On Tuesday evening I went to the Hastings Interfaith Forum, having been invited to speak for ten minutes, alongside a Quaker and a Muslim, on "A Week in the Life of ...". The Quaker spoke first and told mainly of the way they hold their meetings by sitting in complete silence. My contribution was more detailed. Since I've had quite a busy week I fortunately had plenty of experiences to draw on. I began with my visit to the East Sussex SACRE on the previous Tuesday.
I then thought I should explain what Humanism is. As a one-line definition I offered: Humanists try to base their beliefs strictly on the objective evidence. This means, for instance, that we don't believe in such things as angels and demons, or gods, ghosts and ghoulies. As a longer definition I offered the 2002 Amsterdam Declaration, and read out the seven headings from that. In place of the ten commandments I offered the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reading out the first one.
I then continued with further details of my week. The Muslim followed, and although he was allowed to go on for more like fifteen minutes, gave the impression that his life was almost completely given over to ensuring that he prayed five time a day at the right times and places.
There was then a question and answer session, to all three speakers. The most difficult question I received was on how a Humanist would respond to someone who has suffered a bereavement. My reply was that, not being able to offer thoughts of life after death, all we can do is offer sympathy and empathy and normal human warmth, and the traditional consolations of philosophy. I found the experience worthwhile, and think it improved my confidence for speaking in public.