Newsletter #16 – The Church of Spiritual Humanism
November 14, 2003 – Philadelphia www.SpiritualHumanism.org
Our Debts to the Past and Future
Nearly every one alive today has had their life enriched by the contributions of those who have gone before us. Certainly you cannot reach adulthood without this tremendous debt. If not for advances in antibiotics, vaccines, the hygiene of civil engineering projects, agriculture, distribution, and countless other areas, the human population would be much less than it is today. Perhaps just as many might have been born, but all would live shorter, misery filled lives.
To repay this debt it is everyone’s duty to reduce the suffering and misery of others. It benefits the less fortunate in obvious ways. Each member of society also reaps a benefit by giving everyone else a vested interest in civilization: If someone has nothing to lose the restrictions of social decency are bothersome and can become a target. But if destroying the social fabric means personal suffering and misery will increase, anarchy becomes much less interesting.
Aside from this selfish reason for altruism it does seem that most people are preprogrammed to want to help others. This is a behavior programmed through evolution – community members are better survivors than lone individuals. Competition does have an important place in motivation, but it must be banished from the arena of personal survival. This is the root cause of much of the world’s misery and suffering.
Not all suffering can be avoided. The momentary prick of the vaccine needle protects against devastating disease and possible death. To endure a time a crisis, rationing of food or medicine might be necessary. It’s clear that to succeed in life some suffering must be borne. This is only justified when the result is the reduction of a greater suffering or achieving the triumph of contentment and happiness.
IN THE NEWS
Bishops Open a New Drive Opposing Contraception
By Daniel J. Wakin
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 – The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, acknowledging that American Catholics pay little heed to their church’s ban on contraception, undertook an effort Wednesday to reinforce it, and linked it to the anti-abortion campaign.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in session here at its regular fall meeting, also tackled another sexuality issue, approving the text of a brochure that lays out the church’s condemnation of same-sex unions.
The contraception question was introduced by the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, the bishops’ anti-abortion body. The committee proposed the writing of an easily understandable booklet, and the conference voted overwhelmingly to approve the project.
The booklet is to address questions about the church’s teaching on marriage and sex, why “natural family planning” – seeking or avoiding pregnancy according to the fertility cycle – is acceptable and why artificial birth control is wrong.
see full story at
“Natural family planning” has a failure rate of about 25%. The surest results of the Catholic Church’s doctrine would be millions of unwanted children born to unprepared families without resources to care for them. If widely adhered to, skyrocketing fertility rates would quickly lead to a dramatic drop in per capita income, and a humongous human population. Of course the population could not continue to grow forever. The limits would be disease, war, and famine on a scale never before seen. This folly is a doctrine of misery and suffering.
READERS WRITE IN
If you have a question feel free to email me at info ( at ) spiritual humanism.org
I was shocked & upset at the Pope refusing to support the use of condoms in areas where AIDS is rife. I think, in the end, that people need to take responsibility for their own bodies & health. If they cannot be abstinent, do what needs to be done, & protect one’s self & other people!
Letting people die of AIDS rather than make an about face on barmy outmoded church politics, apart from all the unwanted & uncared for children, gets no brownie points!
When people stop letting themselves be dictated to & told they must obey or go to hell, even though their living & dying conditions are already hell, & take responsibility for their own & their family’s life, they will be able to see that those are the kinds of laws that are made to be broken. It is just sheer stupidity & waste of precious life & resources!
Reformations have been brought about before, & maybe time for another…but no bloodshed over dogma, just common sense, brotherly love, kindness, compassion & healing type of reformation. Lead people to think & act for themselves.
I am very upset by this as well. The fact is that condoms have been shown to be effective against AIDS. Promoting abstinence is not. Evolution has hard wired us with urge to have sex and to enjoy it too. People will continue to have non-procreative sex, sex outside of monogamous relationships, and sex in other situations which is what the Pope is really trying clamp down on. The farce that this can be stopped is absurd to the point of ridiculousness. Further, sex is absolutely an ethically acceptable activity among consenting adults, as long as precautions like condoms are used.
Its exactly irrational religious ethics like this that must be changed if we wish to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Yes Ordained Clergy Packages are available in our online store http://www.spiritualhumanism.org/shop.php The Ordination Certificates are printed on acid free paper for extra long life, and Clergy Wallet ID Cards are nice to have. The Officiant’s Manual includes information on celebrating the solstices, sample ceremonies, etc., and the companion CD has marriage laws for all 50 states. The fees charged for these packs are our only income and help defer the cost of the web site, advertising, PO Box, and fund the purchase of a permanent location for our regular religious services.
President, The Church of Spiritual Humanism