Posts Tagged ‘integrity’

Humanist Naming Ceremonies

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Naming ceremonies are becoming more popular for people who choose not to have their children baptized. Such parents tend to be commendable adults of integrity, conscious as they are that it is more important to teach their children to be authentic and true to themselves than to jump a queue for a school place merely because their child is baptized. And until the Irish people  and an Irish Government changes the discrimination that exists against unbaptized children, these parents should be applauded for their courage, integrity and leadership.

Demand for naming ceremonies is increasing as parents realize that they can formally welcome their child into their families, circles of friends and the wider human community without having to initiate their baby into ill-founded beliefs about deities and gods.

You can read some feedback from a recent baby naming ceremony that I conducted here.

And I’ve started a new Pinterest board on Humanist Naming Ceremonies here.

Humanist Celebrant – Joe Armstrong

Monday, July 29th, 2013

I am very happy to say that I have been accredited as a Humanist Celebrant by the Humanist Association of Ireland. It’s like an aspect of my life coming full circle – having trained for the Catholic priesthood, spent nine years in religious life, left, stopped believing in God, given up on the idea of being with people at key moments in their lives like births, marriages and deaths, and now, unexpectedly, finding myself able again, with integrity, to celebrate these turning points in people’s lives again.

When I was moving beyond religious faith but still attending religious ceremonies I often used to try to deconstruct the religious content and language of baptisms, weddings and funerals. I tried to translate them in my head, quietly and privately, so that the ceremonies could mean something to me. What was the essential human meaning behind the tissue of myth of religion? There was essential meaning there and I sensed that it was a pity that it should be clouded by religious ritual, language and daft beliefs. I wondered if they could be stripped of the nonsense and if we could just celebrate the human moments they signified: a new life born to us! a new loving union of two people committing their lives to each other publicly! a life ended, that life celebrated and mourned in equal measure, and without the unnecessary facade of an afterlife.

I conducted my first funeral last Friday. I feel that Humanist funerals do great justice to a live well lived. A person attending a Humanist funeral who did not know the deceased will have a good sense of what that person was like by the end of the ceremony. After a whole life well lived, surely it’s the least we can do, to honour someone who has died. And to remember the deceased. And it’s such a relief to be able to do that without nonsensical talk of ‘sin’ or an ‘afterlife’. Death is the most natural thing. All living things and beings die. Nothing and nobody lasts forever. And so when we die let’s be adult enough to see death as the end but to recognize that we loved the person who died and wish to honour their life and their passing.

I very much look forward to conducting naming ceremonies for families and couples welcoming new life into their midst. It is important to celebrate new birth, a new life, a new name, a new individual. It is a time of joy and wonder, a time of celebration and delight. And we can welcome new human beings without having to believe in nonsensical beliefs, such as that a baby is born in ‘original sin’. What nonsense! But let not our distaste for old mythologies discourage us from having a naming or welcoming ceremony because ceremonies are important. They are key moments in our lives.

And, yes, let is celebrate marriages. Courageous couples who publicly commit their love to one another. Love is what it’s all about, as we know. And so it’s important to celebrate love publicly and not only privately. The community gathers to acknowledge and support a new couple in their love for one another, and to publicly mark the love between two people which manifests in a new public commitment. Even in Catholic theology, the groom administers the sacrament to the bride and the bride administers it to the groom. They are the ministers of the sacrament. The priest is only there as a witness. Likewise, in Humanist ceremonies, the bride and groom marry each other and everyone else is there as a privileged witness of the loving commitment made by the couple.

Love needs support. Marriage needs support. Couples need to know that love is indeed the way, and that love can and does survive. That love is a beacon in what can at times be the stormy seas of life. And that love is worth it. Money, success, power, pleasure, health…all these things will end. But love survives.

What a privilege to be able to conduct weddings, naming ceremonies and funerals! It is an honour to be with people at such moments, at such turning points in their lives. Each is a threshold through which lives pass, changing almost everything. Each is a human moment, a singular moment, unique to that person, that couple, that family; and yet also shared by all humanity.

I look forward to helping couples and families and loved ones to craft and create ceremonies that are unique to them at key moments of their lives.

For more about Humanist Ceremonies, see Humanist Association of Ireland

Greens should pull the plug on discredited Government today

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The Greens will almost certainly be decimated in the next election but they could at least go with a tinge of integrity by pulling the plug today on this discredited Government. What other regime in the world would tolerate the multiple resignations of Cabinet members weeks before a General Election and their cynical replacement? What the country needs is a new Government, not a cynical window-dressing exercise by Fianna Fail. For every day the Greens extends the life of this government, they will face another decade in electoral oblivion. The Irish electorate has a long memory, despite what Harney once said, as the routing of a previous Labour  coalition records. Will being in Government stop the Greens from doing the conscientious thing?  They promised us an election by the end of January. Will they, instead, facilitate this cynical ploy by Cowen? He’s running rings around you, Greens. Be adults. Enough is enough. Resign today so ye can live with yourselves.

Resignation of George Lee

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

For the benefit of international readers, George Lee was a prominent Irish journalist and broadcastor who was appoached by Fine Gael, the main Opposition party in Ireland, to ditch his well-paid, very high profile job with Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, some nine months ago and to run for that party in a by-election. He won by a resounding majority. Since then, we didn’t hear a lot from him. Now we know that he felt he wasn’t given a role, or one which he liked, within the Opposition party. So, at 12.50 p.m. yesterday it was announced that he had resigned from Fine Gael and from the Dail – the Irish Parliament. It was the main news story all yesterday, not least because it seemed to suggest that the Parliament – and not only the main Opposition – was an unproductive place unconducive to using the undoubted talents of at least one recent parliamentarian.

Fine Gael and its Leader appear vulnerable after George’s decision, as does the Dail itself. George is greatly admired, not only by his former electorate but by the public who believed his razor sharp analysis of the problems in the Irish economy. His was one of the few voices warning of the dangers to the Irish economy well before the credit crunch, well before the international banking crisis, and at a time when prominent politicians tut-tutted at his spot-on warnings.

A poll on RTE Radio’s Liveline showed some 83 per cent of people said he was right to resign. He insisted it would have been dishonest for him to stay since he had accepted the invitation to run for Parliament on the understanding that he would influence and help bring about change. In fact, he claimed yesterday, that he had had no influence at all on Fine Gael policy.

I admire George Lee. I regard him as a man of remarkable integrity. I see him as a brave man, willing to face whatever the backlash may be of his decision to resign from politics. He was hounded from many sides yesterday. Luckily for George, and for us, he is articulate and he countered every attack with that greatest weapon of all: the truth. It had not been easy for him to leave aside his high-profile, well-paid job nine months ago. Nor was it easy for him yesterday to stand alone and be true to himself. Well done George. I salute you.