|Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society|
|About the Bulletin SPLASH|
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Material from 2001 extracted from the editor’s backlog portfolio.
Secular humanists of St. Petersburg display a natural interest in the day to day activities of their foreign colleagues.
As everyone knows, in the US in the state of Florida, there is also a city called St. Petersburg. Like our Russian city it is located next to the sea, more precisely, on the shores of a bay and this bay is also named in honor of a nation living on the other side [Translator’s note: St. Petersburg, Russia, is on the Gulf of Finland], but the climate there is generally completely opposite from ours.
But there is one more feature relating our two cities: we have people who think alike, one can say, brothers in “spirit” (world view) - secular [svetskiye] or, as they call themselves, secular [sekulyarnye] humanists. Their association is called SPLASH for short, which breaks down to St. Petersburg Largo Area Secular Humanists. The abbreviation is not without a jovial subtext, meaning [Translator’s note: here the author gives two synonymous translations in Russian] in English, quickly reminiscent of the excellent Florida beaches. The organization is headed by its president, Ms. Jan Eisler, whom we have met at international conferences in Moscow and St. Petersburg (alas, not the Florida one). SPLASH is a regional organization which is part of the national Alliance of Societies of Secular Humanists.
SPLASH members have their own publication, a monthly bulletin with the same cheerful name of SPLASH (moreover, with an exclamation mark). Let’s look at its October (2001) issue. It has 10 pages.
The 1st page introduces the biography and active organizational and science popularization activity of Mr. D. J. Grothe in the post of the so-called “field” director of the American Council for Secular Humanism.
The 2nd page formulates the goals of the organization, which on the whole coincide with the humanist aspirations of our RGO.
Here is found a list of the management of SPLASH, an advertisement for books of the Prometheus Books publishers distributed by the organization (a 25% discount for their own members), and also services in the organization of various celebrations and festive events on a non-religious basis. It is pleasant to find out that the American Petersburgers have a demand for these kinds of services.
The 3rd and 4th pages are dedicated to memorable dates and events in October, for example:
1 October - The World Day of Older Persons,
3-7 October - An international symposium in Moscow “Science, Anti-Science, and Paranormal Beliefs” with a report by J. Eisler on “Therapeutic Touch”
9 October - J. Lennon was born (1940)
15 October - Nietzsche was born (1844).
And among these serious dates suddenly a splash of humor:
23 October - God created the Universe (4004 B.C.E., at 0900)
Below, the 4th page has condolences in connection with the tragedy of September 11th and a call for charitable contributions to the victims.
A statement by Paul Kurtz was placed on pages 5 and 6 which he promised to make not from the Council for Secular Humanism which he heads but on his own behalf. It is called “A Call to Caution and Restraint” and is also associated with the events of September 11th. The outstanding humanist warns of the impermissibility of calls for revenge on religious grounds for the evil done to America.
“Don’t fence yourself off from nonbelievers” this is what the article by T. Flynn, the editor of the magazine “Free Inquiry” is called. The author mentions that according to the latest surveys 11-13% of Americans are atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, or indifferent, and this is more than 30 million people, and they are united with the rest of the people in the face of the tragedy which befell the US.
On page 9 are two quotes from the Diderot Encyclopedia describing his skepticism about religion.
Below is a list of information which needs to be given when joining SPLASH and a note about the amount of the membership dues. They are differentiated: for students and low-income persons - $20, for “full” members (individuals, couples, and families) - $40. Then there are the various degrees of honorary membership - $50 = Patron, $1000 = Angel, $5000 = Saint (one more confirmation that secular humanists have a sense of humor).
On the last page is the text of a well-known document “Principles of Humanism and Free Thinking” developed by the Council for Secular Humanism in 1997 http://humanism.al.ru/ru/magazine.phtml?issue=1999.10-01).
Translated by Gary Goldberg
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