04PM
505 Posts
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5th Jan '07
From what you've said I think you should join -- the group reflects your values, and if the only thing stopping you is that you don't normally join groups, I don't think you have much to lose. You can always leave if you change your mind.

Having had a browse through the site, I'm in broad agreement with a surprising number of their aims, if not the philosophy that leads to them (I won't be joining myself, for obvious reasons ). I also think that religious leaders shouldn't have a privileged position simply because they are religious leaders -- it would, in my view, be beneficial for society in general, but also for religious groups, if they had to find their identity and their voice on a completely level playing field. I'm definitely for total state-church separation. From a religious point of view I think that western Christianity needs to be divested of its power if it's to find itself again (and if it doesn't, so be it). My only small beef with them is that humanism is an overloaded term -- British Secular Humanist Association would be more accurate. But that's just quibbling over words.

Go do it -- we need putting in our place!

EDIT: wasn't aware of the heated debate surrounding my quibble over wording (further clicking around has brought it up)! Please ignore it-- humanism as defined by the society is exactly what they represent.
 

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Fri 1st Feb '08 2:31PM
1673 Posts
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3rd Jun '03
Yep, I think you should too. But I am obviously biased, in that I myself am a member.

From my point of view, the negatives were twofold: firstly, it costs money. I can't remember what the subscription rate was; I seem to remember it not being earth-shatteringly expensive, but still expensive enough to cause me to think twice.

The second negative is more along the lines of what you said- having never been one for joining groups very much. I guess I found the whole "We are a large collective organisation and these are our views" thing a bit off-putting. Interestingly, though, the reason that was off-putting to me (I think) was that it felt a bit like a religion. (NB I'm not saying humanism is a religion - it clearly isn't! - just that the membership thing felt a bit like it.)

But the plus sides: well, the first one is the same as that last negative point really. Nervous or slightly awkward though it seemed at first, it actually felt fairly good to make a definite action that reflected something I believed in. And, as a stage further, the fact that it was a collective organisation was quite a nice thing too. Essentially I got round to thinking pretty much what Mrsham has said - essentially that being an ethics-based collective is not the exclusive purview of religious groups, and nor should it be.

Another plus is that they do send a lot of interesting information. As well as newsletters in the post (and in my joining pack it contained several back issues, which I thought was a nice touch) there are a lot of email bulletins that come through with interesting stuff in. Obviously I hardly ever get round to reading them, but it's nice to have some stuff put by for when I get a moment.

And finally, the thing that really tipped the balance for me with reference to the BHA is the ceremonial stuff they do. I attended a wedding recently conducted by a BHA celebrant, and it was a marvellous thing. I'm not saying that everyone should have to indulge in rites of passage ceremonies, but I do applaud the BHA's efforts to provide such things - and the fact that they do it so beautifully. It's a firm aim of mine, within not too many years of now, to be trained as a humanist celebrant myself.

The point about humanism vs. secular humanism is an interesting one though. In the USA they specifically refer to secular humanism quite a lot, but that's because (a) it's so overwhelmingly assumed that a person is religious over there that you need to specifically assert that you aren't; and (b) there are all sorts of groups calling themselves "christian humanists" "jewish humanists", and so on. The temptation, for me, is to simply dismiss that as ridiculous. It's like someone claiming to be vegetarian but still eating chicken; the concepts themselves are inherently antithetical. But actually, I think it's just that the word "humanism" has a different, broader definition in the US than it does here in the UK. It's not a contentious debate; it's just that the words have slightly different meanings, that's all. As far as I can tell, though, that issue isn't an issue here in the UK - humanism is inherently secular here. So, adding the word "secular" to its title would imply that it's possible to be both humanist and religious - which, by the UK standards, it's not.

(NB there are certainly people in this country who do use the word differently; I'm just observing that, as far as I've been able to tell, they're firmly in the minority and none of them are BHA members.)

But anyway, that was a long diversion and I don't want to hijack General's topic. So, to bring it back - yes you should!
   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Fri 1st Feb '08 2:40PM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
Cheers Mrsham advice duly taken on board.

There is the concept of Christian Humanism, but I'm not sure how many people subscribe to it
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_humanism

I think it used to be commonly referred to as Secular Humanism, but that has changed especially as Secular issues tend to be pushed more by the NSS http://www.secularism.org.uk/ who are more of a pressure group compared to the BHA's rather wider remit. I did look at joining the NSS as well, but I'm less interested in a pure pressure group.

EDIT: I didn't know you were a Humanist Malcolm, what a jolly exciting thing!
I'm very glad I asked now and I must say that it is swaying me on the joining side.

Having spent a whole 10 seconds thinking about it, I can't think of many people who would make a more excellent celebrant than your good self.
    

Kelly*
Poke me in the knees and call me Roger
Fri 1st Feb '08 4:00PM
758 Posts
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4th Oct '03
Aside from getting over the shock just having misread General's last post as saying Malcolm had a 'god self', I'd just like to throw in my support for joining the BHA. I'm also a member, they send out very interesting stuff (although I rarely have time to read it), and I actually really value the collective thing. Less for the idea of having to subscribe to the same beliefs as everyone else in it, than for the idea that it gives some kind of social network that it's very hard to find outside of churches/faith based groups. I think there's lots of value to that, and although it's not really provided in the same way by the BHA currently, anything that's a step in that direction seems like a god thing to me.
   

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Fri 1st Feb '08 4:06PM
1673 Posts
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Member Since
3rd Jun '03


Kelly was bold enough to comment:

...having misread General's last post as saying Malcolm had a 'god self'...

and

...anything that's a step in that direction seems like a god thing to me.




   

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Fri 1st Feb '08 7:48PM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
Aaaaaaaaaand......... I've joined as has the fragrant Giraffe.

You truly know you have arrived in the 21st century when you join a society to represent your spiritual beliefs by putting an item in a shopping basket on a web site.
    

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Mon 4th Feb '08 10:12AM
4597 Posts
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7th Apr '03


Malcolm was bold enough to comment:
And finally, the thing that really tipped the balance for me with reference to the BHA is the ceremonial stuff they do. I attended a wedding recently conducted by a BHA celebrant, and it was a marvellous thing. I'm not saying that everyone should have to indulge in rites of passage ceremonies, but I do applaud the BHA's efforts to provide such things - and the fact that they do it so beautifully. It's a firm aim of mine, within not too many years of now, to be trained as a humanist celebrant myself.



Wow! What's involved with that trianing? And will that mean you can perform legal ceremonies or would a civil thing be needed too?
    

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Mon 4th Feb '08 11:40AM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
You still need to have a civil ceremony as well but you can treat that as paperwork.
    

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Mon 4th Feb '08 5:13PM
1673 Posts
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Member Since
3rd Jun '03
Not really sure what's involved in the training yet, as I haven't looked too far into it (it's just an "in the next three to five years" kind of ambition, rather than a specific project).

But as General says, you'd still need to have a council official do the technical/legal bit. But that's one thing the BHA are campaigning about - at the moment, if you want to get married, your options are

(a) in a council registry office (which isn't necessarily a bad option; I still stand by the fact that the York one is beautiful and I'm glad we chose it)
(b) in a different licensed premises, but paying the council registrar hundreds of pounds just to leave their office and come to you
(c) in a christian church.

Interestingly, christian church weddings are only legal because the vicar/priest/etc includes the secular legal parts in it. I.e. there's not really any such legally-recognised thing as a "christian wedding" - it's still just the basic legal parts with other bits added for decoration. Which does raise the question of why it is that other institutions can't apply to do the same.
   

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