2009-03-29

Humanist Communities

There has been some recent discussion in the media and in the blogosphere about building Humanist communities, and I'd like to indicate my support for the idea and explain some of my thoughts.

The first question commonly asked is why Humanists don't just join a group of Unitarian Universalists. Some certainly do. As for me, though I have a positive opinion of UUs, I really prefer a group of people who generally share my beliefs, not simply a group of people who welcome me regardless of my beliefs. UUs emphasize love, peace and acceptance of all people, but not necessarily the critical thinking and intellectual rigor that I personally value so strongly. They use religious language and rituals in a non-dogmatic manner and they fully welcome atheists, but I much prefer to jettison anything from religion that suggests superstition and retain only the most humanistic elements of religious practice relating to the promotion of virtue and building of communities. These include such things as a recognizable name and symbol, meetings at least once per week, discussions of various topics, social activities, and small group interaction.

Here in Jacksonville, we have the First Coast Freethought Society, but I've only attended a couple of meetings. They only meet once a month on Monday nights, and the group consists almost entirely of senior citizens. I'm less than halfway to being a senior citizen and my wife is less than a third of the way there, so I have a more difficult time making social connections in such a group. There is also an atheist Meet-Up group with plenty of young members, and I've attended a number of their meetings, but the focus is almost exclusively on views of religion. Now I enjoy the criticism of religion more than almost anyone except perhaps some other bloggers, but sometimes I want to move beyond the inherent negativity in criticism and on to something more positive.

Since I've gotten married, my desire for such a community has noticeably weakened. An important part of that desire was to meet a young woman who shares my worldview, and now I have exactly that. I'm also much busier than previously with a wife and law school, so my life is rather full and I'd encounter difficulty in finding time to attend any meetings. I've already had to go on hiatus from improv comedy for several months, and if I find any extra time, it will be spent pursuing that first. If something new arises in the area, however, I hope to lend it whatever support I can manage.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Humanism, schumanism. The bottom line is that a humanist philosophy does not know how to deal with the bastards.

Just look at Darfur. What's the humanist answer? There is a criminal bastard out there and he is getting away with it.

Zatarra said...

I'm not sure what you mean by your comment. It seems that you're suggesting that Humanism offers no ultimate justice whereas religion does. (If that's not what you meant, then please clarify it for me.) You're right; it doesn't. But religion doesn't offer justice, it offers empty promises.

The Humanist response would be to do something, perhaps rounding up as many criminals as necessary to prevent them from harming others. Humanism isn't a complete system of thought for every aspect of life.