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BHA e-Bulletin (2 April 2012)

Monday  2 April

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April  Fools' Day


Humanist,  semiotician, essayist, philosopher, and novelist Umberto Eco, wrote in Foucault's  Pendulum  that ‘[t]here are four kinds of people in this  world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics…™ and went on to say:
 
‘Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They  embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation…Fools don™t  claim that cats bark, but they talk about cats when everyone else is  talking about dogs. They offend all the rules of conversation, and when  they really offend, they™re magnificent…™
 
Sunday marked April Fools™ Day “ an international celebration of  pranks, jokes, jests, and japes “ a day that reminds us our how  utterly fallible we humans are.
 
The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness  appears in Chaucer's 1392 Canterbury  Tales. While April  Fools™ Day has been linked to the change between the Julian and  Gregorian calendar in the 16th century,  the day also has links to the Roman festival of Hilaria, and the  Medieval Festival of Fools.
 
While many worry about looking foolish or being taken for a fool, Eco  reminds us that being a fool is not always a bad thing. In fact, there  is a naive charm in being a fool that can be alluring, or at the very  least entertaining. But the need for sometimes playing the fool can  yield more positive results than laughter and entertainment. In a  less-sophisticated implementation of Aristotle™s first principle, by  asking what may be thought to be foolish questions, a greater  understanding can be realised. To discuss something, we need to know  what we are discussing, or as Voltaire said, ‘If you would converse  with me, define your terms™.

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News from  the BHA


Lords  Reform Committee will recommend Bishops retain reserved seats


Contradicting earlier  rumours, it has beenreported that  the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform are to  recommend that Bishops should retain reserved seats in a  revised upper chamber. 

In  early October 2011, we submitted written  evidence to  the Committee, arguing that Bishops should have no  reserved place in the Lords. Following on from this, our  Chief Executive Andrew Copson gave  oral evidence to  the Committee in late November, following on from the  Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read  more here.


MPs™  support for assisted dying guidance ‘a welcome first  step™in schools


Assisted  dying was debated  in the House of Commons last week, the first  major debate on the issue since 1997. After almost  five hours, MPs agreed without a vote to endorse the  Director of Public Prosecutions™ (DPPs™) guidelines on  when to prosecute individuals for assisting another to  die. However, a further motion, which would have  invited the government to consult as to whether to put  the guidance on a statutory basis, was not supported.

We've  congratulated the vote as a welcome first step, but  support the legalisation of assisted dying, and  therefore believe things need to go further.

Read  our full report here.


Methodists  risk giving up all their education principles on a wing

Last  week saw the Methodist Church hold a meeting aimed at  ‘re-invigorat[ing] its engagement with the education  sector™. We've expressed dismay at the related Education  Committee Report with its calls for expansion and increasing  evangelisation of Methodist schools, and expressed concern  at the Department for Education™s role in instigating this  development.

Earlier  this year, following the passage of the Education Act, the  Department for Education (DfE) gained the power to force  failing schools to convert schools to Academy status.  Three Methodist schools were announced as amongst the  schools to be forced. As a consequence of this, the  Methodist Church was required  by the DfE to set up an Academy umbrella, the  Methodist Academies and Schools Trust (MAST), or else lose  control of its schools that become Academies.
 

Read  our full report here.


BHA  welcomes plans for new religious education subject framework

Minister  of State for Schools Nick Gibb has asked the Religious  Education Council for England and Wales (REC) to consider  excellent practice in religious education (RE) teaching and  present its findings in a report, as well as to support the  REC in shaping a revised RE teaching framework that matches  the design and style of the future National Curriculum. 

Read  more here.

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The Pod  Delusion this week  finds out why health screenings might actually be a bad thing,  discovers how to make an IMAX film without CGI effects, and  tries to get Alan Turing on the £10 note. Listen  to episode  129 here. 

If  you like the show why  not support the Pod Delusion by subscribing to the show and  helping to pay  for things like website hosting, upkeep and excellect content.  Details on how to support the Pod Delusion can be found here.






This  week on Humanist  Life we  have links to articles on the election  process for  the next Archbishop of Canterbury, news that Tunisia  is edging away from Sharia, a list of the world™s worst persecutors  of Christianity, MPs trying to overturn the ASA  ban on  advertising that God can ‘heal',  Rowan Williams saying that the fixation  with identity  politics is  fragmenting Britian, and statistics showing that the Swiss assisted  dying rate  has risen sevenfold in 11 years.

  

Other  Events


Assisted  Dying: A Matter of Choice? 
Tuesday  3 April, Law  Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London
Registration  6.00pm “ Debate starts 6.30pm “ Bar open from 7.45pm

The  Law Society is holding a public debate on Assisted Dying: A Matter  of Choice? 
 
The event will be chaired by Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, Vice President  of the Law Society. The panel includes Baroness Young  from the Commission on Assisted Dying; Campaigner Debbie  Purdy who won a case in 2009 demanding greater clarity from the  DPP; Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick from Not Dead Yet UK; and Robert  Preston,  Director of Living and Dying Well.
 
Full details can be found here.

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In This  Issue

Editorial

News  from the BHA

BHA  Events

Affiliated  Group Events

HumanistLife

The  Pod Delusion

Other  Events

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BHA EVENTS

  



BHA  Annual Conference 2012
Fri 8 June - Sun 10 June
National  Museum Cardiff

  

New  speakers announced! Richard  HerringIszi  Lawrence, and Carole  Jahme are  joining our spectacular line-up in Cardiff.
 

Book  today:  you never know what the future will bring! ...Or do we?


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Wednesday  25 April

Tuke  Hall, Regent™s  College Conference Centre, London 
7pm for a 7:30pm start - 9:00pm

  

Robin  Ince, comedian,  writer, and 'that sort of thing' will be presenting this year's  Voltaire Lecture. The subject is 'The Importance of Being  Interested' and the audience can be assured of a fair  amount of science, including references to Feynman and Darwin.  Details and tickets here.


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AFFILIATED  GROUP EVENTS

  

SCANS  (South Cheshire & North Staffordshire Humanists)
Mon  2 Apr 
7:30pm,  Newcastle-under-Lyme
Do  Faith Schools have a place in British Education? Presented by  Richy Thompson, Campaigns Officer from the BHA. Details here.
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Sutton  Humanist Group
Wed  4 Apr
Speaker  from Compassion in Dying. Details here.
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Brighton  & Hove Humanists
Wed  4 Apr
7.30pm,  The Lord Nelson Inn, Trafalgar Street.
School  Religion and Religious Schools. Details here.
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North  Yorkshire Humanist Group
Thurs 5 April
Book Club Meeting - Free Will, by Sam Harris. Details here.
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Oxford Humanists
Wed 11 Apr
6 - 9pm. Informal pub 'drop in'. Details here.
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Harrow  Humanists
Wed  11 Apr
8.00  pm at HAVS  lodge 
Faith  Schools and education. Details here.
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Plymouth  Humanists
Thurs 12 Apr
6:30pm - 8pm
Pre Dara O™Briain - Social Drink. Details here.
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Milton  Keynes Humanists
Thurs  12 Apr 
7.00pm  - 9.00pm
Religion  for Atheists. Details here
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Essex Humanists 

Sun  15 Apr 
7:30pm, Chelmsford 
Exemptions:  Religious & Secular. Details here.
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Berkshire  Humanists
Sun 15  Apr
9:30am,  Reading
Berkshire  Humanists will be holding a stall in Reading. Drop by, or  if you want to help visit the website here.
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East  Kent Humanists
Sun  15 Apr
2.30om  University of Kent, Canterbury
Old  Age Rational Suicide “ a talk by Dr Michael Irwin
Dr  Irwin is a retired GP and former Medical Director of the United  Nations. As a result of his campaigning on the topic of  ‘old age rational suicide™ he was arrested in 2003.  No  charges followed, but he has repeatedly been investigated by the  police, and regularly makes the headlines for his unbowed stance  on this topic. Details here.
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Birmingham  Humanists
Mon 16 Apr 
7:30pm “ 9:30pm, Moseley Exchange, 149 Alcester Road  B13 8JP
Just suppose - say no to religious indoctrination. Details here.
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Watford  Area Humanists
Tues  17 Apr
7.30  pm, White Lion Pub on St Albans Road.
Details  can be found here.
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Lancashire  Secular Humanists 
Wed  18 Apr
7.30,  Great Eccleston Village Centre, 59 High Street, The Square,  Great Eccleston. PR3 0YB
Question  time. Details here.


” No matter what your age there is always more to discover about our miraculous universe and the people in it”, Growing Old Disgracefully