opinion

Humanism, Like Mushrooms

When primates began to look at the stars in wonder, humanism was born. Far from the cliche of superstitious creatures huddled in caves, Homo Sapiens have from the beginning been engineers and artists, philosophers and scientists discovering how to adapt to our environment and make the most of our brief time on the planet.

Humanists then and now ask a question: What are we to do with the life that we have? The Humanist difference is that we do not accept ready-made answers. The ideas and ideals of humanism have sprouted in many times and places.

Among animals, human beings are unique in that we have developed methods to conceptualize time and ways to preserve and communicate knowledge and culture across generations. Humanity evolved complex social relationships and unique solutions to complex challenges, yet we are also prone to superstitions and hatreds—aspects of ourselves that must be transcended. Read more about Humanism, Like Mushrooms »

On Not Flying Away: Humanism and the Afterlife

When I was a kid we sang on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights—church night—and at revivals and camp meetings, “Some bright morning when this life is o’er . . . I’ll fly away.”

It’s an upbeat and happy song, by design. The song was written by Albert Edward Brumley back in 1929 and is the most recorded song in gospel music . . .

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away
To a land where joy will never end,
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh glory,
I'll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by,
I'll fly away.

The Tide of History Flows Left

One of my history-minded friends has a long-range political view summed up in three words: Liberals always win. Complex social struggles may take centuries or decades, he says, but they eventually bring victory for human rights, more democratic liberties and other progressive goals.

Look how long it took to end slavery. Generations of agitation and the horrible Civil War finally brought triumph for liberal abolitionists and defeat for conservative slavery supporters.

Look how long it took for women to gain the right to vote. In the end, liberal suffragettes prevailed, conservative opponents lost. Read more about The Tide of History Flows Left »

“The Light in my Life and the Fire in my Soul” – Bette Chambers

[Editor's note: the title of this post by Michael Werner is a quote from Bette Chambers, who is a past president of the American Humanist Association.]

For all the talk about reason and science, humanism is really about a passionate love affair. It is a love affair with life, not a mythical hereafter. Humanism is a love affair with a progressive vision of civilization where each of us can add to our growing library of wisdom, our evolving knowledge of what there is, and what is truly important. None of the great achievements in history would have been possible without a love of the adventure of learning and of creating a better life. We have great cultural achievements in science, art, music, literature, philosophy, history, psychology, and political thought that all inform each other that have been borne of that long humanist tradition. Read more about “The Light in my Life and the Fire in my Soul” – Bette Chambers »

Spiritual But Not . . . Keep Talking, Humanists

Literary critic Terry Eagleton said, “The din of conversation is as much meaning as we shall ever have.” I like that. On first glance, it appears to be bleak—human conversation is all the meaning there is?

But imagine what human conversation has given us.

Imagine the din of conversation under the porches (stoa) and under the trees (akademeia) in Athens during the time of Socrates.

Imagine the din of conversation in Baghdad in the late 700s when an institution called the  House of Wisdom opened it’s doors—an attempt to gather all the wisdom in the world.  Read more about Spiritual But Not . . . Keep Talking, Humanists »

The Naturalism Discussion: Moving Beyond the Humanist / Theist Debate

People are more important than beliefs.* Some may consider this a corollary to the first Unitarian Universalist principle, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person”, or the third, “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations [and beyond].” We are Unitarian Universalists because we choose to be in community with one another. So, let me rephrase that slightly: relationships are more important than beliefs. Read more about The Naturalism Discussion: Moving Beyond the Humanist / Theist Debate »

Introducing the Freethinker Friendly Program

This is my presentation from the "Freethinker Friendly" part of the "Serving the Nonreligious" program at the 2015 UUA General Assembly in Portland, OR on Friday, June 26. I am Maria Greene, the part-time Executive Director of the UU Humanist Association.

Freethinker Friendly is a program of the UU Humanist Association with the goal of helping congregations communicate to their communities that they are welcoming to atheist, agnostic, humanist, and other freethinkers. You can find out more about the program and register your interest on the Programs > Freethinker Friendly page of this website.

Listen to the Presentation

[A special thank you to Adam Gonnerman for creating the video version of this presentation.] Read more about Introducing the Freethinker Friendly Program »

Humanists ARE Joiners!!

This is Kevin Jagoe's part of the "Serving the Nonreligious" talk at the 2015 UUA General Assembly in Portland, OR on Friday, June 26. Kevin is the Media Coordinator and Youth Director at First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis and the newly-elected Member-at-Large of the board of the UU Humanist Association.

In this presentation, Kevin discusses the outreach efforts he is involved with at FUS, and encourages other UU congregations to offer things that humanists and other freethinkers are truly interested in.

Listen to the Presentation

[A special thank you to Adam Gonnerman for creating the video version of this presentation.] Read more about Humanists ARE Joiners!! »

Rowboat in the Woods: the role of Humanism in a Secular Future

This talk by Rev. David Breeden was part of the "Serving the Non-Religious" session at the 2015 UUA General Assembly in Portland, OR on Friday, June 26. David is the senior minister of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis which has, "A heritage of forward-thinking humanism at home in the here and now". In this talk, David discusses the changing religious landscape of the FUS neighborhood, and by extension the country at large, then suggests how Unitarian Universalist congregations are going to need to adjust their programming and their thinking to thrive in the new reality.

Listen to the Presentation

[A special thank you to Adam Gonnerman for creating the video version of this presentation.] Read more about Rowboat in the Woods: the role of Humanism in a Secular Future »

UUA, Why Aren't You Nurturing My Spirit?

I laughed out loud yesterday when I got to the bottom of the stairs at the Oregon Convention Center for General Assembly and I saw the giant pendulum swinging in the foyer. Pendulums come up often when I'm discussing the place of humanism in the UUA with the people who come by the UU Humanists' booth in the exhibit hall. In the past, I'm told (since I am a new Unitarian Universalist and wasn't there to see for myself) the pendulum swung toward humanism, and now I'm told (and I see for myself) that it is swinging toward theism. The slow, relentless swing of the gold ball in the foyer is mesmerizing and the force must be tremendous, but I say it's time to stop the pendulum's swing entirely. Read more about UUA, Why Aren't You Nurturing My Spirit? »

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