The Brights' Bulletin
January 31, 2006
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
Brights' Bulletin #33 - 2006 January 31
TOOLBOX ITEM: CHILD'S QUERY ABOUT ORIGINS
We appreciate the many Brights who took time to send in how they would respond to a young child's questioning concerning origins. The sifting of contributions has been completed and an illustrative sampling (about 15%) published on the website. Brights Central (BC) received text much in excess of what can be put up online (the final accumulation was well over 15,000 words).
The Toolbox shows varied approaches to answering the "Where did I come from, Mommy?" question. Besides general advice, gloss answers, and contrasting ways of handling concepts like causation and deity with children, the page contains three illustrative narratives. The "ancestors' tale" is variously expressed by the three contributors. Additional linked commentary offers examples of parents' striving to match their naturalistic explanations to a child's developmental level and some suggested resources. Open this Toolbox at:
BELGIAN ARTICLE SPURS MANY REGISTRATIONS
"Les < brights > sortent de l'ombre" (the brights are coming off the shade). That's the headline for a January 23 article by journalist Ricardo Gutierrez in the journal, Le Soir. BC was sent a translation of the full article, which begins…
Extract: "A wind of fear is blowing through the sacristies... The brights are landing. Bright, in English, evokes shininess, star or sun lights, symbols of movement. That banner unites the new fighters of obscurantism. We are numerous in no longer believing in Santa Claus, gods - singular or plural -, in miracles, and in all kind of superstitions. We are the brights."
Extrait: "Vent de panique dans les sacristies... Les < brights > débarquent. < Bright >, en anglais, évoque la brillance, l'éclat des astres, du Soleil, symbole du mouvement. La bannière rassemble les nouveaux pourfendeurs de l'obscurantisme. < Nous sommes nombreux à ne plus croire au Père Noël, aux dieux - multiples ou unique -, aux miracles, et aux superstitions en tout genre. Nous somme les brights."
NEW DENNETT BOOK VIEWS RELIGION AS NATURAL PHENOMENON
Daniel Dennett's new book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, is due out on February 2. The material is likely to be of great interest and value to Brights (constituents) and to brights (supernatural-free folks) everywhere. Co-Director Geisert has finished reading an advance copy and can heartily recommend it.
Portions of the book reinforce the aims of the Brights' Net. For example, Dennett emphasizes a need for more people to "come out" and be active. Example (page 245): "If more of us brights will just come forward and calmly announce that of course we no longer believe in any of those Gods, it will be possible to elect an atheist to some office higher than senator." On that point, Dennett is optimistic.
Dennett mentions bright early on (Chapter 1), stating forthrightly about himself, "I am a bright." In this book, he consistently employs the noun in the generic way intended when it was coined. Best of all, he does not present the term as controversial or definitional; rather, he simply uses the word now and then in context and in a comfortable manner. How refreshing!
EXPLAINING CULTURE IN BIOLOGICAL TERMS
Professor Dennett is a public registrant to the constituency (an Enthusiastic Bright), and we are pleased to encourage other constituents to read his new book. (The release is this week.) Available online right now is a taste from the book. The tiny article by Dennett in the current Science and Theology News is likely to tweak an appetite for more because it contains his book's "ant analogy" (drawn from biology), in which he plants and pursues the notion that contagious ideas may be hitching a ride in our infected brains. According to Dennett, the evolution and design of human culture has to be explained, ultimately, in biological terms.
ACCESS AMAZON FROM THE-BRIGHTS.NET SITE
If you purchase Dennett's or any other book via the website of The Brights' Net, Amazon will donate a small percentage of the purchase price to The Brights' Net. Actually, it doesn't matter what items you purchase (books, music, DVDs). Anything you buy during a session will result in a contribution (as much as 10% on some items). And, your cost stays the same. What an easy way to make Amazon help finance the communications and actions of the Brights!
From now on, if you are thinking of shopping for items from Amazon, why not first take a trip to the Brights' site? Click on PEOPLE and then BOOKS BY BRIGHTS. The Amazon logo is on the page (top and bottom). Whatever you search for (title, author or subject), you will pop right onto Amazon. When you access the Amazon.com site via that link, all shopping from then on stays "Brights-connected." If you must exit Amazon during the session, the linkage is interrupted and must be restored by another trip through the Brights' site. Check out the terrain at:
BRIGHTEN OP(PORTUNITY) SENT TO THE UK
The Brights' Net got an email from Richard Dawkins about an approaching UK TV 4 program which he thought would be of interest to UK Brights. BC sent off a BrightenOp to let 1,800 Brights know about Dawkins' two-part program. TV4 prefaces its description of The Root of Evil? - Episode 1 (The God Delusion) and Episode 2 (The Virus of Faith) - with Dawkins' astonishment "...that religious faith is gaining ground in the face of rational, scientific truth based on hard evidence." For more, go to:
Co-Directors, and Brights in many areas of the world, are hopeful they will be able to see the TV program in their own locales.
TWO NEW BOOKS INCLUDE BRIGHTS
Two recently released books, one in Denmark and the other in Italy, are apparently spurring interest in the Brights movement. Whether indirectly or directly, we know not. (BC cannot trace the precise text or context.) At any rate, some new registrants refer to a Danish book by Tor Nørretranders (The Generous Man: How Helping Others is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do). Even more new registrations are coming in by way of Italian Piergiorgio Odifreddi's book, Il Matematico Impertinente.
MORALITY PROJECT SUSPENDED
Due to the utter inability of Co-Director Geisert to carve out sufficient time to participate on the Forum and properly direct the morality project, it is being terminated as a Forum project. This does not mean the project itself has terminated, but that it will not be progressing in this manner. Individuals signed into the Morality Forum are free to continue with their discussion of the concept. How to appropriately implement the project is being given serious discussion by the Directors. This project is too important to be abandoned, so stay tuned.
DON'T GET LOST FROM THE DATABASE
"You stopped sending me the Bulletin." There's probably no mystery at all in the disappearance. Most often, it's that we lose contact with many Brights when they change email addresses and forget to inform us. Remember, you can change your Data Profile at:
Please, if you will, do this task yourself. However, if you encounter any trouble in the process, you may send both your prior and new email addresses to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do it for you.
COMMENT WITH A REGISTRATION
Steve in California. Until now, I've refused to be labeled as anything ("I'm nothing." "How can you be nothing?" "I'm not exactly nothing, I'm just me.") But now I'm a Bright. Cool!
THE BRIGHTS AND THE SUPERS?
Last year in a Brights' poll, constituents spoke to the question, "What is the opposite of a bright?" That poll, which listed several proposed alternatives, yielded as champion, "a supernaturalist." Thus the term (supernaturalist) was designated the placeholder for Brights' use, at least until persons holding a worldview incorporating supernaturalism might wish to step forward and name themselves.
What earned second place in our poll? It was "the supers," and so BC took note of that word when Daniel Dennett, in Breaking the Spell, makes mention of super (as a noun): He states: "Since, unlike us brights, they believe in the supernatural, perhaps they would like to call themselves supers."(p.21) Dennett drops a hint, but appears open to leaving any final decision to others.
Perhaps putting old terms (e.g., gay, straight, bright, super) to new uses is infectious? Formal (supernaturalists) and casual (supers)? Until those supernaturalists do choose their own label, Co-Directors won't be shunning the nickname. Brights' second choice was super, after all, and the pairing (brights and supers) has a rather nice ring to it.
MEETING OF NATIONAL LEADERS IN FREETHOUGHT (USA)
Los Angeles was the site of a meeting on January 21 of national activists. The meeting focused on strategies for using media to advance the aims of participating organizations. Co-Directors Futrell and Geisert were among the 40 persons in attendance, which included heads of other organizations, such as the Atheist Alliance International (host of the conference), American Humanist Association, Institute for Humanist Studies, Secular Student Alliance, Internet Infidels, and Secular Coalition for America.
CLASSIFIED ADS EXPERIMENT
The way it looks at Brights' Central, word of mouth and free media are the best ways of spreading the word about the Brights' endeavor. As resources allow, however, BC will be exploring also placing classified ads in a few magazines. Two ads below will run soon (the text difference reflects the minimum number of words allowed in each magazine ad):
In The New York Review of Books:
Brights: supernatural free. Working for civic parity and participation. Vision. Aims. Actions.
In Harper's Magazine, March edition:
Brights: Supernatural-free. People. Vision. Aims. Actions. Community. www.the-brights.net
MEETUP LINK REACTIVATED
MeetUp.com is an international organization that brings together people for local meetings. MeetUp groups (characteristically in cities and towns) are very diverse, ranging from knitting to politics to antique collecting. MeetUp.com instituted a charge to leaders about the time The Brights' Net revamped its website, and BC abandoned mutual linking as a result. We have since ascertained that that the company's program is continuing to meet the needs of Brights in some locations. Consequently, there is information now at:
Looking for a local group to join? You have a chance (small) that there is a Brights MeetUp group in your area. Also, don't forget to check out on the Brights' website the Brights Local Constituencies: http://www.the-brights.net/community/blc/
THE "BRIGHT TOMORROW" PROJECT
A "Bright Tomorrow" project under consideration for the past few months will not be pursued. (It was mentioned in Bulletin 29.) The development/promotion group required a $25-$50,000 upfront payment, which the Brights' Net could not conceivably raise. Outreach Coordinator Debra Deanne Olson will be exploring other avenues for Bright Tomorrow.
BRIGHT CHOSEN FOR POST (USA)
Attorney Edwin Kagin has been named the National Legal Director for the American Atheists association. Kagin continues to serve as Kentucky State Director for the organization. Edwin and Helen Kagin were named "Atheists of the Year" by American Atheists in 2005. The couple founded the Camp Quest project, which serves budding brights of all stripes (see next entry). Both Edwin and Helen are Enthusiastic Brights.
MORE OPTIONS FOR SUMMER CAMP
2006 is the tenth anniversary year for Camp Quest Classic, the first of the residential summer camps serving youngsters whose embryonic worldviews are taking shape free of supernatural beliefs. Now there are six (Camp Quest West is opening in California this summer). Programs are organizationally independent but are, at all locations, grounded in a naturalistic outlook, with emphasis on such ingredients as rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government. Camp activities vary by location, but critical thinking challenges and nature study combine with such camp standards arts and crafts, hiking, swimming, challenge courses, etc. to make for a fun time and memorable experiences.
MORE BOOKS BY BRIGHTS LISTED
William Shakespeare's Sonnet Philosophy by Roger Peters, and The SMART Recovery® Handbook by Henry Steinberger, Ph.D. (Editor)
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN A BOOK'S DEVELOPMENT?
Cathe Jones has a book underway. (Godless Grief reaches out to any and all Brights who want to learn about methods for recovering from loss.) The author invites anyone who wishes to participate in the writing to visit her website and take part in any of the surveys, or join the bulletin board and meet others with similar values discussing their own losses and growth from them. Some Brights who have contributed to this project include: James Randi; Margaret Downey; Richard Dawkins; and Bobbie Kirkhart. The foreword is written by Clark and Jenn Adams. For more information:
Buy Amazon products (books, magazines, DVDs, and so forth) through the Brights' website and Amazon will donate a percentage of the purchase cost to The Brights' Net. You pay the normal amount, and the Brights' endeavor gets a donation.
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If you wish to make a donation to The Brights' Net to sustain its activities, please go to: http://www.the-brights.net/action/support/ or mail a check to The Brights' Net, 163418 Fort Sutter Station, Sacramento, CA 95816. All donations are U.S. tax exempt since the Brights is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization chartered in California. EID: 56-2385064
Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
Webmaster: Kevin Schultz
Web Architect (consultant and emergency service) Theo Skye
BLC Coordinator: Tammy Richard
Outreach Coordinator: Debra Deanne Olson