Sunday, 29 November 2009

Angus & Suzanne's Humanist Wedding at Balbirnie House

Suzanne and Angus met eleven years ago, when they both had holiday jobs up at the Loch Insh Watersports Centre, near Aviemore, and as Angus said in their ceremony, their lives are still filled with adventure, fun and laughter!

They sent me these great photos, saying, "We've just returned from honeymoon and wanted to say a huge thank you for all your help with our wedding ceremony. We really appreciated your efforts on the day and also all of your guidance in the run up to it."

"The ceremony was everything we had hoped for and we have had loads of great feedback from our guests on how much they loved it. We have had lots of compliments on not only what we had written, but also on how you delivered the ceremony, so thank you very much!"

"I think we have a few more people who are now sold on the benefits of a humanist ceremony!"

Thank you, Suzanne and Angus - long may your adventures continue! Thanks also to Alastair Burn-Murdoch for the exellent pics.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Suzy & Michael's Humanist Wedding at Dundonald Castle

Suzy and Michael were a joy to work with.

Even though they now live in the Isle of Skye, they came down all the way to Edinburgh because they wanted me to be their celebrant, so I could hardly refuse to go all the way over to Dundonald Castle in deepest Ayrshire, where they were married in a spectacular, ruined castle at the top of a steep, steep hill, on one of the windiest days of the year.

I'll now hand over to Suzy, who tells the story far better than I could...

The humanist ceremony helped us to celebrate and revel in what it truly means to be human, warts and all.

So breaking my earrings, arriving late and windblown, then chucking my handbag at my sister so that its contents emptied onto the floor, smearing my lipstick over my own and Michael's face, and sitting on the Irn Bru bottle during the signing didn't 'spoil' the day but actually added to it.

It broke the ice so that everyone involved exhaled and relaxed so they could enjoy existing in the moment with us.

So many of the guests, especially the religious ones, were overwhelmed by how thoughtful, insightful and beautiful a non-religious ceremony could be.

They had questioned how a ceremony without god could have any value or meaning.

And I'm happy to see that their consciousness was raised in such a positive way.

My father (more deist than christian) confessed during the reception that he'd been incredibly moved by the entire ceremony.

He enthused to all around him how wonderful it was to attend a wedding which was so personalised and meaningful.

We then heard tales of various other people sobbing during the entire thing.

It's funny I didn't notice this as, like you said would happen, my eyes were locked with Michael's the whole time.

Everyone made a point of coming up to us at the reception to say what a great day they'd had and how honoured they were to have been part of such a heartfelt ceremony.

It's interesting to note that after being exposed to a humanist event, a lot of my friends are now contemplating the same for themselves where it wasn't even an option before.

And Michael and I are hoping to have a humanist naming ceremony when the time comes. :-)

Thank you again for performing your role so sensitively and so well.

It's a day we'll never forget and will always be thankful to you for.

Thanks to Suzy and Michael - and to all of their friends for their photos too xxx

Monday, 23 November 2009

What is Humanism? A Definitive Definition

This old chestnut comes up time and time again, but I haven't seen a better set of answers than are given here by Stephen Law in the draft introduction to his new book.

His seven key definitions are as follows:

First, humanists are either atheists or at least agnostic. They are sceptical about the claim that there exists a god or gods. They are also sceptical about angels, demons and other such supernatural beings.

Secondly, humanists believe that this life is the only life we have. We are not reincarnated. Nor is there any heaven or hell to which we go after we die.

Third, Humanists reject both the claims that there cannot be moral value without God, and that we will not be, or are unlikely to be, good without God and religion to guide us. Humanists deny that our moral sense was placed in us by God, and generally favour a naturalistic, evolutionary account of how our moral intuitions have developed. Humanists reject moral justifications rooted in religious authority and dogma. They believe our ethics should be strongly informed by study of what human beings are actually like, and of what will help them flourish in this world, rather than the next.

Fourth, humanists deny that that if our lives are to have meaning, it must be bestowed from above by God. The lives of Pablo Picasso, Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa and Einstein were all rich, significant and meaningful, whether there is a God or not.

Fifth, humanists emphasize our individual moral autonomy. It is our individual responsibility to make our own moral judgements, rather than attempt to hand that responsibility over to some external authority – such as a religion or political leader – that will make those judgements for us. Humanists favour developing forms of moral education that emphasize this responsibility and that will equip us with the skills we will need to discharge it properly.

Sixth, Humanists believe science and reason are invaluable tools we can and should apply to all areas of life. No beliefs should be considered off-limits and protected from rational scrutiny. The humanist’s scepticism concerning gods, angels, demons, an afterlife, and so on is not a “faith position” but rather a consequence of their having subjected such beliefs to critical, scrutiny and found them severely wanting.

Seventh, humanists are secularists, in the sense that they favour an open society in which the state takes a neutral position with respect to religion, protecting the freedom of individuals to follow and espouse, or reject and criticize, both religious and atheist beliefs. While humanists will obviously oppose any attempt to coerce people into embracing religious beliefs, they are no less opposed to coercing people into embracing atheism, as happened under the communist regimes of Stalin and Mao.

So there you go: I hope that helps!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Freethought of the Day

Every morning, I get an email from the American Freedom From Religion Foundation, which in its own quiet way reminds me that the history of free thought is a long one.

Today, it's thrown together two names you don't often see in the same sentence, Bjork...

And Voltaire!

You can find out more about the Freedom from Religion Foundation here

Posted via email from humanisto's posterous

Friday, 20 November 2009

Colin & Julia's Humanist Wedding at Tyninghame Village Hall

There was a great video on the web earlier this year, which showed an American couple and all their friends dancing down the aisle.

Colin came up with an equally striking entrance - he, his brother and best man, George and their friend Ewan, 'drummed the bride in' - dig that crazy rhythm, hep cats!

There was a lot to like about their ceremony, not least the fact that Colin took Julia's second name to join with his own.

Sadly I couldn't stay for what I am told was a fantastic party, but we WILL have that sherry soon!

Posted via email from humanisto's posterous

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Lindsay & Nigel's Humanist Wedding at The Atrium, Edinburgh

The Atrium is a stunning venue and photographer Ross Barber must have arrived a lot earlier than I did to catch this great shot.

Nigel's two daughters, Ellie and Robyn were the flower girls, and in a really nice touch, when they came in, he went down the aisle to take them both by the hand and lead them in.

The point at which a father hands over the bride is always an emotional one - for the dad more than the daughter! I always suggest that the bride gives him a kiss and thanks him for being a wonderful father, which I think is what Lindsay is doing here.

Lindsay and Nigel wrote their own vows, and each promised different things to the other.

Along with the great shots, they sent me a lovely message...

We wanted to thank you for such a fantastic ceremony. We have had so many amazing comments about it as I don't think many had experienced a Humanist ceremony before but everyone really enjoyed it - they're still talking about it!! It was so relaxed and felt great and really set the tone for the rest of the day. Thank you so much for marrying us and for making our day so truly special.

Please Don't Label Me

Another great piece of work from the people who brought you the Atheist Bus Campaign.

Read all about it in this article by Ariane Sherine

Jill and Chris's Humanist Wedding at Mansfield Traquair

Just look at Mansfield Traquair . Could it be more calm and tranquil? Little did Jill and Chris know what was to come. If they h...