The Brights' Bulletin
June 30, 2009
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
BRIGHTS' BULLETIN -- JULY 2009
...EN ESPANOL: A shortened version of the-brights.net site is available in SPANISH. So, if any Spanish-speaking friends are curious about the Brights, send them to this site for a brief introduction to all the major elements of the endeavor (Definition, Aims, Principles, Vision, People, and Action).
...EM PORTUGUÊS: There's a truncated site in PORTUGUESE, too, thanks to Gilberto, who compares his translation to the international site as "literally, exactly the same content." [The links to pages point to the actual pages in English of the main the-brights.net site or point to a page translated by the google page translator.] At BC, we also notice all the pictures of Enthusiastic Brights that one finds on the main site. Gilberto has supplied quite a nice addition that you can invite your Portuguese-speaking friends to check out.
Brights Stake Out Territory
Going camping means preparation! A family of Minnesota (USA) Brights wanted to show all nearby campers the family's association with the Brights. So, when Micki and Jeff, accompanied by daughter Cecilia, headed for vacation, they took something special along. Micki tells about the new signs the family included in their gear: "They are made of metal, hung on a shepherd's hook by our camp site and backlit with a tea light. Jeff made them with a plasma cutter."
If you'd like a look at their unique campsite sign, there's a photo now on the Expressions & Illuminations page.
Education and Action at TBN
The Brights' Net's activism is directed to helping more and more persons concentrate on their naturalistic worldview and work in constructive ways to lift their civic status. An educational nonprofit, it does not engage directly in political activity. TBN does, however, notify new USA registrants of the existence of the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), a Washington, DC-based organization that lobbies on behalf of nontheistic Americans. Through the SIG-1 group, we invite American Brights to support the SCA's lobbying activities.
NEWS: Just recently, the SCA gained its 10th member organization and hired a new Executive Director, Sean Faircloth. Formerly director of a Children's Science museum and a Maine legislator for a decade, Sean has hit the ground running in DC. For the latest information on new developments, go to the SCA website.
How I Heard about The Brights
Last month the Bulletin included one person's interesting story and invited other submissions. Of those received, this is the one we chose. You'll see why:
FROM EMILY: "How about from a 3-year-old? I am a nanny for a very religious couple with 3 children (at the time they were 10, 8 and 3 years of age). One day the 10-year-old was asking me a lot of questions about why I was not 'saved,' why I was not a Christian and why I didn't want to attend church services with them. The 3-year-old sat quietly through it all until her sister asked if I knew any other people who were 'like me.' I replied that I had never talked about it with anyone before and the youngest kid said, 'Why don't you become a Bright, that's what my Uncle Scott is?'
"A Little Brightness" Gets Noticed
BACKGROUND: June saw several more incarcerated prisoners writing postal letters to inquire about the Brights. Since prisoners are not allowed computer access, Joel, a volunteer Bright, has for some time helped solve this dilemma. From his home in Texas, he has been condensing monthly Brights Bulletins and mailing his "A Little Brightness" newsletter, often adding items to it. Joel has also helped his subscribers obtain additional reading material.
Now you can read about Joel's fine project in his essay, "Partners for Prisoners".
With the subscriber list growing apace, the task has gotten overwhelming. So, although Joel will continue to introduce prisoners to the project and prepare "A Little Brightness" in readiness for "publication," BC will be relieving him of the necessity to print and disseminate the newsletter. If you would like to help financially as BC takes on this added project, you can earmark your donations accordingly on the main Support the Brights page.
Now Helping Out at Brights Central
BC has long been seriously understaffed in the office. Several dedicated volunteers for Brights' activities exist, and this is marvelous, but most are in other locations. Mike, the web guy, who helps part-time with the site and database, is the only "hired help." More in-house staff has long been needed, but there is brightness on the horizon. Kelly is just now starting her part-time work, and we sure do hope she likes the job. Welcome, Kelly!
SUMMER ONLY: Peter, a journalism student, will be dropping in until he heads back to college. Right now, he's putting forward ideas for promotion and delving into the Facebook situation (it seems there are so many Brights who haven't registered at the main site. So, among other things, he will see if perhaps they will come our way to see the main site and perhaps register.)
Calling Young Brights
FROM PETER: The Brights are looking to expand visibility among young people. One way is for high school and college students to start clubs on their respective campuses. Founding a Brights Club on campuses will create many opportunities for its founders, leaders, members and The Brights' Net organization, such as networking with people on campus who share a naturalistic worldview, an impressive credential on résumés and college applications, growing our constituency, and creating greater acceptance of the naturalistic worldview. If you are interested in how you might proceed to form a club on your campus, please reply to this email and put PETER'S IDEA in upper case letters in your subject line.
From Jan, who administers a Slovak humanist site: "Good day to you my friends, I want to inform you about our website.
...I hope that we will participate more tightly in the future."
Glad to Find The Brights
(New Registration Comments)
Alistair (Canada): "Extremely happy to see something sensible but not preachy. Keep up the great work."
Daniel (Tennessee, USA): "Fantastic: I have been longing for an organization that is not mired in dogmatism for some time now."
Chris (Netherlands): "Great name and style for a unity of atheists and freethinkers. Finally."
Richard (Alabama, USA): "Thanks for creating this group - gives us uncategorized nonreligious types a place to check out others with similar bents."
Azzurra (Italy): "Now I feel freedom under my skin, thank you. I hope you could help me and I could help you to realize a free world."
Ordering Academic Year Calendars
For folks in the northern hemisphere, summer is here! Think about getting a calendar or two before school starts up again to give to a favorite teacher or anyone headed for college. Brights everywhere may want a current calendar to have on hand. (The time is right - this calendar starts with August 2009 and ends with July 2010.)
The Brights' Net's Academic Calendar was crafted by a cadre of Brights via the Forums. Pictures are upbeat and life-affirming. Textual remarks come from participating Brights themselves. This calendar will delight supers as well as brights. (It celebrates science and humanity, with key dates internationally suitable.) For each print-on-demand calendar sold, just two US dollars go to support the Brights movement.
Query From Casey (Canada)
"Hey guys, I am a bright who has recently joined the Canadian Forces and [stating] religion is required, or the option of No Religion Expressed. Although, that may be the case I was wondering what other ideas you may have to write in this field. I was thinking of something along the lines of Naturalist, or even a Bright. I understand that a religion we are not, but when the question is raised elsewhere, my response is always 'I am a Bright.'"
ONE IDEA FOR CASEY: How about lobbying for Naturalistic Worldview Expressed (in place of No Religion Expressed)? Even as you fail to convince, you make a point. And the more people making the affirmative point of their worldview (rather than continuing to be defined with regard to religion) is one point of having the Brights. Of course, you can reply, "I am a Bright" if the intent is to spread the term. Urge them to "Look it up" at the-brights.net.
FOLLOWUP: Here's a bit from the website that is worth recalling whenever one finds the Brights accused of being "a religion": A supernatural-free worldview is not an ideology. There is no creed or dogma to which one can point to reveal (or list out) the philosophical "beliefs of Brights." Nor is "Brightdom" ruled by a hierarchy of shamans or clergy or organized in a hierarchical fashion with those who would reveal "Truth" to the disciples and communicate the essence of it to laity or others. Brights are not followers or disciples; nor are they students of a describable way of thinking or set of values.
Brights' Net Videos
If you haven't checked them out yet, go to the Brights Video page.
Happily Greeting "The Word"
From Jack (California, USA): "I've been looking for an upbeat positive term for what I believe for a while. I've never liked the term atheist cuz it's too vague (defining yourself by what you're not?) and I've wanted something more positive. The term "Bright" will due just fine!"
But Are You Employing "The Definition"?
Certain occasions call for you to quickly launch a CIVIC identity. The "naturalistic worldview" aspect proves very useful. It locates a person appropriately with respect to a whole gamut of supernaturalistic/mystical interpretations of the world that most any bright will likely encounter. You can speak out honestly and with detachment: "I have a naturalistic worldview." Such a simple and straightforward way of characterizing yourself!
The "naturalistic worldview" characterization starts you off fresh. Just a single definition; nothing more. You aren't immediately "summed up" and caught by others' preconceptions. Nor are you set at immediate variance to fellow citizens based on customary cultural traps.
Have you tried it on for size?
When the discussions are of matters like improving youth education, or accurate portrayals of history, or topics like climate change, try it! In our experience, this self-identity slips in readily without defining you by reference or casting you into immediate opposition. If you have already practiced this way of identifying, we bet you are starting to catch on to how you can position yourself forthrightly in order to better focus on whatever topic is at hand while avoiding side issues that other terms invoke. After all, that "free of supernatural/mystical" wraps up a pretty broad realm for you to roam around in.
From Kate (Pennsylvania, USA): "I have to admit - finding this website is a huge relief for me. I live in a small very conservative town and often feel suffocated by the religious majority. This website is a wonderful escape."
From Robert (Ceredigion, UK): "[We] are an island of atheists surround by an ocean of entrenched christians. Its nice to see people organising themselves like this..."
From Dayanna (Utah, USA): "Just want to say a quick thanks for what you do. I used to be a lonely non-believer here in Utah but thanks to you, and organizations like yours, I find myself virtually surrounded by others who (don't) believe as I do. Please know that what you're doing is invaluable. With gratitude."
A Post Script For Dayanna
Oh, but you are a believer, too. That is, we'd bet that many of those folks who virtually surround you via The Brights' Network DO BELIEVE in a great many notions compatible with your own. (These are unspecified, of course.)
Sure, not having "a faith" or "credence in some supreme being" is a departure from the cultural norm. But should "believing" be defined to distract from the wide array of genuine beliefs in other valuable things?
The prevalent milieu is one that socially stigmatizes (as "nonbelievers") those persons who happen to have a naturalistic worldview. This narrow and scornful characterization of people who have supernatural-free outlooks is ubiquitous in the U.S. and has seemingly infected us all. But Brights need not buy into it.
"Alexa" reports on various aspects of websites. It reports that 471 other websites have placed a link to The Brights' Net site. We thank Alexa for its report and the 471 websites for informing others about the Brights' endeavor.
Brights Groups & Meetups
As they evolve, many local Brights clusters appear to have moved toward holding in-person gatherings arranged as MeetUps (using MeetUp.com).The master MeetUp.com website lists 71 Brights groups with a total of 8,414 participants. [These groups are in 61 different cities and seven countries.] The website also lists 3,196 Brights as "interested," but with no leader to take up the task of forming a group.
There's a lot of variety. Some groups started out as Brights MeetUps or clusters. Others appear to be already established entities, variously labeled as freethought, atheist, philosophy, humanist, etc. Presumably, they extend a welcome to all who identify by the broader civic term (as someone who holds a naturalistic worldview).
Solid leadership and actions are keys to successful Brights groups that sustain over time. It is to be hoped that newly formed Brights clusters will have participants who want to engage in constructive activities that align with movement goals.
To see if there is a Brights group in your area or to start a new Brights group, go to the Brights Meetup page.
Special thanks to the many newly registered Brights who donated the symbolic US$5 at registration. Thanks also to those Brights who have registered with PayPal for a 6-month subscription. The Bright's Net is now serving over 46,000 individuals in 183 nations.
Lots of Emails Waiting
In early June, Mynga and Paul arrived in Phoenix where she attended an American Humanist Association board of directors meeting and convention. Prior to that, they had spent 10 days traversing canyon lands and soaking in some breathtaking southwest topography and geology. It was the first joint vacation in two years, and it was really a whirlwind visit. They saw prominent features and landscapes around Mono Lake, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Sunset Crater, as well as some archaeological or cultural sites. Plans to check in periodically with their laptop went astray as the laptop apparently "decided" it was also on vacation. Paul, upon return, faced 2,159 emails that needed processing. (He replies to queries and comments in new registrations, as well as deletes spam items that slip through the filter).
Amazon and You
IF you are going to shop Amazon (books, toys, appliances, etc.) simply route yourself through The Brights URL. When you "arrive" on Amazon's site, you will NOT see any references to The Brights' Net. Nevertheless, the Brights WILL receive from 4 to 8% on any purchase(s) you make at that time, with no additional cost to you.
USA: Put this URL in your address book. Put it on your website. Keep it handy.
You can also use the USA search-box on the website.
UK: Your access route to Amazon is via the UK search-box.