A Humanist Lectionary
The Calendar is only a framework for a Humanist observance of the year. It needs to be filled with resources and activities that make that observance meaningful. The blog and newsletter are the beginning of our Lectionary. The resources you will find there will range from the ancient classic to the most recent bestseller, from books and lectures to movies and personal stories. They will include celebrations, meditations, volunteering, political action, and much more.
Each week you will see a couple of new posts on the blog. First, you will see a post reflecting on what it was like to observe AHY the previous week. Some of these will be written by us. We hope some will be written by you. Second, you will see a post looking forward to the next week. Each of these posts will have a short thematic message, suggestions for ways to engage with the week’s theme, and resources to help you do so.
Also, if you’re subscribed, you’ll get a once-weekly email newsletter.
There will be three elements to each blog post or newsletter: education, reflection, and action. We believe that all three elements are necessary to fully explore a week’s theme and encourage you to engage with all of them.
Education: First, we will learn about the issue at hand. Based on each’s weeks theme, you will see short articles, videos, or other educational media to help you understand the world we live in.
Reflection: Second, we will explore the week’s theme in a personal way. You will see suggestions for various activities, from straightforward reflection (sometimes aided by secular ritual) to positive changes you can make in your personal life.
Action: Third, we will put what we have learned and experienced into action, both to improve our own lives and the lives of others. You will see suggestions for ways to make a positive difference in the world. These will include everything from volunteering to civic engagement to encouraging others to have reflective experiences similar to those we have just had.
How to Use the Lectionary
You are an active participant in the AHY experience. The blog posts and newsletters are designed to be as adaptable as possible. You will be able to do most of the activities we will suggest in different ways, with different levels of commitment, and either individually or as part of a larger community (your family, friends, a formal moral community, etc.). Not every activity will be relevant to every person, but we encourage you to be creative with the starting points that we suggest. Our hope is that you will engage with the theme of the week in some way.
Our hope is that observing A Humanist Year will help us to grow, and growth is sometimes difficult. You should seek to stretch yourself to be better each week than you were the week before. At the same time, we encourage you to remember that real, sustained change comes incrementally. Don’t worry; we’ll encounter these themes again next year, and then we can build on the small, manageable improvements we’ve made in our lives.
The themes we focus on each week represent fundamental parts of the human experience. As such, they contain much more than we could ever hope to address at once (e.g., our relation to the environment or the virtue of courage). In order to be useful, we will focus our entries on a few specific aspects of each week’s theme (e.g. climate change or courage as steadfastness in the face of danger). We will return to these themes year after year, exploring different aspects and deepening our understanding of life’s complexities.
A Note on Secular Ritual
Some Humanists will hesitate at the notion of ritual. We encourage you to be open-minded about the experience. Don’t worry, there is no magical thinking here – only psychological thinking. Symbolic actions can be very useful in helping us to think or feel in a desired way.
We Need You
A Humanist Year is in its beta phase, and we need your input for it to succeed. Do you have more ideas about how to celebrate or resources that might be helpful? Are you or do you know an expert in a relevant field? Tell us by commenting on a resource post! What is your experience observing AHY? What did you get out of it? Tell us by commenting on a reflection post! For the project to grow and become a useful tool, the whole community needs to be involved.
You can of course always reach us by email as well. With your help, we can truly build a compendium of best Humanist practices.