Humanism Now

11. Madeleine Goodall on Britain's Humanist Heritage

December 10, 2023 Season 1 Episode 11
11. Madeleine Goodall on Britain's Humanist Heritage
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Humanism Now
11. Madeleine Goodall on Britain's Humanist Heritage
Dec 10, 2023 Season 1 Episode 11

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"Conscious morality cannot exist in any being except so far as it can look behind, before, and around; and can remember, compare, and reason about right and wrong so as to choose for itself, and for those it can influence, a given course." - Zona Vallance

What does it mean to be a humanist in the modern world? Join James, Mark and new contributor Katia as we test the definition of humanism and assess how the term has evolved and what additions we'd like to see to reflect changing societal needs.

Plus our interview with the brilliant Maddy Goodall, co-ordinator of the Humanist Heritage project, which documents and preserves more than 125 years of rich humanist history.

Episode references:

About Maddy Goodall
🔗 Heritage humanists
📧 heritage@humanists.uk
🐦 @maddyogoodall

Maddy's references:

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Send us a Text Message.

"Conscious morality cannot exist in any being except so far as it can look behind, before, and around; and can remember, compare, and reason about right and wrong so as to choose for itself, and for those it can influence, a given course." - Zona Vallance

What does it mean to be a humanist in the modern world? Join James, Mark and new contributor Katia as we test the definition of humanism and assess how the term has evolved and what additions we'd like to see to reflect changing societal needs.

Plus our interview with the brilliant Maddy Goodall, co-ordinator of the Humanist Heritage project, which documents and preserves more than 125 years of rich humanist history.

Episode references:

About Maddy Goodall
🔗 Heritage humanists
📧 heritage@humanists.uk
🐦 @maddyogoodall

Maddy's references:

Upcom

Support the Show.

Support us on Patreon

Click here to submit questions, nominate guest & topics or sponsor the show.

Follow Humanism Now @HumanismNowPod
X (Twitter)
YouTube
Instagram
TikTok

Follow Central London Humanists @LondonHumanists
Centrallondonhumanists.org.uk
Meetup
Facebook
X (Twitter)
YouTube

CLH are an official partner group of Humanists UK and an associate member of Humanists International

James H:

Hello and welcome to episode 11 of Humanism, now the podcast from the central London humanists. But anyone active or just curious about humanism, I'm your host, james, and this week we'll be talking about the definition of humanism, how it's changing and how should it change going forward. Plus, we'll have an interview with Madeleine Goodall of Humanist Heritage, talking about how we should be celebrating the history of humanism and also looking ahead. To discuss all that and more, I'm delighted to be joined by two of my fellow committee members here at the central London humanists. Welcome back to Mark Agathangelou. Mark, how are you doing today?

Mark A:

I'm good. Thanks, James. Yeah, really looking forward to this. Thanks for having me.

James H:

Pleasure, and last time we spoke to you you're about to go and see Napoleon, so I was wondering, before we kick off, can we get your three word review of the movie?

Mark A:

Okay, I'm going to go with spectacular sweeping and empty.

James H:

Yeah, that makes me more intrigued to see it than before. Good, and for our icebreaker question this week, keeping in the theme of Napoleon which historical figure would you most like to have met?

Mark A:

I think I'm going to go with Cromwell. Actually, I've always been fascinated by that period of history, and such an influential one in terms of the development of our country and the international development of constitutional monarchy and therefore democracy. And yeah, I think he's the pivotal figure. I would love to have a chat with him. I know he'd be very frank because that was his way.

James H:

I grew up in Cromwell country. I've been saying to him it's Cambridge, yes, so yeah you might want to visit there. There's lots of history about that.

Mark A:

Yeah, definitely I like to do that.

James H:

And making a debut here on humanism. Now I'm delighted to be joined by another committee member, Katia Rokiza. Welcome, Katia.

Katia U:

Hello, nice to be here.

James H:

Pleasure to have you and great to have you joining us for your first episode of the podcast. As it's your first time, I thought it might be good for our listeners to hear a little bit more about you, so would you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and also how you came to be involved in humanism?

Katia U:

Yeah, so I guess I'm going to try to keep it short, but I was born in Mexico, I spent half of my childhood in the US, I went back to Mexico, then I lived in France for almost 10 years and in 2010, I moved to the UK. Humanism wasn't a part of my life at all before I came to the UK. I wasn't really looking for humanism, but I've been an atheist all my life. I didn't really. I was brought up to be a Catholic but never quite stuck, so I didn't have that moment of feeling that I was leaving a community and therefore looking for another community, which I think is a big part of humanism for many people. I've been a foreigner practically all my life and I just wasn't looking for that.

Katia U:

When I came to the UK, the thing that I was looking for was actually a book group, and I particularly wanted a book group. I wanted to be reading nonfiction, yes, science based and history anything factual. So I went online and found this group Central London Humanists running a book group and it had just started. So I was able to see what books they had just read and I went oh my goodness, these books are on my list, so they're probably going to be reading, going forward what I would like, and I found like-minded people and that's how I joined Central London Humanists. I've been a part of the book group ever since. For many years I was in charge of choosing the books. That's how I ended up on the committee and more recently someone else has taken over choosing the books and I now organize theater trips. So I guess I have stayed on the committee thinking I am contributing something.

Katia U:

All of these cultural activities because I also sometimes organize expose, visiting an expo All of these activities where people who identify with humanism can come along, and it's a place where you won't have to explain yourself as into why you've done this or that. You know that you're not with humanism or isn't. And sometimes the wives of, or the husbands, I suppose, come along who aren't necessarily, you know, part of the group. And so I quite like how open and inviting we are, and when we're together we talk about the piece of theater we've just seen or the book we've just read. We have all of these discussions and it just so happens that most of us are also part of the humanist bigger family. So, yeah, I think it's important to me to say that I never really believed in God and for many, many years that wasn't really that important a thing for me. It wasn't something that a community would necessarily grow out of. But now that I'm in the humanists it feels that you know that all of a sudden it becomes more important, and then you look back.

James H:

You've answered it beautifully. Thank you very much for that overview and yeah, it's very. Thank you for highlighting the book group as well, because I know that's a very active, probably smaller than lots of other events, but it's a very active, loyal group and I think it again has been a bit of a gateway to a lot of people to discovering a bit more about our group in particular but then from following from that, more of the ideas around humanism.

Mark A:

Just want to come in, I think. I think Katja also in her description, katja, you sort of encapsulate a lot of the spirit and essence of what our group is. That it's. It's a community group and in it we gather, we sort of get together around sort of cultural and other or educational or just enjoyable activities, and it's very open, it's very friendly. It's not. You don't get interrogated about your beliefs and we sort of it's about fellowship, isn't it? It's about we, you know people, like-minded people or broadly like-minded people, coming together just, you know, to share, to share that sort of sense of community and to socialize and to enjoy ourselves and engaging some sort of mutually interesting activities. And that's, you know, that's what, that's what we do, and I think it's it's valuable in itself and, yeah, I like it.

James H:

Likewise, yeah, and I particularly like the point about it being an open space where anybody is welcome and you don't feel at risk of being, you know, judged. There is a kind of charitable nature to discussions, even when we do talk about sensitive or, you know, potentially topics that we may disagree on. I think there's that understanding that with a few shared values, you can give people the benefit of the doubt that we're all trying to improve and be curious-minded in those discussions. And that leads us on quite nicely, actually, to the reason why I invited you both on the podcast this week. So Katia and Mark are both actively involved in the online discussion group series of events which we run here at CLH, and the next topic that was very interesting for us to preview on the podcast and the blunt title, is what Do we Mean by Humanism, which is, I guess, an overall topic.

James H:

We've covered quite a bit on the podcast so far, but there were some interesting points and questions that were raised in the outline to that. So we're going to preview a bit of that discussion here on the podcast today and, if you're available, hopefully you'll be able to join us online for that in-person meetup in a couple of weeks. So I guess, rather than setting out with the definition of humanism once again, it might be interesting to talk about what we see as the core values and principles of humanism in practice, as opposed to how it's academically defined. Katia, what are the core principles of humanism, or values, in practice?

Katia U:

Yeah. So I like the fact that you've delimitated the question to say in practice, because a lot of them can be quite theoretical and in practice. I think kindness is so important because it includes empathy, it includes all of these things that we talk about sometimes, you know, the tolerance, the being open. I can't stop thinking about it. Mark has read this book as well, because it was our latest book group book called Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, and it's set during the siege of Leningrad and a lot of the characters in there end up dead, as you would expect from such a historical time. But the author just goes back over and over again to those random acts of kindness that all are also there, despite the tragedy. I just thought, well, I thought it was an excellent book and an excellent point to make about. You know, kindness is a part of humanism and just kindness makes us more human. So definitely kindness as the thing that you can do in practice as a humanist to make you feel proud, I guess, yeah, proud of yourself.

Mark A:

Can I just jump in there on the book.

Mark A:

I think Sokacha chose this book for the book group this time because she was stepping back into the role of convener for this last one and I do think actually it was a really good choice in terms of, well, just a good book, but it did encapsulate a lot of these sort of humanist values because it is about it is very much about the sort of the triumph of the human spirit or the all this perseverance with, you know, sort of humanist values kindness, compassion, also desire for an element of authenticity and integrity and freedom, and so in a way that is a nice way to model those values in the setting of a book, because then you can really understand and see them in that way.

Mark A:

Just coming on to sort of you know, my sort of take on that question as well is that about you know what are the principles or the core values in practice.

Mark A:

I think so this particular discussion it's we are looking at sort of what humanists mean, you know, by humanism, in a sense by, rather than it being an introduction anybody's welcome, you'll come along and learn something about humanism. So it is very much, as you say, james, is what are we actually doing in practice, what's actually happening, and I think I would agree that the kindness is a big part of it, but also, at the same time, it's this the emphasis on science and reason is still, I think, a very critical element. And, yeah, it always seems to draw a lot of people to events if we have a scientific sort of bent to one of them. I think we're all we're naturally we're curious about the natural world and we really want to explore it, and it's obviously. There are scientists in our group, but there's also a lot of people like myself who don't have a scientific background but have, you know, drawn to the subject and read a lot of popular science and and like to, sort of, you know, share insights and theories with other like-minded people.

James H:

Definitely, I think the drive for reason and the drive for kindness probably is underlying most of the humanist principles and, yeah, I think it's definitely what we would all like to be, how we'd like to be operating in practice and I think, yeah, I think those are definitely the two, two fundamentals that I think underlie broadly most of what we try to do.

James H:

And that reason is not always easy and it's not always obvious, and it's things that, again, is open for discussion and debate, and I guess there's potentially as well different ways to interpret what, what a kind approach to any particular problem would be. And that leads on, I think, to one of the interesting points that I saw was was open for discussion in the in in the event which you're hosting, which is around this idea of how, where humanists would fall on the balance between prioritizing personal freedom and liberty against society and collective values. Because, again, I think, when we're looking at reason and compassion, it can depend, you can take two very different views on different issues, if you're, if you're stressing the individual or the or the collective. So I thought that was a really interesting question to raise and without proving giving us too much of the discussion group. Mark, what, what are your views on where we should fall on that balance from a humanistic perspective?

Mark A:

Yeah, I think it is interesting and I do think humanists have quite a range of views because, you know, we don't, we don't, we try not to be party political and in fact I think I think there's quite a broad spectrum of opinion, probably clustered around the center, as as as is the case in society at large as well.

Mark A:

So I personally feel that I'd like to strike a balance.

Mark A:

I think in some ways you could argue that the sort of collective values that we have in humanism, the idea that we are a social animal, which is very much more rooted in a sort of modern, more scientific interpretation, rather than the sort of abstract, sort of 18th century type state of nature arguments that underpin some schools of political philosophy. So, yeah, we are social animals, we are naturally empathetic and we're not sort of individuals atomized. So I like that emphasis, but at the same time I do like to keep a balance and I think that respecting people's autonomy and I think it's actually mentioned quite a lot in well, it's mentioned explicitly in the HUK definitions and I think also in the Amsterdam Declaration that democracy is an important aspect of that, and democracy both respects the individual but it also suggests that we are bound by the collective decisions of the majority. So yeah, for me it's a balance, but I think it's. The collective aspects are quite a good corrective to some of the more extreme individualism which has perhaps taken root in our society in recent times.

Katia U:

And, if I can jump in, this is a great place to talk about the book we're reading next in the group. So it's for January because we don't meet in December. So it's called the social instinct, what nature can teach us about working together, and it is the story of not only human animals but all other types of species and how actually you can correlate how successful a species they have been with, how much cooperation they get up to, which I think is a wonderful cooperation is something that I have studied because when I studied linguistics I got a lot into the birth of language and there are some great books written about how this social species that we are began cooperating and how then it co evolved with language. We were able to create a language or communicate with one another because we were already cooperating and then language allowed us to cooperate even better. So this book is a very easy to read, kind of scientifically based, very evidence based book that is going to explore the underlying scientific view and then we can have a view as humanist saying. It also makes for kinder, more inclusive social occasions, I suppose you would say.

Katia U:

So I agree with the mark. I don't think we can be too negative. I also kind of think that individualism sometimes gets too negative a wrap, because I do think that, at least in my case, I had to develop individually, yes, and then found a group. If you are not lucky enough to be in a country where democracy is already the norm, or in a place where you feel that you're going to be, that that is going to be nourished in you, that that community spirit, you should also still be able to say, well, I don't need this, I can do it for myself. That would be my slight pushback I think we need both.

James H:

Definitely it does always seem to be. There is that balance that needs to be sought and I think typically, or historically when it's been people talked about collective or society, it's really forming an in group which is usually defined with a defined out group as well. And I think the struggle for humanists is we're kind of defining our in group as the human species, which can almost become too large a group to really have well defined in the same way and may give rise, as you say, to potentially within that, then you just resort to more of an individualism. But I really like bringing it back to the point about evolution, katia, as well. I think there's often.

James H:

People will often point to examples in the natural world when they're trying to make either kind of case, particularly for cooperation. But again, it's usually cooperation within a small tribe or colony at the detriment to another tribe or colony, in sort of competing for resources. So again, there's limits to all of these ideas. And I think even to go even further down the evolutionary path, dawkins has mentioned that he could have called the selfish gene, he could have easily called it the collaborative gene, and that it's actually how genes interact and collaborate with others around them which is going to prioritize them for success and reproduction. So it's. It does seem to be that it's all about that balance. And, looking ahead, how have you seen the humanist movement change, particularly in the last, let's say, 10 or so years, since I know you've both been more actively involved in the central London humanists? Do you think there are still some of these that it's still changing or it's broadly been broadly been the same? Katia? What's your view?

Katia U:

I think there have been some, some changes. I feel that our group is bigger in the sense that we have more diversity. So, seeing it from just a woman's perspective, when I started going to things like the socials 12 years ago, there were very few women present. There were, in general, much more men than women coming to our talks and our event in general, I suppose. So today I do feel that that has that has definitely, I'm going to say, improved, because I think it is an improvement, but I don't think any of the any of the of the ideas have changed in practice.

Katia U:

So in a in a previous conversation, james, you were talking about whether, whether we have become more environmentally aware, and I think people are, but but in our group, have we actually done anything about it? Maybe it's. It's, it's one of the things that is coming up, because I do feel that we are able to change and take on new things. It's just not something that I feel we actually have acted on yet, despite the, the interest. We've read books about it. We've had many discussions. You know you were asking before about what. What is humanism? So I know from some humanists that that are in the group. For some humanists, being a humanist means being at the very least a vegetarian and preferably a vegan Right, and you know, it's one of those things where I don't think there would be much agreement. But you know, maybe we should, maybe we should talk about it, maybe that would be another good discussion topic.

James H:

Yeah, definitely, I mean I can. We can refer to a previous podcast guest, jamie Woodhouse, who's pushing for this idea of extending the definition of humanism to sentientism and including animal rights and, by extension, you know, the climate emergency as well In terms of really those principles I think you mentioned before kindness, how far do we extend that kindness and reason? You know, is this a? Is it reasonable, is it justifiable to to to eat animals or to to farm animals these days? So I think, I think that I've definitely seen that as a growing trend, for sure, and I agree, it's not necessarily a settled discussion, I think, within humanism, but certainly the there is a momentum shifting that way. Mark, has anything stood out for you?

Mark A:

Yeah, so I've been sort of involved both. I've been involved for less amount of time than Katya. I sort of first actively got involved with this group during lockdown. So you know I didn't meet anybody for quite a long time, except in two dimensions and but it so. So I have a sort of a slightly shorter frame of reference but but I did get a little slightly involved quite a long time ago, probably about 15 years ago.

Mark A:

I went to a couple of events, maybe even slightly longer than that, and at the time what surprised what I found interesting was just how small a group it was. There was it was it was tiny. There was one event which I think grew, drew more people. There was a talk given by Stuart Lee. The comedian shows along. He's been around as well, and but apart from that it was.

Mark A:

It was a couple of meetings I attended were really sparse. So when I came back a few years ago to Central London humanists this was with Central London humanists I was just really impressed just how much it had grown and I think that what people like Katya and and Damien and a whole group of other people Alan and other friends in the group who've been long serving did a lot of great work in building this up and it's done through these groups. So, you know, our group is about fellowship, so we have, you know, specific activities and of course we have our flagship sort of talks which you obviously take at the helm of that now, james. And so, yes, it's, it's, it's grown significantly in that sense and I think I get a sense also that there's been a shift away from, as Katya says, it's, quite a male dominated group which may be particularly quite interested and attracted by more assertive atheism of the early 2000s and maybe that's it's become more diverse and we are now more concerned about a variety of issues, exactly as Katya says.

Mark A:

So environmental matters and other other sort of causes, black lives matter, you know, still very much, and this is something which I think taps into the history of the humanist movement as well, being concerned with these sorts of campaigning and civil rights matters. There's lots of that through, as well as some more interesting in the sort of history and heritage of humanism as well which I think more of us are getting more interested in.

James H:

Definitely yeah, and that feeds nicely into our interview with Madeleine Goodall, who's who's leading that charge on the humanist heritage side of things. Just before we wrap up, I'm wondering if there's any aspects you would like to add to the list of the definition of humanism or things you'd like to see increase further. I mean, I'm getting a bit of a sense from from both of you actually that probably continue continued diversity, but also perhaps more action and less rhetoric might be one of the ways in which we could improve the understanding of humanism going forward, mark, what would you like to see change, you know, as we head into the next decade?

Mark A:

So it is. It's, yeah, it's on the extended list, but I'd like to see the actual sort of the numbers of people actively engaged in meeting face to face increase. I know it's difficult in the current environment to get people out and about. I mean, it could even be we could. It could be virtual as well, but actually engaging. It's great that we have this. You know excellent humanist UK central organization doing great campaigning work. But I still think for the humanism to be really be truly alive and flourishing, it needs more people, you know, coming together and and actually sort of creating a community.

James H:

Great. How about you, Cassia?

Katia U:

I would like to see more secularism as a, as a goal. One of the things that shocked me coming to the UK was the, the, the open support and popularity of the Royals to give an example of something that that you know secularism could take care of. I was surprised by how many people that were non religious were royalists, so that it might be quite a controversial, controversial thing to to say that the secularism in the UK might not be enough From a, from a humanist perspective. Why are we not more, you know, fighting for secularism? It isn't on the, on the project.

Katia U:

So we've heard from the president of the of humanist UK what we're campaigning for. We're not campaigning for a total and complete division of church and state, because, partly because it would be. You know, I understand let's campaign for things we can win. Let's campaign for things that are achievable. But maybe just then a discussion why is secularism not on that list? Because I think it comes with a lot of really, really good things, that you know that, that that will improve things like equality and, and you know, care for your vulnerable in a country where you don't just accept that there is, you know, a class that has been divinely anointed or that you know that has by birth a right, more rights than other people.

James H:

It's such a good point? Yeah, and I think it's. It's a. It's a blind spot for a lot of us who were born and raised in the UK to not realize the role that religion is still playing in our entire class structure and also another area that I think HK are campaigning on, particularly in the school system as well. You know this, we're not a secular country in the way in which we like to present ourselves. So, absolutely, and I think it's partly linked back to what Mark was saying it's partly a numbers game, I think. You know, the more support we have, the more people who openly associate and contribute to humanist causes and be part of the groups, and the more greater you have in numbers, the more it's easy to start these difficult conversations, because I think they would be difficult and challenging for a lot of people, but important conversations to help, for sure, and definitely some things we should be talking about more going forward. So, mark and Katia, thank you very much for joining us and just to remind listeners, when is the discussion group?

Mark A:

So that is on Thursday, the 14th of December, and it's at 7 o'clock and you can find the link on Meet Up.

James H:

Yeah, so that's 7pm UK time. On the 14th of December. We'll share the link in the show notes and we hope some listeners may be able to join us there. But, Mark Katya, thank you very much and we'll speak to you again after this week's interview with Madeleine Goodall from Humanist UK.

Katia U:

Thank you, James.

Lucy Potter:

Hi, my name is Lucy Potter and I'm a researcher based at the University of Sheffield. I am currently conducting research on how asylum claims on the grounds of non-religiosity, which can include apostasy and blasphemy, are handled by the UK government. I am looking for refugees or people who are still seeking asylum on these grounds to take part in an interview with me on their experiences of the asylum system. This research is really important because there is no research on how non-religious asylum claims are dealt with currently and not much is known about non-religious persecution more widely. If you take part in this research, you will remain anonymous and unidentifiable, and I hope this research will make the asylum system inclusive of all belief systems, and I encourage anyone with experience to please contact me. My email is lpotter2 at sheffieldacuk. Thank you.

James H:

Madeleine Goodall is the Humanist Heritage Coordinator with Humanist UK. Since 2019, she's been researching the history and influence of the organisation and its members since its founding in 1896 as the Union of Ethical Societies and building the Humanist Heritage website to share this little known heritage. Since the beginning of 2022, the project has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, working in partnership with the Conway Hall on doers, dreamers, place makers. Maddie is also Humanist UK's Wikimedian in residence term. I've just discovered where she advocates for the improvement and diversification of Wikipedia. Maddie, thank you so much for joining us on Humanism Now.

Maddy Goodall:

Thank you.

James H:

So I mentioned in the intro there that the Humanist Heritage Program has been running for four years now. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming the Humanist Heritage Coordinator and how you started working with Humanist UK?

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah, sure, dream job really. I was, prior to starting on the project, starting with Humanist UK, I was actually working on another heritage project based on a historic railway. So lots of what I was doing was railway history and the social history connected to that and also the biodiversity of that. So I was education officer on that project for a couple of years before this, and there's lots in common really. In a strange way it was all about people and I developed a much stronger knowledge of railways than I ever thought I would possess.

Maddy Goodall:

But when I saw this role come up it really seemed to unite, I suppose, everything that kind of previously interested me or already interested me. So in terms of obviously the history side of things, looking back, having this unifying thread, which in my previous project was railways but in this project was Humanism, and then kind of pulling on some of those strands and uncovering some of that history. And further back than that, my background had been kind of a mix between education and museums or kind of museum education. So it all kind of came together really within a philosophy that I also obviously very much identified with. So yeah, that's the perfect role for me really.

James H:

Perfect and what prompted the creation of the Humanist Heritage website. And now, three years, in four years, in what are the primary responsibilities and goals of the campaign.

Maddy Goodall:

So the project itself was launched back in 2019, that's when I started with Humanist UK in advance of the 125th anniversary in 2021. So Humanist UK was founded in 1896, as you said, as the Union of Ethical Societies, and so this project was an opportunity to, firstly, to look a bit more in depth into the archives We've got great and very extensive collections at the Bishop's Gate Institute and to share that history with as many people as possible really. So to develop, first and foremost, the Humanist Heritage website, which we launched in 2021 for the anniversary, and also to do other things that would kind of engage people with the history. So events talks, things like that, and one of the well, there were a few kind of main aims of the project really. One of them was really about kind of Filling in the gaps in history.

Maddy Goodall:

To a certain extent, there was a kind of idea behind the project, which is that often, historically, when people have been motivated to do good things by very firm religious beliefs, that that's something that's very much forefronted in the way that we remember them and the way that their biographies are written. But in the case of non-religious people humanist people that often gets left out or not really mentioned at all, even though we know that humanists throughout history have done incredible things and profoundly changed the world. You know, from establishing the Open University to the NHS, to the UNESCO, all of these things have had humanists very much at the heart of them, and that's something that I think even lots of humanists don't know. So that was something that was very much behind the project. And the other thing was about identifying places of built heritage, visible heritage and lost heritage, like buildings, for example, that testified to that history, that weren't really kind of on the map or on a map anywhere. So the humanist heritage website has a map function, which we're always looking to enhance we recognise that it's much more full in some places than others and also a timeline feature so you can have a look at how things have kind of developed Over well, you know, hundreds of years. And that actually leads into the project as it stands now, which is, since the beginning of this year, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Maddy Goodall:

The project that we're working on is called Doers, dreamers, placemakers, with Comet Hall, so it's a partnership project and again we're looking very much at how the spaces and the communities have been built and created and sustained around humanism, which, again, I think is something that sometimes it gets forgotten. I think lots of people think of the history of humanism as something that is incredibly kind of intellectual or academic or ultimately a history of just ideas or people reading and writing books and arguing with each other, when actually although obviously those things are a part of it as a scientific development and all of those things actually it's people and people gathering together around kind of common values and often in order to make changes in the world. That is the kind of real, the people's history of humanism, which we're also trying to kind of bring out with this project.

James H:

Yeah, it's wonderful, and I would implore all listeners to definitely check out the websites and the map to see if they can find their local landmark to humanism and, if not, as you say, submit one as well. Could you share some of the more intriguing or surprising findings from your research so far?

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah. So if anybody has ever heard me talk before, you're probably sick of me saying it, but the women of humanist history are the thing that I would say, both kind of intrigued and surprised maybe not in that order. Surprised, then intrigued me in the research for the project. So when I started the project, through no kind of malice or fault of anyone's own, lots and lots of the names that we had that were commonly associated with the history of humanism and the organizational history as well were men, and they were often philosophers and very academic men and those people have played a huge part undoubtedly in the history of humanism.

Maddy Goodall:

But one of the things that really fascinated me, and especially when we started looking in the archives, looking at the early minute books, looking at the early membership lists as well as some of the ethical societies who were the early humanist groups, was just how many women were involved and how they were really kind of the lifeblood of the organization, doing the not just the kind of organizing and the running of things, but also being involved very prominently in lots of these other major social causes. So people like Zona Valence, who I've talked about quite a lot in various places, nelly Freeman, lily Boillo, mays Eaton Teedman, who was a divorce law reform campaigner, did amazing work in that, alongside much more famous people like Arthur Conan Doyle, for example, but who haven't particularly been remembered for any of that work, for the work within organized humanism, but also for their kind of wider activism and kind of involvement in those other causes.

Maddy Goodall:

So that's something that has kind of obsessed me ever since the beginning is trying to uncover a bit more about those and just make them known, because I think they are inspiring, you know, to us now, however different their lives might have been.

James H:

Yeah, absolutely. The diversification of voices and influences is also just as important as well, as you say, to show the many. We talk often on the podcast about the many roots of humanism and the many different inspirations that have led us to where we are. So that's often a very linear story that is told, and I think you're helping uncover much more of the, as you say, the different voices and the different contributors that have got us to this point.

Maddy Goodall:

Again, I hope so and again, I completely recognize there are, I guess, well, limitations on what I'm doing as well. The project is quite focused on UK history, which can risk losing lots of voices from outside, who in many cases did have a huge influence on the UK but also aren't obviously the only interesting stories that there are. So we have tried to make sure that that much more global history is represented. As much as anything else, it's just really fascinating to see how those different kind of manifestations have happened over time, not just to build that sense that you know. This is a philosophy, a way of looking at the world that has always been there and been there in all cultures, all countries, but in different ways and in really interestingly different ways. And you know that informs, as you say, how we understand humanism now and also how it's relevant around the world and what's going on in all of these different places now.

James H:

Yeah, the fact that it's had all the it's sprung up independently in many different areas gives it lots of different sources to draw from. But within the UK, within within the research that you've done, I'm wondering probably a two part question here how has the philosophy and practices of humanism evolved in the 125 years since, since the founding of the Union of ethical societies and then sort of concurrently? How do you feel that the work of organizations like Humanist UK has influenced social attitudes over that period? Sorry to ask you to summarize 125 years in one answer 128 now?

Maddy Goodall:

No, but it is a really good question because things have changed. That's kind of, in some ways, really remarkable continuity over the last you know, nearly 130 years now and then in some ways that there have been some key changes. Definitely, you know, in the 1890s context, where they were forming ethical societies which were consciously not describing themselves as atheist or even necessarily well, agnostic, more so maybe but they certainly weren't kind of branding themselves as hardline atheists, and I think and again, I've definitely said this elsewhere, but I do feel like that the calling it ethical, calling themselves ethical societies, was a conscious thing. You know, at that point it was still not very societally acceptable to be a non religious person, and so making that focus on ethics and about an ethics that didn't rely on a supernatural idea or a belief in a life after death or anything like that was was significant and I think it's important to how they started out. But it does mean that in some of those early ethical societies it can be a bit unclear. So, for example, you've got these strange well, perhaps strange to us now kind of experiments, like the ethical church in Bayswater which came out of the West London ethical society, where they were experimenting with, you know, ethical religion and ethical services where they were secular in the sense that they were not worshipping any God but they were using language that was, you know, historically very religious and they were singing hymns, but they were secular hymns, and they were, you know, having services, but they were. And that's something that I think most humanists now probably wouldn't be that drawn to.

Maddy Goodall:

But it was all part of that kind of early figuring out, you know what an ethical society should do. And even that stage, you know, early 1900s by no means all other ethical societies thought that was a good idea. There was, there has always been, you know, a diversity of opinion and different ideas about whether we want to sing songs, whether we want to, you know, have lectures or discussions or you know what those things should look like. So that's been a change and there was a, you know, a very conscious kind of reinvigoration of what it meant to be a humanist organization in the kind of middle of the 20th century, so 1950s, 1960s, when the word humanist, to describe themselves, was really taken up and taken on.

Maddy Goodall:

You had things like Hector Horton's humanist revolution and you know just this idea that humanism was this life stance, this worldview, which you know could be a full philosophy, a lived philosophy and a way of understanding things and defining yourself as a person and within groups. So that has you know, that's changed definitely and that I suppose that very conscious identification with the kind of atheist, agnostic, that kind of thing has shifted, yeah, and I think each. So I should mention here actually the book the Humanist Movement that was written by three history professors David Nash, callum Brown and Charlie Lynch which came out, I think, last year, just at the end of last year, and that really tracks this change very consciously over 120 plus years, including the kind of rising and dipping fortunes of the organisation as well in terms of membership and things like that. Again, for all sorts of reasons, sometimes galvanising around particular causes and how that's shifted as well.

James H:

No, I was going to say it is interesting how it comes in. It does tend to go in waves. You do have these waves of interest. There was obviously the big surge around early 2000s with four horsemen books that came out, and then the bus campaign was around that time as well, and it does tend to coincide with more publications, but also, I think, perhaps depending on what the major themes in the news are around the world. So it's interesting how it does have those peaks as well as troughs.

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah, absolutely, and you can kind of, as you say, sometimes map those onto particular things that happen. So the 60s was an incredibly powerful or very active time as an organisation and as humanists because there were all of these causes to be fought for. So abortion law reform, divorce law reform, things like that, and changes that were made, reforms that did happen in law and shifts in society. And I suppose that leads on to that idea about how humanist UK has influenced attitudes and policies over the last 125 plus years, which I would say is in so many ways, in kind of every way in some senses. And again the book the Humanist Movement really lays this out and kind of tracks it particularly in the kind of, I suppose, the liberalising of ideas around things that historically maybe had been seen as something that was taboo or that were just very much in control or overly influenced by religious ideas. So things like sex and sexuality, marriage and divorce, reproductive rights, those things, in many cases the reforms that were being fought for by humanists.

Maddy Goodall:

It has been decades, if not, you know, over a century, of campaigning and those things, you know, really did profoundly shift not just the laws but also public attitudes around it, and sometimes that has been a case of just bringing those things into kind of public discussion.

Maddy Goodall:

So I don't know somebody like Margaret Knight, whose birthday it is today, as we record, in fact, the 23rd of November. She gave this. The series of talks on the radio in 1955, miles Without Religion, caused this massive stir where everyone was horrified at the idea that you might be able to separate education from religion and that maybe we should be rooting our teaching of morals in something that was a bit firmer and that could be agreed on a bit more widely than religious values. But she also got a huge amount of support for it and it kind of propels that discussion into the, you know, the public forum really, and I think that's the case with lots of things and lots of these causes that sometimes it takes you know someone or an organisation who are willing to kind of well, maybe poke the hornet's nest or just, you know, ask those questions and be asking about it.

James H:

It's normalising these ideas, isn't it? So that they become more part of the public debate. And that can take many decades of just you say they may start out as very taboo, but eventually, you know, I think the obvious comparison is with the gay rights movement, you know, and I think, just by more and more people identifying, coming out, talking about, you know, humanising, presenting themselves and being humanised and being open and not forcing the discussion, but inviting people to participate in the discussion, it then becomes, you know, you break down the taboo and then it becomes much easier to convince people.

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah, yeah, exactly, and I think as well.

Maddy Goodall:

I mean, in the example of something like the decriminalisation of homosexuality, you know, the ethical union, as humanist UK was at that stage, gave some of the kind of least equivocal evidence in terms of, you know, suggesting that it should be decriminalised, and I think so you know those things.

Maddy Goodall:

There are these very clear pieces of evidence from an organisational perspective that these changes have been, you know, supported and kind of pushed for, and I kind of I feel like it makes sense really, you know, throughout history, for two reasons One, that if you're, I suppose you've been willing at some stage to kind of take a step back from perhaps traditional ideas about religion, then maybe that does incline you more towards being willing also to question some of those other things that are kind of taken for granted or taken uncritically or as fact by other people.

Maddy Goodall:

When you are fundamentally arguing from a kind of standpoint of, or not necessarily arguing, but coming from a standpoint which is rooted in reason and empathy or compassion, it makes sense to me that some of those things that you know historically and now that you know people might not criticise or not agree with that, actually historically humanists have said well, actually, maybe we should be reconsidering this because of this piece of evidence, or because of what this person is telling us, or this community is telling us, or because it's the kind thing to do. So, yeah, I think.

James H:

Yeah, and you and your colleagues at Humanist UK continue to do that great work. I think thinking in particularly about the campaign around. You know sister dying is very much an evidence-based and empathy-based kind of campaign, but it still remains for some people just an absolute taboo, and I feel we still have many years ahead. Looking ahead, I wonder, from your work, reflecting on the last 100 plus years, what do you see as the biggest of emerging trends or challenges for humanist secularist movements globally, not just in the UK?

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah, I think that's such an interesting question and a harder one.

Maddy Goodall:

I suppose I would say for one thing, and maybe again thinking about it in that historical context is defending some of the rights that we have won, not just as humanists but as human beings. So I'm thinking particularly of things around, for example, reproductive rights. When we've seen in the cases of other countries, and this country too, how those things that seem secure can be stripped away. And I know from speaking to people like Diane Monday, who's been a tireless campaigner for abortion rights for again decades, said that to me when I spoke to her a few years ago that it seemed for many people like once the Abortion Act of 1967 came in, it was a kind of you know, a done deal, a one thing that actually what people don't see is then how fiercely that has had to be defended ever since, and even in the years immediately following, I suppose as well, just the the general human challenges that we're faced with now. I mean things like climate change, for example, and we of course have groups like humanist climate action.

Maddy Goodall:

But is that idea of you know, how do we provide a humanist voice where it's needed? How can we be, you know, confronting these things as individual humanists and as an organization or as individual groups, these things that really do demand, you know, our attention, and also, of course, kind of particularly organizationally, making calls on those things. Where can we really make a difference? So, for example, with humanists UK and humanists international as well, thinking about, you know, the global situation, how can we help humanists at risk internationally, for example, depending, again acknowledging, the very different contexts that humanists around the world face.

James H:

So yeah, I think there's a kind of. Yeah, it's far more interconnected and the issues now are much more global, I guess, than national, and I think that's probably looking ahead to the next 205 years where we'll see the greatest change. And, on a positive note, what are your hopes and visions for the future of the organization, and particularly for the Heritage Project?

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah, so naturally I hope for success in all our campaigns and I of course believe that it's possible. I think you know things like actually getting a ban on so-called conversion therapy, for example, is a big thing that you know we're still campaigning on and that I think you know hopefully we'll see happen. Legal recognition of humanist marriages, as you mentioned earlier. Reform around the laws covering assisted dying again that's something that has been, as you pointed out, something that has been being campaigned on for a long, long time. We wrote an article actually for the Humanist Heritage website not that long ago about the history of humanist advocacy for that and again, that's one of those themes that has it actually been around much longer than people would expect.

Maddy Goodall:

Yes, yeah.

Maddy Goodall:

And again, from that and you used the example, that idea of you know, if you're arguing something from the standpoint of reason, of evidence and of empathy and compassion for other people, then it makes sense that you know humanists throughout history might have reached the same conclusions about the need for reform.

Maddy Goodall:

But actually seeing it, you know, laid out, seeing these different interventions that have been made in the courts and before, in literature, again, in bringing it into public debate, all of those things I think are so, yeah, it's very enlightening to see and although you know, sometimes you think, oh, wow, we've really been campaigning for this for a long time. Maybe it will never happen. Actually, I think again, the history does prove that sometimes these things are a long, long time coming and then it happens very quickly when it does. So you know something like black laws. You know that was something that from the very beginnings of humanist UK and before, blasphemy laws were something that were being campaigned against and now, with the exception of Northern Ireland, we don't have them. So, yeah, that's another thing it would be nice to see the abolition of black laws in Northern Ireland.

James H:

Yeah, it's very true, isn't it, actually, that these campaigns can take decades and decades and then the norms can flip incredibly quickly in society and the laws. Sometimes the law is a little bit ahead or a little bit behind, but it can feel very, very quick in once you kind of get enough of the population to kind of at least hear the arguments and accept that this is not an outrageous or a taboo thing to support.

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and just acknowledge that actually lots and lots of people, and often lots and lots more people that are maybe being acknowledged by the people legislating on these things, acknowledge, are actually in support of those things, as is the case with assisted dying and across people of different faiths and beliefs as well. So, yeah, absolutely, as you say. I think that's why it does feel like there is hope for these things.

James H:

And finally, how are you engaging with the public, and I guess if anybody would like to know more, what's the best way for them to follow your work and get involved?

Maddy Goodall:

Yeah. So, as I say, now we're in this National Lottery Heritage-funded phase of the project, and one of the big things that we're doing and we'll be launching in the new year is this interactive virtual tour of Conway Hall. That's something that we're really excited about. That again builds on the idea of the importance of space and community, and Conway Hall is one of only two surviving buildings in the UK built by and for the non-religious, which is why we focused on it in this case and it contains a huge number of kind of stories and that things to learn that relate to both the history of humanism and also humanism now and today. So that is something to look out for.

Maddy Goodall:

Of course, I would plug the Humanist Heritage website Please do check it out and of course, I would always implore people to get in touch with me if they think there are things missing.

Maddy Goodall:

I'm always, of course, acutely aware of all the things that could be on there, but in terms of just engaging with people and getting people's ideas, there's a huge, huge amount of knowledge within the wider humanist community about everything but heritage, being one particularly kind of in people's local areas and their kind of own stories and histories and things, and I always love to hear that. Looking forward to next year, we're focusing very much on the what will be the 45th anniversary of LGBT humanists, who were founded in 1979 as the gay humanist group, so it's their 45th anniversary next year. We're hoping to do lots around that, including various events. We hope to gather some oral histories as well, to generally produce a lot more kind of research and sharing around that history, which, again, is a really incredible and rich one. So look out for humanist heritage events next year and, of course, speaking of social media, as always.

James H:

Well, speaking of humanist heritage events, we're delighted that Maddie will be our keynote speaker at the Central London Humanist AGM on the 17th of January, so we'll include all the details to that, and we're very much looking forward to finding out more about not just the project but also, specifically, London's humanist heritage, as mentioned, conway Hall and other tributes to humanism in London. Maddie, thank you so much for your time. Just before we go, I'll use your wrap up question what's something that you've changed your mind on recently, either in relation to the humanist heritage project or just generally?

Maddy Goodall:

That's a hard one. I feel like I should be saying something very profound here, but actually the first thing that occurs to me is that I've recently changed my mind on an antique shop that's near me, which I always need to ignore because nothing had prices on and it was small and I was scared it was going to be super expensive. And then the other day I went in and turns out it was great and it was really cheap, the stuff I wanted and the guy's really nice, and so now I've been there about four times since and, who knows? Just goes to show, if you keep an open mind, you might find an antique shop is way better than you thought it was.

James H:

So Can discover something completely new that's been on your doorstep the whole time.

Maddy Goodall:

Exactly I like that attitude.

James H:

Maddie Goodall, thank you so much for joining us on Humanism Now. Thanks very much. Welcome back to Humanism Now, and thank you once again to the brilliant Maddie Goodall for giving us that time for the interview, and I'm pleased to say that Maddie will be joining us for our AGM in mid-January as well, so we'll include a link to that in the show notes. Talking all about London's humanist heritage, katia, I know we'll be hearing more from Maddie soon, but what did you take away from the interview there?

Katia U:

Yeah, so I found her interview really really worth listening to and I'm going to go back and listen to it, actually, a second time. The humanist heritage page that has been created is fascinating. I only recently discovered it. I found it really easy to navigate. Quite, how can you say it's not? It's completely free. Which topic you want to go into. Do you want to look at people? There's 100 items of the history of humanism. I thought it's really really well done, so congratulations to those who have ever been in charge of that. The content is great and the organization of the page is really, really well done. So I absolutely loved it.

Katia U:

Yeah, I think the only thing, if humanist heritage is a topic, we need to expand it. Yes, before we go any further, just in the same idea that she already has or not only Maddie, I suppose there's other, the whole team we need to keep expanding it. It was a bit heavy on the UK references that might be because of my background, but also just really broad. So there's some ancient philosophers in there. I would put a few more ancient philosophers in there. I would put some philosophers who don't, who are normally classed as deist and I'm saying that they're not deists. So, for instance, rené Descartes.

Katia U:

René Descartes has had books written about everything that he did wrong and there was like a whole hate campaign going about. Oh, he was a dualist and he was a deist, and when everyone was turning very, very anti-religion, and at the time I actually went and I read, I read a bit about him in a bit of his biography, and I think we could celebrate people like that by actually saying this man was a champion of human knowledge. He thought before it was a thing that humans could know. Yes, of course he went on and on and on about all of the limits to human knowledge, but before that you only knew what had been given by divine inspiration. So it's a huge revolution, a method for knowing things I think it could be, and a section on other movements. So, for instance, I quite like the French Revolution. It's another one that gets a lot of bad press. Let's look at it from the perspective of what good did it do for rationalism and therefore for free thought and therefore for secularism and humanism? But, yeah, an absolutely great project.

James H:

Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, the breadth and depth of the information is incredible, but what you've managed to on Earth there. I do think it's right to say that the scope is very much focused on the UK, but absolutely, I think there is plenty of potential to expand this globally and really draw out much of this untold history and, I agree, link it not necessarily to those who would have identified as humanists I mean, the term is relatively new when we're talking about these historical figures but what are the ideas that they proposed? And absolutely not saying that they are perfect individuals or without faults. I think that's again something that is very much part of humanism that we don't take everything that someone says uncritically. It's more about taking the good ideas and ditching the bad. But, yeah, absolutely, who are the many thousands of contributors that got us to this point and how about for you, Mark? What stood out for you, and are there any figures that you would like to see celebrated more from our humanist heritage?

Mark A:

Yes, so I think I agree really what Katja says. That it's, I mean, the interview really talks about this project and it is a splendid thing. And I think also I really like the way in which it's been, exactly as Katja says, the way it's been done, with sort of different themes and ways of engaging with it, and it's very accessible. There's sort of bite-size pieces of information, but then there's a lot more explication for those people who want to dig in more. So it's a multi-level which is really great. And I feel as if I'm listening to what Maddie said about her background. It's interesting. She obviously has brought those skills and experiences she developed working in sort of museums and around communication, public engagement in that setting, to this. So it feels like a very modern sort of current way of communicating and engaging and yeah, so I really like that. And I think also I agree what Katja says.

Mark A:

I think that the secularism aspect is something which can be explored because I agree that it is not really a hard cut off between sort of atheists and humanists and people who have a whole spectrum. There are lots of people who would call themselves formerly religious but who actually in many ways are humanists in practice or have a lot of humanist values and principles, and so, yes, exploring that gradation between the atheists, the humanists and the more sort of maybe sort of more secular but formerly religious people, yeah, I really liked. I liked the section about the individuals and giving the opportunity to actually really explore characters that otherwise you wouldn't be able to. You don't necessarily get that opportunity in books because a book won't focus on. So she references this book, the Humanist Movement in Modern Britain. Oops, got that there and it's great, but it doesn't give you like individual biographies of people, because that's something done much better through a website.

Mark A:

And so, for example, I was just reading the other day about this person, Dora Russell Ney Black, who was married to Alfred Law Russell, and she was a really fascinating figure in her own right and I hadn't really appreciated and it was a little insight into the way in which humanism sort of developed and she comes from quite a sort of elite background in a way, sort of went to private education, went to Gertin College, Cambridge, but really then dedicated herself to a whole plethora of sort of great causes and humanist causes, having lost her religion and married Russell, and it was quite inspiring to see just how much work some people put in and all the sort of things she did around sort of sexual health, sexual freedom, reproductive rights and even creating a school and then campaigning for sort of for peace, and so, yeah, I think if it wasn't for this sort of website, I probably wouldn't.

Mark A:

You know, this is a great opportunity to be able to engage with the lives of people who are not, you know, not the sort of handful of the really, really big figures. So I really liked that about it. And in terms of a hero of my own I don't know if he's featured actually, but Peter Tatchell has always been a hero of mine and I know he's a very active humanist as well as a general campaigner for civil rights and gay rights.

James H:

Absolutely. Yeah, it's a fantastic undertaking and still lots more to uncover. So very much looking forward to hearing from Maddie again very soon, Just before we go. It'd be great to hear about what you're currently working on or any events that are upcoming. Mark, with the discussion group, how can our listeners get more involved in? What sorts of topics are you looking into for a new year?

Mark A:

Yeah, so we have a WhatsApp group attached to our group, so we're very open to people making suggestions or you know you can email us through the usual methods. I'm sure there'll be. The email address can be appended. So yeah, we're always looking for new suggestions. We've got a couple of topics we're considering.

Mark A:

One is around about sort of the slow progress in terms of getting women into STEM subjects. So that's what science, technology, engineering and I forgot what the M is, but those types of subjects and careers. And also we've had a suggestion that we could have a look at the sort of the right-wing populist pushback against the sort of progressive values we've been discussing, which humanism has always been associated with, so particularly in America, with sort of Roe versus Wade being sort of overturned and that sort of whole sense that you know, the project has been maybe a little bit derailed and pushed back, but the humanist project and the sort of democratic project in general. So yeah, there's a couple of things I mean lots of other ideas bubbling under as well, and I say always open to new suggestions.

James H:

Absolutely. Please do send those in. And just to clarify you're saying that humanism was involved in the pushback to right-wing populism, not that we've been involved in.

Mark A:

And no, no, I should clarify. What I mean is that there's been a pushback by right-wing populists against progressive values and so, you know, people thought the Roe versus Wade, that was it, it was done and dusted, and in fact I'm a bit surprised to find that actually there's been a sort of a revival of more sort of conservative values which has actually been able to push that back, but hopefully only temporarily.

James H:

Absolutely yeah, and it's good to see so many members actively involved in lots of those campaigns. And, katia, I know you mentioned next month's book for the book group. What else are we going to be reading going forward, and is there any other events you'd like to mention?

Katia U:

Well, I wanted to mention the date, for that is the 29th of sorry Thursday, the 25th of January, not 29th the 25th, so you have plenty of time to get a hold of the book the Social Instinct by Nicola Rahim Rahani. I'm probably not pronouncing her name correctly and we don't have any other book announced as yet, and it's really Rebecca who's now choosing books. I got to choose a couple of this year, but we do take suggestions. It's better if you've actually read the book before you recommend it, Otherwise it can turn to tragedy.

James H:

Yeah, and it's broadly a nonfiction book group still isn't it? It's more about the sort of big ideas and very current topics.

Katia U:

It's very much a factual book group but we do read novels. So you know Life and Fate Vasilij Grossman's Life and Fate that we've just read. That's a novel, but it's a very factual novel because he was there and he was actually working for the Russian, you know, for the Russian government as a journalist at the time. So he got to go to the front line and write about what he saw and he was very, very popular.

Katia U:

Just one more plug on that book when he tried to publish this book, what happened was, as he puts it, the book got arrested. Of course he wrote this book and in it put everything that happened and his opinion of how, you know, totalitarian the communist regime became and all of the parallels with fascism. So the book obviously was not published and we can only read it today because it had to be smuggled out of Russia. So this is an exciting biography of a book that someone had to risk their life two people risk their lives to get this book out of Russia so that we could read it. That's the kind of book we read, so it's quite factual, it's novel, but we also read science, history, memoirs, yeah.

James H:

Brilliant, yeah, and once again shows the importance of freedom of speech and freedom to write. Even though it's factual, it's a novel. To have a book arrested like that it's still shocking in the modern age. But, thank you, and yes, I've been to a couple. It does definitely help if you've read the book, but I am assured if, like me, you prefer the audio book, that is allowable by the organizers, and most of the books that we choose are usually available at audiobook as well. So very much looking forward to joining the next one of those. So with that, thank you, mark, for your time, thanks, james and Katya. Thank you very much for joining us and we hope to see you again soon.

Katia U:

Thank you for having me.

James H:

And thank you to our brilliant producer, rob, and for you listener, for joining us on Humanism Now. Thank you.