The Brights' Bulletin
August 31, 2008
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
SEPTEMBER 2008 BULLETIN
NEW "BRIGHTS ACTION SIGS" FORMING
Three new Special Initiative Groups (SIGs) will soon be announced. Watch you email for the upcoming announcement! Please OPEN IT! These action SIGS are one important way in which The Brights' Net will be forging ahead to expand the voices of Brights.
Your registration into a SIG allows The Brights' Net at any time to combine your voice with that of others who agree with you on an essential conceptual point! It is important to note that a SIG does not represent either The Brights' Net or the constituency of Brights. A SIG represents only its specific membership and raison d'être.
One new SIG is to consist of ALL the Brights who wish to stand for a robust separation of government and religion. BC will be able to report out the number of persons who have a forceful stance on this issue. The exact statement set out for endorsement in SIG 3 is this: "I oppose departures from governmental neutrality that privilege any religion or privilege religion generally over nonreligion, and I oppose religiously-motivated or ill-informed efforts to use governmental power to coerce anyone to support, take part in or fund religion."
The announcement of the new SIGS will appear as BrightenOp(portunity) emails. So, please, examine these statements. Plan to endorse ALL of those with which you fully concur.
MORALITY PROJECT MOVING TO NEXT PHASE
The Brights' "Reality about Morality" Project, is wrapping up Project Area A. Ruban, who leads it, appraises The Brights' Net as prepared to proceed to the project's next steps (Project Area B). That is, he reports a readiness to contact researchers from the international scientific community who will be able to authenticate our set of "scientifically-defensible" statements regarding morality's natural underpinnings.
In conjunction with BC, the team will next assemble a panel, looking to those researchers who have been actively researching the natural bases of morality. You can review both the Project and its Areas A-E at: Morality Project
INTRODUCING A NEW WEBMASTER
We are pleased to welcome Mike as the new webmaster of The Brights' Net! A fellow Bright and a resident of Sacramento, Mike started working part-time on August 12. With Mike's help, we will at long last be able to reduce what has accumulated on BC's "back burner" since Kevin, our original webmaster, got his new job and began graduate school. (Kevin has helped with the webmaster acquisition process, and he now becomes our "webmaster emeritus," the fellow likely be consulted in any emergencies.)
Mike is a 2004 graduate in computer science at the University of California - Davis (USA). He is in the process of learning the ropes now. His full-time job is located fairly close by the office, so he will be stopping by at Brights Central a few hours each week to get acclimated and start to handle some of its priority tasks. (He will work from home on maintenance aspects.) We have plans for enhancing our site capabilities as soon as Mike demolishes the stack of postponed tasks! To our great delight, Mike is already making a difference!
BRIGHTS' CALENDAR EVOLVES
Titled "Basking in the Naturalistic Worldview," the 2009 cover shows a starfish wearing sunglasses! And, instead of quotes from famous historical persons, the wording on the photos has been generated by Brights themselves! (Text is displayed with a bit of whimsy.) In fact, all of the 2009 calendar shows "attitude," and it's definitely a cheerful one. Some things don't change, though. As with preceding versions, Brights' Calendar 2009 displays an enthrallment with the world characteristic of so many people who have a naturalistic worldview. You can look over this delightful calendar (and even purchase one for $14.78 USD plus shipping) at:
Once again, our calendar design process was managed by an international set of Brights communicating on the Forum. Our thanks go to the many contributors, which are listed, along with a calendar description, at the lulu.com site. These project contributors were from varied locations in Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Isle of Man, Sweden, and the USA.
CALENDAR PROJECT SEEKING "SPONSORS"
Brights Central is calling for at least 20 Brights to support our calendar project by donating at least $20 each. We are hopeful to recoup the $400 outlay required for licensing of photographs. The donors - IF they wish - will be credited for their support on the website. Should we receive any extra proceeds, they will got to promoting the calendar (and thereby both its educational content and the overall movement) at select places on the Web.
The easiest way to donate to this project 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 two thousand Brights have used PayPal for pins and donations, and we have never had an incident of any type. Click here to go to PayPal Earmark your donation as "Calendar Sponsor." If donating by mail, send to: The Brights Net / 163418 Fort Sutter Station / Sacramento, CA 95816 and be sure to mention the purpose (U.S. Dollars only please).
ATYPICAL BUT A-OKAY
It is important to recognize that The Brights' Net organization is hosting a "constituency" that is hugely diverse. In the civic sense (as fellow citizens) they are all brights (people whose worldview is naturalistic), but beyond that commonality, the people in this Internet constituency display considerable diversity of outlook. Every registered Bright has her/his own viewpoints and beliefs running the gamut on many issues. Lawrence is a new registrant who shows that he really does "catch the difference":
"I have always considered my naturalistic worldview to be private and have had no desire to become part of any ‘group' as a result. What appeals to me here is the assertion that The Brights is not a group, but a constituency of individuals. It may be important to be counted, but I am certainly not interested in being included in any group of people whose purpose is to express unity of thought." (Lawrence)
The following hyperbole is from an "anti-atheist" Bright, who has reached the same level of understanding, but puts his individual opinion in another way:
"ATHEIST - If you have listened to one, you have heard them all.
BRIGHT - If you have listened to one, you have heard one."
In terms of adding new Brights to the constituency, the August has been the strongest month since March. (For the last five months, registrations had stayed level at around 600, but this month has brought a definite up-tick in signups.) Withdrawals from the constituency remain amazingly low for an organization of this size. (It has been fewer than two a month for some time now.)
Don't forget to let others know about The Brights' Net and to remind them of the egalitarian vision of the movement: that those who have a naturalistic worldview should not be culturally stifled or civically marginalized due to society's extensive supernaturalism. Rather, they ought to be accepted as fellow citizens and full participants in the cultural and political landscape
A signature line is one way to painlessly acquaint others with the website. To make one for yourself, see http://www.the-brights.net/movement/downloads/icons.html
THE BRIGHTS' SPOT -- A WELCOMING PLACE
(RECENT REGISTRATION COMMENTS)
Erin (Australia): "I'm really excited about this group; finally some logic and sense has come out of the internet to complement the conspiracies and the porn."
Blaine (Norfolk, UK): "Just to say I am glad to be part of such a community, and your intentions are a breath of fresh air after moments when I have felt frustrated with humanity for leaning back onto religion and losing any sense of logical independence."
Keith (California, USA): "Let us begin to civilize the masses through kind education letting each person reach the aha! moment in peace or pieces."
Bates (Surrey, UK): "A repressed non believer never thought about nonbelief - until thought-provoking questions were posed. A curtain lifted and a calmness found - the clarity in which the world is presented, by simply adapting ones perspective, is a wondrous thing."
Owen (UK): "I fully hope to bring many of my friends to this site."
NEW BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
ABOVE US ONLY SKY A novel by Chris Volkay
World-wide events culminate in the West's three major religions consolidating into one new all-powerful religion and science, meanwhile, is feverishly attempting to create the world's first genetically re-wired and superior human being. With these opposing forces racing toward one another, the world stands on the brink of annihilation.
THE QUEST FOR TRUTH: ON FINDING THE GRAIL by Alex Caldon
After a lifetime as an earth scientist and campaigner for the environment and for peace, Alex Caldon took a step back to reappraise the main obstacles to progress for humanity.
COWARDLY NEW WORLD by William W Morgan
This books explains why we—Homo sapiens—have never solved even one of our basic societal problems, which become ever-more endemic and intractable, and why as we continue inexorably toward non-viability as a species, we will never be able to solve them unless we get rid of our societal system based on coercion.
All books submitted by Brights are listed at:
ONE AMERICAN BRIGHT IN AUSTRALIA
Michael Shermer, an Enthusiastic Bright, recently traveled to Australia. Critical Mass Podcast Blogger Alan reports on Michael Shermer's Adventures in Sydney- Friday 22/8 as follows:
"Shermer made the points that atheism only answers the question of belief in a god which makes no positive assertion about what an atheist believes. He also spoke about all of the other groups, such as agnostics, secular humanists, naturalists, brights, etc. that have tried to escape from the negative connotations associated with the term 'atheism'. He went on to explain that American religion is so virulent because of the separation of church and state, which means that the churches have to compete with each other for money, like businesses; and because of the poor social services by which religious groups are the safety net for those who don't get the care they need from the state, as happened during hurricane Katrina."
Add the above assessment to that offered last year by Sam Harris, who shocked the audience at the 2007 Atheist Alliance International convention by stating that the term ‘atheist' should be abandoned. Perhaps a trend?
THE RIGHT CHOICE
In its "Welcome to the Brights" message, Brights Central states: "It is probably best to steer clear of wasteful and possibly detrimental efforts at persuasion or argument." To this, Grant replied:
"It is this sentence in your welcome email that has reassured me even more that I have made the right choice in joining the Brights. So many organizations indulge in attack and proselytism. I don't believe either of those strategies has the positive outcome that society needs."
IS "B-R-I-G-H-T" EASIER TO SPELL?
I process all emails from Brights, and I also read all the registration comments from new Brights. A great many of these will include some comment about atheism. Strange - I can't help but take note of how often the term is misspelled, as in "I am/was an athiest." Here's a hint: the spelling is exactly as it sounds: "A"-"thE" –"Ist"!
ONE BRIGHT'S EXPRESSION
Why I Do Not Fear Death
To me, the dozen billion years
(a time scale we can't comprehend)
that passed before my day of birth
give comfort for the coming end.
To know that not one atom in
my body at the age of five
remains within me still today
changes the meaning of "alive."
And all the billions yet to pass
after my carcass has decayed
are bookends for a single life
so precious, by their vastness, made.
FUNDS FLOW TO BRIGHTS ACTION (UK)
A while back, The Brights' Net set up an account with Amazon so that purchases within the UK could be recorded and made available for Brights' activities there. The UK Brights leader, Quentin, reports: "Amounts are coming through regularly, which is great."
If you are in the UK, then to direct to the Brights 6% of your purchase price of any item (at no cost to you), the URL to use is:
SEE YOU IN LOS.ANGELES? (USA)
The Brights Net will have a display table at the 2008 Atheist Alliance International convention in Palm Beach and will be promoting the Brights' message. Frish, who leads the L.A. Brights, is staffing the outreach effort. Convention information is at:
Michael Shermer, an Enthusiastic Bright, is a featured speaker this year. Dr. Shermer was the very first person to register as a Bright when "the brights idea" had its initial public presentation at an AAI convention. Registrations by James (the Amazing) Randi and Richard Dawkins follows shortly thereafter.
THANKS TO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING BRIGHTS
Too often we at Brights Central are too engaged with activity to stop and express our appreciation for all of you who support this movement and its civic and educational aims. THANKS TO ALL 41,000+ BRIGHTS WHO HAVE REGISTERED. There is no way the Brights could have become the type of organization it has developed into, though, without those hundreds - perhaps thousands - who have gone beyond the simple step of registering to support the idea. There are so many people – perhaps you!? – who have told others about the Brights, or contributed money to the movement, or given your time. Therefore, we'll take a break and send along some thanks to some of those people. We are recalling these for starters (not placed in any order of importance, by the way, just as they came to mind in a back and forth turn-taking from each of us):
// All dedicated Brights Forum staff // staff activists Will and Diane // web designer and site consultant Theo // staff consultants Mike, Kevin, and Elaine // Quentin, Marvin and all the other volunteer activists // the "almost a hundred" cluster leaders in the Brights movement who are focused on connecting with and serving other Brights // the Forum contributors to the Calendar Project // Joel, who is communicating with prisoners // donors in any amount // the "subscription donors " on PayPal // corporate board members Kay, Jerry, and Kevin // all our illustrious "Enthusiastic Brights" who give occasional mention to the endeavor // David and Liz, the volunteers co-producing the videos // webmasters of sites linked to Brights, especially who keep their content well aligned with the movement // all Brights who read and consider the BrightenOps and take actions as apropos // all Brights who publicly use either the neologism bright or its "have a naturalistic worldview" attribute (both help the movement) // all who offered to do X, Y, and Z when asked // all Brights who expressed willingness to help, but we could not yet find time or appropriate task to use you // all of you who gave $5 or more when registering // all who wear a Brights pin or T-shirt or have a static cling in the window or on the car // all who have created something using Brights imagery // all who have memorized the three aims of the movement // all who sent a "We are here!" (knock knock) card to a politician // all whose mentioning the Brights prompted someone to later register // all who helped in the past, can't right now, but will again in the future // and …
Whew! We'd better stop now. But we must especially thank YOU - for reading the content of our Bulletins. (You apparently did this one – all the way through!)
Paul and Mynga
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
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Bright Regards from Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert at Brights Central