Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sunday Assembly

Sunday Assembly - Roadshow Thursday 21 Nov 2013 Melbourne. 

Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones together setup the first Sunday Assembly in London. They are going on a world tour  - 40 Dates in 40 Nights. The idea basically helping set up a bunch of new ones. As part of the tour, tonight Sanderson was in Melbourne to celebrate with us. Sunday Assembly Melbourne (SAM) has been going for a while now, we were ( I think ) equal second with New York as the next new Sunday assemblies outside of the UK.

Eolian Hall in Carlton Melbourne was the venue. Full house! Sanderson kicks off the proceedings with with a huge welcome a basic introduction to what SAM is and then launched us into the first song. The band was a tad late, (new venue, they are forgiven), anyway, no problem Katie ( and others) saved the day with the first song instead done as an Internet video karaoke style. Then some more talk about how SA isn't an atheist church, IE not a church as do not worship any gods, specifically godless though not religion bashing get together. Theists are welcome, being radical inclusive is part of our outlook. ( Trivia point : "Eolian" means carried by the wind,  (I think ) a reference to the original intent of the hall as a meeting place for those leaving their previous country, maybe a similar thing for some of us in the sense of leaving believing).

Each SA there is a reading, something short, today's was from Dr Seuss, read by Frazer Kirkman. Some of which, to follow, below you know:

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go...

see  Oh, the Places You'll Go

There was a shadow puppet presentation  (thanks puppeteer Vic Farrell , also our Choir Master).

At some point there was a minute of silence (stand up comedians hate that! ), a bit scary but not actual "prayer", simply for reflection etc. I found that a bit weird but maybe some church goers might like it (?).

Each meeting has a basic theme, tonight's is "Acceptance".
Jason's talk was centered around acceptance of LBGTI human beings via his personal experience about the difficulty of coming out as gay when immersed in a macho football environment.

Jason Ball - Courage over ignorance  just one of many articles. ( gives the general idea ).

Personally, I thought it took great courage, Jason's story was inspiring, and I expect it will help others. His support for beyond blue is also amazing. In an audience such as the SA, I doubt any would have even considered that LGTBI people "less equal" ( I note that many modern believers are also accepting but there is still work to be done here. The coming out as gay, although I don know people who are in the process and they have mentioned various levels of difficulty. I can relate to coming out as an atheist though.

Sanderson's talk centered around his mother dying when he was ten years old, not dismissing the sadness and loss but celebrating the life he knew, the ten years of being read to, of being tucked into bed, of having chocolate wiped off his young face. Acknowledging that we are all here for but a brief time and to celebrate  and enjoy it while we can. She was here for ten years of his life ... and that was special and wonderful. Sanderson then talked about how SA seemed to be an accidental hit, and that maybe we really should have a place to go to meet people to:
  • Live Better.
  • Help Often.
  • Wonder More.
from Sunday assembly website

Awesome music, two piece band, words on screen, karaoke style, all joined in.
Today's selection:

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. 

We are Young by Fun

My overall impression is a mix of puzzlement, what is this about anyway and yet, they, we, might be onto something. It seems to be evolving, organic, grass roots, gets better all the time. Somehow there is something utterly amazing , totally awesome, compellingly and wonderfully special here, genuine human without the make believe. It is like somebody has gone into a religious building and removed all the fake, the images and the imaginary. For too long now, the gods have reduced humanity, when you have a nice meal, thank the human being that prepared it. The posture of prayer is that of slavery, honor the master, head bowed, hands together, silent, obey - no, none of this here, there are only people. The gods are pass√©  for we have made them so - Pace Nietzsche. Not in an arrogant way, rather, humbly thinking that we have this life, we do not know for how long, as far as we can tell it is our only one. This isn't religion bashing, isn't god bashing, these idieas are simply mentioned in passing for the newbies benefit. 

Pippa & sanderson early on.

Will the Sunday Assembly take off? ... I think it already has.

After the presentation - Tea and cake ( and chat and giggle ), always important!

Last month's talk: theme "Rescue me" feature speakers from Shar Pei Rescue
The two people who run this dog rescue operation. They brought in two rescued dogs, including Noah !

Other talks have included:

Asylum seeking - by an previous asylum seeker.
Sex - by a sex therapist.
Depression - by person who had this.

Some other links:
ABC radionational - sunday assembly
The daily beast article - sunday assembly
Token skeptic interview with Sanderson
The friendly atheist blog - sunday assembly
The Australian article - sunday assembly first adelaide gathering
There are various and facebook groups for those wanting to stay up to date with events.

Blog by Peter Veitch , the post atheist nurse.

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