The Brights' Bulletin
December 22, 2004
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
ONE DAY LATE
The server had a computer glitch and yesterday only the first 300 brights received this Bulletin. Some items are off by one day.
YES! A FREE ROUND TRIP FOR BRIGHTS!
We'd like to bring your attention to what is surely a marvelous travel bargain. What better time than the solstice to recognize the distance we've all covered since Bulletin 8 was issued about this time last year. Just think. That trip around the sun was absolutely free! And now we're off again! Happy Solstice.
RHETORICAL TOOL BOX
Here we restate (from the home page of The Brights' Net.): "The naturalistic worldview is insufficiently expressed within most cultures."
Can we not fortify at least one form of expression — informal conversation? All too often, Brights are "tongue-tied" and simply stay silent when they cannot think of what is appropriate to say. Some hold back what they are thinking, as wisely they should, when brutal honesty would bring rapid end to the exchange, and perhaps suppress any further communications. What to do?
We begin here a small brainstorming project. In our "verbal toolbox" (empty right now), we will be accumulating some "sayings" Brights might use to get along socially while being honest about their worldview. We will provide a topic and ask that you send in your suggestion (if you can come up with one, that is). The best short(!) secular contributions received will then be posted to the website for anyone's use as needed or desired.
We want all utterances posted to be suitable for children as well as adults to hear and use. Any will reflect a supernatural-free worldview in a way that is civil and consistent with the Brights' Principle stating that this movement will be constructive (not anti-religious).
Let's start with the varied situations in which someone might say directly to you: "GOD BLESS YOU!" (You sneeze, and your companion says GBY. Or, you give a donation, and you hear GBY.) Is there a suitable comment? How might a Bright follow with a polite and appropriate reply, one that presupposes a kindly intent on the part of the citizen who spoke it?
Send your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to put "GBY REPLY" in the subject line for easy sorting.
NEW BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSITUTENCIES (BLCs)
USA: Colorado (Denver Metro) / Bud: email@example.com
USA: California (San Diego North County Brights) / Dwain: firstname.lastname@example.org
All BLCs: http:www.the-brights.net/blc_list.htm
BRIGHTS SPEAKING OUT PUBLICLY AS BRIGHTS
The Brights' Net has issued a major policy statement. It covers speaking as Brights in position statements, publications, manifestos (such as might be presented on a different website), and assertions of Brights speaking as Brights (such as in letters to the editors).
The statement is rather long, but not complex. The policy makes explicit the concept that The Brights' Net is a constituency of individuals. Furthermore, no Bright or cluster of Brights (including the Co-Directors) can presume to represent all Brights (that is the very nature of a constituency).
This is an important statement. It is well worth a look, as it clearly states how The Brights' Net views the constituency. Enough said. Please follow the link and read the policy.
FUNNIEST EMAIL COMMENT OF THE MONTH
How could there possibly be a God who would allow the layout of that "brights" webpage to exist?
Thankfully, under the able hands of volunteer Theo (a Brights who is a Web architect by profession), the site is in process to assume its new look and form. What a difference from our current web layout! Just this week BC received v.2.0 of the design, and since no major changes on it are being requested, things are really looking up for a brand new face to the Brights' site (after coding, content, and testing, of course). The Brights' Net has already purchased Dreamweaver software to get in some necessary learning time (in advance of starting the transfer of the materials from the old web to the new web in the near future).
DECEMBER DILEMMAS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS ( USA)
In December's holiday season, many diverse worldviews come to center stage. The circumstance presents what many educators term "December Dilemmas." Brights' Central (BC) has this month contributed information to help resolve two situations regarding presentation of religious materials in public school settings.
Here are our short-cut suggestions for parents who want to handle any kind of problems that arise within a classroom. These remarks don't cover every circumstance, but they're likely not to create unnecessary conflicts or embarrassments. Sometimes teachers are ill informed or misguided, and will be eager to change course.
1 - Contact the teacher first (by phone or in person, not in writing). Be inquisitive and polite. Establish context. Make sure you understand exactly what is happening. Do not contact the media.
2 - If you feel the teacher is in the wrong and unmoved, contact the principal next. Don't contact the media. Inquire about district policy regarding your circumstance. (Most districts have such.) Make sure you understand the administration's position on the event.
3 - If the principal is intractable, and you feel you have a good case for a violation, then is the time to escalate beyond the school (to superintendent, media, civil liberties group, lawyer or whatever).
One source of information of the OKs and NOT OKs of classroom handling of religion in the school curriculum (including holidays in the classroom) is
SAY IT ISN'T SO
The Internet is somewhat akin to the "gossip game" (where some statement gets passed from person to person and becomes eventually unintelligible). To judge by some recent items that mention the Brights (in Der Spiegel, New York Times, and Boston Globe), there is a need for mainstream media to replace "gossip" with facts. No need for items replete with error and mischaracterization to be printed while the "truth" about the Brights sits right on the Brights' website. The idea of a "civic action constituency" seems to be a particularly challenging notion!
In the web site's FAQs, Brights can find some good raw material to use to get across the nature of the constituency (or correct bogus notions). We would suggest a visit to two items in particular:
"What IS this Internet constituency?"
"What is it NOT?"
When you read erroneous statements about the Brights, we encourage you to "set them straight."
TURN UP THE BRIGHTNESS CONTEST
We will soon be selecting "letter writer" awards for 2004. If you have not sent us copies of your letters that have been published, please do so now.
Submissions should be published articles or letters to the editor which refer in some manner to the Brights or the Brights' Net. Send your e-mail to email@example.com with PUBLISHED ITEM in the subject line.
BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
Reading the Bible: Intention, Text, Interpretation
God's Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation
There are now over 30 Books by Bright available. For a complete listing and information:
BRIGHTS' MUSIC PROJECT
Last month Tony invited recommendations of musical selections that would express a naturalistic worldview. Unfortunately, there was a typo in the e-mail to contact him. If you wish to send a title and source for any song(s), send your recommendation to Tony at this address:
Please see Bulletin 19 (click Archives on the home page of the website) for specifics on the Music Project. Tony plans to empanel a group to assess the quality and appropriateness of the music suggestions for the various ages, and so if you are interested being part of that panel, inform him of that as well.
WHAT IS THE ANTONYM OF "A BRIGHT"? (HINT – NOT "A DIM")
A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements. Does "bright" (in that sense) have any antonym? There is no antonym for most nouns (example: European). If there were an antonym, however, its definition would be: "a person whose worldview contains supernatural and mystical elements." So, what term might one apply to that definition?
Here is what philosopher Daniel Dennett (who is a Bright and has grown accustomed to "bright" in its new sense) has said about the "antonym" situation:
"The opposite of gay isn't glum; it's straight–a nice enough epithet, unlike, say, crooked. The opposite of bright isn't dull (or cloudy); it hasn't been coined yet, and could be, if you like, great or splendid. Let those who are not brights hijack the word of their choice and see if it will play. I'm glad we have a positive and provocative name to call ourselves. We need a generic word that replaces all the negations of religious terms (godless, nonbeliever, irreligious, heathens, etc.)"
The noun form of "bright" was developed to help persons who hold a naturalistic worldview surmount a binary vise. Religious/nonreligious, godly/godless, believer/nonbeliever — these antonym pairs blunt the social/civic strength of persons who are brights. The twofold pairs weigh only a rather narrow aspect (deity-faith/doubt) of what is actually an ample and rich worldview. Free of supernaturalism expresses all sorts of conceptual elements. Yet these synonym/antonym pairs pin attention onto just a tiny fraction of the rich diversity of concepts that any Bright holds in his/her worldview; hence they serve to diminish and constrain the person relative to those who "have a religion."
The Brights' Net has rejected the Brights/Dulls counterpoint (also Brights/Darks, Brights/Dims, etc.) awaiting perhaps, as Dennett suggests, "those who are not brights" setting about to hijack a word for the opposite of a bright. No word has been forthcoming, and we at BC are thinking of looking to the brights themselves. We have had two serious suggestions that we (rather than await the coinage), need to develop an appropriate antonym of the noun Bright.
Is it possible to coin the opposite word to brights to use in print and published articles? Such a word should not be anti-religious (see Principle 8 at http://www.the-brights.net/here_we_stand.htm) However, it would succinctly serve to identify the "non-Brights" such that Brights plus (the term) equals everybody!
If you have a suggestion to offer, please put ANTONYM in the subject line of your email (for easy sorting of incoming mail) and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can (very roughly!) translate this whole Bulletin at one fell swoop using the Google translation service. It removes the end-of-lines, and runs everything together, but still, it works. The translation is not something you'd want to use as a final for anything, but it is handy to get across the gist of an item rapidly. Go to
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