The Brights' Bulletin
August 15, 2003
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
The Brights' Bulletin #4, Thursday, August 15, 2003
Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
Webmaster: Kevin Schultz
Hello again, Brights!
* Re The Brights' Net
* For the Record
* Logos and Task Teams
* New Site Features
* Commentary by Paul and Mynga: About "The Word"
* Link to Archived Bulletins
Re The Brights' Net
The Brights' Net is an Internet constituency comprised of individuals who have a naturalistic worldview (free of supernatural and mystical elements) and an interest in promoting social change.
*We perceive a need for our society to take account of the significant contingent of persons who interpret the world using a naturalistic perspective.
*We expect the public and politicians to acknowledge that Brights as well as religious persons can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance.
*We call for society to welcome our civic participation and contributions on the basis of equal citizenship and worth.
For the Record
There are now many thousands of Brights in 70 countries! Since our July 16 Bulletin, we have gained an immense array of really talented and interesting people in a wide diversity of careers and situations. Among these Brights are physicians (many!), a Nobel Laureate, numerous professors and other academics, some celebrities (e.g., Penn & Teller), a Presbyterian Minister, Secular Jews, Unitarians, a Yogaist, a stealth politician (USA), a member of the European parliament, a couple of ex-Mormons, a bunch of teens, and some really well-seasoned folks (85+).
We are slowly working our way out of an alligator pond. We have personally responded to hundreds queries and comments, and more are in our in-basket.
Many others deserved answers who haven't received them. To all these folks, along with our thanks for writing us, we send our apologies. We have read almost every one of your comments. To let you in on the fun, Mynga has put many on the Web site. You can read hundreds of comments in the 22 different categories at
< http://the-brights.net/new_meet_some_brights.htm >
Logos and Task Teams
All the graphics symbols have been submitted (deadline was Aug 1) and are being evaluated. Until a final design is selected, you can use any of the available vendor-created designs. (See New Site Feature #4, below)
Thanks to Kevin, our three pilot volunteer Task Teams are now being set up on a new list-serve and are off and running. Thanks to everyone who has volunteered their time and talent. Good luck with your work. The Brights' Net is anticipating that volunteers will conduct much of the organization's work. You can read about the task teams at < http://www.the-brights.net/task_teams.htm >
Task Teams (Status): At this point, both the "Forum Task Team" and the "Newsletter Announcements Task Teams" have sufficient members. The former is already at work; the latter is being notified for mutual introductions.
Task Team Volunteer Needed: The "Web Links Task Team" can use an additional member or two. The task is to generate links to the Brights' web site. If interested, please reply to this e-mail with the phrase "WEB LINKS" in the subject line. [Note to the very first person who volunteered for Web Links and gave us superb suggestions for needed changes in procedure: You are hereby re-solicited since, unfortunately, your contact information fell through a crack in the process. Please do re-contact us!]
New Site Features
1: < http://www.the-brights.net/dennett_good.htm >
A highly enjoyable read is the open letter by Jack Good to Dan Dennett, in which Dr. Good replies to the July 12 New York Times Op-Ed piece by Dennett ("The Bright Stuff"). Dr. Dennett's rejoinder follows it. We provide both items on our site with permission of the authors and with thanks to Rev. Allen H. Brill, whose Web site for progressive Christians (www.therightchristians.org) originally published these thoughtful pieces.
2: < http://the-brights.net/blacks_gays_brights.htm >
Contemplating the Brights movement, Marilyn LaCourt, novelist and Bright, draws some parallels between past cultural and language shifts for African-American and gays. Agree or not, Marilyn's essay, her August 6 "At Ease" column in CNI, is well worth pondering, and we have placed it on the web site with the author's permission.
3: < http://www.the-brights.net/new_meet_some_brights.htm >
See additional (and rearranged) comments and pictures/bios of Brights
4: < http://www.the-brights.net/beingabright.htm >
For those who have been asking for merchandise, there is now a new link to EvolveFish for buttons and T-shirts. If you use the new link to purchase any products, a portion of proceeds from sales will go to the Brights movement to set up a youth educational fund. More designs and items are in the works.
Commentary from Mynga and Paul - About "The Word"
We have received literally thousands of "hoorays", and only a few pieces of negative mail, regarding the concept of unifying a diverse array of persons via an umbrella term for individuals who say they have a naturalistic worldview. Brights, and many others too, are quite pleased with the idea of the movement.
Most Brights who comment love the word as well as the concept. Some admire its uplifting qualities. They welcome an opportunity to stand FOR their worldview. Some draw from the luminosity aspect symbolic comparisons to the Enlightenment. [By the way, we thank those who sent us the notion of "EnBrightenment" as there are some distinct comparisons possibly to be made there.]
Some Brights are dubious, apprehensive, or both about the word. The criticisms are of the "hokey / light / cheesy" (too insubstantial a word for such a substantial worldview) and "pretentious / smug / arrogant" (sending a wrong message to others) versions. These indictments are not that hard to accept in comparison to the current state of being, where persons with a naturalistic worldview are collectively deemed "nonbelievers" (or irreligious, godless) and dismissed or stigmatized accordingly.
The most serious and common accusation is that, by using Bright, we are claiming that we are intelligent and that religionists are "Dims" or "Dulls". Brights must not foster or perpetuate this conceptual hangover from the adjectival form of bright. In fact, we must counter it, not only because it is a drag on the noun form, but because it lacks basis in fact. In a future commentary, we will address this very supposition. It is important that you, as well as others, understand that you are a Bright due to your worldview. Everyone's worldview is shaped by many variables. Understand that, and you can help to send a correct message about the Brights.
It remains important that Brights use the noun form heavily to help delineate the concept. If that is done, we continue to firmly believe that people will become accustomed to the term and accept it for what it is. It has happened with other words (homosexuals became gays; the handicapped became persons with disabilities, Negroes became African Americans, Chicanos became Latinos, and so on). We are optimistic it can happen with the Brights--if we all do our part in our writings and our speech, that is.
Finally, currently there exists no antonym for Bright. The word is a noun, such as Tuesday, or triangle, traffic, or teacher. What is the opposite of those? Have you an antonym for baby or business, button or Bible? If there is a seeming need to have an antonym for Bright, we must look to others to coin a word that equates to "a person with worldview that embraces supernatural and mystical elements. In the interim, we suppose "not a Bright" and "not Brights" are the best "outside the Brights category" available for the singular and plural forms. You might use "the non-Brights"
It's all a bit awkward, perhaps, but nobody has yet come up with a viable alternative (we're collecting the best of what comes in to replace "bright"). In the meantime, at last check The Brights' Net site has slipped onto page 1 in a search using http://www.google.com if you search for "bright" (singular). If you google the plural form, "brights," the site has risen to #1 position.
You can read prior and current Emails in the archive at
< www.the-brights.net/broadcast_archive.htm >
If you prefer not to receive the Bulletin, please reply to this e-mail and place UNSUBSCRIBE on the subject line.