The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #24
April 28, 2005

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


IT’S NICE TO BE APPRECIATED

We start off with just a quick thank you to all who responded to the Equinox Fund drive last month with support for the Brights’ network. Some contributions continue to arrive. We send special thanks to those of you who also sent along a brief comment or note acknowledging our efforts. And, to the Bright who so surprised us by committing to regular support across the year, we add this expression of astonishment and delight-“Wow!”

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SITE STATUS REPORT

All at Brights Central are pleased that last month’s changeover of bulk mailing service went so smoothly. Apparently, few constituents experienced difficulty in receiving e-mail from our new provider, SalsaLabs.com.

The Brights’ Net has begun another switchover. Verio.com, a commercial service provider, is becoming the new website host. The necessity for these moves arrived at an inopportune time (there were numerous action plans in place for March-- not only the equinox fundraising but three action mailings were also planned). Things should settle down soon and we can “get back to our planned actions.” Since there were a number of events that we could not appropriately respond to, we are thankful for your patience.

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AN APOLOGY TO IHS

The Co-Directors regret their offhand comments in the previous bulletin wherein we noted the necessity for an abrupt change of mass mailer. (remarks are at
http://www.the-brights.net/movement/bulletin/bulletin.html?b=23)

The apology goes to the support staff of the Institute for Humanist Studies and anyone else distressed about what we said about the theretofore stanch provider of web hosting and e-mailing services. Confronted by difficulties and disappointments occasioned by obligatory service restrictions, we were much too reckless in how the Bulletin communicated a rapid change of circumstance.

We should have been more dispassionate. The Institute's humanists.net service had not only supplied support services without remuneration since the Brights’ Net’s site launch in June of 2003, but its dedicated staff had also done the utmost to keep pace with the challenges that our ever-expanding needs had put upon their situation. Our wording was inconsiderate, and we apologize.

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SUSPENDED ANIMATION

Several projects are on hold until all the unfinished business of site migration is completed. The “Prayers for You” replies, for example, have been processed and sent to the web architect for posting to the Toolbox section of the site. A brand new book on “Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism” will likely be of interest to many. However, since these materials may not be accessible to all users just yet, we will not cite links here. (Dead ends are no fun.) Check the site later on, or await our supply of the links in the next Bulletin.

As soon as certain loose ends are tied, we will be able to restore the remaining Brights’ action components. We are most anxious to regain the polling function for constituent activities. Polling is greatly needed for getting input/feedback on such matters as the new site appearance and functionality, the new icon and downloads, the antonym candidates, merchandise preferences (if any) and more.

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WEBSITE’S NEW LOOK (PSST - PASS IT ON)

A good many new registrations to the constituency are referrals from another Bright. With the new face on the Brights’ Net site, now is a perfect time to let others know about the Brights’ endeavor. Also, a signature line at the bottom of your emails is another way to attract site visitors and bring in new Brights. The complete URL for such a purpose is: http://www.the-brights.net

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MINI-ARTICLES FOR COLUMN BY BRIGHTS

Thanks go to those who have sent in title suggestions for a potential general interest column to be distributed to a wide variety of organizations having a naturalistic bent. (When the polling function is restored, we can make the title selection.) Also, we appreciate all who sent in an article. Great topic diversity! However, for those of you still sharpening your pencils, remember, any item you send must be short. When we say a maximum of 300 words, 300 is tops! More information and submission guidelines are onsite at:
http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/individual/article_guidelines.html

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ALL TOO PERTINENT POETIC EXPRESSION

It has been a while since the Bulletin has carried a poem, but one rhyme – freshly penned by a Bright and now making rounds on the Internet- merits our sharing with Brights around the globe. (The feeling of being rather “Poped out” from media attention given to recent events in Rome has perhaps heightened the poetic appeal of this item.)

Created by an Enthusiastic Bright from Kentucky (for more on the poet, see http://the-brights.net/people/enthusiastic/index.html), the rhyme advocates strict separation between religion and government. Here is this poet’s proposed legal maxim:

MISCEGENATION LAW
Never let the Church and State
Get close enough to meet and mate;
For the safety of our nation
Prohibit this miscegenation;
Keep Church far from the bed of State;
Separate their greed and hate;
Abstinence is what they need
Or the monsters they will breed
Will mongrelize both law and creed.
Never let Church marry State—
Do not even let them date.
--Edwin Kagin, a Bright

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AMERICAN MILIEU (USA)

The preceding poem speaks loudly in our current milieu. As most Americans can plainly see, the aforementioned “miscegenation law” is not in effect. We are in an era in which “faith-based enterprise” is most evidently on the rise, and many players within and without government are serving as “matchmakers” to help church and state get comfy-cozy with one another. Indeed, in the past few years there has been visible and even forceful political action coaxing a lasting union between the two.

(switching metaphors here) A number of organizations are working as best they can to counter, via legal challenges, efforts that erode what is commonly termed “(Thomas) Jefferson’s wall of separation” between religion and government. In today’s times, action more akin to triage appears required to prevent an outright crumbling of that wall. (Opinion: New York Times editorial entitled, “The Disappearing Wall,” published on April 26, 2005).

Few of the groups that carry out legal actions focus solely on this issue (most work in several arenas). One, though - Americans United for Separation of Church and State - operates single-mindedly on its goal of keeping bricks in a solid wall of separation. Its membership publication, “Church and State,” is the best we know of for keeping abreast of the whole situation. American Brights (or Brights elsewhere) who wish to help will want to join and support the organization, but if you simply wish to examine the many relevant issues, go to AU’s site at
http://www.au.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues

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A NATIONAL DAY OF REASON? (USA)

There is now a governmentally-promoted “National Day of Prayer,” pegged for the first Thursday in May, which we see as an annual abuse of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause. It is not only Americans with a naturalistic worldview who view any form of government-sanctioned sectarianism as unduly exclusionary. A great many religious citizens are staunch allies.
Many who value the separation of religion and government have proposed as a response that a “National Day of Reason” be set for the same date (this year: May 5 2005).

For the answer to “Why a National Day of Reason?” visit
http://www.nationaldayofreason.org/

At first glance, one might expect to find The Brights’ Net listed as an endorsing organization for this Day of Reason idea. Indeed, in due course, we intend to institute measures to facilitate constituents’ speaking out on such concepts (pro and con), and not only for ideas pertinent to USA Brights, as is this example. However, Co-Directors do not and cannot represent a single “constituency position” on such issues and proposals. See policy at:
http://198.170.106.180/action/activities/individual/writing/

What you will find the Co-Directors doing is endorsing as individuals, where the list of names at the website has plenty of space for any American Brights who might wish to add their own personal endorsement. The invitation message is at:
http://www.nationaldayofreason.org/apr05mess.html

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BRIGHTS BRASIL IN PORTUGUESE

A Brazilian Brights’ website is under development with the goal of incorporating “a mirror” of the English site. With the basics completed, Ricardo now needs help in translating specific pages on the site. If you are fluent in both Portuguese and English and want to help him out, email the-brights@the-brights.net and include in the subject line (in upper case letters) the word, PORTUGUESE.

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REALITY ABOUT HUMANITY ON EARTH

Are you aware of the website for “The Genographic Project: A Landmark Study of the Human Journey”? If not, you may want to drop in and take a look at this new five-year project to map humanity's genetic journey through the ages. Here’s a quote from the site likely to whet the appetite of most any Bright:

“The fossil record fixes human origins in Africa...(It was a) great journey that took Homo sapiens to the far reaches of the Earth. How did we, each of us, end up where we are? Why do we appear in such a wide array of different colors and features?”

To keep track of this unprecedented effort to understand the human journey — where we came from and how we got to where we live today – visit
http://www5.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html

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TO BE, OR NOT TO BE (“A BRIGHT”)

Some delight in the noun neologism. To them, saying, “I am a bright” sounds just right. Others, though, would not utter that phrase in polite (or impolite?) company. If you don’t take to (or cannot brook) the noun itself, there is an alternative way to spread awareness and reinforce the main ideas of the Brights movement. Look to that definition!

“I am a person who has a naturalistic worldview” is something of a mouthful to say, but the meme potential of the phrase itself is notable. It is imperative that people be able to get across their freedom from supernatural belief without resorting to a negative linguistic comparison to dominant outlooks.

Over time, we have received several hundred suggestions for possible alternatives to replace “bright,” but to date no one has submitted something that holds up past even cursory screening. We’re awaiting (and receptive to) any candidate(s) surviving contact with three or four serious reviewers. In the meantime, it’s continuing onward and upward with “I’m a bright” (or, if you prefer, “I’m a person who has a naturalistic worldview”).

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CAMP QUEST FOR KIDS — NATURALLY

Parents who would like to provide an exciting and worthwhile week-long summer camp experience for their youngsters might like to know about a wholly secular camp, Camp Quest. The original Camp Quest (in Ohio), now in its tenth year, has openings for June 18-25. There is also a CQ-Smoky Mountains (Tennessee) June 5 – 12 and a CQ-Minnesota July 24-31, so a youngster can actually attend more than one. Learn more about any of the Camp Quests (including one in Canada) via the main CQ site at
http://www.camp-quest.com/

Joe - a parent who has sent his oldest son to CQ-Smoky Mountains for two years plans this year to send his next oldest child as well - is ebullient about the only Camp Quest that is in a National Park: “They have a great program this year... (they even have flying...yes, on a plane). Some of past favorite activities include the nightly Socrates Café around the campfire and even night hikes. With no ambient light from nearby cities, stargazing and locating satellites is another exciting night activity. There are fantastic daytime activities as well. The resources of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont are available leading to discoveries in geology and biology. Imagine hunting for salamanders and swimming in a mountain stream!”

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THE CAMPERSHIP CONCEPT – SEND A CHILD TO CAMP

Camp Quest is a wonderful opportunity for children who are growing up in families where the parents have a naturalistic worldview. However, not every family desirous of sending their youngster(s) to a summer camp experience can afford to do so. If you would be interested in contributing a campership (in part or in full) to benefit a child, please contact August E. Brunsman IV at director@camp-quest.com or 614.596.7940. If you can give a campership, a Camp Quest can find a camper to use it.

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NAVIGATING THE WEB SITE

Finding one’s way through some portions of the-brights.net site in its previous rendition could be challenging. If you have not visited lately, take a fresh look at these areas, where any exploration is now quite a bit smoother sailing.

Books by Brights
http://www.the-brights.net/people/books/

Archived Bulletins
http://www.the-brights.net/movement/bulletin/archive.html

Visuals
http://www.the-brights.net/vision/symbolism.html

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SOME EQUINOX PREMIUMS REMAIN

Did you already donate? If yes, you still have a chance to get the premium by boosting your prior donation to the requisite $200 level. Copies remain of a striking book (with accompanying DVD) valued at $75. The varied artistic interpretations of evil within the book of stamp art are quite stunning (one of the recipients reported back simply, “Wow!”). Most essays within it actually approach the topic of evil from a more philosophical angle than one might expect from that hot-button title, “Axis of Evil.” Still, there is a political point of view which will not appeal to all, as is clear from even brief perusal of the following URL:
http://www.buzzflash.com/alerts/04/12/ale04092.html
We delight in the munificence of a generous Bright who wished to support the overall Brights’ enterprise and donated the material to be used as premiums. We also appreciate the understanding shown by several donors who said, “just skip the book,” recognizing that simply offering the bonus material is not pressing a political agenda.

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TAILINGS

If you have a problem receiving this Bulletin, please email Kevin (webmaster@the-brights.net) and place the word PROBLEM in the subject line.

The Brights’ Forum (open 24/7) — http://the-brights.net/forums

The archive of all prior Bulletins is at
http://www.the-brights.net/movement/bulletin/archive.html

If you need to change your registered email address to a new one, suspend emailing from Brights Central, etc., you can now change status yourself at:
http://www.the-brights.net/movement/bulletin/settings.html

Do you have comments for the Co-Directors? Send to the-brights@the-brights.net and put DIRECTORS in the subject line. If your question is for the Coordinator of Brights' Local Constituencies, send to the-brights@the-brights.net and put BLC COORDINATOR in the subject line.

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Brights Central
Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
Webmaster: Kevin Schultz
Web Architect: Theo Skye
BLC Coordinator: Tammy Richard


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