The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #116

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BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JANUARY 2013 


Little girl throwing sand in the air with text: Spread a little happiness today.

"My creed is that: happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so."

-- Robert Green Ingersoll 

Insights from Brights

The BloggingBrights.net site is now live. We hope you saw the announcement of the event sent out in December. If not, please visit to check out the bloggers and what they have said so far. Let them know what you think.

They’d surely appreciate your letting others know about their blogs through social media. Or share any posts of value to you.

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Agree or Disagree?

Just because bloggers are writing as Brights, you needn’t anticipate you’ll necessarily or consistently agree with their views. No individual contributor is speaking for you, or for any other Brights. Brights are individuals. Our outlook on the world may be supernatural free, but that leaves lots of room for diversity. That we speak only for ourselves is one of the communication essentials of the Brights movement.

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Topics from the Blog

Among other things, “A Rational Woman” has proposed some ways to be a rational woman (or man), stated her opinion on citizens having guns, and offered a menu of “Bright Ways” for thinking about death.

Umwelt Utahpia”spoke to the limitations of human sense and experience, focused in a timely way on the value of holiday traditions, and revealed how changes in cultural context can turn a longstanding family secret into something comparatively ordinary.

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December “Holiday” Preference

One topic in last month’s Bulletin touched on seasonal celebrations by Brights. A teacher had invited a parent of a young child to come present to the class, asking: What holiday would you like to share?

Thanks to those of you who took time to send in what “holiday” you would suggest to the parent (to align well with a naturalistic worldview). The most offered answer? “Winter Solstice” (That response indicates a northern hemisphere representation.)

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Favorite Family Traditions

The December bulletin also invited Brights to send a meaningful tradition/ritual/custom deemed well suited to the naturalistic worldview to install on the site later on as a Toolbox item. Responses varied greatly (ranging from adaptations of standard cultural traditions to invented rituals).

Yanka’s email described several ways the family spends the winter solstice holiday. The brief outdoor activities excerpted here seemed to suit the criterion of carrying significance, as well as likely challenges in winter in a state like Vermont (USA):

In our family the afternoon of the 21st of December we start lighting tea candles and place them in glass lanterns and hang them from trees in the garden and around the house. Now that there are flameless and battery operated 'candles' it makes decorating the house and garden much easier…  When we were kids we were told that this particular day birds would be looking for food in the pitch dark, since it was the shortest and darkest day, therefore we would place bread crumbs for them under the illuminated trees and around the house.

Bluebird perched on snow with one wing raised

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International Brights’ Forum Report

A busy month in the Forums touched on too many subjects to mention, but several Topics attracted voluminous commentary or jibed especially well with the mission of the Brights.

Leading off with a one-hour speech by Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist and recognized secularist, is "The Odd Couple: Why Science and Religion Shouldn't Cohabit," reflecting a common refrain in the atheist websphere.  There certainly is a lot of passion on all sides of this issue!  Perhaps you have a thought on progress in this area? If so, it would be welcome in the Topic.

No doubt of interest to many brights worldwide is the International Humanist and Ethical Union's first report showcasing the distribution of legally-codified discrimination against and disadvantages to atheists around the world, which is introduced in this Topic.  Perhaps you live in one of the places mentioned in the report and would question or confirm its indications?  Drop on by and let us know! 

Registration into the forums takes just moments.

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International Update on Beliefs

If you are interested in taking a global look at religion and nonreligion around the world, you can spend a lot of time with the analysis of the Pew Forums, posted December 18.

The footnotes of this report point to certain other studies on which the Pew Forum analysis (France/China/USA) is based and note varied parameters used for what was viewed as the “God existence question.” France: inclusive of “a higher power of some kind; China: “belief in God, gods, spirits, ghosts or Buddha”; USA: “belief in God or a universal spirit”.

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Future Looking Bright!

The “future” statement applies to the Earth and Life: changes over time poster project. Youngsters are the future, and those who acquire a sound and solid naturalistic understanding of their earthly surroundings will put them (and future life on earth) in better stead. Therefore, we definitely want to thank all who responded at the end of the year by earmarking some monetary support to this “teaching youth about evolution” endeavor.

At Brights Central, we consider the poster project to have been so successful in 2012 that it only makes sense for Brights to continue it in 2013, if we can garner sufficient backing to accomplish another printing of the 5-foot wide color poster.  It has won the Brights such gratitude from high school science teachers.  You are invited to earmark donations for that purpose.

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“Brighteners”

From Brights Central, a word of appreciation to…
1) …you, if you remember[ed] to bookmark and go to the Brights’ site home page when shopping online at the stores (now over 1100) that earn a commission to the Brights movement. Even more gratitude if you have told some friends about it as well. After all, anyone who indicates they favor civic parity for citizens who have a naturalistic worldview may want to channel their support this way.
2) … Coordinators of an activity within the constituency that lines up well with the broad aims of the Brights initiative. Let BC know what you are doing.
3) The $5 per month ongoing [via PayPal] donors who are of enormous help to resource planning. There are many other options for direct donations.

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Book by a Bright

Book cover with Penn Jillette

The against-the-grain writing in this set of essays, Every Day is an Atheist Holiday, may or may not appeal to you. But if you have a taste for blasphemy (and ability to swallow some profanity as well), you will likely find this Bright’s unfiltered approach to his topics to your liking. Penn’s “magic” here is not on stage or TV. Rather, it’s in this talented trickster’s use of words in dealing with a familiar topic, atheism.

Believe it or not, Penn has a softer side. As he looks once again at his beliefs (but from a different angle than in his 2011 God No!) the author raises the curtain on a bit and you can some of the tenderness that’s usually hidden away. As the book plainly shows, Penn has great love of family, and of life. Then, too, there’s his cryptic support of the Brights movement. (He was a very early supporter of the Brights initiative.)

At BloggingBrights.net, there’s commentary by A Rational Woman who posted after reading the book.

Note: Be sure to use the Brights’ website link if you decide to order the book from Amazon.

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ESSAY

Considering the Confines of Atheism

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