05 December 2005

The Sunday 4th December meeting, the last for this year, was one of our 'Headstrong' discussions. This time we had visitors: Tony M. Robinson of the Humanist Party came up from London and Mike Lake of the new Derby and Derbyshire Secular Society came down from Derby. My hope was that we could concentrate on 'Activism' issues, but as usual the talk wandered over a whole range of topics, from representation on SACREs to demonstrating in support of the production of 'Jerry Springer the Opera' at De Montfort Hall.

At one point there was some dispute about what is and what is not 'Religion'. One speaker maintained that Buddhism is not a religion because it does not involve belief in a god or gods. However, this seems a mistaken idea about Buddhism. They have a concept of 'Brahma' which means 'Great One' which is very like a god to me, though probably of an impersonal nature. Brahma is also the supreme creator god in Hinduism.

I'd started to prepare a set of posters, which I set out on a table in the hall and in the window display, covering such topics as 'Wake Up, Sleeping Humanists', 'What is Wrong with Religion', and 'How Do We Know What We Know', as a means of trying to get our message across better. I would welcome suggestions for other posters. See my 'Omega Therapy' page.

I would like to set up an Omega Course complementary to the christian Alpha Course with the purpose of bringing humanist ways of thinking to people who may be confused or unclear about them (like me quite often) and of helping people move away from a religious upbringing. Perhaps this could begin in a small way as a discussion group meeting at Secular Hall midweek.

I like the idea of a midweek course/discussion group. Have you got a schedule of topics that would be covered or a programme?

I had been thinking about a group that looked at philosophy, a subject that's increasingly interesting me. Or a group that explored each of the books published in the Penguin "Great Ideas" series.

You might be interested to know that one of the categories for funding in the new Big Lottery is Family Learning. There was only a paragraph in the little handbook of programmes, but it struck me that there was an opportunity there for any group that was interested in a secular programme of learning.

I met some young friends (12 and 6 respectively) for lunch last Saturday. They were telling me their news, what was happening at school and so on. One of them recited the words of a song he was performing in a show for parents. My face must have been a picture as the recital progressed - on the one hand I wanted to encourage my young friend in his learning and accomplishment, and on the other, I was appalled by what he was being taught. I can't remember many of the words, except for the repeated phrase, "Jesus Christ is King". All this presented to children as commonplace and "truth".
Let children make their own minds up what is so wrong with religion? I assume the renaissance, the works of Bach and the Bible soaked imagery of Herman Melville has passed you by. I assume we should all look forward to nothing except a bio degradbale box and a tinny rendition of 'bridge over troubled water'
Sad really.
Thank you Bishop! It's a pity you aren't prepared to express your views under your own name.

I shall probably be listening to BBC Radio 3 up to christmas, since they are presenting the complete works of Bach. That will be a great antidote to the wall-to-wall christian propaganda (in the form of christmas carols) on Classic FM and most other channels.

The bible-soaked imager in Moby Dick hadn't escaped me! Cap'n Ahab's obsession with the Great Whale has always struck me as an allegory for fundamentalist religious belief.

I wonder if they stil teach "On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at" at school. A good old secular folk song. Or is it all "sweet baby Jesus" carols?
I would be delighted to let children make up their own minds - providing they were provided with the necessary information and skills to do so.
I see an Alpha course is starting in the New Year in Thurnby. Do you have any further plans for the Omega Course, George?
As regards the 'Omega Course' idea, I've been busy trying to put a 'secular programme of learning' on the new website, though there's still a lot to cover.

Part of my idea for a midweek meeting is for members of the Society to exchange their views on philosophy. We come to the lectures on Sundays and some of us express views in reaction to the speaker, but there is a wide range of views and I for one would find it helpful to know in more detail what other members think on important issues.

I must admit that my resolve to listen to the works of Bach on Radio 3 has largely lapsed. Far too many 'cantatas' that he obviously churned out to order. And the way the programmes have been arranged makes it difficult to pick out the instrumental works. The endless carols and choirs and other 'spirituality' on Classic FM also proved too much. To cheer myself up I had to put on my CD of military marches.

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