The Brights' Bulletin
January 31, 2008
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
FEBRUARY 2008 BULLETIN
NEW: A FACEBOOK PROFILE
“The Brights” is live on Facebook. Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” sets the tone. Your suggestions for a unique approach to further development and/or additional features may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org Please put FACEBOOK in upper case in your subject line.
NEW: VISUALS ON HOME PAGE
Webmaster Kevin has installed something new on the home page. It’s a stream of images of “Enthusiastic Brights” with links to their mini-bios. New visitors to the site will therefore encounter persons who have voiced support for the Brights endeavor. You can view this addition at:
More visual content for the site is in the works. Video producer Liz projects that the first “Brights Talk” mini-video will be ready for installation in February.
LOCAL GROUPS GROWING
From Will, Groups Coordinator:
“There is some very good news to report. After comparing the newest report with the first report that I sent 5 months ago, it appears that almost all of the groups have had an increase in membership. The numbers are as follows:
- Groups that met in person grew overall by 15% (from 1619 to 1858 people)
- Online groups grew overall by 20% (from 2976 to 3596 people)”
ALASKAN BRIGHTS – SMALL BUT POTENT
It doesn’t take large numbers for a Brights Local Constituency to make a difference. What it takes is collaboration and action. Consider this, from a report by Bradley to the Alaskan Brights constituency:
“The charity activity seemed to go well. We as a group donated 87 books to the McLaughlin Youth Center for their much-in-need library. (One of their science texts was from 1948! - gasp)”
The youth center’s library shelves are now “brighter” in terms of more appropriate science resources, thanks to the Alaska Brights.
Those Brights in the broader international constituency may be interested to know that Bradley’s group is but five Brights strong!
BLCS “BRIGHTEN” THROUGH ACTIONS!
Congratulations to the Alaska group for selecting and accomplishing its project. Apparently, members undertook to address a perceived need. Then, they plucked from personal shelves appropriate books to donate. A simple activity, and well aligned with the overall aims of the Brights movement. It shows what even a very small BLC can do!
EVEN SUPERS LIKE THE BRIGHTS’ CALENDAR
SITUATION: Son is Enthusiastic Bright. Mom is not so pleased about his having a naturalistic point of view (she’s a super).
ACTION: Son shows mom his copy of the Brights 2008 calendar.
RESULTS: Now he no longer owns it.
It’s a true story! Hemant Mehta said that his mother liked the Bright’s 2008 calendar so much that he just ended up giving it to her. Like its 2007 predecessor, this 2008 version is upbeat. And, unlike a freethought calendar, it presents a naturalistic outlook on its own - without reference to religion.
NOTICE: The 2008 calendar will be available online for about two more weeks. You can still order yours (USD $15.04) at: http://www.Lulu.com/content/1098547
Special thanks go to the anonymous bright who bought a hundred calendars for December gifting!
LOOKING TO 2009 ALREADY
The Brights’ Forum is already discussing ideas for the next Brights’ calendar. Would you like to weigh in on the discussion about 2009? If you are a Forum member (or if you join as a member), you can participate at:
Register as a member of the Brights’ Forum at:
WANTED: A POSITIVE DEMOGRAPHIC
The OUT Campaign has been launched by the Richard Dawkins Foundation, with its message of, “Atheists - Come OUT!” It is beneficial when individuals who identify as atheists can be forthright. But will an “atheist” demographic ever be broadly appealing to mainstream Americans?
One atheist activist who lives in Texas and is active in several atheist organizations envisions a political constituency that “can be defined in its own positive terms.” He makes his case in “Why Bother with the Brights?” (The essay is posted on the Brights’ website.)
In short: Marvin speaks of “a demographic that can easily be described by one name which identifies its members as being in favor of a naturalistic worldview, as rejecting supernaturalism in life and in state policy, and as recognizing an ethics that owes nothing to mysticism or revelation.”
Read the complete essay at:
Urlik (Denmark): “Now I can go on the World Wide Web and feel right at home - thank you for this great initiative!”
Ruth (Arizona, USA): “Can I list Bright as my religious preference when found on forms? I don't intend for that to sound cheeky.” Answer: Perhaps simply state: "No religion; I am a Bright”
Simone (Florida, USA): “I'm not a-theist. It's just about you. You are the theist. Why should I be defined on your beliefs?”
Rachel (California, USA): “I think I'll have to get used to a constituency organization - it is so refreshingly different from most organizations! Thanks!”
Dennis (U.K.): “You seem to espouse everything I have been struggling to understand from the age of twelve.”
Uriel (Japan): “i am 8 years old... feels right to be (a) bright.”
BRIGHT SPOTS AROUND THE WORLD
With Liechtenstein and Papua New Guinea recently added, 148 nations have at least one Bright! The Brights Net has been growing at a fairly steady pace recently, averaging about 800 registrations each of the past few months. Still, people register great surprise at discovering this different sort of community.
Damian of Fiji: “I have been a lonely atheist for a long time, its heartening to know, through this site, that there are so many others like me out there.”
TOUCHING BASE - TEAMING UP
Co-director Paul participated in a recent Tampa Florida meeting with leaders of most freethought organizations that serve Americans who have naturalistic outlooks (many variants: ethical culture, atheists, humanists, secularists, secular Jews, military agnostics and atheists, rationalists, etc.).Also attending were U.S. representatives for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
Exchanges centered on ways and means of cross-organizational communication and possible initiatives for cooperation. Discussion continues via list-serve.
COLLABORATING ON YOUTH EDUCATION
From The Brights’ Net perspective, one of the more important outcomes of the Tampa meeting was a follow-up meeting in which both co-directors participated. (Mynga was already attending the main meeting to represent a related educational project.) Both met with three other organizational leaders interested in jointly pursuing an initiative to be centered on youth education.
The proposal under consideration involves the idea of forming a repository of high quality educational “activity resources.” The focus is upon activities that are fun for children and which exist to expose and to educate, not indoctrinate. Offering families with a naturalist bent such a resource upholds a Brights Action priority regarding rearing children in secular ways that corroborate with a naturalistic understanding of the world.
Making these accessible online would enable parents across the world - as well as teachers, local group volunteers, camp counselors, and others - to take up educational activities with youngsters. This project is only a few days old, so stay tuned for developments.
A BRIGHT ADVISES
A registration comment by Ferenc (Hungary): “The most important thing is to prevent the indoctrination of children, and that goes for both religion and other ideas like communism as well. Having been brought up in a communist country myself, I should know. Oppressing religion and advocating communism was not the right attitude. Now we are experiencing a rebound of religion in Hungary.”
U.S. PRISONERS RECEIVE "A LITTLE BRIGHTNESS"
Prison inmates have no Internet access. Those who have a naturalistic worldview have few opportunities to associate with or hear from like-minded people. Some, though, have gotten word of The Brights, and several have mailed letters to Brights Central asking for information.
Across the last eight months, Joel, a volunteer Bright in San Antonio, Texas, has responded to 17 such people and provided information on The Brights' Net and a monthly newsletter.
His "A Little Brightness" typically consists of selections from The Brights' Bulletin and an extended article or two from Humanist Network News (http://humaniststudies.org/enews/) or a blog.
A recent article put these inmates in touch with the “Freethought Books to Prisoners” project (http://www.freethoughtbooks.org/), and some have already sent in book requests.
Most of Joel’s newsletter recipients have written him back. Several have asked to be registered Brights somehow, despite their being without Internet. Each letter gets a personal reply, often with requested materials such as information on a recovery program or a recommended reading list. Every letter from these inmates expresses deep gratitude for this channel of communication.
THE COMING ELECTIONS (USA)
As a nonprofit educational organization, The Brights Net cannot sanction any direct political action. And besides, the Brights Net is a constituency; it doesn’t speak for you.(Brights have to speak and act for themselves.) Nevertheless, BC can point Brights to useful nonpartisan resources that uphold the overall aims of the movement.
THE QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK: Frish (Fearless Leader of the LA Brights) notes that it is important for Brights to actually find out candidate’s views on such matters as separation of church and state and religious liberty. So, he pointed his BLC group to a useful listing of questions posted by the First Freedom First. You can find these at:
RESEARCH YOU CAN DO: American Brights may wish to review available information with which to judge whether a candidate would place a person who has a naturalistic worldview into a lesser position than the rest of the citizenry. As citizens hear from a decreasing number of candidates, the task gets easier.
Contender’s key positions and comments are readily available at The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's website. [Its "Religion and Politics" section encapsulates positions and statements made earlier in the competition.] The nonpartisan information sheds light on what candidates themselves have said on certain issues, such as stem cell research, faith-based initiatives, environment, and education. To start a review with the “separation of religion and government” topic, go to:
BRIGHTS ACTION-SIG 1: Individual American Brights who wish to enter into lobbying activities can always do so (for themselves). Collectively, Brights can help to fortify the Secular Coalition for America. SCA lobbies on behalf of Americans who have a “nontheistic” outlook. One way to do so is by joining Brights Action-SIG 1, where you can register support for SCA’s mission. The registration for this Special Initiative Group is at:
A BRIGHT HOLIDAY SEASON
Brights purchased $2,143 worth of books and materials on Amazon in December. The 73 orders provided $134 in revenue to the organization. Thank you, shoppers, for remembering to shop through the Brights web site!
Get in the habit of shopping at Amazon through the website.
2007 DONATIONS STATEMENTS (USA)
The Brights Net, a U.S. 501c3 nonprofit educational organization, has completed the annual notification (for donors’ tax deduction purposes). If you contributed in 2007 but did not receive yours, or have any problems with the statement, email Paul (email@example.com).
Remember: Brights (that’s YOU!) are THE source of funds for running and enlarging this endeavor for everyone. So, don’t let BC’s groans about the annual task of sending out the several hundred tax deductible statements inhibit your giving! With more resources, more gets done!
BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS
“Books by Brights” is a listing of books written by Brights. There is information on the author and a brief synopsis of the book’s content.
Books by well-known Brights, such as Dawkins, Dennett, Pinker, Shermer, Randi, Edis, and Pigliucci are not included in the listing – they get plenty of coverage. “Books by Brights” helps everyday Brights who have written a book to get a little boost. Visit:
AUTHORS: Brights can take of advantage of the service when their book relates to the overall Brights’ endeavor. Before you submit any work for consideration, be sure to check out this link on how-to-do-it:
READERS: To purchase ANY book check out Brights Amazon for prices and availability. Click the U.S. or U.K. link, and 6% of your purchase will be credited to The Brights’ Net (at no additional expense to you). Actually, you can buy anything that Amazon sells and The Brights get 6-10% of the sales cost.
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
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Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net