The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #107
March 31, 2012

(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- APRIL 2012 


Wrapping Up the Reason Rally

The event recently reckoned the “largest ever secular gathering” is now history. Estimates of attendance at the jamboree on the mall in Washington, DC vary (highs are around 20,000 with lows slightly less than half that). Hearing nothing official from the National Park Service, we can just say that clearly several thousands of secular Americans came to and went from the capital city. They, and a smattering of Canadians, too, enjoyed the varied informative and entertaining presentations and made the most of the cloudy and rainy day.

Importantly, the day before the Rally, hundreds converged on Capitol Hill to lobby congressional staff on issues related to separation of religion and government.

Reason Rally view from the stage

This view from the stage shows the sponsor exhibition tents in the far background beyond the crowd.

Rally Recaps

By Web searching, you may readily stray into eccentricity. For a fairly concentrated whirlwind tour, Brights Central favors the blog of Hemant Mehta (“The Friendly Atheist”). Hemant has long been an Enthusiastic Bright, but it’s not that. His blog’s visuals and videos and links to other reports provide an overall sweep through the scene and include several key presentations. Besides showing the reader/viewer around, he sets the pictorial scene prior to the Rally.

You might want to check it out, although if you missed the event or were lost in the crowd far away, you might prefer to await better sound recordings for the speeches. The Rally board has arranged for a professionally produced DVD (coming out olater) that can still be advance-purchased via the Rally store.

Light-hearted, Yes! -- But Serious, Too

On his blog about the Rally, Mehta alludes to the Brights’ tagline about “illuminating the naturalistic worldview” as follows:

“Amusing:  In the giftbag for the speakers, The Brights gave out a mini-flashlight. Hehe”

Yes – it was quite fun to convey a miniature flashlight to all of the notables wowing the crowd from the stage. But the box enclosing that tiny instrument of illumination also enfolded a diminutive printed flyer. The flyer led off with this illustration:

Person holding flashlight with text

Its earnest message, briefly condensed is this: A citizen’s “nonbeliever” status is a consequence of being viewed through the lens of religion, looking at a single conclusion about deity. We must be seen as more than that if we hope to come across as the moral and civic equals of other citizens.

Brights’ Booth / Bright Pride!

We laud the efforts of the Brights’ volunteer Reason Rally Planning task team. All the hardworking members worked above and beyond their regular employment to pull it off. Despite the challenges of different time zones, they effectively selected an event theme and shaped a strategy for the Brights’ Rally presence. They also produced a bunch of new materials.

To have a look, you can follow this thematic link to a page on the website and see the faces of the volunteers and view the results of their efforts.

Example of Brights bookmark

Recovering from the Rally

The March 24 festive event was a unique effort of broad cooperation among “nontheistic” organizations headquartered in the United States. Twenty different corporate groups formed a new nonprofit organization in order to collaborate and mount the event. Such first-ever preparations drained immense energies from almost each and every group. Most everyone involved is pretty exhausted.

The Brights’ Network, as one of the 20 sponsors, has no deep layers of staff to assign work on preparations of that degree (we keep a small hub and rely on volunteers), and so Brights Central devoted a considerable fraction of available staff time to the event. We apologize for the diversion of energies that clearly diminished quotidian activities at BC. We will now need to ramp up efforts and try hard to catch up!

As Brights Central has devoted much of recent Bulletins to this event, we want to quickly get back to ongoing activities of a more diverse nature. Lessons learned from the Rally will generally follow on the website later, separate from monthly Bulletins.

Appreciation, Supporters!

Many thanks to all who have already participated in the March Equinox fund drive by making pledges or donations. We are grateful the Brights who have responded with support to the twice-a-year direct request.

We at Brights Central especially enjoy the semi-annual comments that frequently come along with donations, especially those accompanied with such directives as “Brighten Away!”

Although we are well on our way to the goal for this last fund appeal, we haven’t reached it yet. If you have intended to donate but haven’t yet carried through, now would be a good time!  We’d like to get the rest of the way! Equinox funding determines what projects (beyond support of the Brights Central hub) can be pursued. Clicking “delete” on the request just doesn’t move us forward. Clicking this link does.

Don’t Knock the Small Stuff! – We Don’t!

Whether or not you can spare funds for the semi-annual Equinox requests, there are several everyday ways to be helpful to The Brights’ initiative.

1) You can pledge a small monthly continuing donation via PayPal
2) You can simply remember to use the website links for any online shopping that you do.

  • Is the i-Give link on your browser? If you install it, it will automatically send a small amount to The Brights’ Net each time you buy something from ANY of more than 900 different businesses. It’s automatic!  You won’t notice, but Brights Central will! (The actual percentage of your price that comes our way varies from 0.5% to 3.5%)
  • Of even greater impact is online shopping via Amazon. With Amazon.com, The Brights’ Net qualifies for 7% (yes - 7%!) of your purchase price. (The .uk, .de, .fr amounts are smaller, but have a chance to grow with use.)

Choose at least some way to ensure that The Brights’ Net is more than “just a website”. Thousands of Brights participating in small ways – that’s grassroots support for a unique type of Internet endeavor. Internationally, the Brights’ initiative is helping more persons come forward to express their naturalistic worldviews in the social realm and body politic.

International Brights’ Forum Report

Several frequent Forum participants focused this month on attending the Reason Rally in Washington, DC. Indeed, several have reported back regarding their participation in that historic event in a Topic devoted to the subject.   If you were unable to attend the Rally and have questions about what it was like to be there — or if you did attend and have interesting things to report —  that Topic would be a good place to check in.  First-hand accounts of the action, and even some photographs, are available.

But this hardly diminished the breadth of discussions taking place in the Forums. The Forum community frequently celebrates a broadly shared interest in the natural world and humankind's exploration of it, as in a discussion concerning James Cameron's famous dive to the deepest point in Earth's oceans. The Forum community frequently aggregates reporting, opinions, and shared enthusiasm for such world-changing events, and also shares among itself uplifting personal experiences, as in a Topic revolving around "beautiful music".

What's your idea of beautiful music?  Do you have news about important developments in civics?  Or do you simply crave connection with a community of fellow naturalists?  The Forums community is diverse and welcomes all comers, and registration is quick and easy.  See you there!


NEW BOOKS BY BRIGHTS

Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will

book cover

By Gregg Caruso

The author argues that the subjective feeling of freedom is an illusion created by certain aspects of consciousness and gives a novel account of how the illusion is created; a naturalist approach that argues against both compatibilist and libertarian accounts of free will).

[hard copy]

Chucks, a novel for middle readers

book cover

By Renee Reznicsek

This story about the boy and the accident in science class with the super-secret solution is best suited for the 8-12 year old reader.

[paperback, Kindle]

Mind over Myth

By Peter Bromley

The author presents how dogma is employed to give power to some and produce insiders and outsiders. Views regarding dogma encompass “dogmatic scientists” and other idiosyncratic examples.

[Kindle; authorsonline.net]

We Hold These Truths: Deconstructing What we believe to be Reality

book cover

By Chris Volkay

Author thinks deconstructing what we've invented to be our reality is a journey well worth taking.

[Kindle]

The 98 Things Socrates Would Know If He Were Alive Today

book cover

By Chris Volkay

The author asserts not only what Socrates would know, but also how his wisdom might save us from our contemporary follies.

[Kindle]


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