Archive for the ‘Humanism’ Category

Stephen Fry calls it like it is: No God!

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

See Stephen Fry call it like it is, that there is no God, and certainly none worth believing in. Life is truer and more authentic when we grow up and stop our superstitious thinking. And there is no difference between superstitious beliefs/thinking and religious beliefs/thinking. Think for yourself! You will never think your way into believing in a benevolent deity or deities, or whatever the fashionable or culturally acceptable gods are of our time and cultures. Live your short life to the full. Life without stupid beliefs is so much better. Don’t let them fool you. Obey yourself. Be reasonable and compassionate to yourself and others. Let us all grow up.
See the link here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/stephen-fry-explains-what-he-would-say-if-he-was-confronted-by-god-10015360.html

Raif Badawi, defending the right to self-expression & brutality of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Humanists believe in the human right of self-expression. Hence as I Humanist I deplore the treatment by Saudi Arabia of Raif Badawi.

The National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International are co-hosting a protest in solidarity with Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up a website championing free speech and facilitating public discussion. His lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is himself in prison, serving a 15-year sentence for his peaceful activism. Raif’s family, his wife and two children are exiled in Canada and the website has been shut down.

In the aftermath of the brutal slaughter of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris we have witnessed a global outcry in defence of free speech. Millions marched in Paris and throughout France including the Saudi Ambassador to France – however the same freedoms are not extended to Raif Badawi. The treatment of Raif Badawi and the hypocrisy of the Saudi regime cannot be left unchallenged. Already international pressure has resulted in Badawi’s case being referred to the Supreme Court. However much more needs to be done.

The protest takes place this Thursday 22 January at 6.00 p.m. outside the Saudi Embassy on Fitzwilliam Square. Support Raif Badawi, lend your voice to global solidarity and defend freedom of speech.

Pictures of Humanist Wedding conducted by Joe Armstrong

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

For lovely pictures of a Humanist wedding I recently conducted for Lisa and Ciaran in Dundalk, County Louth, click here.

That’s Humanism: Four animated videos about Humanism narrated by Stephen Fry

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The British Humanist Association has broadcast four excellent and very short videos narrated by Stephen Fry which answer commonly asked questions. You can watch all four here

How do we know what is true?

What should we think about death?

What makes something right or wrong?

How can I be happy?

For more details about Humanism and lots of links to find out more, click here.

What people like about Humanist weddings

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Taking a look at unsolicited feedback that we have received after conducting Humanist wedding ceremonies, here is a list of some of the things people liked about them:

In no particular order, Humanist wedding ceremonies are…

  • personal
  • about the couple
  • inclusive
  • beautiful
  • intimate
  • special
  • moving and touching
  • enjoyable
  • non-religious
  • relaxed, easy going and full of happiness
  • balanced by laughter and solemnity
  • designed by the couple and celebrant

Humanist ceremonies:

  • involve family and friends
  • often include simple participation by the couple’s parents
  • often include any children of the couple
  • meet and often exceed a couple’s expectations, hopes and dreams
  • include the couple’s choice of rituals, like candles, sand, handfasting, and rose ceremonies


Outdoor wedding ceremonies legal

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

From the Irish Government News Service:
Department of Social Protection confirms that civil marriages may be solemnised outdoors in a place open to the public
Tánaiste – “The option of an outdoor wedding will be welcome news for couples who wish to celebrate their wedding day in a way that is most meaningful to them”

The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (15th July 2014) confirmed that marriages can be solemnised outdoors in a place that is open to the public.
The notification, solemnisation and registration of marriages are governed by Part 6 of the Civil Registration Act 2004. Section 51(2) (c) of the Act provides that a registered solemniser “…shall not solemnise a marriage unless the solemnisation takes place in a place that is open to the public”. The Tánaiste said: “There has recently been some uncertainty about the definition of ‘a place that is open to the public’, and in order to clarify the matter, my Department sought advice from the Attorney General. This legal advice has clarified that the definition does include outdoor venues. This will be welcome news for couples wishing to celebrate their wedding day in a way that is most meaningful to them.”
In order to protect both parties to the marriage, the outdoor venue should be readily accessible to the public to avoid the possibility of coercion, fraud or lack of capacity on the part of a party to a marriage, to prevent marriages taking place in secret, and to provide an opportunity for objections.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection published the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 on 10 July, 2014 and she will bring forward a Committee Stage amendment to this Bill in the Autumn to further clarify what constitutes an outdoor marriage to ensure that the public policy objective of the provisions of section 51 of the 2004 Act remain intact.
The Tánaiste concluded: “I have just published the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 and I will be bringing forward a Committee Stage amendment to this Bill in the Autumn to further clarify what constitutes an outdoor marriage in a place that is open to the public to ensure that the public policy objectives regarding the solemnisation of marriage are upheld. I believe that solemnisers will take a common sense approach to this determination and ensure that the outdoor venues selected are readily accessible to the public.”
Source: MerrionStreet.ie Irish Government News Service

Joe Armstrong represents Humanists at National Famine Commmemoration 2014

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Joe and Ruth Armstrong after the National Famine Commemoration 2014

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Joe and Ruth Armstrong after the National Famine Commemoration 2014

I was honoured to be asked to represent the Humanist Association of Ireland at the National Famine Commemoration at Strokestown House, Roscommon, on Sunday 11 May.
My three-minute reflection was made 1 hour 5 minutes into the ceremony, immediately before Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s speech. You can hear it on this RTE link

for 21 days from 11 May 2014: http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/10281979/
Here is my reflection:

Words of Joe Armstrong, Humanist chaplain and celebrant

Famine. Famine. Can I imagine it?
Famine. Either a feast or a famine.
Feasts I know. But famine?
Work drying up, the closest I know. Money tight. Or doing a fast, perhaps.
But famine. Famine!
Hunger. I’ve been peckish for a meal. But everyday persistent aching hunger?
Hunger. Countrywide hunger. A nation on its knees.
Beggared. The shame of hunger. Unasked for. Not chosen.
Crops fail. Shock. Fear. Courage! We are strong.
Crops fail again. And again.
Soup kitchens. Food parcels. No money for rent.
Disaster.
Bodies shrink. Tall emaciated figures on Custom House Quay in Dublin: our ancestors.
Children dead. Relatives dead. Neighbours dead.
The boat to England, America, anywhere away from this godforsaken land of hunger and famine.
Famine.
Can we imagine it?

Thinking for yourself

Friday, March 14th, 2014

At pretty much every wedding that I conduct, I will say that Humanism is about thinking for yourself and caring for people, that it is about reason and compassion. And I am often struck that some religious people sometimes feel that they think I am getting at them. Why is this? I suppose it’s obvious really: religious belief is based upon letting someone else do your thinking for you – which is not a very adult thing to do.

Nobody can think their way into religious belief. As we used to say in religious circles (while I was in religious circles) religious faith isn’t so much taught as caught.

Like a cold, I might add.

Religious belief is fanciful thinking. It is escapist surrealism. It is living in a dream.

And perhaps that is why religious people get upset when I say that Humanism is about thinking for yourself. It seems it unintentionally rubs the underbelly of the flight from reason and logic that is religious ‘thinking’.

It upsets me when I consider that even today children are being indoctrinated into religious thinking. Their minds are being wired wrong, with fanciful superstitions presented as ‘gospel truth’. Having taken years, decades, to clamber out of the cage of religious thought, I was astonished to discover thinkers who had lived and died generations before me who centuries ago knew religion to be the twaddle that it is. And there was I spending the first quarter of my life (or more should I die before a hundred!) immersed in the mental death of religion.

How indescribably hard I found it to break through the glass cage into which I’d been immersed and into which I had immersed myself. And breaking out of that man-made trap – for all religions are man-made – felt just like walking through glass: imaginary glass. For the constraints of religion are artificial, at least within the mind.

Why do we permit innocent children to have their minds miswired from infancy with religious nonsense – yes, even in this day and age? Why do we hold as a right parents’ so-called ‘right’ to indoctrinate their children with their particular brand of the ‘opium of the people’? If parents were giving their children drugs, would not reasonable and responsible citizens have an opinion on that? Or if they were teaching them as truth nonsensical things as if they were facts, scientifically established? And yet is that not what religious schools do and religious parents do, indoctrinating innocent children’s minds, warping from from reality. Setting up in their minds ridiculous notions of the ‘elect’, the ‘saved’ and the ‘damned’; the ‘need’ for ‘salvation’; ‘original sin’; the ‘infallibility’ of the Pope; angels; devils; and the ‘inspired word of god’ – when all it is is what religious leaders interpret various literary works (all written my mortal humans) to mean. Inducing guilt into children when they should be instilling confidence into children. It sickens me that we are still at it, in this day and age. People earning a living by claiming to know the mind of a deity that doesn’t exist. And they pretending to have the ear of the so-called master of the universe.

Do I regret the many years I spent trapped within religious belief? Well, I guess I could have spent them trapped within alcoholism or drug addiction or any other addiction. But, honestly, looking back, I see religious belief as far, far closer to the more socially unacceptable addictions than I ever could have imagined while I was a believer.

Mind you, Humanists are far from perfect. None of us is perfect. I guess it’s the struggle of life. Breaking through constraints of the mind. Someone told me recently that I shouldn’t have asked a question. And it reminded me of getting a clatter on the head when I was in religion class as an adolescent and I asked a question and the religion teacher hit me on the head with the bishops’ pastoral on justice and told me not to be impertinent! Yes, we should all ask questions and no responsible adult should let anyone else do their thinking for them; nor to not ask questions; for asking questions is the beginning of knowledge, understanding, judgment, decision-making and adult responsibility.