Гуманистическая коммуна Гарварда
Осенью 2012 г. я как подписчик рассылки Международного гуманистического и этического союза (IHEU–МГЭС) и молодежного крыла этой организации (HUMMAY) получил сообщение от Джоша Кучинского (Josh Kutchinsky), гуманистического активиста из Англии. В этом сообщении говорилось о его переписке с гуманистическим капелланом общины в Гарварде (штат Массачусетс) Грэгом Эпстейном (Greg Epstein). Мне, к счастью, удалось познакомиться с ними в Осло в дни работы очередного Мирового гуманистического конгресса (август 2011 г.), где Грэг был одним из докладчиков. В предлагаемом ниже тексте на английском языке Джош и Грэг обмениваются письмами, и лидер гуманистической общины рассказывает о последних новостях, в том числе и о слушаниях в Конгрессе США. В частности Грэг Эпстейн пишет Дж. Кучинскому: «Для меня это большая честь, что на будущей неделе я на Капитолийском Холме буду рассказывать о будущем американского секуляризма. В составе группы из трех человек я был приглашен войти в Светскую Коалицию для первого в истории США брифинга в Конгрессе на тему «Состояние светской Америки» (The State of Secular America). Благодаря тебе я получу возможность сказать Конгрессу о том, что в грядущие годы мы ожидаем огромный рост числа гуманистов, я смогу разъяснить, почему эти изменения являются такой большой новостью для всех американцев».
Грэг послал в рассылку МГЭС краткую информацию о работе гуманистической коммуны, особенностью которой является разнообразие форм общения и социальной активности, введение в жизнь ее членов большой эмоциональной компоненты. Гуманистическая коммуна – это не церковь, но это и не кружок теоретиков-мечтателей. Чтобы познакомить россиян с опытом работы этой организации мы размещаем текст Г. Эпстейна, в котором он подробно рассказывает о свое работе и о деятельности общины светских гуманистов. РГО будет благодарно, если кто-то из посетителей сайта переведет рассказ Г. Эпстейна на русский язык. Тогда мы разместим на сайте русский перевод.
президент Российского гуманистического общества
I received the message below from Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard
As I not a US citizen I don't have any personal representative in the US Congress. I am however very grateful that the Secular Coalition is lobbying the US government on behalf of all humanists, secularists etc. everywhere. The US remains one of the most important state players in world affairs and the voice of secular reason has never been more needed. No doubt Hummay members who are US citizens will respond and to all of them I would like to say thank you.
It's been a special 8 years working with people like you to build the Humanist Community at Harvard. When I took over at HCH (a nonprofit organization never funded by Harvard University) in 2005, we had a handful of students, a $28,000 annual budget, and a concept few had heard of - nonreligious people gathering together based on positive Humanist values, to build local institutions that do good in the world.
We now have hundreds of students, a 1000+ member alumni network, a staff of six, and an overflowing Humanist Community Center hosting up to 10 events a week including regular service projects and a nascent children's Learning Lab. We've also got a strategic plan calling for much more in the coming three years. Our next Project: to step up beyond our current $300,000 budget and help other local groups grow, turning American Humanism into a powerfully interconnected movement of thriving local communities.
It's a special honor, then, that in a week I'll be on Capitol Hill, speaking about the future of American Secularism. I've been invited to join the Secular Coalition for America's first-ever Congressional Briefing, a 3-person panel on "The State of Secular America". Because of you, I'll be able to tell Congress to expect huge growth from Humanists in the coming years, and I'll be able to help explain why that change is great news for all Americans.
But first the SCA and I need your help. Please click here to tell your Representative and his/her staffers to attend our briefing.Please forward this message to friends asking them to do the same-- and also to join our mailing list at HarvardHumanist.org. (Harvard Alumni should join here.) And please keep in mind that, even in a year where you've been asked for more political contributions than ever before, we'll need financial support to keep growing. If you believe in the value and power of positive Humanist communities, please make a gift todayor as part of our upcoming annual campaign.
address: 12 Eliot Street (3rd Floor) Cambridge, MA 02138
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Our mission is to create, establish and connect a nationwide network of Humanist communities focused on individual, group, and societal betterment, by providing them with the tools and expertise needed to make Humanism recognized, accessible and influential across the United States.
If you believe in: reason, compassion, creativity, justice, integrity, awareness, environmentalism, feminism, equality, science, progress, and pluralism…welcome to your community.
A hand of friendship, a voice of reason, a space for questions, a place to make change —a Humanist community.
Humanist groupsgathering anywhere will have a model and a stimulus for growth according to best practices.
The Humanist movementwill have a network of high-functioning local organizations that will generate new members, advocates, and supporters for national organizations such as the American Humanist Association, Secular Coalition for America, Foundation Beyond Belief, and Secular Student Alliance.
Around the worldHumanism will be represented by thriving communities, bringing together people of like minds to share views and serve others. These communities will help religious and nonreligious people alike to understand that Humanism is an ancient, evolving tradition with importance equal to that of the world’s major worldview traditions.
Where you live:There will be a community center where you can come to meet new friends, learn about Humanism, build a better world, raise a Humanist family, and be a better person.
At Harvard:Secular students at Harvard and beyond will develop as ethical, compassionate, fulfilled individuals, inspired by Humanist values and by connection with a community and movement of Humanist peers.
What is Humanism?
Humanism and Its Aspirations
The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the life stance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.
Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.
Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.
* Reproduced with permission from the American Humanist Association, © 2003 American Humanist Association.
Meet the Staff
Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and is author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. He sits on the executive committee of the 36-member corps Harvard Chaplains. In 2005 he received ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from theInternational Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Jerusalem and Michigan for five years. He holds a BA (Religion and Chinese) and an MA (Judaic Studies) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Masters of Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School.
Epstein was the primary organizer of “The New Humanism,” an international conference in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Humanist Chaplaincy of Harvard University. He blogs for CNN.com, Newsweek magazine and The Washington Post, and his work as a Humanist rabbi and Chaplain has recently been been featured by ABC World News with Diane Sawyer; ABC News Network; Al Jazeera; Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and numerous other programs on National Public Radio; BBC Radio; NYTimes.com; USA Today; Newsweek; US News and World Report; The Boston Globe; The Jewish Daily Forward, The Christian Century; The Guardian, and many more. He is an adviser to two student groups at Harvard College, the Secular Society and the Interfaith Council, and to the Harvard Humanist Graduate Community. He also chairs the Advisory Board of the national umbrella organization the Secular Student Alliance, joining such renowned nonbelievers as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
Greg grew up in Flushing, Queens, New York as an assimilated and disinterested Reform Jew. He studied Buddhism and Taoism while at Stuyvesant High School in New York City and in college went to Taiwan for a semester aiming to study Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in its original language and context. Finding that Eastern religions do not necessarily have greater access to truth than Western ones, he returned to the US and shifted his focus to rock music, recording and singing professionally for a year after college. Soon thereafter, he learned of the movement of Humanism and the possibility of a career as a Humanist rabbi and chaplain.
Support Greg’s Work!
Assistant Humanist Chaplain/ Interfaith and Community Service Fellow
Christopher D. Stedman is the Assistant Chaplain and the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard.
In this position, Chris liaises with the Humanist Graduate Community in addition to working with students and community members to organize and initiate interfaith and community service programs through our Values in Action initiative. In addition to his work at the Humanist Chaplaincy, Chris is the Emeritus Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Founder of the first blog dedicated to exploring atheist-interfaith engagement, Non Prophet Status. Chris received an MA in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. Previously a Content Developer and Adjunct Trainer for the Interfaith Youth Core, Chris is a graduate of Augsburg College with a summa cum laude B.A. in Religion. He writes for The Huffington Post Gay Voices and The Huffington Post Religion, where his work is among the most commented upon in the site’s history, and he is the youngest panelist for The Washington Post On Faith. Chris’s memoir Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious will be out this year (Beacon Press, 2012).
Chris served on the initial Leadership Team of the Common Ground Campaign, a coalition of young people who stood up in response to the wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence in the U.S. surrounding the Park51 controversy, and continues to advise it in its current form, Groundswell. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the interfaith social action organization World Faith and is an advisor to the Foundation Beyond Belief’s Challenge the Gap initiative. Portland, Oregon’s GLBT newspaper Just Out called his work “brilliant” and labeled him an “emerging… vibrant and youthful queer voice for the secular humanist movement,” and author Jeff Sharlet said the following about his work: ”[it] may be heresy to say, but it’s hard to find a smart balanced atheist writer with something new to bring to the table.”
Raised in a secular home in Minnesota, Chris converted to evangelical Christianity after being invited to church by friends at 11 years old. After years of wrestling with theology and his sexual orientation, Chris left the Christian tradition and spent some time exploring. Eventually he recognized that he was an atheist and Humanist, and today he works to advocate for the mutual respect of religious and non-religious individuals.
For more on his work, check out this video.
Outreach and Development Manager
Sarah Chandonnet is the Outreach and Development Manager at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and has been a member of the HCH team since 2009.
A graduate of Harvard Divinity School (’09), she holds an MTS in Religion, Literature, and Culture. While at Harvard, she served as the editor-in-chief of Culture: The Harvard Divinity Graduate Journal of Religion, and as the vice president of the Harvard Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists (HASH). She also holds a BA (English, ’07) from Boston University, where she studied under Elie Wiesel. Sarah’s academic interests include 19th and 20th century American literature, and Judeo-Christian textual influences. She has written for Boston University’s Daily Free Press and The Journal of the Core Curriculum, as well as Harvard Divinity School’s The Wick, and the American Humanist Association’s Humanist Network News.
Sarah grew up in Lowell, MA, and she attended Ste. Jeanne d’Arc School, where she began her early Biblical studies, and Lowell High School. She has worked with a variety of non-profit organizations, including the American Red Cross and Rebuilding Together — Lowell where she sits on the board.
Since starting at the Humanist Chaplaincy in the Fall of 2009, Sarah has been involved with much of the programming, including major events with Discovery’s The MythBusters, Stephen Fry, and Seth MacFarlane. Check out her interview with bestselling author Jodi Picoult.
Executive Assistant/ Administrative Manager
Conrad Hudsonis the Administrative Manager for the Humanist Community at Harvard office as well as the Executive Assistant for Chaplain Greg Epstein.
Conrad earned his bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Kansas where he focused on supporting local non-profit organizations with accounting, administration, and business software training. While at KU he also became involved in the secular community, serving as Vice-President and then President of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics, winner of the Secular Student Alliance’s 2011 Best Activist award and founder of their annual conference Reasonfest winner of the Center for Inquiry’s Best On Campus Event award. He has also previously volunteered his time as counselor at Camp Inquiry and as treasurer for the Secular Student Alliance.
Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness in the midwest, a tight-knit community, but one closed to and withheld from minds who dared to question its dogma. Conrad came to the Humanist Community at Harvard looking for a way to create community for freethinkers of all types who are willing to join hands in making this world a little more bearable.
Campus Organizing Fellow
Chelsea Linkis the Campus Organizing Fellow at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard.
Chelsearecently graduated from Harvard College (’12), where she studied History & Science with a focus in the history of medicine. While at school, she served as both the Vice President of Outreach of the Harvard Secular Society and the President of the Harvard College Interfaith Council. She was honored to receive HCH’s Service to Humanity Award for her interfaith service initiatives.
In addition to her regular-ish column on Assistant Chaplain Chris Stedman’s blog NonProphet Status, Chelsea runs her own blog, Blogging Biblically, where she documents her attempt to read the Bible in [approximately] a year. She has also contributed to blogs such as the Interfaith Youth Core and Social Action Massachusetts. In her spare time, Chelsea runs bone marrow drives as a Volunteer Ambassador for the National Marrow Donor Program. She also enjoys cooking while pretending she’s on Top Chef, adores word games of all kinds (and was once the President of the illustrious Harvard College Crossword Society), and tends to kill the mood at parties by unnecessarily reciting Shakespeare.
Humanist Learning Lab
Update: the Registration Form is now available. Please email, fax, or mail to Chelsea Link.
The Humanist Community at Harvard is thrilled to announce our plans for a pilot program called the “Humanist Learning Lab” this Fall. If you read about this program in our piece at WBUR.org, or anywhere else, please sign up for our weekly email announcements (in the box to the right of the screen). We’ll be sending out more information over the coming weeks, and seeking feedback from interested families.
Here at HCH, we envision the Humanist Learning Lab as a safe space for children and adolescents to ask big questions and explore what it means to live a good life. While their family members participate in the programming for adults, younger members will be introduced to humanist thought and values through discussions and activities appropriate for their stage of life. Preschool-aged children will learn about key humanist values like compassion, environmentalism, and equality. Older children, in addition to developing critical thinking skills and continuing their investigation of morality will study the history of humanism and important humanist thinkers, allowing them to feel connected to a community heritage as rich as the traditions their friends learn about in church school or Hebrew school. Teenagers will analyze more complex and nuanced ethical issues and dig deeper into specific humanist values such as health and sexuality.
Frequently Asked Questions (Under Construction)
Who can participate in the Humanist Learning Lab?
Due to the demand for programming for multiple age groups, we will run three different programs each Sunday: the Finches, the Beagles, and the Barnacles. The Finches will be a reading- and discussion-based youth group for teens (ages 13-18). The Beagles will be a Sunday school with a mix of reading, discussion, and hands-on activities. Rather than enforcing a lower age bound, we welcome strong readers of any age under 13 to join the Beagles program. The Barnacles will be a childcare program for children too young for the Beagles.
But really, what’s with all the animals?
One of our goals for the Humanist Learning Lab will be to teach young people about the history of Humanism and other non-religious traditions, and to introduce them to some important thinkers who have influenced this history. Charles Darwin was not only an agnostic whose values were extremely progressive for his time, but also a great scientist who introduced the world to the theory of evolution by means of natural selection in his masterwork, On the Origin of Species. One of the key observations that led Darwin to develop this theory was the diversity of beak structures, optimized for different food sources, among finches on the Galapagos Islands. The ship in which he embarked on his research trip too the Galapagos was called the HMS Beagle. And finally, before Darwin published Origin, he earned his reputation as a skilled biologist through nearly a decade of intensive study of, yes, barnacles.
When will the Humanist Learning Lab meet?
All of the Humanist Learning Lab programs will meet on Sundays. The Finches will meet 3:30 – 5:00 pm. The Beagles will meet 1:30 – 3:00 pm (during Community Meetings). The Barnacles will meet most weeks, also 1:30 – 3:00 pm, to allow parents to participate in Community Meetings.
In general, the Finches and the Beagles will meet on days when Community Meetings are held, and will have a break whenever there is no Community Meeting. The Barnacles will meet during many Community Meetings. A full schedule for all programs will be made available soon; check this page for updates.
How do I register for the Humanist Learning Lab?
Who will be running the Humanist Learning Lab?
The Finches and the Beagles will be led by Chelsea Link, HCH’s Campus Organizing Fellow. Chelsea is not a professional teacher; however, she has taught a variety of classes – from Shakespeare to SAT prep – for children from ages 7-18 over the past seven years. She graduated from Harvard in May 2012 with a degree in the History of Science. For more information about Chelsea, check out her bio (coming soon).
The Barnacles will be led by an HCH volunteer, TBD. Whenever possible, the Barnacles’ activities will tie in with themes covered by the Beagles and the Finches.
What if a prospective student has allergies or other medical conditions?
Please note all medical conditions, including food and other allergies, on the registration form. Students will need to bring any required medications with them, as well as any emergency equipment such as EpiPens, and students or parents must show Chelsea where these items are kept in case of an emergency. Chelsea has taught students with severe allergies, diabetes, and other medical conditions before, and will happily accommodate students’ needs whenever possible.
What if a prospective student has behavioral issues or learning disabilities?
What if a prospective student does not identify as a Humanist/atheist?
That’s just fine! The Humanist Learning Lab welcomes young people of all beliefs. Our goal is not to indoctrinate students into a particular belief system. Rather, we aim to teach them about Humanism and other non-religious worldviews, guide them in exploring Humanist ethics and history, educate them about a variety of theistic and non-theistic beliefs, foster critical thinking skills, and allow them to reach their own conclusions. No matter what students currently believe, how they identify, or what kinds of families they come from, they are invited to explore Humanism with us.
Can parents sit in on the classes?
Although we will have several open events when family and friends can visit and see what students are up to, parents will not be allowed to sit in on regular meetings of the Beagles or the Finches. In our experience, many children and teens are more comfortable speaking openly in class – particularly about personal issues like ethics and belief – when they are in a safe space of peers than when their (and their classmates’) parents are present. In order to encourage this openness, we cannot allow parents or guardians to observe the class.
Will there be food?
Both the Beagles and the Finches will include a break where snacks are provided.
Will there be homework?
The Beagles will have small homework assignments, usually requiring no more than half an hour per week of outside work. The Finches will have required weekly reading assignments, in the range of 2-3 hours per week.
Will there be a final project or performance at the end of the year?
The Beagles will conclude the fall semester with a holiday celebration for students and parents, showcasing some of the students’ work so far. There will also be an end-of-year showcase or performance, the specific composition of which is TBD. The Finches will conclude the year by writing an essay synthesizing some of our readings and discussions, and these essays will be compiled into an anthology for students to take home and keep.
Will there be grades?
No. The Humanist Learning Lab is meant to be an opportunity for students to explore freely, not a series of performances to be evaluated.
How much does the Humanist Learning Lab cost?
For our pilot year (2012-2013), we are asking for a suggested donation of $285 per Finch or Beagle. You are welcome to give more or less according to your ability.
What dates do the Barnacles meet?
Four or five of the 2013 dates listed above will also be service projects, and so separate childcare will not be available. These dates will be confirmed later this year.
What dates do the Beagles and the Finches meet?
Four or five of the 2013 dates will also be service projects, and so times on those dates may be different than usual. These dates will be confirmed later this year.
What if I have more questions, concerns, or suggestions?
This page will be continually updated as more information becomes available, so please check back!