Humanist Society Update

A plug first . Today and tomorrow are the EUSA election days. If you’re a student at the University of Edinburgh, I don’t care who you vote for but it’s very important that you vote. Don’t leave the decision in the hands of the politically-minded cronies in the various party headquarters, pull your finger out and go and vote. It’s a shame that, yet again, the elections are so male-dominated and that there isn’t such a diversity of choice, but there’s bound to be someone who says something you agree with.

I haven’t got a lot to say today seeing as I’ve mostly been writing essays or working for the past few weeks, so I’m just going to try and update the outside world on what we at the Edinburgh University Humanist Society are up to. I should be doing another essay so I really am just procrastinating.

This coming Friday is the last in our series of “God’s Warriors” video showings in Appleton Tower. Starting at 6 sharp, this week will concentrate on ‘God’s Christian Warriors’, perhaps tacking the sticky issue of Christian fundamentalism in the US. I urge you to come and see for yourself. It’ll be followed by a discussion, and in the past 2 showings these have proven to be refreshingly open-minded.

Talk at the moment is about the upcoming AGM (date TBC but at the moment we’re thinking late March/early April) and nominations for officer positions next year. It’s a little awkward because out of our active membership, several people are leaving the university, and so won’t be able to take positions. I think one of the main aims next year will be to attract some new blood, as I know we’re going to have similar problems this time next year. I for one will be going on my year abroad and other people will be either graduating or finishing off post-grad courses.

Recently we’ve been trying to get an honorary humanist chaplain at the Chaplaincy, with our preferred candidate being Tim Maguire from the HSS. This would be someone that any person at the university with humanist tendencies could go to for advice or counselling, rather than the Advice Place or any of the religious chaplains that exist already. In particular, we were keen to get more of a voice on issues relating to inter-belief events at the university and in the wider community, and although not in an evangelical sense, we thought Tim would be particularly useful when someone is considering leaving their faith, as some of us have found it quite distressing in the past.

Nevertheless, Di at the Chaplaincy has suggested that Tim take the slightly different role of humanist contact, which half-suits us at the moment because we don’t know how well used a humanist chaplain would be, and until we know we can’t really demand a chaplain, but at the same time we’re out of the loop just slightly on Chaplaincy issues. We’ll see if Tim gets much use as a humanist contact and try and raise his profile a little if possible.

The next thing on the agenda to consider is what we’re going to do during Fresher’s Week. Gordon Aikman, the current EUSA Vice President Societies and Activities, has given us until Monday to decide on what we’re going to do and give him some details. Suggestions today involved some kind of debate or discussion about what to do if your friend is a nutcase, something else which would involve going out and informing people about humanism (something similar to the prayer contest was mentioned, during which we tried to use scientific experimentation to find out which deity was best to pray for for divine intervention – IIRC it turned out to be Emmeline Pankhurst, the women’s rights campaigner who famously threw herself in front of a horse), and my own suggestion was a walk up Arthur’s Seat, not an awful lot to do with humanism except for an appreciation of nature, but it’s a good way to get people together.

So that’s what we’re up to at the moment.

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