By Barry Klassel
Ceremonies are organized celebrations. They are parties with a purpose. Humanists are right to question traditions that may come from religious custom because we have a legitimate fear of enforced conformity. But it would be a mistake to unthinkingly refuse to look for the possible benefits of events that bring people together and strengthen community. There are no ceremonies required if one wishes to be considered a “good” humanist. And there are no set of formulas for humanist ceremonies, the features of which can always be adapted to serve individual needs. Each of us can choose to partake in those ceremonies that we decide enhance our lives.
It must be noted that ceremonies can be thought of as having rational ends. They promote self-reflection and so can bring clarity to our thinking. They give us insights into our own and others’ lives. They allow us to see our role in the history of humankind. They show us how our life-cycles fit into the wider cycles of nature. (more…)
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What most people only seem to hear about religion and Uganda in the news today is the Kill the Gays Bill, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony or general religious intolerance, superstition and witch hunts. But like all such media storms that fill our minds with the worst, there is still a lot of hope to be found.
The Uganda Humanist Association, founded 15 years ago, is a growing vibrant national network of groups that hopes to turn Uganda towards a rational, evidence based approach to dispel superstition and bigotry and promote the value of our common Humanity. No unquestioning faith or dogmatic doctrines that must be subscribed to, but rationalism and compassion that we each are responsible to ourselves for.
One of the most important projects of UHA is their Uganda Humanist Schools Association. So far there are 4 different schools. A primary school in Kasese and secondary schools in Musaka, Busota, and Mpigi. In the picture above is the Isaac Newton Secondary School, Msaka. HCRU fully supports UHA’s projects and hopefully plans on getting involved more personally in the future.
Please consider visiting the sites and contributing to this very worthy cause!
~by Paul Chiariello
This weekend, Barry Klassel, the Rutgers Humanist Chaplain, will be one of the speakers at a Continuing Education course for Funeral Directors taking place on Tuesday, May 22, in Queens, New York.
The course is called “Serving Today’s Diverse Funeral Client: Tradition or Personalization? Is there room for both?” Barry will describe how to use ceremony to promote healing in a talk titled “Stenghtening Human Connections.” Barry has been officiating at end-of-life ceremonies since 2004.
The website is almost complete!
We’ve added loads of new pages and posts, such as Student Clubs, In the News, Further Resources, COHE Online Humanism Course, Humanist Organizations, and others. The Donate page and feature, while up, is still disconnected as we are changing our PayPal account. Everything else, however, is up and open. If you haven’t already, please subscribe!
The Chaplaincy is also planning a few new pages, such as a Hear from Our Students page, in which you can read more about what Humanism means by listening to students working with the Chaplaincy.
If you have any ideas, let us know! We want to have as much information and features up as we can. We are always looking for new ideas. And of course, especially ones which you would like to see up!
A recent article was published in the journal Science about the effects that religion has for both encouraging conflict and in group trust. Nothing out of the ordinary. However, the research in the article also discussed the possibilities for religion, or in-group identifications around the ‘scared’, benefiting inter-group reconciliation. Science Daily published a review of the article as ‘Religion is a Potent Force for Cooperation and Conflict, Research Shows‘ here.
What struck me about the article is what it said about how to approach people. It reinforced the Humanist Chaplaincy’s view that humanists/atheists will get more cooperation from religious people if we show some respect and humility rather than confront them aggressively. If our objective is, as I think it should be, peace and mutual tolerance with the religious, then this tells us how to proceed rationally to achieve that objective.
The Humanist Chaplaincy regularly Tables at Student orientations throughout the summer. This year we have over a dozen events planned and will be sending out more information as they approach. Most events are for either Incoming Freshmen or Transfer Students. However, like this previous weekend, we also set up tables for Alumni events.
Even if you don’t know what ‘Tabling’ is, you’ve likely already seen it. The Chaplaincy sets up a fold-able table, among sometimes dozens of other organizations, and then sets up poster boards, pamphlets and other information about the Chaplaincy. In past events we’ve also had games, like Guess the Humanist.
We could always use help setting up for events or you could come by just to keep us company. If you are already familiar with the Chaplaincy, please come and talk to students that stop by to ask questions. If you are an incoming Rutgers student, please stop by as well! We would love to have conversation.
Greta Christina, a well known atheist blogger, in a recent article outlines the growth and cultural clout of the Atheist Movement.
From the Reason Rally in DC with 20-30,000 participants – in the rain! – to billboards and massive fundraising projects, Greta describes how non-theists are getting active and getting noticed in the US.
To add to this list I’d like to note the huge growth in Humanist Chaplaincies. Only a few years ago there was a single Humanist Chaplaincy in the US at Harvard. Today there are five of us. And at least two being planned as I write this. Not to mention the Tufts Freethought Society, whose students have been advocating for one for a while.
To read the article check it out at Salon.com Atheism’s New Clout.
To all Humanist Alumni,
For the second year in a row, I’m speaking at the “All-Alumni Interfaith Chapel Service,” which is Saturday, May 12, at 9am in Kirkpatrick Chapel. I hope to present our perspective by reading a poem I think of as a Humanist and a universal human affirmation.
The poem is called “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life.”
Afterwards, from about 10:30 until 2pm, I will be at a table with some humanist alumni on Voorhees Mall.
PLEASE CONSIDER ATTENDING THE SERVICE AND THEN STOP BY THE TABLE AND SAY HELLO.
Thank you very much,
The Humanist Chaplaincy made a splash at Rutgers Day on April the 28th.
We had a Guess the Humanist game where enjoyers of the day’s events could win a candy bar. In order to win, players had to correctly match all four quotations with the individuals that said them on at least one of the 8 large poster boards we had.
We also got a special shout out with an article written by Rutgers University: Finding God – Or Not – On Rutgers Day.
A new study shows that Non-theists are motivated by compassion more often than people that identify as religious. You can read an article from the Huffington Post here.
The reasons for this are unclear, but one lesson that can certainly be taken is that Atheism doesn’t mean you are necessarily a stone cold individualist and selfish oppurtunitist.
There are Nihilists, yes. But there are also Humanists!
One can be Good without God.
If you are feeling compassionate, please considering donating to Foundation Beyond Belief.
The Chaplaincy doesn’t conclude that theists are not motivated by compassion. That is obviously an incorrect assumption to make. However, as we have been trying to arguing all along:
Compassion, in practice as well as theory, is a central value of Humanism
New content was added to the website.
Please check out our What is Humanism?, Meet the Chaplain, Why a Chaplaincy?, Contact Us, and Join sections.
Also, a Subscribe feature was added. So now you can get email digests of Events & Updates posts from the website!
More edits to these sections as well as tons more content for everything else will be coming shortly.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012, RU Humanist Chaplain Barry paricipated in the memorial service for students and other members of the Rutgers Community who had died the previous year. The service was held in the Graduate Student Lounge and is only the second annual event of its type at Rutgers.
It was sponsored by other campus chaplaincies, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Life.
Barry spoke about his own father’s death in the previous year. He suggested that human relationships are among the greatest treasures in our lives, and that even after someone close is lost, something shining from that life still remains. Then he read a poem by M. D. Hughs called THE TIDE RECEDES:
The tide recedes, but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down but gentle warmth
still lingers on the land.
The music stops and yet it lingers on
in sweet refrain.
For every joy that passes
something beautiful remains.
After the service, Barry stayed to counsel some of the parents who seemed distraught.
We are currently changing our hosting services as well as management of the website. Because of this switch the majority of the content of the website was removed. But don’t worry, we will be back soon!
For the next week(s) we will be adding content to the website, as well as other major changes in format and appearance. For those familiar with the old website, we will be adding a variety of new features.
Please make a note to visit us in the near future!
Thank you so much for your patience,