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Humanist ceremonies

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Maria Mac
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#21 Post by Maria Mac » August 1st, 2008, 4:46 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Firebrand, the BHA model includes a bit of what I suppose can be called humanist philosophy. In Funerals without God these are called 'Thoughts on Life and Death' and are supposed to follow the opening words and precede the tribute. Most of the examples included are quite good but I think the Tree of Life one is a bit cringeworthy for most funerals.

Moonbeam
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#22 Post by Moonbeam » August 4th, 2008, 2:05 am

Can humanist ceremonies include religious content?

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jaywhat
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#23 Post by jaywhat » August 4th, 2008, 5:48 am

Yes
Technically humanist ceremonies can include anything.

I am not suggesting they should or that it is normal, but they CAN if that is what is decided is the right thing at the time. They can include swearing, but not as a matter of course. What is right for A may not be right for B.

Many years ago I did a funeral for an infant that only came out of hospital to be at home a couple of times. The mother would sing 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' to her baby because - well, because she did.
At the crem, with smiled apologies for what was technically a non humanist addition to the ceremony, the organist (yes) played the hymn and (yes) we all sang it from the sheets I had provided.

Moonbeam
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#24 Post by Moonbeam » August 19th, 2008, 10:25 am

That sounds very appropriate thing to do in the circumstances.

I suppose my question is really 'should humanist ceremonies include religious content?' Jaywhat's example sounds like a good argument for not proscribing it entirely.

Maria Mac
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#25 Post by Maria Mac » August 23rd, 2008, 1:14 am

Well it depends what you mean by religious content. If part of the ceremony is given over to a serious act of worship, then it stops being a humanist ceremony. But including a hymn for some other reason - sentimental ones perhaps - wouldnt undermine the integrity of the ceremony, in my opinion. Nor would having a reading from a religious source, as long as the extract isn't about God-worship.

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LilacHamster
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#26 Post by LilacHamster » August 23rd, 2008, 2:36 pm

I've never been to a humanist ceremony, can someone give us an idea what they are like, for the totally uninitiated here?

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jaywhat
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#27 Post by jaywhat » August 23rd, 2008, 3:59 pm

I suppose I could send a copy or two of ceremonies I have done (I don't do them now), but I guess they would be a bit boring just to read.
For funerals, the bottom line is that there is basically no religious content despite what I said above - as Maria says. The main point of focus is on the deceased. It is all about that person, their life and what they have left behind them - their humour and their sadness, their successes and their stupidities - anything.

The best way to find out what one is like is to get to see one - even as a stranger just sliding in at the back. Of course, seeing one means that is just only one. Every humanist ceremony is different.

Maria Mac
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#28 Post by Maria Mac » August 24th, 2008, 3:07 pm

It's worth adding that any music/songs chosen will be because they are felt appropriate for the deceased - they may be their favourite pieces or they may represent how the bereaved feel. Same for any readings of prose or poetry. The centrepiece - the tribute to the life of the deceased may include contributions from family members or friends.

All of the above also applies to weddings and baby namings except, of course, that the couple are making all the choices about the script, music and readings for themselves.

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LilacHamster
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#29 Post by LilacHamster » August 24th, 2008, 10:49 pm

Thanks Maria and Jaywhat for telling me a bit more.
It's a slight regret of mine that we never had any kind of baby-naming ceremonies for our kids, we were just not really aware that such things were possible (or maybe with my youngest I was just vaguely aware but too busy/disorganised to look into it).
As we were not religious and not having a Christening we just did not know much about what to do in place of it.

Dan
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#30 Post by Dan » August 26th, 2008, 9:46 pm

LilacHamster wrote:Thanks Maria and Jaywhat for telling me a bit more.
It's a slight regret of mine that we never had any kind of baby-naming ceremonies for our kids, we were just not really aware that such things were possible (or maybe with my youngest I was just vaguely aware but too busy/disorganised to look into it).
As we were not religious and not having a Christening we just did not know much about what to do in place of it.
I'm a longstanding member of various humanist organisations, and became a father a couple of years ago. I was aware of humanist baby-naming ceremonies, but (with my partner) rejected the idea of having one (though it was considered). I don't feel any need to do anything "in place" of a Christening.

Dan

Dan
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#31 Post by Dan » August 26th, 2008, 9:50 pm

Here's a useful typology.

There are humanist ceremonies, which have some humanist ideological content. These are non-religious ceremonies.

There are secular ceremonies, which are non-religious but may not have specifically humanist ideological content. For example, the state civil marriage ceremony is secular but not humanist.

There are non-denominational ceremonies, which include religious content but do not follow the pattern of any particular religious denomination.

There are denominational religious ceremonies, where are clearly in the tradition of a particular religious denomination.

Dan

Firebrand
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#32 Post by Firebrand » September 3rd, 2008, 3:20 pm

Thanks for that typology, Dan, it makes good sense.

I didn't want to have my children baptised and it didn't occur to me that I could have a non-religious ceremony but I now regret not having formal naming/welcoming ceremonies for my girls. We had a family party after each one but it would have been more memorable and special if we'd set aside a time during the party to say how much each child meant to us, what we wished for the future and perhaps have a bit of communal singing.

I think such occasions can serve a useful function that has nothing to do with religion - it's more about reinforcing family ties and honouring the people you love most.

Nick
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Re: Humanist ceremonies

#33 Post by Nick » September 3rd, 2008, 5:19 pm

Even though I have no children, I agree with you very much indeed Firebrand. I may have mentioned this before, but if I were to have such an celebration for my children, I would invite the adults to write a letter to the child, to be read at 18, offering their pearls of wisdom. What they wish they had known at that age, what they regret, what they would do differently, things that they realise with hindsight are more important than may be apparent at that age and so on.

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