The Brights' Bulletin
July 31, 2009
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
BRIGHTS' BULLETIN -- AUGUST 2009
How She Heard about The Brights
Elsa (Maryland, USA): "Somebody, while riding the Metro, saw me reading The God Delusion and he introduced me to this site."
BC: Be alert to opportunities to direct others to the website. And as for you, did you first reach the site through an intriguing or unusual route? If so, let us know. Email to email@example.com and put HOW I HEARD in your subject line.
A new item on the website's "Expressions and Illumination" page is a diminutive version of a painting by Charlotte, a Bright in New Jersey. The painting was among those she exhibited recently in a gallery. The image is of a bird on the wing, positioned in a doorway between a darkened room and the lighter, brighter world outside.
BC: What spurred this artist to consider the Brights movement when choosing a title for her painting ("Into Brightness")? A bird might fly freely either direction. Perhaps there is a parallel to the closet? Stay in it, or emerge.
Thinking Broadly? - Proceed Locally
The vision of the Brights' endeavor is parity within civic life for people who have a naturalistic worldview. Vision is one thing; action is another. And action can begin very, very close to home!
According to a recent mailing from Americans United for Church and State, actions at LOCAL levels can turn out to be quite decisive. Political clout gained LOCALLY can prove valuable later on. Legal precedents developed LOCALLY can end up having far larger - even national - ramifications afterward.
So, where are Brights to begin their LOCAL actions? One place to consider is the "civic life" that exists among those with whom one is most closely associated. Are all persons able to be open with one another (true to themselves and still valued by the others)? If so, that's a model civic situation. If not, then there's a superb opening for a Bright to start building mutual respect with others. In civil public life, believing differently doesn't negate personal right of conscience of the individual. Citizenship for all!
Presenting oneself as having a naturalistic worldview can be done optimistically and with poise and calm. It need not contest what others believe. A Bright's ability to handle the ramifications of openness capably (with civility and unruffled demeanor) lays necessary groundwork for broader, LESS LOCAL actions yet to come.
The Brights on Twitter
Just arrived there!
(To follow The Brights' Net on Twitter, you must register.)
A Proposal for "Tweeting"
The Brights' Net joined Twitter to spotlight people (individuals, or Brights in a group) who are advancing goals of this movement. Is that you? Then update us on your accomplishments and help us draw attention to actions of Brights that align well with the three major aims listed on the home page.
Please DESCRIBE YOUR ACTIVITY in a paragraph or so. Be sure to include your location. We will credit you by your first name and general locality. Leave it to BC to translate your deed(s) while keeping to the 140-character restrictions.
EMAIL TO: firstname.lastname@example.org
IMPORTANT: In your email, put upper case "TWITTER" in your subject line, so that Brights Central (BC) can appropriately convey and condense. (Special thanks go to Peter, a college student at New York University, who has volunteered to assist BC with this endeavor and has crafted The Brights' Net's invitational "tweet.")
ACTION ARENA 1: With your participation, we can continuously challenge the public perception that one cannot develop a strong set of morals without belief in supernatural forces or entities. We welcome hearing about your own actions, whether taken with stranger(s), family member(s), neighbor(s), acquaintance(s), civic or social groups, the broader community, etc.
SEND US PERSONAL EXAMPLE(S)! Twitter anecdotes can show what participants in the constituency are doing now - or what they did recently - as Brights. We want to report more than merely what goes on at BC.
Topping 47,000 in Registry
News of the Brights travels in fascinating ways. Two nations - the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic - seem to be leading a bit of an upsurge. There has been an increase in registrations from other spots around the world, as well.
Choosing Equality over Religion
Jimmy Carter (President of the United States from 1977 to 1981) has severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention after six decades. He characterized the decision as "painful and difficult" but viewed it as unavoidable due to the enduring conduct of male religious leaders who, for selfish ends, selectively utilize scriptural texts to interpret teachings in ways that overwhelmingly subjugate women.
Read Carter's full explanation in this Australian report.
"Evolution Education" Inclinations
Sadly, fellow citizens know all too little about the theory of evolution through natural selection. A great many adults "mis-know" about it, too. Science museums and zoos generally do their best to address these circumstances.
Of course, not all museums and zoos are alike. Several are presenting a distinctly nonscientific view regarding evolution. Recently, some in the international Brights Action Forum were considering this fact. The discussants pondered various strategies that might have some hope to keep open - or perhaps pry open? - minds of such museum/zoo visitors. The online collaboration (guided by "Militant Bright") eventually yielded a draft of a simple two-sided handout. This "Evolution Flyer" drew BC's attention for its brevity, clarity, and surprisingly constructive approach.
Discussants are now looking to identify suitable resources to list on their explanatory flyer, and this is proving a tough challenge. Presuming that the flyer might function to some effect to open eyes, rouse curiosity, or motivate a recipient to engage in reading further, it is clear that any listed resources must be readily available. They must also be captivating and easily understood. BC suggested that folks enrolled in SIG 2 (Categorically Sound Science) might be contacted directly to aid the effort, and the team of discussants is considering that offer.
"Reality about Morality" Project
Earlier this week, BC sent a new postal mailing to scientists who are studying the evolution of morality. This time, our package went to a somewhat larger sample of researchers. (Thanks go to Ruban for collecting the postal addresses and helping to revamp the material based on suggestions received in a previous emailing.) The revised version (along with a new count of studies in support of each assertion) is now updated on the website.
Getting Together Apart?
Alen (Michigan, USA): "I don't know why I didn't look into this sooner. After reading the definition of a Bright, frankly, this community sounds absolutely fantastic. I especially appreciate the repeated focus on individualism. I suppose that's one way to herd all of us cats - which is to say, to not try to... ;)"
Christopher (Colorado, USA): I am not one for identifying with groups. But as this group is defined it is simply undeniable that I belong. I suspect that the loose criteria binding brights-- a criteria that looks rather weak on the surface of it-- may in fact be deceptively powerful. I certainly hope so.
Connect in Languages Other Than English
Seeing this movement expand from a primarily English language endeavor to an international constituency is heartening, to say the least. Since everyone at Brights Central speaks only English, its contact with constituents around the world is limited to Google translation. The Brights movement is, by design, meant to function primarily at the grassroots level, so activists need to arrange for effective communications in their language.
Are you desirous of becoming an activist and meeting other Brights? When a large geographical area is involved, you can establish a Brights community cluster (BCC) on a networking site. Then, once you are set up online, you can draft a bilingual invitation letter. Send it to BC, which can send it along to people in the target area on your behalf. You will hear back from those who are interested.
Prison Activist Subscribes to "A Little Brightness"
Joel (in Texas) and Kelly (at BC) are working jointly to ensure that interested Brights who are in U.S. prisons can receive "A Little Brightness" (Joel's condensation of the Brights' Bulletin). July's newsletter went out to 26 Brights who have no access to computers.
The newest subscriber is Leonard, a proven activist in that he is familiar with striving against unfavorable odds. Rather than accept the "No!" of Minnesota prison officials when he wanted to run for U.S. House in 2006, he sued. And, acting as his own attorney, Leonard achieved a court ruling that convicts could not be disqualified from running for Congress.
Web Connectivity Options
Let Brights Central know if you would like to set up a Brights cluster for a large geographical area where members are unable to meet in person). They could "meet" online. Here are a couple of good mechanisms to consider:
Qlubb.com is a great place to organize members. It offers private homepages for your group, with a public-page option, lets you create calendars of future meet-ups or events. The down side, it's not widely known or used, so you would need to create a Qlubb site and then let us know, so we can send an email alert to people near you.
Facebook.com is well known, and it is easy for people to find on their own. The down side: it's not private.
Google Groups (an example is UK Brights, with 430 members)
Yahoo Groups (As Yahoo states, "millions of groups all over the world")
From the Registration Logbook (July)
Sean (Maine, USA): "As a person who loves science and wonder, I have an incredible respect for a movement such as this. I thank you very much for starting an organization such as the Brights in hopes to educate people on the ways of a nonsupernatural way of thinking."
Bastian (Germany): "I just wanted to thank you for providing this website and informing about Brights :)"
Nichol (Chile): "I'm a Chilean adolescent, and I'm proud of thinking in this way. Is good to know that exists this group in the world, of people who hold the wonderful naturalistic worldview -without gods, but with humanity- Sorry about my English, I speak in Spanish."
Roger (Georgia, USA): "Thanks for helping me cast off the shackles of yesterday, and giving me a genuine star to hitch onto. Love the logo! Keep up the good work."
Matteo (Italy): "Hope this movement will shake some brains."
One Bright Revels in a New Life Ahead
"THE WHOLE THING"
(Song to a Newborn Baby)
Lyrics ©Geoff Mather 2009
Every day is like a new life to you
As you stare open-eyed
So much fascination coming to you
Look around - what do you see?
CHORUS (repeated after each verse):
Come on, come on - let the Whole Thing grab ya
Just stick around let the Whole Thing smack ya
Take a deep breath, here's your One Life comin at ya!
They will tell you that the cards control you
And the stars rule your days
Crystal-gazing does nothing for you
Kick em out, let reason in!
Don't you listen to their bronze-age stories
Of their gods and their ghosts
Take reality and live right in it
Now's the time for you to sing!
Take a deep breath, here's your one life flying at ya!!
A Positive Story
TOLD WITH PRIDE, BY LEA (USA): "I wanted to share a moment with you in which my child faced evangelism from her friends and handled it in a confident manner. Apparently some of her friends were at a Christian camp and were told by their preacher to text message people who most needed to hear that 'God loved them'.
They chose my daughter and my daughter's response was, 'I don't need to hear this. I am loved. Who doesn't love me?' This sounds puffed up, but in the face of friends considering her deficient in some way for not sharing their mystical belief, she was not moved to consider herself to be missing anything. I'm grateful for that attitude and I hope it is one young brights can all identify with.
There is often a concentrated push from religious adults to use peer pressure to proselytize. With support, I hope it is easier for kids and youth to stand up to this push with verve."
BC: How wonderful that your daughter is acquiring a solid sense of self-worth. Besides loving her, perhaps you are serving as a model of "Bright pride?
Americans Favor Science, But Less So Than Before
WASHINGTON (AP Science Writer, 09/07/2009) "The share of Americans who see science as the nation's greatest achievement is down sharply, even as the public continues to hold scientists in high regard. A new Pew Research Center poll indicates that 27 percent of Americans say the nation's greatest achievements are in science, medicine and technology, more than any category other than 'don't know'. BUT that's down from 47 percent in a similar study a decade ago, the center reported Thursday."
International Brights Meetup Groups
Want to find a local Brights MeetUp group? Meetup.com lists 72 Brights groups with 9,092 Brights in 62 international groups in seven countries.
Brights are generally keen on reading, as evidenced by purchases made through the website's Amazon connections. Titles like Classic Indian Cooking, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, Herter Brothers: Furniture and Interiors for a Gilded Age, and The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection exemplify the fact that it's more than books like A Devil's Chaplain or A Field Guide for Science Writers that have been heading to the bookshelves of Brights. (Many of those did also, of course.)
And it isn't just books, either. Electronics appears as another passion, well-represented in purchases. Just this past month, the record revealed that some Bright somewhere now owns a "Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Titanium Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Watch." Another has received a "Kidizoom Digital Camera." Someone somewhere decided that a Kindle (the latest generation 6" Wireless Reading Device) would provide better access to those favorite books!
Amazon and You
When you route yourself through the appropriate URL, you will "arrive" on Amazon's site, but 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 the time, with no additional cost to you.
Last month (June), the USA link yielded $167 for the movement. [American activists: Put the URL in your address book. Put it on your website. Keep it handy.] Others, simply copy/click to purchase (or use the USA search-box on the website). http://www.amazon.com/?tag=thebrinet-21
UK's access route yielded GBP23.99 in June (all proceeds go to the UK Brights). If you're in the UK and wish to contribute through Amazon.com, use the UK search-box on the website.