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Summer Social: Sunday 2 June

Join us for a gentle 2.5 mile riverside walk near the historic town of Ludlow

OR

Simply join us for lunch afterwards in the CHARLTON ARMS, Ludford Bridge, Ludlow SY8 1PJ

Please let us know if you are coming by 23 May.

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Food parcel

lmhg food parcelAt the last Committee meeting it was decided that a sum of £75 would be donated to those in need in Ludlow. In December Peony and Pamela went to a local supermarket to make the purchases which proved to be more difficult than you might think. Which items would be most useful? Should we go for quality or quantity? And finally ‘Is that all we can get for £75?’ In case anyone is wondering, we didn’t buy a case of sherry – we only used the box, honest!

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Dignity in dying

By Malcolm Rochefort

My Mother died just before Christmas. She was 93, so it wasn’t exactly unexpected. The tragedy of it was rather that she had been very ill with cancer for the last 6 months, and had been suffering whilst at the same time, very aware of what was happening. Visits to the care home were depressing, as she had become practically deaf, so conversation was almost impossible, but she would often say that she wanted to die in the night.

Why do I raise this rather depressing thought? Everyone I spoke to about it, my sisters, friends, relatives, acquaintances all agreed that you wouldn’t let an animal suffer as she did – and yet we did, we had no choice under the law of this country, and she was far too ill to travel. Eventually the doctor put her on a diamorphine drip for pain-relief, and the end, mercifully, came within a few days of that. We’ve had talks about dignity in dying, and this brought it home – she really had none, and suffered greatly.

Why do we continue in this country to accept these archaic laws around death, not tackling what everyone recognises is a very complex subject because it’s so difficult? We must find a way to give people choice at the end of their lives, and this experience has at least renewed my determination to help those campaigning for a change in the law, and reassured me that we are right to fight against religious privilege and dominance of how we run our last days.

She wanted a cremation and, unfortunately, a religious service, even though I can never remember her voluntarily going to church, apart from for weddings and funerals. I think she was only religious in the old, superstitious way – ‘just in case’. The C of E vicar had at least met her a few times, and knows my sister quite well, so gave a fairly sympathetic homily. He knew we were secular Humanists, which I helpfully reminded him just before the service, and he at least dropped the proposed bible readings. Whether this was deliberate, or the result of nerves at reading to an audience including the chair of a Humanist group and a Humanist celebrant, I’m not sure. In the end it was a bright crisp winter’s day, with snow on the ground, and it was good to meet old friends and relations – but this doesn’t make up for the lack of choice she had about how and when she died.

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‘The tangled web’ – An account of the interwoven lives of Shelley, Byron, William Godwin, Mary Shelley et al.

Report on the meeting led by Gareth Owen.

Gareth was introduced as a poet and a former presenter of ‘Poetry Please’ on Radio 4. There was a good turn-out for the meeting and many new faces were seen. The talk he gave was fascinating and delivered in an engaging manner. The ‘web’ he described was, indeed, ‘tangled’ and the writer of this piece will not attempt to unravel it as she will fail to do it justice. Some interesting ‘markers’ in the talk are, however, highlighted below:

Gareth began by stating that Shelley was an atheist, vegetarian, for ‘free love’, and a republican. At the age of 18 he was sent down from Oxford for writing a pamphlet on ‘The Necessity of Atheism’. Gareth read out an extract from the pamphlet, and I was struck by how succinctly and eloquently Shelley put the arguments for atheism, writing in 1811.

‘If he [God] is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has, filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? IF HE HAS SPOKEN, WHY IS THE UNIVERSE NOT CONVINCED? If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest.’

Shelley wrote ‘one of the first pacifist statements’, entitled ‘The Mask of Anarchy’. Apparently, Shelley also influenced Marx.
Gareth gave us a brief summary of the connections between William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary and Percy Shelley and Byron. Their lives may seem dissolute, by modern day standards, and full of drama -a ménage of adults and children who travelled extensively, two deaths by drowning, intrigues and affairs (Did Byron and Shelley prey on women?), and the death of both children. Byron lived the longest, dying at the age of 36.

Despite what may be thought or suspected of Shelley and the others, they have left a rich literary legacy.

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Change of Name: Ludlow and Marches Humanists

The name of the group is changing. Following the AGM there was an email poll in which the majority of respondents voted to change the name to Ludlow and the Marches Humanist Group. This has been shortened but still retains all of the essential elements that members in favour of this change wanted. However, the bank will need to process the name change and the British Humanist Association and National Secular Society have to be notified before the new name can be confirmed. Hopefully this will be announced in the next Newsletter this autumn.

The web site will reflect the new name in due course.

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Summer social

Sunday 17th June 2012

Join us for a gentle riverside walk near the historic village of Leintwardine, or simply join us for lunch* afterwards in the renowned parlour pub THE SUN INN, Leintwardine SY7 0LP

Walkers: meet at 10:30am on Leintwardine Village Green (by the bridge)

Others: meet in The Sun at 12:45pm

*Bring your own picnic to eat in the garden or simple food will be available to buy at the pub.

Please let us know if you are coming by 10 June; by phone (01568 770282) or
email: info@welshmarcheshumanists.org.uk

Non-members are very welcome to join us.

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In the News

Council Prayers Decision
The council prayers controversy rumbles on with Eric Pickles claiming he will change the law and some councils saying they will act illegally. Archbishop Carey completely lost all sense of proportion in his reaction. Our chairman has had two letters published in the local press putting our point of view in much more measured terms.

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