Thursday 12 April 2018


I'm concerned at this post in the Guardian about the lead chaplain - a humanist - at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Not at her appointment, or her being in charge. Atheists have spiritual needs as well. And it's very important, when you're struggling with serious illness, to have someone to discuss with you how your life - including this illness - is effectively without lasting purpose but on the bright side, if your illness is terminal, at least you won't exist soon.

No, that's fine. I guess that's how atheists get through life, and good for them.

It was more the definition of "humanist" . The Guardian says humanists "do not believe in an afterlife".

The most famous person to be called a humanist is probably the "Prince of Humanists", Erasmus. Author of many fine books of which I once read one sentence but also, like the man who proposed the Big Bang Theory, a Catholic Priest.

The word humanism was coined by a Lutheran theologian and meant a concept of human progress, and civil responsibility. In that sense I am not a humanist - I believe the world's going to hell in a handcart.  But many liberal and Protestant Christians could be defined thus.

Let's try to  let words mean what they mean. Stoke Mandeville has an atheist chaplin. There's nothing wrong with that. Heaven knows she's  going to be better than at least one of the former helpers  in that hospital. And he called himself a Christian. But at least, if I ever have a serious back condition, I won't be confused into calling the wrong chaplain if I need to know how "In Praise of Folly" ended up.

Personally I reckon the butler did it.

Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.


  1. I've just completed a FutureLearn MOOC on Humanism, so I can speak with all the super self-confidence of the almost totally ignorant when I say that, whatever the true definition of Humanist may be, the British Humanist Society is categorical in saying:

    1. Humanism, unlike all religions, is totally undogmatic;
    2. Humanists believe that this is the only life that we have (i.e. there is no afterlife).

    Yes, I can see the flaw in that combination of statements - are you going to tell them or shall I?

  2. I wonder how dog friendly the humanists are?

    Do, they believe in the spiritual life of animals, or do they just eat them?

    If there is no afterlife, how do they cope with hope and other human attributes - if there is no afterlife, what is there to strive for? They could just lay down and die now, instead of putting out their negative teaching.

    I once attended a humanist funeral (I know, I'm sad) but it was for a much loved relative. His family decided that he was no longer a Christian, as he didn't go to Church? Their assumption was mistaken, as we often talked about God, he had no doubt that he existed, but felt that the bad things that he did in WW2, would put him in hell. I couldn't convince him otherwise.

    As this funeral, the celebrant made some inane remarks like, he is now up with the angels, along with his favorite dog, and you'd all meet again among the stars?

    If that doesn't describe an afterlife, I don't know what does? They might as well of had a Christian funeral, where the hope can be explained through God's grace and mercy, that this hopeless, meaningless funeral they got.

    As for Uncle D, I arranged a separate, Christian Memorial service for those who were saddened by the mockery of a funeral that he got.

    Some Christian funerals might just be to reassure the family left bereaved, but the comfort and pastoral care given is of benefit to all, who hear the good news, particularly if the reading from Revelation is used. I most certainly will have it at my funeral.


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