Humanism is about tolerance, kindness, knowledge and friendship, and although Humanistically Speaking is for Humanists, it is there for everyone to read, enjoy, and contribute, regardless of faith or belief.
Many Humanists (including myself) find words like ‘spiritual’ toxic because of their association with religion. However, I believe that the term ‘spirituality’ simply involves a feeling or sense that there is more to being human than just sensory experience. And this feeling can be understood in secular terms. It does not have to be the preserve of the religious.
Most of us have experienced that sense of absorption, or
transcendence, or connectedness with our environment, whether it is through music, art, nature, inspiration, compassion, the cosmos, or relationships. But it is ethereal and always personal in nature, and we Humanists wedded as we are to an empirical approach to questions of existence often have trouble expressing those elusive experiences. The religious answer is often glib: it’s “an experience of the Holy Spirit”. I believe they have managed to hijack spirituality and rob non-believers of any expression to match that. And it matters, too. One reason given for not allowing Humanists to speak on BBC Radio Four’s Thought for the Day is because this slot addresses the spiritual and is therefore deemed to exclude those who are ‘merely’ secular.
There are two interviews in this month’s issue. The first is with
Jeremy Rodell, who will be known to many of you, and who has
strongly held views about what is meant by ‘spiritual’. The second interview is with musician Steve Banks who has composed some beautiful music entitled 'The Blue Pearl: A One World Oratorio' which he describes as Humanist and also spiritual. He invites us all to join the concert online, or in person at the world premiere at
St. Giles’ Cripplegate , London, on 14th May (see page 20 for more details). Humanistically Speaking subscribers can get 25% off the price of tickets by adding the word ‘Humanist’ to their ticket application, but please apply by the 8th May to get your discount.
I have often said that Humanistically Speaking is a journey and its purpose is to seek (if I might paraphrase) to explore where no Humanist has gone before. Spirituality is an important issue for Humanists, and one that we will return to again someday. I hope you enjoy this month’s sortie into what is, for us, a difficult subject.
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