The Brights' Bulletin
October 31, 2007
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
NOVEMBER 2007 BULLETIN
TWO NEW NATIONS
Welcome to Eyob, the first Bright in Ethiopia. The first registrant from Saint Kitts & Nevis is Susie. There are Brights’ in 146 out of 192 nations listed by United Nations.
A QUICK TAGLINE SURVEY
After a decision on this topic was made and announced (the tagline would be “elevating the naturalistic worldview”), a small number of additional suggestions rolled in to Brights Central. The most intriguing was the request to include in the official tagline the term “illuminating.”
Interestingly, none of the suggestions we had received initially had included that term! Nevertheless, two justifications were supplied by those emailing BC: (Concept 1) the Enlightenment tie-in, and (Concept 2) light as a form of education. Bowing to some persuasive aspects in arguments presented, Brights Central is reopening the issue and conducting a poll of all subscribed Brights.
Notice hereby: We can stay with the current tagline (“Elevating the Naturalistic Worldview”), OR we can expand it to include the concept of “illuminating.” Which would you prefer? Cast your vote at:
GREAT VIDEO FOOTAGE ON THE WAY
The video material from the September 29 video shoot in Washington, DC has been edited down to the usable content (by video standards). At Brights Central, we will soon begin the process of selecting content and designing small information segments apropos to posting on the Web. We have not yet viewed the mass of video. However, a rather large task lies ahead. We received this news from Liz (a volunteer producer in Virginia who has edited down the material): “You guys will have a hard time picking what you want to use – there’s so much good stuff!”
A MEME FOR ACTIVISM - OPEN AND FREE!
Although the Brights movement may seem simple on the surface, it has some deep features that are quite unique. Recognizing a few counterintuitive aspects, one Bright (Marvin, in Texas, USA) set about to decipher and explain them. The result is an insightful essay about some underlying aspects of the Brights’ endeavor. “A Meme for Activism – Open and Free” offers some practical analogies and usefully contrasts the Brights movement with The Brights’ Network (organization). Find this essay at:
The Brights’ Network welcomed over 800 new Brights in October. Altogether, slightly over 34,500 individuals have registered. Next goal (after 35,000) will be growing to 50,000 Brights. To achieve that target well before the end of 2008, it is important that you do your part to extend this movement for civic justice for those whose worldviews are naturalistic. (The organization is dedicated to the secular concept of a level playing field of social acceptance and civic participation for all, inclusive of people who have a wholly naturalistic outlook.) The Brights’ website holds the keys to anyone’s understanding the nature of this endeavor, so even if you are not a Brights activist, you can still invite persons to view the site when appropriate occasions arise.
SELF-IDENTITY MEANS EXACTLY THAT
Whether you see yourself as an agnostic, an atheist, a humanist, a Lutheran, a Jew, etc. is entirely up to you. All registered Brights retain full charge of their self-identifying terminology. What The Brights’ Net encourages is that all constituents who favor the Brights’ endeavor “employ movement terms” whenever, and as often as, they themselves deem it appropriate to do so.
In order to spread awareness, a great many Brights favor using the term, while others prefer to employ the definition. Either way you have in hand a positive assertion. Either approach offers you a means of self-identity that serves the movement. Both present opportunities to raise consciousness of others regarding the movement. Both ways are utterly and rightfully free of any reference to religion.
The degree of activism is up to the individual Bright. Many Brights relish being brights and announce that identity freely and often. Others prefer to declare their “having a naturalistic worldview.” Whichever your preference, you can proceed to characterize and explain your outlook in your own fashion, being consistent with the definition of a bright. So, again, it’s up to you how you identify yourself and characterize your outlook. Others, by the way, do NOT have the privilege of doing it for you. It’s your call!
LUMINOUS BRIGHTS CALENDARS
Be ready for 2008! Order your own Brights calendar (US$ 15.04). While you are at it, order a few extras to give to others. They are “print-on-demand” and available to you at: http://lulu.com/content/1098547
Please also help spread the news of the calendar availability! Tell others about them. Show yours to acquaintances. Add text and link to your email signature line. These international version calendars are just so unique. They were designed by online collaboration in the Brights Action Forums. Thus, the naturalistic worldview in various forms shines through. Each calendar purchased supplies $1 to the Forum’s advertising budget (currently used solely for marketing more calendars).
For those who have a website, please take a look at the pictorial ad of the 2008 Brights calendar in the upper right corner of the home page. http://www.the-brights.net Now is an especially opportune time to install a “calendar ad” of your own to spread both the news of the Brights movement via the calendars.
Also, if you have suggestions for free or low-cost marketing of Brights calendars, you may wish to examine the Forum thread on that topic at:
REPORTER LOOKING FOR A BRIGHT TO INTERVIEW
Lilly Fowler says: "Hello. I'm a reporter in Los Angeles working on a story on Brights who still identify with a religious tradition (Judaism, for example). Please e-mail me if you are bright who falls into this category. Thanks much. firstname.lastname@example.org
BC’S THANKSGIVING TO SUPPORTERS & DONORS
At Brights Central, we are grateful for two forms of giving. There are the folks who give so generously at the equinox to support our activities, and there are the volunteers who commit their time to maintain The Brights’ Net’s operations. You folks are definitely the backbone of the endeavor, and we do so appreciate you all!
Since no organization can function without fuel to run the operation, we want to heartily thank all the recent equinox donors! The Brights’ Net will definitely be chugging along at full speed with the resources provided by the wonderful generosity exhibited by a small minority of the entire constituency. For the other 98.8% of you – YES, there is still time to make an Equinox donation!
INBOX - REGISTRATION COMMENTS
Albert (Washington, USA): “I like the positive focus of this effort. I feel there is a growing need for it too.”
Jay: “I am pleased to be a Bright. (Indeed so much so that you should consider issuing certificates to members so they can display them in their homes -- good advertisement for the organization. Members who would like one should be willing to cover the cost.)”
Rohan (Sri Lanka): “This seems like a great social experiment, if nothing else. It's good to find others like me.”
Steve (Virginia, USA): “I almost felt like crying when I found out about this site. My isolation in a field a believers seemed complete. I look forward to exploring this new world.”
Eduardo (Brazil): “[I am] unpleasantly amazed how the mystical and no-evidenced knowledge is spread even in such science-related fields as medicine.”
Thomas (Nottingham, UK): “Thank you for setting up such a group. It's actually quite reassuring to know there are so many other like minded people out there!”
BRIGHTS GET MENTION IN SPEECH
Daniel Dennett, an Enthusiastic Bright, accepting an award at the Atheist Alliance International conference, gave mention to the brights/supers contrast. He also added a new term to use when conceptualizing the “non-brights” of the world. (They are the “murkies,” but Dennett’s exact spelling is unknown at this point.) If you are curious, or just otherwise interested, you can view the entire speech (including two intros: Julia Sweeney of Richard Dawkins, and Dawkins of Dennett). See at:
BRIGHTS AND BULLDOGS
Remember Darwin's bulldog, Thomas Henry Huxley? He earned that “bulldog” label for being a pugnacious defender of evolution. Why not something similar to uphold the Brights movement by combating commonplace misreadings in blogs, articles, etc.? These “Bulldog Brights” (note the purposeful reversal to help set “bright” in context as a noun) could sniff out the misstatements. Upon locating a fallacy, the Bulldog Bright would dash in to post appropriate response.
In correcting an error, though, perhaps a Bulldog Bright need not be too pugnacious. In fact, we suspect that civilly providing the authentic information to rectify the error is far more likely to advance the movement. After all, the idea is to shift the playing field toward increased social acceptance and civic fairness for all brights, not to engage in quarrels.
There can be as many “Bulldog Brights” as there are Brights who like to take on investigative challenges (and have the time). Brights' Central has identified the most common misconceptions and has a set of tested short responses useful for politely correcting them. We will supply them to you if you are willing to sniff out and attempt to counter statements on the Web that misrepresent Brights' concepts. Apply to be a Brights' Bulldog at email@example.com
TO ADVERTISE OR NOT
Chris, a Bright, recently commented: “…[W]hat about advertising on your site? I'm not being naive, as I'm sure you've already considered this, but I was wondering why there isn't advertising on the site? I do financially support, but I would just love for this thing to really become big... at least to the point where most culturally literate people have heard of the movement.”
What is your opinion? Put discrete advertisements on the website or not? We have leaned against advertising, to a large extent for aesthetic reasons. With more funding comes more visibility and activism. Email your opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org and put ADVERTISEMENT in the subject line.
BEST PLACE TO MOVE (ADVICE FOR UNHAPPY AMERICANS)
Original statement: "I live in America, and I'm tired of it. I'm tired of Christians and they are stressing me out. Where can I easily move that has a high concentration of the naturalistic view?" (Anonymous)
SCANDINAVIA AS A GOOD BET?
“Scandinavia in Europe (that'd include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, even Iceland) has one of the highest ratios of ‘nonbelievers’ - people with an explicit naturalistic worldview, or just people who are undecided. It is a long way from America but I think it might be worth it if the situation is really that bad”(Zsuzsanna) // “I can speak from experience that Scandinavia is in general a very tolerant region.”(Susan) – AND WHERE WITHIN SCANDINAVIA? -- “The best possible destination to move is Sweden.”(Gregory:) // “Sweden has 85% atheists. It's the least religious nation on Earth.”(Anonymous, who also mentions others in his personal top 10: Vietnam, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Czech Republic, Finland, France, South Korea, Estonia.)
OR, PERHAPS, NEW ZEALAND? “I live in New Zealand and we're pretty good.”(Samuel) // “New Zealand is a ravishingly beautiful country with an extremely low level of church attendance and belief.”(David) // “I’m Lisa and live in Auckland, New Zealand. I would recommend New Zealand as a natural destination for this Unhappy Bright.”
OR, OTHER SPOTS, SUCH AS SOMEWHERE ELSE IN EUROPE?: “Just about anywhere in Western Europe you'll find a very low proportion of genuinely religious people.”(Jonathan) // “Brussels, also London, or any other European capital should be a welcome relief.” (Ilja) // “So I would recommend France. It's a great place to live!”(Susan) // “One of the best places I would recommend is Berlin, particularly the Eastern part.”(L) // “I grew up in southern Michigan surrounded by Christian extremists and, like you, couldn't wait to leave. Now I'm living in England and I'm very happy.”(Stephanie)… #CANADA#: “The greatest fortune that befell me was my parent's move to Canada when I was 10 in 1951.”(Ron) // “Try Canada. We're located north of the USA.”(Luc)…#AUSTRALIA#: “Australia may be the place you're looking for.”(Daniel) // “Move to Australia. Nobody cares if your atheist, and Christians don't take their religion seriously even in South Australia, the 'city of churches'.”(Anonymous)… #SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT# “I live in Israel in a Kibbutz which is a small socialist collective community. Therefore, I invite you to move to Israel and volunteer in a Kibbutz (as many people from abroad do). I'm sure you will enjoy it.” (Barak)
WANT MORE SUCH INFO?
Lewis suggests checking the stats, along with a good discussion about the problems relating to collecting data (and some discussion of the reasons for variations between countries) by searching the phrase "a little data please" at this URL:
OLDEST BRIGHT / YOUNGEST BRIGHT?
Forrest in Los Angeles just registered as a Bright. He mentioned that he is almost 91! Is anyone out there older than he?
Who is the youngest registered Bright? (Remember, a child has to be old enough to understand the information presented on the website and register himself/herself independently– parents cannot register their children!)
If you consider yourself a likely candidate to grab the prize (a sentence in the Bulletin telling many thousands of Brights!), then please reply with your own name (we will use only the first, however, unless you say differently), your nation, and your birth date to email@example.com and put AGE in the subject line.
BRIGHT MEETS BRIGHT
Are Brights meeting “their someone” through The Brights’ Net? Occasionally, it happens, or so we have heard. (Perhaps Brights Central should begin logging these reports more formally?)
Most recently, the news is from Will Morris, Coordinator of Brights’ Local Constituencies (BLC Groups). Will reports that he has recently become engaged to Elizabeth Martzel, and he attributes his good fortune to this endeavor. Will has done a great job of supporting the Brights and organizing Brights’ groups around the world. Best wishes to Will and Elizabeth
EASY WAYS TO SUPPORT THE BRIGHTS
Buy ANYTHING from Amazon and you send along 6% or more of the sale – at no additional cost to you! This is an important source of funds for this organization. You must either click through The Brights’ Net’s link on the website or use the following URL:
BRIGHTS BUSINESS CARDS
Brian requested and Andy volunteered to produce a graphic with 6 business cards per page. Print and cut. Andy’s version is located at:
Charlotte in Glasgow suggests: “A little card in a bar...the first domino?”
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
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To advance the civic aims and principles of the movement.
Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net