Some people may think it is a bit precious to have a Solstice party rather than a Christmas party particularly when the dates, December 21st and December 25 are so close, but as humanists we need to acknowledge that the Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world and goes way back before Christianity. Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors. The seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. Because of this many ancient people had a great reverence for, and even worshipped the sun. The
Fortunate to visit New York this summer, one morning we set off through Central Park to visit the memorial to John Lennon known as Strawberry Fields. As we climbed the path to the spot its first manifestation came in the form of a lady selling John Lennon and Beatles badges, with a slew of anti-Trump badges on the side. ‘Have you got any pro-Trump ones?’ our friend teased, receiving a good-natured but firmly negative response. Then, round the corner, we came across the actual roundel, made by Italian craftsmen from Naples in the style of a Roman mosaic, with the word IMAGINE at its centre.
Two months ago we launched a building appeal, marking the 10th Anniversary of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, with the aim of raising £150,000 to complete the infrastructure of the two Humanist High Schools we support, Isaac Newton and Mustard Seed Schools. (See UHST appeal leaflet http://oxfordhumanists.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Leaflet2018-2.pdf, here). The money will be used to build Library & Information Centres, Multi-purpose School Halls, Boarding Hostels and Science Laboratories. These facilities are needed to cope with the growing numbers of students being attracted by the high educational and welfare standards in the Humanist Schools. For many years the schools struggled with fewer than 100 students, but they are
“Humanists pay tribute to all those who have died in war. Some were inspired by a belief that they were fighting for a just cause. Others simply accepted their duty to their country. We honour them all for their bravery and self-sacrifice. Many of these men and women had no expectation of any reward in an afterlife; they were sufficiently inspired by the rights and needs of their fellow human beings. We look forward to a time when there is greater personal acceptance of our shared responsibility for all human beings – and when international warfare becomes a thing of the past!” We hope many
I was born into Wesleyan Methodism. On my mother’s side there were Methodist ministers going back for generations, one was President of the Conference which is the Methodist equivalent to the Archbishop of Canterbury. My maternal grandmother was a formidable and gifted woman who when quite young would preach outside factory gates warning the workers about the evils of drink. When she came to stay my parents hid the sherry! For complicated reasons my grandmother and I, just 3 years old, went to Canada at the outbreak of war to live with relatives in Montreal. We always attended C of E church on a Sunday but
John and his wife Viv had been active humanists since university days so it wasn’t surprising that they joined Oxford Humanists in 2004 when they moved into the area. I joined about that time too and I remember being disappointed to find it was such a small group. Then in 2006 John was elected to the Chair and things began to change. .Our membership and the attendance at meetings grew, largely through John’s assiduous use of email to keep in touch. At the same time, he gave unstinting support to the student Atheist, Secularist and Humanist organisations which were active in Oxford’s two universities for
The recent death of Aretha Franklin has meant that the song called Respect, which she made famous, has received a lot of attention. Respect is a concept that, rightly or wrongly, is generally held in high esteem, but it is sometimes used as a weapon to discredit people who are deemed to show ‘insufficient respect’ over some matter or another, even though respect being deserved or not depends on your viewpoint. There are words I have a natural liking for, others that I don’t. For example, even among people who have no religious belief, the word ‘spiritual’ often receives a high degree of respect. Personally
Our long term member, Paul Surman has produced a new book of poetry, which I am sure we will all enjoy and value. See review below. Places ( ISBN 78-1-906856-79-3) Pat Winslow said of this collection: “These are not just poems of place, they are about our relationship with the natural world; human purpose and design co-exist with something deeper and more elemental in this collection. Surman writes with an acute ear. He is detailed and exact and he has a knack of catching precise moments in an unforgettable way. He is the ‘observer unobserved’ investigating borderlands where change is incremental and sometimes reversible: ‘I welcome ruin: