Monday, 12 September 2011

Have You Got The H Factor?



I'm really pleased to be able to announce the launch of The H Factor, the first ever awareness campaign from The Humanist Society of Scotland.

As a celebrant, whenever I meet people to discuss a ceremony and ask them why they've chosen a Humanist one, they always begin by saying. "Well, we're not religious but..." Then they go on to say how they stumbled across the HSS web site, looked at what Humanists believe and thought, "Oh - We had no idea that we've been Secret Humanists for years!"

All the research suggests that the majority of people in the UK are secular. Actually we suspect that most of them are Secret Humanists. But they don't know that because - wait for it - they've never heard of Humanism.

We think it's time they did. And that's what the H Factor campaign is about.

From September 25th, a film crew will tour Scotland for five days in a search to find the stars of the first ever Humanist TV commercial. Auditions will be held in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow, where members of the public will be asked to answer questions on major moral issues. Anyone can sign up at The H Factor web site, and individuals who appear in the final advert will receive a £500 appearance fee.

So what are you waiting for? Check it out, sign up, and who knows? You could be a star of the future!

Adam & Julia's Humanist Wedding at The Caves in Edinburgh





Julia and Adam got off to a very bad start. He was unbelievably rude to her and she told everyone she knew that he was “the most ignorant person she had ever met in her life!” 






But despite a series of awkward dates, uncomfortable silences, embarrassing TV appearances and the luminous orange-green mould in Adam's bread bin, they bonded over a love of music and their lives have never been the same again since. 



As you'll have guessed by now, their ceremony was funny, intimate, and deeply moving in that ironic combination that we Scots have made our own, and it went down a storm with a crowd who'd come from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, the South of England, and Wemyss Bay.





There were so many great moments. Adam’s brother, Elliot and Adam and Julia's little girl Olivia both gave a reading...






And if I don't see Olivia's name in lights in 20 years time I will be surprised...






Because she not only read a poem - she wrote it herself.




Dan, Angela, Barry and Laura led us all in a moving rendition of Stand By Me...






And just as I pronounced Adam and Julia to be husband and wife...




Boom! Went the SFX, and we were showered with glittering confetti.




I have to say that if you want to have a Rock 'n' Roll Wedding, there's nowhere better to do it than The Caves. With its theatrical lighting it's in a class of its own, even if it makes me look even more than usual like some kind of weird alien!




Julia and Adam wrote me this lovely letter.




I suppose we originally felt that the process of creating our ceremony seemed like a lot of hard work; a bit too soppy and not really our cup of tea! When it actually came down to writing our stories etc., however, we realised what a lovely idea it was. 

We really enjoyed writing our stories - and listening to each others as well. Most couples aren't usually given the opportunity to write about how they met and fell in love, or why they really want to get married, but I am so glad that you gave us that opportunity.




These really are the things that people should be thinking about on the run up to their wedding - rather than worrying about final balances, menus and dresses! 




In the end our homework made up the majority of our ceremony, which we never expected to happen! It just felt so personal that it would have been a shame not to include it. What we ended up with was a very personal, unique, (pretty soppy!) and special ceremony that we will never forget. 




It was lovely to include our friends and family in this also. All of our guests commented on the ceremony, saying it was one of the nicest weddings they had ever been to! We owe this to you as we could never have done it on our own. Without your help I imagine our wedding would have been very different to how it was. 




We are so glad we found you! Thank you again! Julia and Adam. No - thank you, Adam and Julia, and thanks also to photographer John Need for his great pics.




Ged & Bertha's Humanist Wedding at Newbattle Abbey



Ged and Bertha first came to see me in May of this year to talk about having an intimate wedding in August, surrounded only by close family - and their three dogs, Conal, Brynn and Mr Benji. Bertha made me promise not to reveal the brand name of her waterproof mascara, but she wasn't the only one moved to tears during their deeply personal ceremony. This is her typically thoughtful account.

Ged and I have talked a lot about the whole process before the wedding. As we decided to write the ceremony with your essential guidance and 'homework', we found that it made us think more about each other and our relationship, and why we wanted to get married. You could say it brought us even closer together as we had to sit down and discuss things. There were lots of laughs along the way, a lot of teasing and the inevitable tears as well.



When I asked Ged why did we get so emotional, we had to think about it. I suppose because we wrote the ceremony and choose what to say, it was much more personal. Even though we had read over the ceremony several times - and numerous poems to decide which ones were right - on the day I suppose it really hit us and we were declaring it to others and each other. 



Ged says he loved the informality of it, the fun, having the dogs with us (very important parts of our lives!), the intimacy and we had people we really wanted at the ceremony (not like my first wedding!). We are both quite private people and that is probably why we didn't tell many people that we were getting married - and it's maybe something to do with our age as well! We both thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony and it was just right for us. we wouldn't change anything.



One thing we didn't expect is that now that we are married, we do feel different. That has quite surprised us. Even though the practicalities of our lives have not changed, we both feel more content, happy, with a sense of belonging I suppose. It's hard to pinpoint. 



Sadly I didn't get to see the wedding cake, but I hope at some point to get a picture of it. Ged's sister Margaret made and iced it, but got somebody else to decorate it with a lovely sprig of flowers, and (of course) three poodles made of icing and in just the right colours too! Bertha said it was all Margaret's idea and it was absolutely wonderful.

Special thanks must go to Bertha's nieces, Rowena and Lauren who not only accompanied her as she sang, "May I Have This Dance?", but gave us a duet of "Love Story" by Taylor Swift as we signed the Marriage Schedule. Oh and thanks to their dad, Bertha's brother Ronald for these great pics.

The Future of Humanism

"Humanism is now facing an existential challenge and the idea of “free will” is under threat."  This is an excerpt from an art...