Humanism in Utah: A Cost Benefit Analysis
Humanists of Utah has been organizing since February of this year. Over the last six months we’ve gathered the nuts and bolts that make an organization, things like a charger, a mailbox, a newsletter layout, a speakers program. Now we a re ready to get real.
We are starting a new financial year this month. That is a good time to draw up a balance and ifnd out: what is humanism going to cost you? And what good will it do you?
The Cost Side:
When Humanists of Utah got underway, we asked for initial start-up contributions. Now, the dues for the year beginning in September have been set at:$35 – annual dues$15 – for those on fixed income
For those in financial difficulties, we welcome your membership with a voluntary annual contribution.
Why so? Because we are still building and reaching out, and that takes more than effort and good intentions. It takes money.
Isolation, Conflict, and Loss of Tradition
In a society dominated by religion, being a humanist will make you stand out in the crowd. Some people will shun you for it, and you will not be a part of the social life of the church. There are ways of dealing with that, and Humanists of Utah have described their coping strategies in a recent issue of the newsletter.
This cost can also be turned into a benefit: It is good to stand out in a crowd, and to realize that you are a unique human being. Conflict is a part of life, and it is good to fight a good fight.
This is the ultimate cost: you can spend it only once, and you can’t make more of it. It would be preposterous to demand time as a requirement for membership of this organization. We hope we can make it so attractive that you will freely want to spend time with and for Humanists of Utah.
The Utah Humanist appears monthly. It gives you the opportunity to find out what other people are concerned about. It also gives you the opportunity to test out your ideas on a forum of critical readers.
There are regular monthly meetings in Salt Lake City, which always feature a thought-provoking speaker on a timely subject. Out-of-towners who’d like to attend are invited to get in touch to arrange an overnight stay in somebody’s guest room.
The library is still in its infancy. Book donations are welcome. We’d like to make it available to members all over Utah.
Ed Wilson is a veteran Humanist Counselor. Flo Wineriter was recently certified to be one. Humanist Counselors provide a non-religious alternative to traditional rites of passage: namings, marriages, memorials etc. Get in touch if you want to arrange one.
Humanists of Utah will cost you time, money and trouble. It will give you contact with like-minded people, stimulation, and input in a growing concern. Whether the two equal out depends on you.
My Journey to Humanism
For me, a fifth generation Mormon, my religion answered life’s big questions: Who and why am I? What is the purpose of life? What happens after death? However, as a life-long student who keeps on asking “why?” there were other answers. I continued to study: the sciences, history, anthropology and more.
It was not enough. I wanted more than my religion gave me, and my knowledge provided. The last April, I met Ed Wilson, one of the founders of the Humanist Movement, and he gave me some reading material. I select the Humanist Manifesto I to read first.
I read it again, and again. The conclusion was clear: I had become a Humanist. The answers to those early questions were contained in that document, and there was finally a unity of belief and knowledge.
I feel as though I have come to the end of a long, hard journey. I have now begun another, except that this one is far more exciting and satisfying.
I commend the Humanist Manifesto I to you the reader: may you find your answers.
The Thesis of Humanist Manifesto I[Editor’s note: Don’t be put off by the term “religious humanism.” From what I understand, the writers stripped religion of all its supernatural trappings of gods, heavens and afterlife. What they were left with was a reverent attitude to life, which they called “the religious.” If you reason without religion as a starting point, you may end up with the same attitude, without calling it the same name.]
FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
FOURTH: Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.
FIFTH: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assess- ment of their relations to human needs. Religion must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method.
SIXTH: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of “new thought”.
SEVENTH: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation — all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer be maintained.
EIGHTH: Religious Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of the humanist’s social passion.
NINTH: In the place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being.
TENTH: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.
ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.
TWELFTH: Believing that religion must work increasingly for joy in living, religious humanists aim to foster the creative in man and to encourage achievements that add to the satisfactions of life.
THIRTEENTH: Religious humanism maintains that all associations and institutions exist for the fulfillment of human life. The intelligent evaluation, transformation, control, and direction of such associations and institutions with a view to the enhancement of human life is the purpose and program of humanism. Certainly religious institutions, their ritualistic forms, ecclesiastical methods, and communal activities must be reconstituted as rapidly as experience allows, in order to function effectively in the modern world.
FOURTEENTH: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distri- bution of the means of life be possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.
FIFTEENTH AND LAST: We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few. By this positive morale and intention humanism will be guided, and from this perspective and alignment the techniques and efforts of humanism will flow.
Mission Statement of Humanists of Utah
To keep itself from galloping off in all directions at once, every organization needs to put down as concisely as possible where it stands, and where it wants to go. This the best we could come up with so far. Your corrections and improvements will be appreciated.
- We affirm our association with the American Humanist Association, the North American and the International Humanist movements, and support their goals and policies.
- We accept the Humanist Manifestos I & II as the basic philosophy of the humanist movement, not as a credo or dogma, but as an expression of a living and growing body of knowledge.
- It is our goal to identify all Utahans who accept the humanist philosophy and to gather them into an association of humanists where all can have a sense of belonging to a larger community, and find friendships and support.
- We recognize that humanism is a satisfying and positive philosophy of life which meets the challenges of our times, and we declare our intention to spread the knowledge of humanism throughout the State of Utah.
- It is our goal to learn as much as we can about humanism, and its application to our lives. We will educate and inform our membership about the philosophy of humanism, social issues of current interest, and the activities of the chapter.