15 June meeting: Blasphemy and freedom of expression – a matter of life and death, by Paul Sturges

Professor Paul Sturges OBE, Emeritus Professor of Library Studies at Loughborough University

Professor Sturges’ talk will range over the history of the offence of blasphemy in relation to freedom of expression, with examples from some different parts of the world. The examples of blasphemy will include some that would seriously offend religious believers. There will also be accounts of hangings, lashings and horrible murders by people enraged by blasphemy. He will contrast blasphemy laws and their consequences, with laws and international statements on freedom of expression.  In the process he will attempt to draw useful distinctions between critical comment, satire, offensive speech and publication, and incitement to hatred, whilst stressing the value of good manners and consideration for others.

University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ, at 7.30 pm on Thursday 15 June.

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Many humanists are interested in matters relating to death and dying for various reasons, such as humanist funerals, topical issues such as assisted dying and existential questions about life and death. During Dying Matters Awareness Week (8-14th May), there are three public events in Shropshire.

SHREWSBURY 10TH MAY
On Wednesday 10th of May at 6.60pm, Dignity and Dying, who are supporting Noel Conway in his high court action to enable assisted dying, are holding a meeting for a new Shropshire branch in the Hobbs room of Shrewsbury Library.

SHREWSBURY 12TH MAY
Dying Matters Shropshire is holding a public event in the Square Shrewsbury on Friday 12th May from 10am to 2pm. There will be crafts, a talking about death & dying cafe, florist and so much more, encouraging the public to talk about death and dying asking people what they want to do before they die, and how they would like to be remembered. Simon Nightingale will be there (in the morning) to answer questions abut humanism and humanist funerals. Come and join us! For more details see here.

TELFORD 12TH MAY
Dying Matters Shropshire is also holding a public event called “You only Die Once” in the Telford Shopping Centre (TF3 4BX) from 9 am to 6pm on Friday 12th May. It will outside Pandora, which is near Marks and Spencer. There will be representatives from community health teams, Samaritans, Hospice etc. Humanism will be represented there with a table display staffed by some of the local humanist funeral celebrants, including Sue Falder and Simon Nightingale (in the afternoon). Come and join us.

Humanist garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show: request for assistance and contributions

We are aiming to have a garden celebrating Humanism at the Shrewsbury Flower Show this year, 11 and 12 August. It will be designed by Carol Seager.

This is an opportunity to put Humanism before possibly as many as 100,000 visitors.

Help with money, fundraising and practical help in the week before and during the show are all welcome.

As visitors come to the Show from all over the north of England and further away, other Humanist Groups may wish to use this opportunity to advertise.

Please contact through the Contacts page us if you are interested in helping!

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

April 20 meeting: Feeding Britain – issues, challenges and ethical dimensions, by Prof Ralph Early, Harper Adams University

Thursday 20 April at 7.30pm in University Centre Shrewsbury

Professor Ralph Early, Professor of Food Industry and Head of Department of Food Science and Agri-Food Supply Chain Management at Harper Adams University, and a member of Shropshire Humanist Group.

Britain is not food secure and since WWII successive governments have done little to deal with the problem. While the country’s self-sufficiency has fallen from over 80% some 60 years ago to approaching 50% today the nation’s waistline has increased and so has the burden of food related poor health on our medical system. This is bad news for the country, but good news for the corporations that profit from selling unhealthy food and treating symptoms of diet related disease. So what can be done to solve the problems? Ideas will be floated and the audience will be invited to suggest solutions.

Please note: The time of this may appear incorrectly on the Upcoming Events. This is caused by time changes between Google and the UK. The correct time is 7.30 pm BST.

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.

Sunday 12 February 2017: Visit to Darwin Lecture in Shrewsbury

On Sunday 12 February 2017, we have reserved 25 seats at £12 each for the Darwin Memorial Lecture at the Walker Theatre in the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and 20 seats at The Armoury for lunch beforehand (12.00 noon). Members, partners and friends welcome. The lecture is at 2.00 pm.

COINCIDENCE? DARWIN, WALLACE AND THE CO-DISCOVERY OF EVOLUTION BY NATURAL SELECTION Dr Andrew Berry, Harvard University.

Evolution by natural selection is biology’s central idea and arguably its most important one.

That this disarmingly simple notion was independently discovered synchronously by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace suggests that our focus should be on what they had in common, the milieu – social, cultural, technological, political – in which they lived.

This lecture will review some of the factors underlying the Darwin-Wallace breakthrough, emphasizing the implicit lesson for the history of science – that for a full understanding we need a multi-dimensional reconstruction of the world in which scientists lived and worked.

Dr Berry, educated in Shrewsbury, is a lecturer in evolutionary biology at Harvard University and has published extensively on both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace.

If you would like a lecture ticket and/or a lunch place, contact Margaret Cann as soon as possible.

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