The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #114
September 30, 2012

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- OCTOBER 2012 


Open Up!

If your naturalistic outlook is a goodly piece of who you are, then might you perhaps be a bit more open with a few more people at a few more “appropriate” times and circumstances?

Consider: Awareness that you are living your life as a bright needn’t be scary for those folks who already know and appreciate you in everyday ways – family, friends, classmates, associates, teammates, collaborators, co-workers.

Of course you needn’t be shouting your worldview from the rooftops. Social change can happen, bit by bit. As increasing numbers of brights (citizens who have a naturalistic worldview) show themselves more fully to people who are fond of them already.

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Booo-ookmarks! (USA)

Offering a bookmark to someone who likes to read is one potential action to ease into a useful discussion. Here’s an October opportunity for you to consider if you wish to try some constructive discourse.

Brights Central has received a new supply of bookmarks. These are nifty items to have handy whenever you want to step forward with openness (and with a smile, of course) and seek fuller civic acceptance and participation in a constructive way.

To acquire some of these FREE, simply mail a self-addressed envelope to Brights Central (P O Box 163418, Sacramento CA 95816) and we will send you, in return, a Brights brochure and a handful of bookmarks. These are FREE, but please do pay the postage. Use a standard business (#10) envelope and stamp it with either 65ў or 85ў, depending on how many bookmarks you want.  (Free offer ends on Halloween.)

Hey, Americans: We’d like to enable interested non-USA Brights to obtain bookmarks. If you’d like the same thing, then we’d welcome your enclosing a couple of dollars with your own SASE.  That way, in November, BC can invite emailed requests for bookmarks, and respond positively (accumulated funds will cover the extra postage required to mail items internationally).

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Whoops! - Did You Notice?

The September Equinox whizzed by quickly. Thanks go to the Brights who have already sent in a contribution by one of the several available channels provided (easy online, checks, etc.). We definitely appreciate those of you who are willing to join forces with us to uphold the network for the benefit of all participants in the Brights movement.

Perhaps you didn’t you notice the timing (of the twice-a-year fund drive)? If you haven’t yet sent an equinox contribution, it will be most welcome. The current economy and, in some places political season, makes for a challenging situation for many individuals, and that definitely affects nonprofits. [The Brights’ Net is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 56-2385064.] Consequently, we do hope you will pitch in and give what you can to support the hub of communications and action for Brights across the globe.

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Q: Are Governments Curbing Religion?

A recent Pew Forum Report on Religion and Public Life reports governmental restrictions on the rise across the world, as well as increased government interference with worship or other religious practices.

The report attributes the rising tide of new limitations and laws (e.g., banning of minarets in Switzerland), governmental harassment, and intimidation and abuse). The report attributes the increases in the latest year studied to a variety of factors, including an upsurge in crimes, malicious acts and violence motivated by religious hatred or bias.

Pim (a Bright in the Netherlands) first pointed BC to the Pew Research Center’s report. When doing so, he wondered if there is such information available regarding atheists/humanists/naturalists around the globe. (Email the-brights@the-brights.net if you are aware of a similarly substantial report.)

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International Brights’ Forum Report

Long-time Forum contributor "Albatross," a Swedish poet and musician, shared with the Forum community the first-cut studio versions of some Brights-inspired music and lyrics of his own composition.  Perhaps some of the other artists among the constituency are similarly inspired to use their talents to showcase the Brights' unique message?  Visit the Topic to listen in or share your own efforts.

Politics have been the source of some energetic discussion regarding the US Presidential election, which comes to a head on Election Day, November 6, 2012.  There has been relatively little emphasis on what the outcome means for Brights specifically, but the discussion Topic definitely shows that the discussants (mainly brights) are conscientious and careful in their approach to their civic responsibilities.  If your interests tend toward US politics at all, you're sure to find interesting insights in this Topic.

Registration in the Forums is simple and quick!  We hope to see you there.

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What?—Youngsters Prioritizing Ethics over Faith? (UK)

Which of these eight options do you deem the most important moral issue?

Paying your taxes?  Having religious faith or beliefs?  Caring for the environment? Buying ethical products? Being faithful to your partner?  Looking after your family? Playing a part in your community?  Putting others before yourself?

Next in importance? … Next?

A recent poll commissioned by BBC Religion and Ethics asked 585 16-24 year-olds to rank these same eight options, and results suggest that the young people think that putting others before yourself is more important than having religious faith or beliefs

Fifty-nine per cent of the 16-24 year olds said that looking after family was the most important moral issue for them. Only four per cent ranked having faith/beliefs as most important moral issue (the same percentage as paying taxes).

See details of the poll in the BBC press release.

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Pertinent Present-day Picture (UK)

The results of the foremost social research survey in Britain were published in September. (This British Social Attitudes Survey was conducted in 2011 with over three thousand adult Britons.)

British Religion in Numbers (an online religious data resource) highlights some points found in the most recent BSA report.

Example:  The number professing “no religion” varied substantially by age, peaking among the 18-24s (65%) and falling steadily to 18% among the over-75s.

Besides its discussion, the BRIN offers you access to the original book-length full survey report (a free PDF download), the BSA annotated questionnaire, and the dataset.

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Favorites from the In-Box

From Ed (a Bright in Mexico): “Sometimes I think it is almost a shame that no supernatural things exist. Fairies and Unicorns seem mysteriously lovable but alas, imaginary. But, we have hummingbirds and seahorses, which are at least as charming and wonderful and natural.”

[We humans are] “…surrounded by millions of other species, eating, growing, rotting, swimming, walking, flying, burrowing, stalking, chasing, fleeing, outpacing, outwitting.” (Richard Dawkins).

“There is grandeur in this view of life.” (Charles Darwin)

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BC Now Euphony-Enlightened

This month brought a gentle “complaint” that gave us good reason to inspect a webpage we hadn’t ourselves visited in ages. The topic? —Brights imagery (icon, motif, etc.). The page begins thus:

“In Chaucer’s day, the term was bryght (shining, clear, vivid). The imagery on this website evokes light – radiant light – something more intense than Carl Sagan’s candle in the dark.”

Well, that’s still true!  But, this email from JoLynn led us to reconsider something that has probably been “wrong” for a long time:

“The metaphor expressed on the symbolism page should not be enbrightenment but embrightenment, in keeping with the rules of euphony for the English language. Think of bold and embolden, balm and embalm, blaze and emblazon, and so on. Enbrightenment is OK, but embrightenment is more proper, and easier to say.”

We had no idea (having voiced “enbrightenment” tons of times). We’re taking her word for it. And, while making the switch on the website, we have also revamped the discussion. There’s a slightly changed “embrightenment” segment there now.

Photo by Michael Pettigrew (from Dreamstime.com)

Note: We always welcome (and gladly consider) suggestions from Brights to correct or improve the website. While we can’t always make the change you suggest, we do promise to seriously consider it. Thanks in advance for your keen eyes.

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Keep ‘Em Coming

News:  If you run across pertinent news and survey research of relevance to the civic vision of the Brights movement, feel free to email links to Brights Central. Send such content to the-brights@the-brights.net and put “MAYB2SHARE?” in upper case letters in your subject line.

Blogging/Graphics: Thanks to the Brights who have expressed interest in blogging or producing a logo for an upcoming BrightenUp! [placeholder name] blog site. We’re just now reading the materials and starting the followup with all of you. (Please be patient!) 

Second Chances:  This delay permits a second mention, just in case you missed the topic in September’s bulletin. 

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“A Little Brightness” Birthday

Prisoners generally live amidst difficult circumstances entirely devoid of naturalistic perspectives. In some places, the loners who hold either/both supernatural-free or nonreligious outlooks encounter extreme levels of coercion toward conformity. It has been five years (Wow!) since Brights Central began sending “A Little Brightness” their way. This means five whole years of stunning voluntary service from Joel, who edits the ALB newsletter and handles prisoner correspondence

Realizing how much time has gone by since Issue #1, at Joel’s suggestion we decided to delight the prison subscribers by making September’s issue of the prisoner newsletter into a “Special Anniversary Issue” (double the customary length that squeaks by for 45 cents postage) and enclosed a brochure and bookmarks as well.

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BC Highlights 5 Brights

New Enthusiastic Bright

The website features a variety of individuals who freely support the Brights initiative and have indicated in writing that we can make their backing visible internationally.

We’re pleased now to introduce a new booster, our first from Down Under!  Brights who live in the New South Wales area of Australia just might have seen Stephen Juan on a morning TV show or heard him on radio, expounding on “what makes us humans tick” (and why).

Stephen Juan is an anthropologist, educator, and author. Born in California's Napa Valley, he holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.  He taught for more than 30 years at the University of Sydney where, post retirement in 2009, he remains the Ashley Montagu Fellow.

An international award-winning science newspaper columnist, frequent TV and radio commentator, and public speaker, Dr. Juan is the author of 13 books on the body, brain, and behavior.  His first book, The Odd Body (1995) has been translated into 27 languages.  His latest book, Who's Afraid of Butterflies?  Our Fears and Phobias Named and Explained was published in 2011. 

Known for his authoritative, yet lively, witty, and humorist presentations, he is also a classic and silent film authority and romantic song lyricist.

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Familiar Bright - A New Sight

A notable Bright recently acquired a fresh face (sort of). Check out the new caricature of Enthusiastic Bright, Daniel C. Dennett. It’s presumably headed for the cover of Skeptic Magazine.

Oh yes, don’t forget:  If you’d like to acquire any of the recommended books by Professor Dennett or, actually, by anyone(!) you can use a website link and help the Brights earn a small commission (at no cost to you).

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Freshly Enthusiastic

For the 2012 summer interns, spending a few hours a week at Brights Central was something different. All three were brand new to this domain of activism. (None had been involved behind-the-scenes in a nonprofit endeavor, and none had been previously aware of the March 2012 Reason Rally event in Washington DC, billed as “the largest gathering of the secular movement in world history” or the self-named “community of reason” world.

At the conclusion of the summer, here’s what they said when asked to reflect just a bit on the summer’s educational experience and report candidly what they thought. As you will read, they all seemingly enjoyed the venture.

Certainly, the “old-timers” at Brights Central benefited from their involvement.

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The Brights' Bulletin



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