Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Idea for 4thought.tv Channel Four

Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on February 17, 2011

I have been busy today. I sent this to Channel 4. They will probably ignore it. But it is worth a try.

Dear Editor,

I am a Humanist celebrant – I conduct namings, weddings, funerals for people who do not have religious/supernatural beliefs. These rite-of-passage ceremonies of hatchings, matchings and Dispatchings are imporant for those of us who do have religious beliefs or follow religious rituals. Our philosophy of life and ethics is based on human nature, the natural world and we believe that love is the basis of human life.

Many couples live together before they marry and commit for life with a wedding ceremony. Indeed, I jokingly say to couples that I could not conduct their wedding ceremony if I discovered either one was a virgin as I would deem it irrational. When I am asked to take a naming ceremony I would ask if the couple had a wedding ceremony. If not I would suggest that it makes sense to have a 2 in 1 naming and wedding-commitment combined. If they are already living as a family it seems natural to commit to each other as well as to their child. Our naming ceremonies are very involving and usually include contributions from parents, grandparents, and ‘oddparents’. Adding their own vows/promises to each other before their family and friends is what constitutes a Humanist wedding.

So what I offer is the inexpensive, simple, sensible, hassle-free wedding and welcoming ceremony for their baby  –  all in one go. This can be held in the couples home, community centre, park etc. The couple can, at a later stage, have a legal registration. Indeed, I am now invited to conduct weddings for couples who have been together for decades for tax/pension rights/ reasons etc. I have also conducted family dedication ceremonies where the couple have not got around to having any naming ceremony for each of their children, so we do it in one go.

So, I am suggesting this as a topic for your 4thought slot because I passionately believe that we need something simple and real like this instead of ridiculous, extravagant weddings. Crucially I think such a ceremony is important for young working class couples who find that she is pregnant even before they have started to live together and where the statistic is so stark about the break up a year after the baby is born. Having such a ceremony would give recognition and support to them by their family friends as they acknowledge them as a new family. This is, especially, significant for the young father whose role is not fully established.

I would love to be given the chance to suggest this either as an alternative to extravagant and expensive weddings but more importantly to supporting young couples in their role as parents. This would also counter the Tory/ Cameron view that the middle-class, cosy,  family image is not the reality for many people.

I have attached my website as a Humanist celebrant explaining naming/wedding ceremonies. The religions DO  not offer this service. humanist.org.uk/jeannerathbone

Yours sincerely,

Jeanne Rathbone.

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