What do you do when the world turns dark? When the days wither, the wind chills, and and bare trees claw the sky with scratchy fingers? If you’re anything like me, you draw closer to others, find solace in human company, and sing.
The first speech I gave consistently at Humanist conferences was on the importance of culture. I argued – and continue to argue – that until secular philosophies develop cultural expressions as rich and profound as those which frequently accompany religious traditions we will struggle to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Jason Silva reminds us that, for big ideas to grab the attention, “you gotta make them sing”, and music, art, narrative, and ritual are ways of making ideas sing. Humanists could do so much more to harness the power of culture.
That’s why I was so excited when I first heard about Brighter than Today: A Secular Solstice, a project to develop a Humanist solstice celebration organized by Raymond Arnold. When I first spoke to Raymond, I felt one of those strange senses of kinship you sometimes, but rarely experience – a sense that we had been thinking the same thoughts. Raymond’s project is an amazing example of a growing attempt to find ways to give Humanist values cultural form – and, from the looks of the Kickstarter campaign he’s developed, it’s one of the finest attempts to date. In Raymond’s own words:
Join me this winter for a performance commemorating a new holiday; a Secular Solstice! We’ll celebrate the light of human progress in the face of the longest night of the year with inspiring music, words, and friendship.My name is Raymond Arnold and like many of you I’m not satisfied with the existing holidays. So with your help, I’m reimagining the Winter Solstice, one of the oldest rituals in the world, and creating a new holiday in celebration of humankind’s potential and the incredible work we’ve done so far.
I’m inviting you to join me for an original musical performance on December 14th, something epic enough to mark the creation of a new secular tradition.
What separates this effort from the many other attempts to create Humanist holidays and celebrations is the pure quality of the components. The music sounds fantastic, the visuals are rich and appealing, and there is a clear appreciation for poetry, story, and shared ritual experience throughout.
Now Raymond needs your help to secure what is the best possible space for this celebration: the auditorium at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. It’s an amazing venue – large and dramatic yet also warm and inviting, and resonant with Humanist history. I’ve donated to the cause, and it looks, from the current state of funding, that it might even meet a stretch goal or two! So if you believe, like me, that a Humanist culture would be a better culture, then I encourage you to support Brighter than Today: A Secular Solstice.