Shropshire Humanists cancelling all events until after August at least

Simon Nightingale writes:

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Shropshire Humanists committee has decided to cancel all events until at least after August. We will make decisions about further events at a later date. Therefore the monthly Thursday evening events, Sunday Brunches and the July social event are cancelled.  The Annual Humanist Convention in London in June has also been cancelled.

It is ironic that we have been planning a public event on October about the problems of isolated and lonely older people. Some older people, like Bridget and I, are now voluntarily isolated, but we need not be lonely.  We can make regular contract with family and friends by audio and video links and we are experimenting with multiple user video conferencing.

Nevertheless there will be many people who will feel isolated, lonely or scared.  If possible join with those who live near you to support your neighbours, particularly those who are infirm or old and therefore need to avoid contact, as well as those who are self-isolating and may need help with provisions that can be left outside their doors.

A friend of mine tells me she is going through her Christmas cards to identify friends or relatives who live alone in order to keep regular contact, especially if they are lonely or distressed.  I’ll do so too.

If you have ideas of how we can help one another in this time of crisis, let us know by emailing me chair@shropshire.humanist.org.uk or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/ShropshireHumanistGroup

Keep in touch – without touching!

Two excellent free on-line Humanism courses

Simon Nightingale writes:

For some of you, life maybe even busier than normal, continuing to work while keeping as safe as you can. Some of you may also have your school-age children at home or be supporting those who are self isolating or socially restricted.

Others will have more spare time on your hands and to you I’d like to suggest these two free highly-regarded and interesting on-line courses on Humanism, created by Humanists UK.

Both courses run over six weeks and involve about 2 hours a week of reading and watching videos. No previous knowledge of Humanism or philosophy is required for either course. Some people prefer one, some the other, but most people have enjoyed doing both.

I know both courses as I’m the on-line Mentor and support the course participants.

The two courses are:

HUMANIST LIVES with Alice Roberts
https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/humanist-lives
Scroll down this link and join the course that starts on 30th March or wait until the next course is announced.

This course covers the main aspects of Humanism presented in the form of the personal views of different Humanists.

INTRODUCING HUMANISM: NON-RELIGIOUS APPROACHES TO LIFE with Sandi Toksvig
https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/introducing-humanism
Scroll down this link and join the course that started on 17th February or wait until the next course is announced.

This course is a bit different as it considers various Humanist issues from a philosophical rather than a personal viewpoint.

In both courses there is an opportunity to post comments or ask questions, but this entirely voluntary. However, if you join either course, do at least post a comment to say Hi to me and that you are from Shropshire Humanists!

Shropshire Humanists: March talk cancelled

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Shropshire Humanists committee has decided to cancel the much anticipated talk on “Refugees” by Amanda Jones, that was due to take place on Thursday 19 March at the University Centre.

Please pass this message on to anybody you know who was thinking of coming.

Amanda Jones has kindly agreed for us to do a video of her talk which will be made available to everyone in due course.

We will keep you informed by emails and through our website https://shropshirehumanist.wordpress.com/ about the status of later events and meetings.

Remember to follow the government guidelines on avoiding infection: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

At times of crisis, communities need to work together. If possible organize a local system of caring for neighbours, particularly those who are infirm or old and therefore need to avoid contact, as well as those who are self-isolating and may need help with provisions that can be left outside their doors.

Best wishes to you all.

Thursday 19 March: Amanda Jones on Refugees

Amanda JonesAmanda Jones, Director of the Shropshire Supports Refugees not-for-profit Community Interest Company, says: “Shropshire Supports Refugees has been supporting families resettled in Shropshire since 2016. We recognise that it is not enough to just help these few families to integrate and find their feet in a new country, but that it is our duty to also continue to raise awareness and raise the profile of refugees and asylum seekers who are still stuck in horrific circumstances around the world. Nurturing a celebratory attitude rather than just a ‘tolerating’ attitude is the way that we would like to ensure that the families who are living in Shropshire are accepted and welcomed now and into the future.”

 

University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ, 7.30 pm. You are very welcome to come for tea and coffee from 7 pm to meet and chat with other members and guests. A voluntary donation is requested towards room hire and refreshments.

Noel Conway on radio, talking about empathy and his novel

On Sunday 2 FebruaryNoel Conway gave the weekly “Pause for Thought” on BBC Radio Shropshire’s Sunday morning “Faith and Ethics” program.

Noel is well know to us as an active member of Shropshire Humanists and recognized nationally as an advocate for a change in the law on assisted
dying, a cause of particular relevance to people like him with advanced Motor Neurone Disease. As well as his legal campaigns, he has found time to
write and publish short stories and novels, using voice recognition software as he now has no use of his limbs. To hear his moving talk, listen here between 1.24 and 1.30 on the time line.

Hot potatoes 2020: humanists speak their minds

Another annual Open Mike – Hot Potato evening, which has been such fun over the last few years. The idea is that anybody can speak about anything for 5 to 7 minutes (with or without PowerPoint). The only requirement is that the subject fascinates them and they have to fascinate us! If you’d like to give one of these short presentations, contact Simon Nightingale.

Here is a recording of some of last year’s presentations.

Books on Humanism bequeathed to the Shropshire Humanist Library from the estate of Jonathan Cutbill

Simon Nightingale writes: Geoff Hardy, a member of Shropshire Humanists and a long standing friend of Jonathan Cutbill who died earlier this year, has kindly given 16 books on humanism to the Shropshire Humanist Library.

Geoff showed me around Jonathan Cutbill’s lovely terrace house in Castlefields. I’ve never seen so many books in a private house. Room after room was filled to the roof with many racks of shelving full of ordered and catalogued books. Over many years Jonathan had acquired an extraordinary and indeed definitive collection of LGBT publications. Some rare volumes are of great historical interest. The University of London has been delighted to accept them at Senate House where they will be an important resource for research.

As well as a bibliophile, Jonathan was an ardent and well known defender of LGBT rights and co-founder of Gay’s the Word bookshop in the Bloomsbury district of London. More about his life can be read in this obituary.

Shropshire Humanists, like all humanist groups, strongly supports human rights, including LGBT rights locally, nationally and internationally. Details of Humanists UK’s LGBT community and campaigning can be found here.

We are very grateful to Jonathan Cutbill’s generosity and to Geoff Hardy for arranging his donation. Those who want to see the full list of books available in the Shropshire Humanist Library, can contact our treasurer Peter Cann.

A modest selection of books to borrow or buy will always be available at our monthly Thursday evening events at University Centre Shrewsbury.

Review of Erica Buist’s talk on death festivals

Simon Nightingale writes: Last Thursday we had a good turnout for Shropshire Humanists AGM, but the highlight of the evening was a fascinating talk by Erica Buist, a freelance reporter for the Guardian, Medium, BBC etc. She started with a moving account of the distress she experienced after the awful circumstances of her father-in-law’s death and the subsequent growing realisation that she, like most of us in the West, was quite unprepared to cope with death. She discussed the reasons for this, for example, that in all children’s stories, cartoons and films the good people live “happily ever after” and it’s the only the bad guys that die. Moreover, sometimes the good are effectively brought back to life by Prince Charming’s kiss or clapping for Tinkerbell and so on.
Erica went on to discuss the different ways people view death in other parts of the world. In particular, she has visited seven death festivals. Initially her account seemed a little shocking, but when you understood what was going on in the minds of those celebrating at these festivals, it became very moving.
Erica has written a book about all this, which can be bought online (not via Amazon, I’m pleased to say).

Ludlow and Marches Humanists: talk on 19 November, and Remembrance Sunday wreath laying

Ludlow and Marches Humanists presents a talk on Samaritans by Libby Dolloway and Chery Sell. Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline. Although the name derives from the Biblical Parable of the Good Samaritan, Samaritans is a secular organisation.

Tuesday 19th November 2019, 7.30 pm, at The Friends Meeting House, St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ. All welcome. For more information: david215@talktalk.net.

Remembrance Sunday this year is on the 10th November. Ludlow and Marches Humanists will again be laying a wreath at the Ludlow Peace Memorial in Castle Square. Ludlow. Please do join them at 10 am as the Civic Ceremony starts at 10.30 am.

Thursday 21 November: Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion – A Tour of the Case Law by Caroline Roberts

Photo for SH Website_CKR
Caroline is a final year PhD Researcher in Law at the University of Bristol. Her research, supervised by Professor Sir Malcolm Evans and Professor Russell Sandberg, focuses on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion at the international, European and domestic level. Caroline’s thesis – entitled ‘Reconceptualising the Place of the Forum Internum and Forum Externum in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights’ – which comprehensively reviews the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights relating to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, challenges the traditional approach to this right and advances a radical alternative reading.

During this talk, Caroline will introduce the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and take us on a tour of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, to explore the European landscape as a whole and some interesting cases in detail.

Thursday 21 November, 7.30 pm.  University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. You are very welcome to come for tea and coffee from 7 pm to meet and chat with other members and guests. A voluntary donation is requested towards room hire and refreshments.

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