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Life stories: Summary

Watch Alice Roberts round up what we have learned about humanist ceremonies and the humanist approach to life

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This week

This week, we met humanist celebrants and, through their stories about birth, marriage, and death, we’ve been given an introduction to the humanist approach to life. We’ve heard about the value humanists place on the stories that connect us, help structure our lives, and reveal who we are.

We started with ceremonies not because they are an essential part of a humanist approach to life, but because they provide a good introduction to the value humanists place on freedom and our relationships with other people, and the recognition that this is the one life we have. In later weeks we will learn about how other humanists express their humanism in different ways.

Let’s summarise what we have learned:

  1. Rituals are not just for the religious. They can help bring a sense of narrative to our lives and can bring people and communities together. Humanists believe that rituals should be authentic and meaningful to the people involved.
  2. Humanist naming ceremonies reflect the humanist belief that this is the one life we have and we should therefore make the most of it. Humanists believe we should be free to choose our own path in life, that we should be the authors of our own story.
  3. Humanist namings allow family and friends the opportunity to reflect on our changing roles as we travel through life and on the responsibilities we have towards other people.
  4. Humanist weddings reflect the humanist belief that we should be able to mark the important moments in our lives in ways that are personal and meaningful to us rather than being bound by tradition.
  5. Humanist weddings express the understanding that our only source of support is the other people in our lives.
  6. The focus of a humanist funeral is on the story of a person’s life and the honest recognition that that life has ended.
  7. Through opportunities to reveal the memories we hold of the person who has died, a humanist funeral draws attention to the way the impact of our life can survive our death.
  8. Not all humanists will have humanist ceremonies. There is no compulsion.
  9. The humanist approach to life draws attention to the value of freedom, a sense of responsibility, and the importance of connections.

This summary step is a good space to ask any questions you still have in the comments area and to take the opportunity to help out your fellow learners with their queries.

Next week

Next week we will turn our attention to humanist campaigners. We will hear about where they feel the injustices in society lie, particularly those restrictions that deny us the personal autonomy to be the authors of our own story. We’ll learn about what motivates these humanists and about the work they are doing to guarantee what they believe are the necessary freedoms for us all to live full and flourishing lives.

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Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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