The Brights' Bulletin
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
MAY 2007 BULLETIN
REGISTRATIONS PASS 30,000 MARK -
To the best of our knowledge, the new registrant who came in as number 30,000 is Peter (Australia). He signed up on April 11. He left no comment, other than that he had learned of the Brights via a Daniel Dennett article. [Dr. Dennett is an "Enthusiastic Bright".] http://www.the-brights.net/people/enthusiastic/
FLOW OF INFORMATION HAMPERED
This month, Brights Central"s ability to answer individual questions and facilitate projects has been seriously curtailed due to Co-director Mynga"s need to fly to Florida to assist her sister, who remains critically ill.
EQUINOX DONATIONS DRIVE REPORT
Thanks to all of you who contributed. We especially appreciate the 41 Brights who used the new "6-month subscription" feature to pledge a monthly donation via PayPal. That will boost ability to proceed with planning the proposed short video project!
One donor out of every 108 Brights has provided enough funds to keep a stable foundation for the organization until the September Equinox. (Those who contributed will be getting an emailed acknowledgement shortly and a tax statement early in 2008.)
If you happened to miss the Equinox announcement, there are two portals: Complete version (text includes activities report and plans): http://www.the-brights.net/funding/
Very short version (straightforward donation):
BRIGHTS - UNDER HER NOSE!
We at Brights Central are always curious about what lies behind any article about Brights. [Getting even a small mention in the press definitely helps expand awareness of the movement.] So, when notified of an article about the "North County Brights" (a BLC group near San Diego, California), we inquired of Dwain, its leader, about what strategy the group had used to entice press interest.
He replied: "The reporter came up with the idea, and did a web search to see if there were people like us out there. She found us!"
The impact? As one can see from his further comments:
"Lots of good response today [one day later]. Five people emailed me asking for more information. (Several of these were shocked to hear that there were people like them out there.) Two people said they would come to our next meeting. The number of RSVP's in the affirmative for the next meeting shot up quite dramatically."
So, we have a reporter"s online search leading her to discover Brights right there in her own community. This BLC had apparently "made the news" without even trying! The article is at: http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/04/28/faith/16_79_134_26_07.txt
STRIKE A SPARK OF BRIGHTNESS
Already Brights are in 142 nations and 19 territories of the world. There are more to go! Do you know a "likely Bright" in one of the nations below? If so, invite him/her to take a look at the website. http://www.the-brights.net/
Belarus, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Cote d"Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Zimbabwe.
NEWS: A BETTER PRICE ON LAPEL PINS!
Seeing that the original supply of Brights" lapel pins would soon expire, Shopkeeper Diane set out once again to compare vendors. This time, she located a supplier that bid The Brights" Net a lower price. Consequently, the cost to Brights of a lapel pin has dropped from $6 to $5! That great price includes the shipping, too - both USA and international).
You can see how to order your (silvery with blue) pin at:
ENTHUSIASTIC BRIGHT, WILL MORRIS, REPORTS
Missourian Will Morris was among 600 attendees at the symposium held April 20-22 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University (Conference theme: "Dialogue Among Religions, Cultures, and Civilizations?"). Will states:
"First and foremost, I would like to extend my appreciation to Brights Central and Secular Student Alliance for their gracious financial support for my trip to the conference (www.thenewhumanism.org) held at Harvard this past weekend. Our BLC is currently working to organize the first Brights conference, and this trip was a fantastic opportunity to explore the variety of issues intertwined in planning such an affair.
The two highlights were the lifetime achievement award presentation to Salman Rushdie and being one of about ten people who got to meet with Steven Pinker to discuss whatever came to mind. He was the first of six fellow Enthusiastic Brights I was lucky enough to run into over the course of the weekend. On that note, I would like to express my appreciation for their time to Steven Pinker, August Brunsman, Hemant Mehta, Herb Silverman, Matt Cherry, and Mel Lipman (all Enthusiastic Brights). It was a pleasure to meet you all!"
PLAN YOUR "ELEVATOR SPEECH"!
SITUATION: You get into a lift at ground floor, and someone promptly asks you to explain just what this Internet constituency of Brights is all about. You have only until the 15th floor to answer.
Are you prepared to be succinct and accurate?
Can you make the point that The Brights" Net organization has civic justice/civil rights aims? [Note: That"s a concept missed by many posters on the Internet who characterize The Brights" Net as an atheist organization. The characterization is incorrect, but it often stems from simple lack of knowledge. It is up to Brights of many stripes to get the proper message across concisely in varied settings.]
Can you convey that what participants are seeking is actually a level playing field in society? (It"s for people of all worldviews, supers as well as brights.)
Can you say it short and sweet? Try it!
If you admire the results of your efforts, then please send your text in an email to email@example.com and put in your subject line: "ELEVATOR SPEECH."
GETTING DOWN TO BRASS TACKS (JUST THE FACTS)
The Brights" Net is a large and very diverse international constituency of individuals who share ONE commonality: each constituent has a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural/mystical elements.
The point of organizing on the Internet is that more and more people who fit the definition can understand the importance of their coming out and expressing who they are in constructive ways. And "who they are" is "people with a naturalistic worldview" - a wide array of people!
This organization recommends forthright expression of a naturalistic worldview, and it unites brights of many stripes in seeking social parity and civic participation. In the constituency, there are agnostics, atheists, humanists, rationalists, secularists, naturalistic religionists (e.g. certain Buddhists and Hindus), and secular religionists (e.g. secular Jews, Catholics), too. Quite a large fraction are "nones" (i.e., those who state they are "none of above" when asked on forms for their religion).
The Brights' Net focuses on the civics, not beliefs. Brights should have equal likelihood of a "seat at the table" with others. As an organization, The Brights Net backs Brights who are ready and willing to cooperate with others, religious or not, in arenas where they share common interests, such as in working for separation of religion and government or for teaching sound science (evolution) in public schools.
SIG-2 "SETS UP SHOP" IN BRIGHTS" FORUM
For those who endorsed the Brights Action-URI, there is now a discussion place in the Brights" Forum, and discussion has begun. There will soon be polling on certain decisions, so please get your registration into the private forum completed! There is now some background information and a Q&A facility for members not familiar with previous URI-related activities by Brights.
Those who have already registered into the private forum can participate right now. If you are new to forums and to the process, a facilitator will be there to help. Just be sure to introduce yourself first with a post. And, please Email John if you are having access problems. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A PLACE FOR US!
Paulo (Brazil): "Well, I would just like to thank you, because I finally found a place for me in this world."
Max 1, (NJ, USA): "I did not know there was a definition of what I am."
Max 2 (MI, USA): "Thanks for having a place that I can feel normal about my ideas about the world."
Jackie (ON, Canada): "Funny how you think you're alone in your attitudes; you read a book and then you're part of a large group of people who have the same view of the world. Thanks!"
NEWEST BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
This is a free service to Brights who have written books at least tangentially related to the purposes of The Brights" Net.
"I Sold My Soul on EBay" (by Hemant Mehta, who is an Enthusiastic Bright)
"An Evolutionist Deconstructs Creationism" and "In Darwin"s Image: How Human Biology Confirms Evolutionary Theory" (Both books are by Arndt von Hippel)
You can find these two books and others in an alphabetical listing of books by Brights at: http://www.the-brights.net/people/books/
"BRIGHTS TATTOO" PROMPTS ACTION AT BRIGHTS CENTRAL
Resourceful Brights have sent in several imaginative or unusual items that we were hoping to display on the website, but other things kept getting in the way. For example, Enthusiastic Bright Edwin Kagin wrote a poem so long ago that he has probably forgotten it! (We meant to get his verse online... eventually.)
A recent arrival has finally spurred us onward, and there is a "new category" in the PEOPLE segment of the website called "Expressions and Illuminations" (by Brights). What impelled us to action?
A Bright was so enthused by the "Bright idea" that he went out and got a tattoo!
When Steve"s photo arrived at Brights Central, how could we not share that one more widely right away? You can view it at: http://the-brights.net/people/expressions.html
WAYS TO SUPPORT THE BRIGHTS (OTHER THAN A DONATION OR A TATTOO)
Spread the word! - Invite people to the website.
Show your stuff! - Diverse merchandise is available at CafePress: http://www.cafepress.com/brightsshop
Shop via the site! - Every time you are thinking about possibly buying something on the Internet through Amazon.com, remember to start out your journey via the Brights/Amazon link. Anything you buy there (not just books) through that link costs you no more, and The Brights" Net receives almost 6% of the sale! The Brights received from Amazon just over $100 in April. US and UK Brights need to use the separate links:
AMERICAN HUMANIST LEADER DIES ("SO IT GOES")
Author Kurt Vonnegut has died in New York at age 84. He became a cult figure among students in the 1960s and 1970s with his counterculture classics, which have been published in many languages. Among the most notable of his books is "Slaughterhouse Five," a simplistic and fantastical story through which Vonnegut seemingly gives voice to his own views on life, death, and war (he having witnessed the bombing of Dresden in World War II). In the treatise, the protagonist, Billy Pilgrum, repeatedly (106 times) employs the expression of fatalism, "So it goes," when encountering death.
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the outstanding figures in 20th century American literature. He was also honorary president of the American Humanist Association. http://www.americanhumanist.org/press/KurtVonnegut.php/
A PETITION FOR "FIRST FREEDOM FIRST" (USA)
Interfaith Alliance Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State continue to seek signatories on a petition directed at safeguarding separation of church and state and protecting religious liberty. Below is an excerpt:
"Government exists to provide for the general well-being of all people, and its workings must be independent of specific religious doctrines. Simply put, there must be a separation of church and state."
If interested, go to the site for the full text: http://www.firstfreedomfirst.org
NUGGETS FROM NEW BRIGHTS!
Ian (South Korea): Usually not one to register or conform to a definition however it seems the Bright movement is appealing in that it emphasizes the positive aspects of non-belief and no longer needs to be defined in terms of opposites that are stigmatized and antagonistic... Wonderful.
Jerrold (MN, USA): "I consider myself a humanist and I adhere to a naturalistic worldview, but find the label of Bright to be appealing."
John (CA, USA: "WOW! What a relief to find an organization promoting freethinking, humanistic, rationalistic views on life. I never thought I'd see the day."
Flora (Australia): "I love the integrity that exudes from this site."
A POPULIST OPPORTUNITY: MAGAZINE SURVEY
In a quite unscientific 2007 Time Magazine/CNN survey ("THE TIME 100 - ARE THEY WORTHY?"), Enthusiastic Bright Richard Dawkins appears as "Candidate #50" to be voted on, perhaps, as "most influential" person in the world.
Across the three days BC spent preparing this Bulletin, Richard rose from 8th to 6th rank among the candidates listed in the popularity poll. And what are the "pros and cons" that the survey-producers see in Dawkins?
You can read these, compare him with 200 others (including Ban Ki-Moon, Bill Gates, Bono, Oprah Winfrey, and Shigeru Miyamoto, and vote for him (or whomever you wish), at: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/time100walkup/article/0,28804,1611030_1610841_1610286,00.html/
I came across one of the Bill Moyers "Faith and Reason" shows airing on PBS and then viewed a few on the Internet. Conversations with Salman Rushdie, Anne Provoost, Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis are all addressing concerns about the current state of religious ideas effect on political and international events. I have enjoyed these conversations and think that Brights would find them interesting. http://www.pbs.org/moyers/faithandreason/index.html
REFERENCE GUIDE TO PERSONNEL AND OTHER BRIGHTS INFORMATION
Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of www.The-Brights.Net
A bright is a person with a naturalistic worldview