I’ve never liked labels. I used to enjoy the label “Christian” and then “Minister,” sometimes “Pastor,” then “Progressive” and even “Liberal.” I particularly liked being called “Chaplain,” my profession and identity for many years. This blog is evidence that I still feel fairly comfortable referring to myself as “Chaplain” with the important qualifier, “Secular.”
Those who read this blog regularly know that I rarely label myself “Atheist”–though I am one of those, and I’m usually fine with it, though I prefer “Secular” or especially “Freethinker.”
My favorite label is “Chris,” by the way!
Now, due to my interest in “next steps” along my lifepath and due to a persistent desire to “stay connected” to a common circle of some kind, I have chosen to become a Humanist Celebrant through the American Humanist Association. Reading over their “beliefs” again, I find myself agreeing with most everything I read in Humanist statements (see the Humanist Manifesto). I also appreciate their social justice, educational and legal work. I support their voice in the public sphere, particularly when it comes to inclusiveness, diversity and standing up to the nonsense of religious privilege and exceptionalism.
And I appreciate the positive note of Humanist philosophy and practice:
Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity. • American Humanist Association
Humanism is: A joyous alternative to religions that believe in a supernatural god and life in a hereafter. Humanists believe that this is the only life of which we have certain knowledge and that we owe it to ourselves and others to make it the best life possible for ourselves and all with whom we share this fragile planet. A belief that when people are free to think for themselves, using reason and knowledge as their tools, they are best able to solve this world’s problems. -The Humanist Society of Western New York
It gives me great encouragement to see that Humanist Chaplains are being accepted in forward-thinking institutions including hospitals and universities. I think more and more people are responding to the basic message that we can be Good without God.
I’m not sure where my next steps on the path will take me. But I’m just fine adding “Humanist” to my freethinking, secular identity. It is, I think, a true “joyous alternative.”
By the way, I resisted the Humanist label for a long time especially with my concern for Nature and the way humans so arrogantly make the world (and universe) all about Humanity. Now, I think a positive, balanced understanding of being human as one part of the nonhuman universe, can be productive and fulfilling. All labels still need to be questioned and challenged, yet I’m ok being a natural member of the human family–though sometimes the way humans act I could wish to be an eagle. . .or a tree!