The National Secular Society (NSS) will be holding their inaugural Bradlaugh Lecture at the Manchester Art Gallery on Saturday 9 September, to mark the end of their 150th anniversary celebrations. Bryan Niblet, who published a biography on Bradlaugh, the founding president of the NSS, will deliver a talk entitled ‘Dare To Stand Alone’. NSS historian Bob Forder will also deliver a talk and there will be a drinks reception. The event will run from 2pm to 4pm and will coincide with the re-hanging of Walter Sickert’s portrait of Bradlaugh, which attendees will be able to view for the first time in decades. It is free to NSS members and is £5 for non-members. Spaces are limited and bookings can be made via the website.
The next presentation will be held at Friends Meeting House Mount Street Manchester on seven Monday evenings commencing 5 October 2015.
Cost: £20 reduced to £17 for bookings received by 7 September 2015.
The next presentation will be held at Friends Meeting House Mount Street Manchester on seven Monday evenings commencing 16 February 2015.
Cost: £20 reduced to £17 for bookings received by 16 January 2015.
The next presentation will be held at Friends Meeting House Mount Street Manchester on seven Friday evenings commencing 12 September.
Cost: £20 reduced to £17 for bookings received by 22 August 2014.
At the meeting on 18th October, after a very interesting talk on the Human Rights Act by Guy Otten, and after a full and frank discussion, the decision was taken not to continue with monthly meetings of Buxton Humanists. Very occasional meetings may still be held in Buxton.
Exploring Humanism – an Introductory Course
The third public presentation of Exploring Humanism – an Introductory Course will be held at Friends Meeting House, Manchester from 7pm to 9pm on six successive Monday evenings, commencing 1 November 2010. The cost is £14. The course covers the following topics:
Session 1 Humanist beliefs and practice
Session 2 The historical roots of Humanism
Session 3 Humanist moral values
Session 4 How Humanists handle moral dilemmas
Session 5 The meaning and purpose of life for Humanists
Session 6 Humanism today – and review of the course
There will be a meeting of the Buxton group on Monday 18th October 2010 at 7 for 7:30 in the piano lounge at the Old Hall Hotel. The speaker will be Guy Otten, chair of Greater Manchester Humanists who will speak on “Human Rights”.
The April meeting of the group took place at the Old Hall Hotel on 19th April and took the form of a discussion of issues raised by “The Book of Atheist Spirituality” by Andre Comte-Sponville. Almost everyone there was dismissive of the concept of spirituality whether they had read the book or not. Chris and Pauline Neilson from Greater Manchester Humanists were welcomed to the meeting as they are considering starting up a local group in Stockport. The next meeting is on 17th May at the Old Hall and the speaker will be Deb Hill, headteacher at Buxton Community School, who will be speaking as herself rather than on behalf of the school, about developing moral values in a secular setting. We will then have a 3 month break before the next meeting on 20th September.
We now have a forum – for GMH members only – on the thinkhumanism website.
To participate in the GMH forum, you will need to be registered as a user with forum.thinkhumanism.com. Then send a message via the forum to the GMH group moderator (Elio Pennisi, our international member who lives in Italy) so that he can arrange for you to be added to the GMH user group.
To enter the private forum, go to forum.thinkhumanism.com. The GMH Forum is near the bottom of this list, under Special Interest.
At the meeting on Monday 15th March at the Old Hall Hotel in Buxton, the group heard a talk from Anne Walker about her long-standing and considerable involvement in the work of Amnesty International (AI). Anne is also a long-standing member of the British Humanist Association and Greater Manchester Humanists. Anne gave us a very interesting and detailed talk. She started by asking us what we thought Amnesty is all about and then went on to describe its history from its beginnings in 1961 as an article in the Observer written by a UK lawyer about people who had been imprisoned because of their beliefs – who came to be called “prisoners of conscience” or PoCs. Throughout the 70s and 80s the remit of AI became wider and wider until it became so all-encompassing that it was confusing so in 2003, there was a change of mandate to simplify its aims so that it became all about human rights – promoting awareness of the larger picture and opposing specific abuses. The current mandate was adopted in 2007 and has widened the scope of the aims to become – to undertake research and action focussed on preventing and ending grave abuses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There have been some recent controversies within the movement, including one about the campaign against the death penalty and another on a woman’s right to choose abortion. Currently AI is involved in many campaigns, it has 2.8 million members in 150 countries, 260 thousand of them in the UK and it employs 320 staff who research the abuses that are reported to it. There are 300 local groups in the UK, one of which is in Buxton and has 100 members.
Everyone stayed behind after the discussion to meet Andrew Bingham, who had come to talk with us about the questions we sent out to all the declared candidates in the forthcoming general election. The questions were sent to all 6 candidates but only 3 had replied – Conservative (Andrew), Labour (Caitlin Bisknell) and Sylvia Hall (UKIP). Andrew was the only one to offer to come to speak to the group. The questions related to
– the “religious” question in the census
– allowing schoolchildren to decide themselves if they want to opt out of collective worship and religious education
– assisted dying.
Andrew appeared to be reasonably in tune with the views of the group. He seemed to think that the issues we had raised would not be settled on a party basis but that MPs would be able to vote according to their individual conscience.
The next meeting of the group is to be held on Monday 19th April at the Old Hall. It will take the form of a book group – all are invited to read “The Book of Atheist Spirituality” by Andre Comte-Sponville before the meeting and come along to discuss it. Even if you don’t manage to get round to reading it, please come along anyway as a synopsis of the issues it raises will be given by members of the group to kick-start the discussion. If you would like to discuss another book, please bring it alone prepared to introduce it to the rest of us. It would be helpful if you would let the secretary, Marge Rose, know if you intend to do this and the title of the book.