The Brights' Bulletin
June 30, 2008
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
JULY 2008 BULLETIN
Posted on the website are some examples of "body art," "car art," and poetry inspired by the Brights movement. To see a unique expression of individuality, check out the latest contribution posted! It is a dramatic item of art by Sylvain. Be sure to read her accompanying interpretation, too. Both are at: http://www.the-brights.net/people/expressions.html
AN OPEN DOOR AT BRIGHTS CENTRAL
If you are near or planning to pass through Sacramento, California, please visit the physical hub of The Brights Net. Brights receive a special welcome! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit. As it happens, Brights Central has already has its first international caller. The humanitarian and social reformer, Dr. G. Vijayam stopped in briefly on June 20, the date of the “northern solstice.”
While in Sacramento for four days, he was being hosted by local freethinkers. Dr. V was traveling in the U.S. following his participation at the World Humanist Congress in Washington, DC earlier in the month. Dr. Vijayam is Executive Director of the notable Atheist Centre in Andhra Pradesh, India. A brief overview of the humanitarian and social reform work of Atheist Centre is at:
ONE OUTSPOKEN BRIGHT PANS THE WEBSITE
Philip (Kansas, US): "Friends, you will be happy to hear that The Benevolent Society for the Propagation of Assorted Tomfoolery and Other Sorts of Peculiar and Otherwise Absurd and Baffling Nonsense …is a juggling club mostly composed of outspoken Brights, and indeed, we are spreading the good news. However, it is my duty as President to report that we have been growing concerned with the severe lack of practical absurdity and obfuscation on this official website. In other words, it lacks humor. Also, the Bright movement should fervently support mechanical lawn mowers. Thank you."
Co-Director Paul responded to Philip's indictment with a similar thrust: “I'm not sure mechanical lawnmowers are legal in California (we are in Sacramento).”
The Reality: Although the individuals within the Brights constituency may support or not support lawnmowers of any variety whatsoever, the Brights movement collectively can fervently support only its stated aims and principles.
For a reminder of the three aims, visit the home page at: http://www.the-brights.net.
For the nine principles, go to: http://www.the-brights.net/vision/principles.html
GERMAN BRIGHTS VOCAL AND ACTIVE
Brights Central received quite a set of responses from Germany regarding an item in the May Bulletin that concerned the German website's overall approach. There was a range of positive and negative statements, some calling the site “off track” and others saying it's “right on!” We conclude that the site seemingly represents its general constituency and European situation. The best response of all we received was one activist's call for greater cross-communication with The Brights' Network, and that call will be heeded (not just with activists in Germany, either).
ABOUT THOSE RELIGIOUS AMERICANS
The Brights movement began with a distinctly American-focus, but quickly evolved. BC strives to maintain a global focus, and we definitely appreciate assistance from the activist non-US Brights who aid that endeavor. Nevertheless, we do not hesitate to proceed with a US-centered item when it bears strongly on the overall movement, so here goes…
The Pew Forum for Religion in Public Life has just released its “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.” Its findings corroborate the US's “high religiosity” ranking among the democratic nations of the developed world. To browse the well-presented data, go to: http://religions.pewforum.org
An interesting aspect of the Pew survey centers on respondents who are not affiliated with religion. The survey puts these “unaffiliated” at 16.1 % of Americans. This 16.1% category is further apportioned into segments. After the atheists (1.6%) and agnostics (2.4%) are counted, those in the remaining segment are simply labeled as "nothing in particular" (12.1%).
In 2001, the American Religious Identification Survey had a “no religion” category (14.1% of adult U.S. citizens). Many atheists and some atheist organization began to tout the entirety of that category as “nonbelievers.” Such a claim is not substantiated by either the ARIS or Pew surveys. The ARIS reported a “0.9%” “atheist + agnostic” sum, with the remainder unspecified. The Pew does delve much more deeply into the “unaffiliated” than the ARIS did with its “no religion” category.
Brights Central has begun to explore the possibility of initiating a special service for younger Brights. A June Bulletin item made reference to that fact, inviting any young Brights in the constituency to report their age and possible interest. Here we provide a sampling from the comments BC received.
Brandon: "Why hello there! My name is Brandon and I'm sixteen years old. I just turned sixteen this past April, and dropped religion somewhere between a few months and a year prior. So yeah, reporting as ordered. Interested in this shifty special service."
Kathryn: "I'm a sixteen-year-old Bright living in Canada, and would certainly be interested in any kind of special section for younger Brights.
Michael (UK): "Hello, I am a 'Young Bright'. I'm 15 years old and very happy to be part of this community. Most of my schoolfriends are similarly atheist, and I will definitely be recommending this community to them. I have recently struggled to define myself in terms of religion, but this community has given me not only a religious identity and sense of belonging, but also a way in which I can define myself to others. Thank you for all of your work."
Omar: "hi, im omar, im 16, and im happy to be a Bright!"
Andrew: "I am only 16 years of age for a couple months more, but I'm curious as to what you have in mind."
REGISTERING OF YOUNG BRIGHTS
It has long been stated Brights' Net policy that parents may not register their children. Each child has to make that decision and register him/herself. These comments come from two recent registrants.
Sam (Hertfordshire, UK): “As a 14 year old, I find it endearing to see you don't wish to have child members who did not have a choice to join - such simple acts make the cause all the more worthy. Well done.”
Wyatt (Wisconsin, USA): “I'm glad that there is a place in which I can read about these ideas that I hold as the truth. Being only 17, I'm glad I started early.”
OTHER PLACES TO FIND BRIGHTS
http://www.civilbrights.net/groups (CivilBrights site has world map with Brights Local Constituencies)
http://www.the-brights.net/community/blc/list.html (Onsite Listing of Groups)
http://www.the-brights.net/community/allgroupsmay08.html (69 Contacts for Group Leaders)
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2205094655 (The Brights Group Site on Facebook, 2,400 members)
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Brights/6447182402/ (A Brights FaceBook Site, 1,265 fans)
http://groups.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=groups.groupProfile&groupID=102591166 (The Brights MySpace, 1,605 members)
http://brightsonline.net (Site with a bit of a British Bent and a Brights Web Ring)
ERRORS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
There are many places one may encounter Brights on the Web. One may also come across sheer nonsense in the form of misunderstandings about the movement, or even fabrication. The best way to thwart error and aid this endeavor is simply to politely supply correct information. Do counter the claptrap when you see it. Feel free to copy and paste straight from the website!
Even Brights themselves can cause an onslaught of rubbish. A carelessly expressed personal opinion can lead others to presume that you are speaking for the movement as a whole. If you remember Principle #1, though, you'll know that your outlook on any issue may not be shared by a great many other Brights. Just this week, someone stirred a ruckus in a popular board, prefacing her personal slate of opinions with a “We Brights…”
A unique but vital idea for this movement is that The Brights' Network is a constituency of INDIVIDUALS. To help the movement along, speak as liberally as you wish about your naturalistic worldview, but do so attentively, too, all the while with the movement's overall civic goals in mind. Review the communications policies now and then. They are described at length, beginning at: http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/individual/writing/
Many thanks go to all Brights who have made a subscription donation at the last Equinox. It is extremely gratifying to receive those donations each month from you. Even if they are small, they constantly say “I do support the Brights' movement.” This method also provides the steady flow of funds that enables better planning. We hope that more Brights will consider this type of support option at the next Equinox.
A MOUNTAIN OF READING ONLINE FOR DARWINOPHILES
Many Brights gearing up for the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth may be interested to know that the complete works of Darwin are online at: http://darwin-online.org.uk/
This site contains all his publications, 20,000 private papers, the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue and hundreds of supplementary works: specimens, biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and much more.
About 90,000 pages of manuscripts, field notes, photographs and sketches connected with Charles Darwin are online where they can be viewed free. A gem is his first formulation of the theory of natural selection.
THE BRIGHTS' SPOT – A WELCOMING PLACE
Charia (London, UK): “It's so great to find a place where people who are free from superstition get together and are proud of it. It makes me a lot more confident to assert my atheism and not just keep quiet about it for fear of offending. THANKS!”
Sharlet (Georgia, USA): "I was so happy to hear about your organization. It's high time that a word other than 'atheist,' with its extremely negative connotations, was coined to refer to people who are free from religion."
[Note: Actually, it was coined to refer to people whose worldviews are free of SUPERNATURAL.”]
Alexander (Australia): "I just wanted to say it's a wonderful thing that you're providing for naturalists young and old alike. I think our perspective has been ignored by the media, the politicians and general society at large since the beginning of religion and uniting us like-minded naturalists with a positive movement like this moves me, and I'm very, very grateful for it. Thank you.”
Samuel (Ohio, USA): “I appreciate what your organization is doing to promote ideas of civic understanding towards those with naturalistic worldviews.”
Jessie (California, USA): "I feel that associating with the Brights movement helps me in my own self-image as the type of person I am, and strive to be more knowledgeable…Hopefully one day ALL those who fit the brights criteria will 'come out' and no longer be afraid to do so. Thank you all again helping to propel me to a new point in my life."
Melanie (Pennsylvania, USA): “Thank you for putting a "label" on my beliefs. sounds weird but atheist just sounds bad...because society had MADE it sound bad. this is perfect. i just hope someday i can talk about my beliefs with people who talk about theirs and not get dirty looks and sighs!”
Nichole (South Carolina, USA): “I have referred to myself as agnostic, secular, humanist, atheist, non-religious...I am now pleased to refer to myself as bright.”
Christopher (California, USA): “Having just stumbled upon the Brights out of the clear blue, as a person who has been on the 'search' for a community of reason such as this, I must say I am highly intrigued to learn more. Under no pretense of unnatural spirit, civic action and responsibility being are strongest calling from these pages, and I'm quite happy to have found it. How best can I help this movement?”
[Note: Start with your situation and move toward being open in more situations. Support the thrust of the movement, too. Know the website.”
SECULAR SOLUTIONS TO DRUG/ALCOHOL PROBLEMS
A new registration from a Bright pointed to LifeRing Secular Recovery as a nonreligious network. As it happens, there are other self-help systems of recovery as well. The Addiction Recovery Guide lists a number of secular based programs. http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/treatment/recovery/rational_secular.html
PERSONNEL CHANGES AT BC
The Brights' Net is the nonprofit organization that supports the Brights movement with its online hub of communications and associated activities. At the June 13, 2008 meeting of the legal board of the directors, the board named Co-founder Mynga Futrell as Executive Director of the 501c3 public benefit organization and designated Co-founder Paul Geisert as its Associate Director (for Constituency Services). This shift in responsibility, first suggested by Dr. Geisert for consideration at a previous board meeting, recognizes de facto evolution of roles and responsibilities between the Co-directors. The change in title and job responsibilities becomes effective July 1, 2008.
THE CULTURAL STATUS OF ASTROLOGY
BRIGHTS' FORUM POSTING OF JUNE 28 (a claim by Dolbac Denis that, in France, the importance of astrology is growing, arousing curiosity if one can be both a Bright and an astrology fan): “One of their leading charlatans had foreseen a fantastic "euro football" performance for France because of Plato about to sodomize Venus or something like that...” View the thread at:
You must be registered in the Brights' Forums to state your opinion. You can do so at:
NEWS TO NOTICE (USA)
CON RELIGION, OR PRO CIVIC PLURALISM?
We would welcome notice of any links to video from U.S. presidential candidates if they are speaking specifically on the issue of “civic inclusion/exclusion based on personal beliefs.” Already we are aware of a YouTube video of presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking in 2006 about religion in America. The video is titled, “Barack Obama Versus Religion.” Its title is highly misleading. View the video at:
SCIENCE DEBATE 2008
The concerned citizens' initiative calling for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of environment, medicine and health, and science and technology policy continues to gain support. It is now co-sponsored by the AAAS, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, and signed by over 175 leading American universities and other organizations, representing over 125 million Americans.
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
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Bright Regards from Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert at Brights Central