The Brights' Bulletin
September 30, 2006
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
A BrightenOp sent earlier this month drew more than sufficient response to begin again the Morality Project. All who volunteered will soon receive a reply on how the project will proceed. (Sorry, no additional applications, please.)
EQUINOX FUND DRIVE - THE BLUNDER
I (Paul) want to start by apologizing for my poor choice of email subject line wording used in the Equinox Fund Drive email. It (“22 words from the Brights - Please open this important email”) was rightfully regarded by many as SPAM, and by many others as downright foolish. That said, please read the next 173 words.
EQUINOX FUND DRIVE - INTERIM REPORT
Thank you to all the Brights who have responded with support. We are glad to know that you appreciate the fact that The Brights’ Net is not “just a website.” It is the hub of a unique type of Internet endeavor to bring forward more expressions of naturalistic worldviews into the social realm and body politic.
We are at this point just over half the amount to reach the stated goal for the September equinox request: $25,000. So, if you were one of those persons who just clicked “delete” to the “22 words” OR if you have intended to donate but haven’t done so just yet, please read the equinox materials we prepared for you. It’s important to the Brights movement that you do so. And, as a bonus for reading the presentation, you will see a picture of the physical “headquarters” of the Brights’ Network ;-)
This link leads to the Equinox Fund drive. If you have not clicked it before, please click it now.
UK WEBSITE OPENS
News from Bob Churchill: A new UK Brights portal is open for business. It is in its early days, and feedback is welcome. The ideas: 1) a central and slightly more attractive URL for referring new potential UK Brights, 2) it does NOT displace the existing functionality of UK SmartGroup or MeetUps, and 3) it provides a free place for hosting UK-based Brights' projects and campaigns (for example petitions, pledges, information pages, etc).
Visit the location at: http://UK.BrightsOnline.net
NEWEST ENTHUSIASTIC BRIGHT - THE “EBAY ATHEIST”
He is Hemant Mehta , but you may have heard of him already as “the guy who sold his soul on eBay" earlier this year. Well, what he ac tually did was offer to go to the church of the highest bidder's choosing.
Visit Enthusiastic Bright Hemant at:
BRIGHTS SITE FOR GERMAN LANGUAGE
Listed on the home page of the movement are some Brights’ websites in Dutch, French, Japanese, Korean, and Italian. Now a German language site has been added to the list. View it at: http://www.brights-deutschland.de
These “other Brights sites” are not a direct translation (mirror) of the main site, and we must note that each site is developed by a volunteer who wishes to help spread the word of the Brights movement in his/her language and thereby help to enlarge the constituency of Brights.
NEWS FROM LONDON (UK) BRIGHTS
The London Brights Meetup has high hopes of raising its profile after being filmed to provide material for a TV documentary on atheism. Glen Slade, the organizer, was contacted by the TV program researchers to find out more about the group and the Brights movement. He managed to negotiate a date for filming at the meetup and designed an event to maximize the opportunity for creating “soundbites” for the producers.
Martin Freedman, a long time meetup regular, delivered a talk entitled "Brights in the UK". This started with a brief summary of the history and purpose of the Brights movement before moving on to cover five of the key issues affecting UK brights: the constitution, education, health, media and national identity. Martin's final topic was the actions open to Brights who want to be activist.
The talk was followed by a lively Q&A. In a change to the usual format, Martin was joined by two other longstanding and ardent Brights, Quentin Brodie Cooper and Tom Morris, to help answer the questions. This 'mini-panel' seemed to work well in generating additional perspectives on the points raised by the audience.
Said Glen: “We are all waiting with baited breath to see whether any of this material will make it into the documentary, which is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 in October.”
DEFINING OURSELVES VS. BEING DEFINED BY OTHERS
A reporter from Wired magazine recently interviewed Glen (see previous item) in the UK and Brights Central in California (and who knows what other Brights elsewhere?). Since there was serious follow-up (by way of thorough fact checking), there’s a likelihood that something substantial on the Brights movement may be forthcoming from Wired as it addresses issues of atheism. With such extensive reporting, it surely would be nice to see that magazine break through the “media molding us into their ideas” and get it right about the movement this time around.
As Principle 7 of the Brights movement says: “The Brights, by defining themselves positively and without comparison, stand defiant against the ways by which society has long defined them. Some labels, by their very use, reinforce the marginalization of Brights in society and lower the cultural authority of what is actually a strikingly wholesome worldview.”
To review all five principles (# 5 - #9) that define this movement, go to:
JUST FOR FUN
We ran across this title of a column in our local newspaper: “Free Will Astrology”
DAWKINS FOUNDATION FOR REASON AND SCIENCE
The website of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is now live. http://richarddawkins.net
Additionally, his much anticipated book, “The God Delusion,” is now available through the Amazon.com link at the Brights’ site (not available yet in UK or at other Amazon sites). There’s no extra cost to you, but The Brights’ Net benefits if you use this button to reach Amazon:
ON RELIGION, VARIED VIEWPOINTS
Beyond its stated aims and principles, The Brights’ Network has no “party line” to which a constituent (you) must hold. The organized endeavor (The Brights’ Net) musters resources for the purpose of growing a constituency that is seeking to obtain social acceptance and civic inclusion for people who have a naturalistic worldview.
Brights Central’s essay, “Shedding Light on Brights” (originally published in Science and Theology News” and newly posted on the Brights’ Net’s site), points out the full spectrum of Brights and their diverse attitudes toward religion. It also explains how individuals who have harsh words for religion or faith can still be part of a movement that has a “non-aggression pact” with religion.
The article is located at: http://the-brights.net/vision/essays/futrell_geisert_stnews.html
A BRIGHT, YES; AN ATHEIST, NO: HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?
To view all brights by definition as atheists is erroneous. It is also wrong to think that all atheists by definition would be brights. Despite what you may read elsewhere, the two terms are not synonymous. There are semantic and practical differences between the two labels.
Classically, the identity dichotomy is between atheism and theism (without and with god-belief). Another appropriate identity distinction exists. It regards worldviews and, in Daniel Dennett’s words, is between brights and supers (naturalistic vs. with supernaturalistic).
Brights and supers marks out a semantic different territory than atheists and theists.
For a FAQ on this particular matter, see “Is a Bright an atheist?” at:
BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSTITUENCIES
NEW BLC AND SITE
There is now a new Cape Town BLC active. Jacques is the leader, and he has set up a web site for online communications within the group. http://the-brights.co.za/
FLORIDA BLC FORMING
Brian is interested in starting a Brights group in the area surrounding Zip 34695, North Tampa Bay, Florida, area. You can cont act Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about BLCs, go to: http://the-brights.net/community/blc/
AVENUES TO MEETING OTHER BRIGHTS IN PERSON
Whereas Brights in many locations use MeetUp.com to announce their get-togethers, a number of Brights have begun using Eventful.com, which does not (now) charge for service. When BC checked today, there were four Brights events posted on Eventful. Its current postings of Brights groups are all in the United States, but it seems that international groups would be a possibility. Start exploration at: http://eventful.com/events/tags/bright
Under MeetUp, 747 events have been held so far! There are 19 sustaining groups in 19 cities in 4 nations. There are over 2000 registered and 2000 additional people who have exhibited an interest in joining, but for which there is not now coordination as a group. View the map at:
Both MeetUp and Eventful are “recruiting and scheduling” programs. If your BLC is listed somewhere else, let us know.
A number of opportunities for individuals to act went out in the month of September, specifically: Solicitation for “This I Believe” essays ( USA subscribers); Brights Action-SCA announcement (650 in SIG 1: Secular Coalition for America), the re-initiation of the Morality Project (all subscribers), and the Equinox Fund drive (all subscribers).
NEW ITEM IN BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
Adventure Lessons: Teachings of an Existential Vagabond by Joe Grutzik deals with several questions, and among them is a central one: How do you teach your child the basic principles of honesty, ethics and integrity with a naturalistic world view? Joe’s collection of true stories relates misadventures in his travels around the world. Each story provides a real life lesson. Some lessons: why you shouldn’t lie; why you shouldn’t steal; how to conquer your fears; how to keep stress from controlling your life; how to be more human. Each moral is presented with cause and effect logic, free of mystical elements. http://www.the-brights.net/people/books/index.html
REFERENCE GUIDE TO PERSONNEL AND OTHER BRIGHTS INFORMATION
Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights Net
A bright is a person with a naturalistic worldview