For some months now, and as part of my Plans for 2009, I have been considering training as a Celebrant.
I’m sure most of you will know this already, but a Celebrant is someone who officiates at non-religious weddings, funerals, namings and other civil ceremonies.
Why have I been considering this? Well many reasons: Firstly I have a background in communications and events which is currently going to waste, secondly I need a second income that can fit around my current work and thirdly because I think that I will a) be good at it and b) enjoy it.
Mostly though I feel that it’s important that people like myself, who have no particular religious or political beliefs, are able to have a ceremony that represents something about their personality without having to have the usual half-hour of speeches, readings from 1920s etiquette books, performances of the Macarena dance or sudden burstings into song about what a nice bloke Jesus is. So if they want a Hawaiian style funeral, a Tony Blair impersonator to officiate at their wedding or want to name their child 4Real then they can hire someone who is willing and able to make their day complete.
Having looked around at the organisations out there I have found two: the British Humanist Society and the Association Of Independent Celebrants.
Whilst the BHS (not to be confused with the chain store) is clearly the bigger and more organised group I have decided, for a number of reasons, not to join them.
True: their training is much more in depth – they offer ongoing support whilst you get up to speed, insist on an interview prior to signing up to a course and even send a trained celebrant to your first few bookings, but there are several drawbacks.
Firstly they want you to join the BHS and to take a 10% cut of your takings. Secondly their courses are more expensive.
Primarily though my caution over joining is that I am always reluctant to join any organisation that has any political agenda. I tried explaining my concerns to one of their staff – but couldn’t quite get them to understand.
One of their current agendas is to campaign for a change to the entrance requirements for religious schools. This is not a subject that I have ever thought about in any depth previously, nor that I can admit to having any strong beliefs either way about.
But by becoming a member I would be saying to the world that I also support these causes.
For the same reason I would be unable to get married in church with a vicar – for me it would be a lie, done for the sake of ceremony and tradition.
For the same reason I have never joined Amnesty International or Save The Whale: because whilst in general I agree that people should live free from repression and that sea bound mammals should be protected from hunting and extinction I cannot, in actuality, support the violent or high-profile means used by members of either organisation to effect these ends. By signing up and giving my hard earned money to someone like Animal Rights, whose members feel free to terrorise the families of people who work in the animal industry, I would be saying that I feel those means are justified – something that would not be true.
And ok – yes I did vote in the last election. I voted for a bunch of people that I have no particular faith in and whose policies I mostly don’t know or believe will make the blindest bit of difference: and I am not pleased with myself for doing so. My justification in this instance is that my vote, wasted or otherwise, is a vote that helps to stop the British National Party gaining ground and is a vote that is spent on the party that I feel most likely to be honest about telling me what they’re going to do whether I will like it or not. My only excuse is that if I don’t vote for someone then I really don’t have the right to complain about the shower of bastards that get into power.
BTW – whilst on the subject of following organisations or otherwise I would like to apologise to everyone who reads this blog that I have never elected to “follow” any of your blogs. This has nothing to do with any political or personal agenda – whilst I enjoy reading all of your thoughts and contributions I know myself well enough to know that I would get seriously annoyed with the constant emails reminding me that you have updated.
I’d rather take the time to take the pleasure in reading you and responding when my brain is at its most responsive
Any thoughts, organised or otherwise, would be appreciated as usual xxx