The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #51
July 31, 2007

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


AUGUST 2007 BULLETIN

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IF YOU EMAIL BRIGHTS CENTRAL (BC)

Due to enormous amounts of spam, any email to BC must have an explanatory "subject" line. (That line cannot be blank.) Attachments require advance explanation. (Clearly describe what you are sending in the body of the message.)

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FOR NEW BRIGHTS (AND A REFRESHER FOR ALL)

As a new Bright, what is the most important thing you can do at this moment? It is this: Act to help enlarge the constituency in ways that are informative and beneficial to the overall endeavor.

Some Brights like to await suitable situations. They speak up only when the most appropriate circumstances arise. Others are at ease with mildly affirmative actions. A few activists are printing out flyers and wearing T-shirts to start conversations. How you proceed is entirely up to you. But, whatever you do, know your stuff!

Do you know the definition by heart? -- A bright is an individual with a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements. (People who are non-brights are called supers.)

Are you clear on the three major aims of the movement? -- 1) Promote the civic understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview. 2) Gain public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance. 3) Educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such individuals.

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WHAT EVERY BRIGHT CAN DO

You can recognize that the noun / neologism "bright" is a tool to lift awareness. It serves to bring together a lot of people of diverse beliefs around a generic umbrella. The category is affirmative, not reactive. It is independent of reference to religion. It simply groups together all the people whose worldviews are naturalistic. They are all brights. They can be pragmatic about their marginalization in society. They can come forward to better address the circumstances. You can help others to focus on what unites and collectively distinguishes, rather than on points of belief or philosophical difference.

You can also perceive both the new term and its definition as memes. By using either or both of them, you can raise consciousness. You also spread the word about what is essentially a civic justice endeavor. As you speak up in a sociable and self-confident manner, more people gain awareness that there are in society persons who have a wholly naturalistic worldview. And, when you speak out as a Bright, others who have a naturalistic worldview will have the opportunity to become aware of the movement.

The movement seeks to better the civic position of people who have a naturalistic worldview. The idea is not to press others to adopt a set of beliefs. It is more to intrigue those who already have a naturalistic worldview. They have an alternative self-identity option. More of them can step up and be themselves. As they do, there are beneficial effects in society at large.

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HOME SWEET HOME ? (REGISTRATION COMMENTS)

Naomi [California, U.S.]: "It's good to find a group that is 'home' to me. I've been alone for so long..."

Yves [France]: "I'm glad I found The Brights' Net. I have felt a little alone until now! Thanks!"

John [Armed Forces Europe]: Baghdad, Iraq registration, sans comment

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FORUM CALENDAR PROJECT NEEDS "SPONSORS"

Having an annual Brights calendar facilitates our promotion of the new noun term, of the naturalistic worldview, and of the website. Thanks to the prior calendar project, we had a product in short order, and about 300 people are now happily keeping track of their dates and events on a beautiful Brights calendar. (These purchasers probably bought their calendars mostly for the sentiment of having #1, since the very idea of a Brights annual calendar appeared only in late December 2006 and didn't become available for another month.) The planning for annual calendar #2 began last month in plenty of time for 2008.

Brights need to know that an annual calendar is being produced as a service to constituents. The calendar project is not a fund-raising endeavor (sales bring the organization just $1 per calendar over production costs). Due to royalty demands, though, the current project has experienced a setback. The 13 pictures selected for the calendar are going to cost roughly $500 (13 x $38 = licensing of the photos of the cover and 12 months).

Brights Central is calling for at least 25 Brights to support the calendar project by donating at least $20 each. We are hopeful to get the $500 needed right away so as to have Brights calendars available for purchase on Lulu.com early in the "purchasing season." All donors (IF they wish) will be credited for their support on the website.

The easiest way to donate is PayPal, which is secure and easy to use. If you don't have an account you will need to register (no charges to you). Over 1500 Brights have used PayPal for pins and donations, and we have never had an incident of any type. PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/ Earmark your donation as "Calendar Sponsor."

Donating by mail: The Brights Net / 163418 Fort Sutter Station / Sacramento, CA 95816
(U.S. Dollars only please)

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A FEW BRIGHTS STATS, FYI

The Brights' Net continues to experience healthy growth, much of it attributable to the controversy generated by recent "The New Atheism" discussions growing out of book releases (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others). At its height in the month of January, we registered over 1,500 new Brights. That has dropped back off but has averaged 850 Brights per month across the past five months. That brings the total to over 32,000 Brights in 143 nations.

In the month of June, the number of successful URL requests within the-brights.net domain was 1,294,285, which is an average of 43,159 "calls" per day. The three top referrers were: MySpace, Stumbleon, and Google.

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FRIENDLY BRIGHTS GIVE WEBSITE ADVICE (REGISTRATION COMMENTS)

TOO SCARY-DUMB IT DOWN, PLEASE
(anonymous) "I'm very pleased to sign up and be counted. -Your site is so highbrow it is likely to frighten people off. It lacks Mr. Dawkins' 'smile'. Sorry - but it is a bit pompous! Dumb it down a bit! We - the average internet-user, are not all great brains - just interested human beings who want to be counted. If I was younger and had read less on the subject - I might look at this site but I doubt if I would be signing up. Scary! Thank you - I look forward to my first update.

MORE EYE CANDY, PLEASE
(Randel, USA) -- "Thank you for everything you are doing. The meme grows ... If I may? Your website needs some right brain. Memes express faster on the right side. Pictures, charts, maps. ya gotta have some candy. I am bleedin' amazed two people have the courage to do what you do... Thank you!"

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DYNAMIC WEBSITES BY INDIVIDUAL BRIGHTS

http://civilbrights.net
http://uk.brightsonline.net/

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BRIGHTS GROUPS BY CITY, NATION, AND INTERNATIONAL

Brights Groups form when an individual want to communicate with other. There are Brights groups in cities, states, nations, and internationally. Will Morris, the Brights Constituencies Coordinator has just made a survey of all Brights Groups. You can see the listing at:
http://www.the-brights.net/community/blc/list.html. If you have your own interest in starting a Brights Group, contact Will at blc-coordinator@the-brights.net

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POSITIVE ABOUT BEING POSITIVE (REGISTRATION COMMENTS)

Jane (Wisconsin, U.S.): "Thank you, I love the positive term instead of the negative ones that have always been used that imply that I'm defective in some way because I don't buy the fairy tales as fact."

Katherine (Tennessee, U.S.): "Your website and information helped me to further define and explain my beliefs because since being an artist without religious beliefs I had trouble putting it all into words. Thanks for helping me further putting my beliefs into words."

James (Ontario, Canada): "I am very glad to identify myself with a word that starts a conversation instead of ending one."

Silas (Brazil): "It's amazing to be able to stop using negative adjectives or nouns to describe ourselves (e.g. atheist, agnostic, skeptic, etc.) and to reduce the prejudice against non-supernatural citizens."

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BEING A "SKEPTIC" IS A NEGATIVE ? (REGISTRATION COMMENTS)

EDITORIAL FOLLOWUP: In his registration remarks, a youthful Silas sheds additional light on his reasoning:

"Religious people were speaking about a website of utterly naturalistic worldview, and then I noticed I was a Bright. I'm just 16, but am sure that my natural brain is not able to understand supernatural issues. That's why supernatural deities/forces are not important to me. I'm waiting for the day I'll be able to 'come out' and face the prejudice and rejection of many, beginning by my family and christian friends!"

Many people, like Silas, simply have an "utterly naturalistic worldview." As with him, "supernatural deities/forces are not important." Positive terminology like the noun "bright" is just a beginning, but it's a necessary one to go forward in a new direction, one that doesn't treat a useful trait such as skepticism as grounds for rejection by family and friends.

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SIG-2 THE UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE

BACKGROUND: The general project description is at: http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/sigs/sig_two.html

SIG-2 is now about to embark on its first project at the Edinburgh International Festival in August. More details can be found in the SIG-2 forum where the first POLL is now active. SIG-2 members are invited to indicate their interest by voting. We will be posting a report once the festival is over.

If you have registered as a member of SIG-2 then you will be able to access this forum to observe, take part in the discussions or vote in the polls.
http://www.the-brights.net/forums/forum/index.php?showforum=100

For general information on SIG-2 and/or registration see:
http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/sigs/sig_two_moreinfo.html

If you are experiencing any difficulty in accessing this forum then e-mail emo@emotel.co.uk for assistance.

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VOLUNTEER NEEDED

Someone with experience as a counselor may be interested in writing to a Bright in Texas (snail mail) that does not have a computer and needs some advice. Email the-brights@the-brights.net and put VOL ADVISOR in your subject line.

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U.K. BRIGHTS SURVEY UNDERWAY

BLC leaders in the UK are drawing up a profile of UK Brights to perhaps help to determine the nature of future Brights initiatives. With the help of polling services provided by The Brights' Net an online survey regarding the self-identification of more than 3,000 Brights in the UK is in process.

So far more than 500 responses have been received, and this is an exceptional result, representing more than 15% of those invited to participate.

If you've not seen your invitation to take part, please check your e-mail accounts to find it. If you have seen your e-mail invitation but have not yet replied, please take the time to do so now as time is running out! Make your views count, fill in the survey today. Thanks!

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SHERWIN WINE (1928 – 2007)

Rabbi Sherwin Wine recently died in a car wreck while on vacation. He was the founder of a movement in Judaism that says there is no reason to believe in a god. The Society for Humanistic Judaism has 10,000 members in 30 congregations in the U.S. and Canada. Humanistic Judaism is but a small organized segment of the world's secular Jews (secular in the sense of a naturalistic outlook).

According to the American Jewish Identity Survey by the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York, about half of the 5.3 million Jews in the U.S. identify themselves as secular or somewhat secular (in the same general sense).

Perhaps this information will be helpful to Brights who are curious to understand how some individuals who identify by religions (e.g., as Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims) can also be brights. Rabbi Wine's obituary can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/25/us/25wine1.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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LOCAL CONSTITUENCIES NEWS FROM WILL

It's been a short time since I've been given the generous opportunity to work as the BLC Coordinator for Brights Central, but in that time, we've seen quite an impressive surge of interest for starting Brights local constituencies. Some are in their early stages of development while others are off to a great start with meetings and plans for action. The list is as follows: Adelaide, Australia; Montreal, Canada; Belfast, UK; Wales, UK; Alaska, US; Los Angeles, California; California Polytechnic State University; University of Montevallo, Alabama (US).

We've also been working with establishing nation-wide constituencies in both Brazil and Poland. Anyone interested in joining one of these groups can find contact information at: http://civilbrights.net/groups

I started an online Brights group on the new RichardDawkins.net social-networking website which currently happens to be ranked as the most popular group on the site: http://www.richarddawkins.net/social/groups/thebrights

Finally, an updated list of all BLCs is located at: http://www.the-brights.net/community/blc/list.html

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NORWAY AND THE NAME

Gunnar of Norway is exploring an appropriate translation for the noun Bright. He suggests keeping Bright, or perhaps KLAR. Says he:

"This word means 'clear' or 'bright' as in 'a bright day'. But it also means 'ready', 'evident'. (KLARE is the plural). Any comments? Send to BC to pass along to Gunnar. the-brights@the-brights.net

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BOOKS BY BRIGHTS

"An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam" by Taner Edis - Enthusiastic Bright http://www.the-brights.net/people/enthusiastic/index4.html Author of other books, his "An Illusion of Harmony" examines science and Islam today and provides an intriguing alternative to the Christian-centered approaches that dominate current thinking about science and religion.

"Seeking Truth: Living with Doubt" by Steven Fortney and Marshall Onellion. This book is the result of a poet (Buddhist Yankee) and a physicist (agnostic Southerner) teaming up to write about understanding the physical world and the transcendent.

Both books (and 55 others as well) are found at http://www.the-brights.net/people/books/

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A BRIGHT'S CHEERY STORY from U.K.

"We went to a wedding yesterday and our two year old son Alex was with us. He's a chatterbox at the best of times but given that this was a church wedding, it gave rise to a few laughs.

My favourite was at one point, when the vicar finished a sentence with the word 'god' and paused, probably for dramatic effect. Then Alex deflated all drama by shouting out at the top of his lungs...'What's that?'

The vicar chose not to answer this searching question…"

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REFERENCE GUIDE TO PERSONNEL AND OTHER BRIGHTS INFORMATION

http://www.the-brights.net/reference_guide.html

All previous Bulletins may be found in the right column of the home page at http://www.the-brights.net

Bright Regards Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net

A bright is a person with a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements.


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