The Future of Humanism

Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region came together to put on four Zoom events every Tuesday evening during February 2021.

The organizing committee comprised Sarah Robbins (Chair), Bob Jelley, Mark Taylor, Jim Brooks and Simon Nightingale.

Here is the fourth and final installment. Sarah Robbins, Chair of Birmingham Humanists, takes us through a review of West Midlands Humanists Month and then introduces the main speaker, Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK.

Andrew’s talk on The Future of Humanism begins around 4.45 with a Q&A session beginning around 20 minutes in.

Recordings of all the sessions are posted on our website for people to view at their convenience. Here are links to the preceding three events:

February 2nd – Humanism – where are we now?
February 9th – Climate change
February 16th – Humanism in action

In memory of Joyce Brand

In November last year Joyce wrote an article for the Ludlow Humanists, Life in a Time of Lockdown. She was excited to do it and it stimulated her to new thoughts. Joyce’s physical health had been slowly declining for at least the last two years. But mentally it was another story…

Joyce was born in Brixton, in London, but with family connections to this area which she came to know well. She was an only child, she earned a place at Oxford University to study English, but turned it down for love. She married young, lived abroad and had three children in quick succession. As the children grew up, she began to train as a social worker and had a number of senior positions in local authorities and at the Maudsley hospital. She moved to this area in the 1990’s and had several child-related posts – for Hereford diocese, and chaired the local the Foster Care panel.

In Ludlow, Joyce’s energy drew her to be involved in so many activities and campaigns (she was one of the founding members of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend our NHS), and she supported so many individuals in the issues of life.

In 2002 she published her Common Place book – a collection of prose and poetry which she had been drawn to over the years. It is of course a direct reflection of how she was: feisty, wickedly humorous, determined and independent, wise and enthusiastic and a fighter for others, full of warmth and humanity.

Her article for Ludlow humanists shows her intelligence, still looking to the future, willing to change in order to bring a better world for all. She had those values and marks of character that made her a much loved, and now much missed, friend to many.

Joyce was 86 years old when she died on Thursday 18th February. She was in Hereford County Hospital, where she had been for several weeks and had contracted Covid-19.

Read Joyce’s article: Life in a Time of Lockdown

Sylvia Turner
23rd February 2021

Humanism in action

Here’s the third Zoom meeting organised by Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region for the month of February.

At the February 16th event, humanist practitioners shared their insights and experiences of working in different areas of humanism in action. Here’s how the session breaks down:

Event ChairSarah Robbins 
Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (SACREs)Jane Sault2:35
School speakersBrian Goredema-Braid10:30
DialogueSimon Nightingale19:05
Pastoral care/chaplaincyPete Bispham25:40
CelebrantsMark Taylor35:10
Question and answer session 44:15

Please see the events section of our website for details of the other events in the West Midlands Humanism in Action Month and how to sign up.

Climate change

“The Psychology of Climate Deniers” and “Climate Change and Environmental Ethics”

Here’s the second virtual discussion organised by Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region for the month of February.

Dr Simon Nightingale, who has a background in neuroscience and psychology, and is also Chair of Shropshire Humanists, discusses the “Psychology of Climate Change Deniers”. Just prior to his talk, Dr Nightingale also provides a brief introduction on Humanist Climate Action, which is soon to be launched by Humanists UK.

Next, Professor Richard Norman, eminent philosopher and Vice-President of Humanists UK, will talk on the subject of “Climate Change and Environmental Ethics”.

Dr Nightingale’s presentation begins around the 1:45 mark. Professor Norman’s talk begins around 27:25 with a Q&A session beginning around 48:10.

Please see the events section of our website for details of the other events in the West Midlands Humanism in Action Month and how to sign up.

Humanism – where are we now?

A talk by Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK

In case you missed it, here’s the first part of a series of virtual discussions organised by Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region for the month of February.

In this first Zoom session from February 2nd, guest speaker Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, discusses Humanism – where are we now? Andrew’s talk begins around the 7-minute mark and the Q&A session begins about 26 ½ minutes in.

Please see the events section of our website for details of the other events in the West Midlands Humanism in Action Month and how to sign up.

Lockdown Limericks

A little light relief in these very short days

From an anonymous contributor

December 2020

All I want for Christmas is… an injection.
Astra Zeneca my selection.
Covid, tis a curse, but would be worse,
If I had asked God for my protection.

There’s much in Covid to fear,
Though I’ll not shed a tear,
But lockdown’s a fright. I’m in need of a pint,
Good Boris, please put me in the right tier.

Continue reading “Lockdown Limericks”

Life in a Time of Lockdown

An article by Joyce Brand

November 2020

When I came to think about the topic ‘life in a time of lockdown’ I came close to simply bemoaning the closing down of our way of life, the threat of predicted financial disaster, the identification of the wretched fraud that has been perpetrated on frightened people and the abysmal performance of our politicians. To have gone down this route would have been to miss the opportunity to consider possible positive outcomes from this tragedy.

Continue reading “Life in a Time of Lockdown”

Introduction to Humanism Part 2

Here is the final installment of the short 2-part video series produced by Humanists UK. Speakers discuss the role of Humanism in public debate and the importance of secularism in creating a fairer society for all.

Includes interviews with Richard Dawkins, A C Grayling, Tim Minchin, Andrew Copson, Polly Toynbee, Rumi Hassan, Philip Pullman, and Zoe Margolis.

Reflections in old age

An article by Tony Akkermans

November 2020

Last month I turned 80. Other milestones have made an impact before but this one was different. When hitting the 60 or 70 count it is possible to pretend that you are still in late middle age but the 80 mark puts a stop to all that. Now the hard fact is staring you in the face; you are old. And with the sobriquet ‘old’, thoughts inevitably turn to the dark at the end of the tunnel. My son wrote an amusing poem for the occasion, highlighting aspects of my life but it also contained the line: “So eight decades down and still ticking but enduring ever more humour about bucket kicking”.

Continue reading “Reflections in old age”