BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JUNE 2010
Reality Is Awesome!
The university-based Brights group at California Polytechnic operates on a "reality is awesome" theme. Recently the CP Brights translated its upbeat emphasis into a new T-shirt design with a twist on the Brights' icon. View the "I [heart] Reality" T-shirt, fresh out of the box, on the Expressions and Illuminations page.
Activities of the CP Brights lean to the positive. Participants' message for their peers is simply that superstitions and easy answers take away from the empowering value of knowledge. You can view a panorama of CP Brights' activities on their FaceBook pages.
The Brights Forum has spawned The Brights Chess Team at Gameknot.com, an international chess gaming website with nearly a million registered users. Continuously active since August, 2009, the team was started by 5 people who met at the Brights Forum. The team members hail from
Australia, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, UK, USA, and one member comes from "E.U."
The team's homepage promotes the Brights' definition and agenda, and the team has a sister team in Reality Check, which is comprised of "atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and freethinkers," who like the Brights' message of civic equality. The two teams have traded some members back and forth, and carry on inter-team tournaments.
Early on, membership grew so fast that the invitation to join was withdrawn and member "Cheepnis" stepped up to help team captain "Mushin" with team management. The team is ready to grow again.
Anyone can join the Brights Chess Team for free by visiting Gameknot at this link. Of course, the Forum welcomes all comers, too, at this link.
Reactions to BC's "Baby Clothes Action"
Last month's Bulletin reported on Brights Central's withdrawal of certain items from "The Brights Shop at Café Press." For example, infant clothes with the Brights icon would no longer be available. The action was taken in order to better achieve consistency with a stated registration policy. [Parents are not supposed to register their children into The Brights' Network, although any youth who independently ponders the website's explanatory material is welcome to act upon it and register him/herself into this constituency of individuals.]
Hemant Mehta (an Enthusiastic Bright) made immediate mention of the inventory changes on his "Friendly Atheist" blog, citing it approvingly. Needless to say, some of his readers begged to differ. (And, as is the case with most any collection of commentators on blogs, a few posted their flawed understandings with vehemence.)
Still, at least attention was drawn once again to the policy, as remarks of one recent youthful registrant made clear:
N. (Canada): "I am 15 years old, and joined this community without any parental guidance. Just so you know."
Preparing Youth through Exposure and Enquiry
Last month's Bulletin quoted Rebecca Goldstein's views on religion and prompted some thoughtful feedback. This example from John (UK), much abbreviated:
"I was very interested to read the extract from the interview with Dr Goldstein ('Religion is a place where people can take their existential dilemmas, and their need for community, and their sense of the mystery of existence, and their fear of death, and their moral uncertainties, and their need to feel their lives to be of significance, and their disgust at their own distasteful impulses, and...')
However, it seems to me that it merely shows how we fail in educating and bringing up our offspring to deal with these issues sensibly and rationally. Dr Goldstein seems more despairing of ever being able to change attitudes than I would be. Attitudes are shaped by early influences; therefore, from birth we should be encouraging children to question absolutely everything, and giving them rational answers.
Such enquiry is shunned by almost every culture: in the Far East because of a cultural obsequiousness, and in the Middle East and the Americas by religious custom... Jesus encouraged awkward questions, despite predicting that brother and brother would fall out. Nevertheless, every religion since has demanded that no-one rock the boat. Ideally we should be teaching no religion in schools except as a comparative exercise to try to distil basic common threads, and then bringing those threads together as a social and moral framework without any need for reference to gods or superstition..."
New Books by Brights
Why Don't We Go To Church?
(for ages 7 to 11) by Rosalind Eagle and Gail Miller
helps young people deal with religious conflicts. It also opens a door for parents to talk with their children about different beliefs.
Buying Books by Brights (or Purchasing Stuff by Anybody - on Amazon)
We really appreciate those of you who dependably begin with the links on the Brights site before shopping on Amazon websites. These cumulative actions each month add up! In fact, you folks are now (almost, not quite) sustaining The Brights' Net's contract for SalsaLabs database and emailing services along with the Internet connection for the month! May's purchases yielded 25
GBP (UK) and $241 (USA).
The Brights homepage
also has a link called "Amazon Purchases" in the right hand column, which can lead you to our "The Brights on Amazon.com" search boxes.
Technical Note: An occasional person has complained that the Amazon graphic link does not display. Typically, the problem traces to an ad block setting on their browser and is easily resolved.
Brights Registration Comments
Andrew (California, USA): "This is amazing, this is the next thing I hope becomes an accepted view in this culture. Amazing stuff once again, thank you."
Merlin (UK): "If only my father could revel in this pageant of naturalistic lustre."
Karl (California, USA): "I'm inspired by the fact that there are so many people out here who also share my naturalistic worldview while recognizing at the same time how diverse we all are. I think such a collective realization can make the world a more peaceful, happier place over time."
Larry (Germany): "I have long wished that atheists and agnostics had a place to be 'counted' as you call it. This would at least serve to show that we are not just on the fringe of society... Hopefully this is that place."
Clay (Texas, USA): "I feel so alone in a small Texas town."
Pratt (Wisconsin, USA): "Having been raised from birth to be a 'born again' with no choice in the matter, I have finally seen the light. But it's been hard to call myself the 'A' word given the stigma around it. So, it's good to know I am a Bright and that there is a place I can belong."
Nathan (Utah, USA): "I'm an atheist, a bright, and am proud to be; not because of some misplaced sense of pride, but because through being so, I can change the world for the better."
How I heard about the Brights
Joshua (NV, USA): "Dawkins, I think, or Dennett. One of those boys."
Viviane (Germany): "I did some research about naturalistic/atheist communities, because it turned out that most of my friends do believe in supernatural phenomenons."
From BC: There are indeed some atheists who give credence to supernatural agency, whereas Brights do not. It's a distinction with an instructive difference.
Oops - Are You Missing the Main Message?
We've read what some say about "what Brights believe" but will have none of it. Caution! - Undue attention to "convictions of Brights" can easily lead you astray!
Belief/nonbelief is NOT the focus of the Brights community. Ours is a constituency of individuals. There is no intent to have an identifiable common core of beliefs that "all Brights" have to share. There is no manifesto to which the Brights of many stripes must give heed. There is only a (type of) individual worldview broadly shared. Simply put - No supernatural or mystical elements are present in anyone's (any Bright's) worldview.
So, what's the deal? This endeavor is rooted in individual action with a civic thrust (3 civic aims; 9 principles). It centers on a CIVIC vision of equality for people who have a naturalistic worldview.
So, the more Brights who actively engage constructively with fellow citizens on matters of mutual concern, the more Brights will "illuminate and elevate" the naturalistic worldview. Toward that end, Brights are to be open about their personal version of the naturalistic worldview. Increased visibility brings more social awareness that many citizens have a naturalistic outlook.
Please, do your part to spread word of the Brights movement. When opportunities arise, simply invite another person to check out the website.
Some will see themselves as fitting the definition, and perhaps then register (as Brights). More importantly, though, is the point that ALL who visit will learn about the movement's civic aims and vision of civic equality.
Nordic GLBT Online Community
Michael (Sweden) has started a Brights group in the largest online Nordic community for GLBT people & their friends, Qruiser. After registering into Qruiser.com, one can reach the brights club at: http://www.Qruiser.com/clubs/club.php?id=114802
Ex-Clergy Wish to Communicate
Brights Central's inquiry as to whether former clergy in the constituency - or any Brights having or having had some sort of role of leadership within a religion - might like to communicate with one another did receive enough response to move forward. So, setting up a mechanism for communication will be another task for June's "to-do" list.
Texas Ratifies Conservative Curriculum (USA)
Texas state school board gave final approval to controversial social studies standards that minimize the separation of church and state. The changes could have reverberations far beyond the
Lone Star State's schools and its 4.7 million students.
The state's large textbook market has traditionally led the way for others; at minimum, Texas students will get very different history lessons than does the rest of the country, as early as next year. Many teachers, academics and politicians on both sides of the aisle have condemned the standards.
Reader Reconnects and Commits
Andrew (New York): "I do not read every BC bulletin, but I did finish this last one and it rekindled my enthusiasm for the movement. I will be the change I wish to see in the world, and I salute you all for doing the same!"
From BC: The powerful Gandhi quote: "You must be the change you wish to see..." spurred several such affirmative comments from Bulletin readers.
Bookmarks Top Requests in USA
Ordered the most in the last month were the bookmarks! Is it any wonder? - They are free in the US and distributed at cost internationally!
Brights' Forum Exhibiting Categorical Confusion?
One Bright was perplexed by the revised General Discussion Forum structure, which was reported in a prior Bulletin as:
The Brights' Movement and the Forum
Brights in Society
Life, the Universe, and Everything
The Natural World
Gavin (Australia): "What distinctions are intended when 'Everything' is listed as a mere ingredient listed along with 'Life' and 'the Universe'? As in this case, BC frequently has no answer for the queries it receives from Brights. ;-)