Thursday, August 23, 2007

Before I die

I had a short vacation last week and needed to "reset" my brain as the last months at work has been very busy and exhausting. Too restless to read a good book, I went to the cabin and started working on a list of things I would like to do or experience before I die. Some big, some small, some hard and others already achieved. Always thought of making this.

I'm probably spoiled, living in the best country in the world and having a lot etc, and I don't take for granted that I will get all this. If I die tomorrow I'll do so with a smile as I have lived a very privileged life filled with fantastic experiences. But if my luck continues and I have a few more years in me, then I'm not going to spend them hiding in the closet. This list will be one tool to remind me that life is more than work and fighting crazy cults. You have to take care of yourself too.

Making the list did get me thinking about something else than work and thereby providing an important distraction. I also got to do some swimming in the sea with friends. A very enjoyable weekend.

So, without further ado here is my list.

"Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism."
[Isaac Asimov, "On Religiosity", Free Inquiry, also attributed to Science Fiction Magazine, Jan 1992]

Saturday, August 04, 2007

When Nature wears green...

Lately while helping couples find poems for their wedding ceremonies I have awoken my sleeping love for poems. The first poem I can remember I learned by heart was one by Kajenn. It meant a lot to me when I was young, but I have since forgotten part of it and have had no luck finding out who this Kajenn is and the poem is not on the Internet. However, the other day while going through an old box I found a copy of it written with my childish hand 20-30 years ago. Made me feel good. Thought I'd share it:

That our earth is a place fit to live in
Must be what we aim for, dear friend
Make a world that the world can survive in,
that must be our goal in the end.

For the plot that we have in our keeping,
the resources of our cosmos commands
Will surely not go on increasing
To keep step with our growing demands.

So judge not in rubel or shilling
The value of life on our scene;
No, judge by the nightingale's singing
In springtime when Nature wears green.


""Do not feed children on maudlin sentimentalism or dogmatic religion; give them nature... Do not terrify them in early life with the fear of an after-world. Never was a child made more noble and good by the fear of a hell."
[Luther Burbank, "The Training of the Human Plant," 1907]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What puzzles me

Armed with my new marriage licence I have set out for ceremony twice so far this summer. First I married a man and woman at their cabin in the woods. I was probably just as nervous, especially worried my speech would not set the right mood. The lovers came in on the back of a veteran tractor and I married them under a flower arc with both their families and friends standing around. Sigh...

My second run was a same sex marriage last Saturday. We've had same sex marriages for some time in Norway, but this was the first same sex humanist wedding ever in Rogaland! Beautifully set by the sea in the garden of one of the parents. A smaller and more intimate ceremony, but it was so moving when they came marching down I almost could not hold the speech. I'm always very critical about everything I do, but so far all feedback on the ceremony and speech has been great. A hundred more runs and I might start to suspect it's not all bad. ;)

These new experiences triggers mixed emotions in me. While I had put love on the shelf, it is wonderful to meet these couples with stars in their eyes. It is an honour to be invited to be part of them creating one of their most important memories in life.

A humanist wedding ceremony starts with me getting to know the couple trough a few meetings so I can make a personal speech dedicated to them. The ceremonies vary from 20 to 45 minutes long and is filled with music and poems they have selected. It is important that it is ceremonious and formal, and that it focuses on the couple. This is their magic moment. Some have it out in nature, others at home or have rented facilities. In a few weeks I'm having one on an old ship out at sea and another on a beautiful beach. So far this summer I'm engaged by 11 couples to 'tie their knot'. After the ceremony I have to send in all the proper forms so the marriage is properly and formally registered.

I never stop being puzzled when I notice what I get myself involved in - and how all of it gives me new and great experiences. Life is but a dream.

"I am here on this planet to help others. Why the others are here, I don't know."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

First love

Yesterday I met (online) my first real love. It was college and I was very innocent and shy. We were only friends back then, but I was very much in love. Weird how that person has been a passenger in my head since, always returning when I was thinking of the strangest things.

I get easily infatuated, I admit. At first it was a struggle, but these days I treasure these impossible attractions as a luxury. I draw energy from the moments I see or meet someone who fires something in me - no matter if it purely physical or mental. As I've learned to accept being alone it is no loss when they evolve to nothing.

It has been a long a rugged way to where I am today. Single and 42 yes, but wiser and burned. After my first secret love in college I fell heavily in love in my twenties, got dumped after a few years and swore newer again. It was great while it lasted, but the heartache was almost too much for me. I don't know how, but I did get up again. And what was supposed to never happen again did after a few years. Wiser love, but just as deep and blind for me. I honestly did not know how to go on when it ended. Just the fact they could end it crushed me. While I understood and accepted that love ends without we having much say in the matter, I never accepted or forgave that they could end the friendship.

I never got over either of them. I wish them the best in the world and would take a bullet for them any day, but while time doesn't heal these wounds for me it does march unaffected on. I've found ways to occupy myself to overshadow those thoughts (and regrets). Taking one day at the time and trying to do a little good in the world while making sure I am happy too.

Internet provides an opportunity to re-connect with people form the past, and as someone who left the birth city early that also helps to relieve some wounds. Good past memories is good medicine against other not so good.

It is very true when they say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved. I would not be without any of my experiences - together they created who I am today. That still does not say it is easy. Especially when you find out you've never been loved the way you have loved others.

"I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian. Love is not self denial. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that iscontingent upon authority, punishment, or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being."
[Dan Barker, "Losing Faith in Faith"]

Sunday, May 13, 2007

FaceBook here I come

I know, it's big brother all over. Everybody is doing it so what the heck - I want to do it too. If someone inside a mountain somewhere is logging all I write and report then I want to know if they calculate anything interesting! :) Poor sods.

So, I'm on FaceBook too. I'm mirroring this blog there, but this is still my main site.

"That's why the religious people are so freaked out about the Internet, not because of the smut but because NO religion can stand up to access to information."
[Robert Carr]

Friday, May 11, 2007

Brief History of Disbelief

Jonathan Millers at BBC has made a great documentary of the history of disbelief. Lots of very interesting interviews and historic facts and you can watch some of it here: A Brief History of Disbelief. I especially liked the young boy saying "I was brought up to believe in God, but I have found my own way now." I can't imagine where I would have been today if I had been allowed and dared that realisation too at the age of 7. As a child I was taught in public school and by society to retract inwards to handle my sorrows and problems by talking to someone I did not see, but who all I knew said was there. I was schooled not to think critically and instead trained to blindly accept dogmatic faith and undocumented claims. For as long as I live I will be influenced by Christian stories and images because that was so dominant in my life when I was most susceptible to it and the most trustful.

I am saddened that intelligent adults were willing to abuse the trust of a child to implant their own personal religious belief. Religion and superstition will always be a part of human life and I like the fact that human society is so diverse. However, the value in something so personal is deluded and corrupted when it is only something you are trained to be, and not something you yourself have found to fit for you.

You should always be very sceptical to all who claim they have found any eternal answers.
"I certainly don't believe in the mythologies of our society, in heaven and hell, in God and angels, in Satan and demons. I've thought of myself as an 'atheist,' but that simply described what I didn't believe in, not what I did. Gradually, though, I became aware there was a movement called 'humanism,' which used that name because, to put it most simply, humanists believe that human beings produced the progressive advance of human society and also the ills that plague it. They believe that if the ills are to be alleviated, it is humanity that will have to do the job. They disbelieve in the influence of the supernatural on either the good or the bad of society."
[Isaac Asimov, quoted in "2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt", by James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996]

Thursday, May 10, 2007

With a licence to marry!

Today I received a letter from the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus with a certificate licensing me to, as a representative of the national secular humanist organisation, perform marriages and same sex partnerships in the kingdom of Norway. As more and more people find life, meaning and joy outside old religious doctrines and cold churches, secular ceremonies where humanity (and not superstition) is the centre gets more and more requested.

After a good course and a certification process by Human-Etisk Forbund (The Norwegian Humanist Association) I really look forward to the seven marriages I have scheduled so far for the summer. I know this is going to be a wonderful experience and that I will meet lots of great people. It is a luxury to be living in the best country in the world and having time and opportunity to participate in and experience everything I can.

Now that I have all my fellow licensed humanists all left for me is to find someone who is strong enough to live with me. :)
"That is what marriage really means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible and autonomous beings who do not run away from life."
[Paul Tournier]

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mark your calendars

March 10th is Xenu Day International! Who's Xenu? Find your alien costume and join the fun.
"How do you steam clams? Make fun of their religion."
[Johnny Carson, stand-up monologue on NBC's "The Tonight Show"]