The Brights' Bulletin
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
BRIGHTS' BULLETIN -- JUNE 2009
What Is a Worldview, Anyway?
The latest addition to the website is a brief PowerPoint presentation. The material, titled "Worldviews: A Brief Introduction," offers a skeletal overview of the subject. With PowerPoint, a Brights MeetUp leader can prompt some wide-ranging discussion of worldviews. (Notes for the leader accompany each slide.)
New Israeli Brights Group
Past Due for Action
BRIGHTS COMMUNITY CLUSTER LEADERS: If you have not yet done so, please take a moment to respond to Brights Central's request for status information on your group! Please do that before our staff volunteer overhauls the BCC page listing in June. Thanks!
Enthusiastic Bright Merits Online Panel
Herb Silverman was recently invited to be an "On Faith Panelist" for the Washington Post online. Herb is president of the Secular Coalition for America (U.S. lobby group for nontheists) and an Enthusiastic Bright. He joins other Brights long represented on the Post panel (Daniel C Dennett and Richard Dawkins).
Herb wants to "keep this job" (traffic counts!), and so he welcomes comments on his views.
A Rabbi Clarifies
How can persons continue to self-identify and associate as Jews, Christians, and so forth despite having personally abandoned credence in any associated supernatural agency or entities?" It is something many Brights find hard to understand. In a Bulletin item last month, BC advanced an explanation. We posed that when a bright self-identifies or associates in society in ways different from one's personally held naturalistic worldview, it is usually due to "familial or social reasons."
That response motivated Adam (a rabbi) to write and say that the situation is "...more than just caving in to 'familial or social' outside pressures; it is a positive part of their personal experience and identity."
Here's what he said about those Brights who identify as Jews:
[F]or them it's generally a cultural identity like being Irish or Latino rather than a vestigial religious identity... Jewish jokes, Jewish food, Jewish history and Jewish languages are building blocks of an ethnic culture of which traditional Jewish religion is simply one part. I would be surprised to hear that one could not be both a Bright and active in Greek culture. Theoretically one can feel they are a "cultural Christian" as well - I recall an article that mentioned that Dawkins himself has a Christmas tree (which he does NOT call a solstice tree)."
How I Heard about The Brights (Most Intriguing Submission So Far)
K.M. (USA) "Hello. I first heard about the Brights a couple of years ago from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous! I had been sober in that organization for a number of years, and was bemoaning its religiosity. I was also talking about being ostracized as an 'open' atheist... even the word alone seemed to provoke hostility and defensiveness from others in the group, the majority of which were relying on their 'higher power' and prayer to stay sober. This other AA member said maybe I'd be safer calling myself a Bright and referred me to your website."
Brights, can you top the above? If so, please let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with HOW I HEARD in upper case letters in your subject line.
And let others know you are a Bright, too. Something in your email as simple as any of the following just may open another's eyes and head them to the website:
"Check out the-brights.net"
"I'm one of thousands in The Brights' Network"
"The Brights - An International Internet Constituency of Individuals"
Reaching The Brights' Website
VIA A PURCHASER -- Brian (Exeter, UK) sent in: "Hi --I heard about the Brights when I saw it mentioned in a customer's email signature."
VIA SPONTANEITY -- Bart (Ontario, Canada): "I was just thinking of the brights and thought 'Why not look on the Internet [to see] if there is such a thing as a central site for brights?' The name 'Bright' is great, because it so nicely suggests what brights are: people who are happy to be alive, without needing some supernatural imaginary friend."
Bumper Sticker "Bump"
Last month's Bulletin announced a new item in the Brights' Shop at Cafй Press. [A new bumper sticker design evocative of the Brights website shows the Brights' icon and website address superimposed over an array of orbs.] What followed was a nice bump in monthly sales of Brights merchandise - all the better to spread the news of the movement!
Perhaps an Even Better Bumper Sticker?
Not to be satisfied with the more stylish bumper sticker, some Brights are now asking that we sell it in a magnetic version (easily removable and transferable). Since Cafй Press does not produce these, Brights Central would have to completely manage the production and fulfillment process.
A bit of foot-dragging accompanies this project, because co-founders have in mind an even more striking magnetic sign: Diane's design, but with a light-reflecting sheen. We saw an example once, and the play of light on the background of orbs is delightful. (It draws notice, too.) If you know of a producer of magnetic bumper signs where such a finish or patina is possible, be sure to let Diane know.
Registration Remarks - New Brights
Chris (Dorset, UK): "I'm not alone in my thoughts and ideas, what a relief!"
Lucas (Ohio, USA): "In an effort to reveal to all the splendid elegance of the natural universe in which we have been created by slow, incremental degrees spurned by aversive stimuli, let us come together..."
Simon (Yorkshire, UK): "I first mentioned my disbelief as an eight year old in an English church school in 1966 and was given a stern lecture! Even then I can remember thinking 'why are they upset at my thoughts when I just think they are being silly but I'm not upset at their beliefs!'"
Coel (Illinois, USA): "Thank you - for creating a realm inside this isolated world where my aspirations, and the desires and ambitions of my contemporaries' dazzlingly-clever minds, can cogitate, convey and consummate under unity of Bright."
Daniel (Tennessee, USA): "Fantastic: I have been longing for an organization that is not mired in dogmatism for some time now."
A Bit of Borrowing, Perhaps?
Some religious groups seem to blossom rapidly. Groups on the "bright side of life" [go ahead - hum the Monty Python song in your head here!] have a less radiant record. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned by local Brights' clusters?
Recently Brights Central received by email a "How-To" for Christian ministers. The sidetracked text focused on strategies to use for "enlarging the congregation." Emphasized was the importance [to the growth process] of how the congregation greeted any new person. Responsibility for providing a timely welcome fell to all members of the congregation.
Original Version For Ministers - "A visitor comes to your church / God has given you an opportunity. / They walk in, they do not know anyone or what to expect yet. / They have come to your congregation wanting to worship. / They walk in without knowing anyone, or what to expect. / Sometimes they are looking for a church home, sometimes a place to come into contact with God. / What they really, really want is a friendly face, a warm handshake, and...well...a friend. / Your congregation is probably very friendly, but unless these guests are greeted and helped within the first few seconds in your building, they will not think of your church as a friendly one."
A Brightened Version? -- A new person arrives at the meeting. / You have an opportunity. / The visitor has personal reasons for coming. / Unless told, you won't know those reasons. / Your group's strategy for those first few seconds after a visitor's arrival, will be... [THINK about it. PLAN for it.]
This I Believe
By Kathryn McAllister (age 17)
I am a Bright
I don't believe in the supernatural.
I believe in humanity
and the goodness inherent within us all
I am a Bright
I don't believe in tarot cards or crystal balls
I believe that the future is bright
and created by humanity's choices
I am a Bright
I don't believe in a god
I believe evolution gave us capacity to wonder
and that's miracle enough for me
I am a Bright
I don't believe in holy law
I believe morality is wise,
and I follow because it's right
I am a Bright
I don't believe in ghosts
I believe our time on earth is short,
and honestly, that scares me
I am a Bright
I don't believe in a heaven
I believe that you might,
and could you respect my beliefs too?
I am a Bright
I don't believe in this futile conflict
I believe we all search for truth
and look in different places
I am a Bright
and I don't see anything wrong with that.
There Are Oh So Many Nonsenses
(Robert, UK): "I've always wondered why we need a word to deny nonsense; I could invent so many nonsenses to deny we'd run out of space for the words!"
Facing a Situation in Schools (UK)
A Bright (name withheld) ponders the British circumstance:
"I am a school governor, in a country that requires schools to have a 'daily act of Christian worship'. The school is great and instead just invites the kids to have mutual respect and behave ethically, with no other recourse than to reason. In fact, this practice has to be hidden on the one hand and have a blind eye turned to it by authority on the other. I want to change things, so that the real achievements can be proudly broadcast. To do that, I need to start standing up and being counted."
Audacity of Truth-Seeking?
RON (Winnepeg, Canada) at registration: "Truth is the rarest of gems. For ages truth was chained by myth and superstition. During these many 'dark ages' a brave few struggled to loosen the chains. Fear, created from myth, maintained by superstition, was used to bludgeon their courageous efforts. But their courage and sacrifice gave us what we call 'the modern world' with all its wonders, and some freedom to carry on in their stead. Perhaps one day we will break the shackles on the 'book of knowledge', and set the truth free, for all to see."
BC Takes a Break
Expect some diminishment of communications at Brights Central in early June. We travel to a conference in Arizona and are adding a week along the way. It is to be spent in national parks in the area (reduced opportunities for Internet). We will be continuing to view registrations and email as we can make connections, but we will respond only to priority items. Thanks for your patience!