21 September meeting: The ups and downs of ‘doing good’ – lessons from Bwindi, Uganda

The story of Omushana, Sunshine for Children – a small charity based in Shrewsbury and helping children in southwest Uganda. This illustrated talk will include observations and anecdotes (serious and amusing) on the pluses and minuses of charity and Fair Trade projects in the area. The talk will be given by Gillian Castle, who is a Shrewsbury resident and runs the charity.

Thursday 21 September at 7.30 pm, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.


18 May: Alison Patrick of the Unitarian Church in Shrewsbury: Unitarian? What’s that?

On Thursday 18 May, Alison Patrick will tell us about Unitarianism.

Unitarianism is a faith with no creed or doctrine. It has its roots in the Judaeo Christian tradition and has evolved to encompass a range which spans liberal Christianity to religious humanism and earth centred spirituality. The first identified Unitarian churches and meeting houses, including Shrewsbury, emerging in the 18th century but the origins of the faith go back further. We’ll look at the history of the Unitarian movement which includes historic figures Iike Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood and Elizabeth Gaskell, at the interesting stories of Shrewsbury Unitarian Church, and at some of the beliefs and activities of Unitarians today. I look forward to discussing and comparing with Humanist approaches.

University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ at 7.30 pm

16th February: Oswestry Equality Group

oswestryhumanrightsFrom Fairness, Respect, Equality Shropshire (FRESh):

You may remember the very successful British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) Human Rights Tour event held in Shrewsbury in October 2014. We are delighted that once again we’re holding the event in partnership with BIHR – this time in Oswestry on 16 February – as part of their 2017 Human Rights Tour. The event aims to raise awareness about human rights and their relevance in everyday life, and provide space for debate and discussion.
BIHR will provide a basic introduction to the law that protects our human rights in the UK, and together we will explore what the Human Rights Act is and how it is relevant and real to us all in our everyday lives today. There will be an opportunity to engage in some of the important debates going on about the future of our human rights law, and the final session will explore the relevance of human rights in our local rural context.
The day will use a combination of presentations, interactive sessions, discussion and creative activities, providing a timely opportunity to explore the law, everyday practice and the way human rights are portrayed.
Everyone is welcome to attend. More information is available here, from FRESh on 07773 644 714 (answerphone), or email fresh.shropshire@gmail.com.

Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group: Spring programme

ludlowquakers-ed-smFrom our neighbours, the Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group:

21 February – ‘Ludlow’s Workhouse’ – an exploration of its history and consequences, by John Nash.

21 March – ‘The South Shropshire Furniture scheme’, a unique local ‘social enterprise’ which recycles used items, especially furniture, and helps train locals in refurbishment/carpentry skills. This talk will be given by James Cooper.

18 April – ‘Defend our NHS campaign’ Gill George will be discussing this from the current Shropshire perspective.

16 May – Annual General Meeting. The usual formalities, plus an appropriate video and refreshments and cakes.

Meetings are 7:30 p.m. in the Friends’ Meeting House, St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ.

16 March meeting: Shelley – a Humanist out of Time, by John Webster

John’s multi-faceted presentation gives an unrivalled insight into Shelley, and reveals the extent to which humanist ideals animated his work. With Shelley verses presented in a cycle of songs (‘an interesting and enjoyable way to encounter the lyrics’), a narration voiced by Benjamin Zephaniah, and images from Shelley locations in Italy, this is an special opportunity to discover the scope and ambition of the poet who looked forward to a democratic, pluralist and secular future. There is a review of John’s talk here. Information about John’s DVD is here.

Thursday 16 March, 7.30pm in University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

19 January meeting: Hot Potatoes (open mike) session

Hot-PotatoThursday 19th January 2017 at 7.30pm in University Centre Shrewsbury,

This year we are having a January meeting. We are having a “hot potato” (open mike) session in which anyone can speak for 5 minutes (absolute maximum 10 minutes) on a topic of their own choice that is in some way related to humanism.

The idea is that you talk about something that interests you and then you interest us!  You can use PowerPoint if you wish, but that is not essential.

Some possible topics, both personal accounts or objective reviews, might include: Why I became a humanist; What I like/don’t like about humanism; Why do good people do bad things?; Should humanism be political?; Ethical issues such as assisted dying, abortion, drug use, embryo research, genetic engineering; Human rights; Immigration, asylum and refugees; Sexuality; Faith schools; Humanist celebrants; Humanist chaplains; Should humanists do more “charitable work”; Environmental issues; Do humanists ignore the welfare of animals?; The concept of a “just war”; The paranormal – are we too sceptical?; Inequality, poverty etc – what do we can do about it?; Discrimination and prejudice; A humanist view on death and dying; Should humanists pray (in the sense of critical reflection)?; What do we mean by secular spirituality?

Please email the chairman with the title of your planned talk to prevent duplication. However if you prefer, you can just turn up on the day and tell us then.

17 November meeting: showing of film A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God

At our next meeting, US filmaker Chris Johnson will be showing and talking about his film, A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.

Please note we aim to start this meeting at 7.15 pm, earlier than our normal time of 7.30, in order to allow adequate time for discussion. The meeting is at the usual venue, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. Free parking after 6pm at the adjacent Frankwell car park.

The film is based on Chris’s book A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God. The film version of A Better Life features a selection of those from the book — atheists from around the world from many different backgrounds and professions. They include best-selling authors, award winning artists and scientists, and many well-known public personalities and figures including:

A.C. Grayling, Philosopher, author and Master of the New College of the Humanities.
Adam Pascal, Musician/Actor, created the role of “Roger” in the musical RENT.
AJ Johnson, Vice president and co-founder, Be Secular.
Alex Honnold, Rock climber, featured on 60 Minutes & the cover of National Geographic Magazine.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, British Humanist Association.
Cara Santa Maria, Co-host and Producer, TakePart Live on Pivot TV.
Dan Barker, Co-president, Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Daniel Dennett, Philosopher, author, and cognitive scientist, Tufts University.
Donald C. Johanson, Paleoanthropologist, Arizona State University. Discovered the fossil of the hominid australopithecine known as “Lucy.”
Helena Guzik, Online Publications Assistant, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Julia Sweeney, Actress, comedian & author.
Matt Dillahunty, Speaker/co-cost; The Atheist Experience.
Nahla Mahmoud, Environmentalist/Human Rights Activist.
Patricia S. Churchland, Neurophilosopher, University of California San Diego.
Robert Llewellyn, Writer, TV presenter, speaker, actor (Red Dwarf), electric vehicle evangelist.
Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist, California Institute of Technology.
Tracie Harris, Speaker/co-cost; The Atheist Experience.

Chris Johnson is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. He received his undergraduate degree in film production (along with a minor in religious studies) from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His photography has been seen in various outlets, including The New York Times. He is the author of the coffee table photography book, “A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God” as well as the documentary film version, “A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.” He has travelled the world on a screening/lecture tour about A Better Life, speaking and screening the film in over 60 cities on four continents — from Reykjavik to Shanghai.

For the book and film of A Better Life, he interviewed many prominent atheist figures such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Dan Dennett, Derren Brown, Pat Churchland, Julia Sweeney, Penn & Teller, and many more. He has given talks on atheism and his work at conferences, universities, non-profit organizations, and community groups. In addition, he has also been a guest on numerous podcasts, radio and TV shows around the globe.

Apart from his own film and photographic work, he has also collaborated with artists and directors in various roles and capacities for theatre, film, and print. Chris is the recipient of the Kodak Award for Excellence in Filmmaking as well as the B.F. Lorenzetti Scholarship for Excellence in Filmmaking. Additionally, Chris sits on the Secular Board of Advisors, as well as the board of Openly Secular.

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