Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Bright? I Should Say So

This blog has been streamed to Brights Online Blogs for a while now, but beyond occasional email correspondence with Bob Churchill, I had yet to meet or chat with any of my fellow Brights. So it was great last night to get a chance to do just that, at a meeting in the Pitcher and Piano in Holborn. It was surprisingly well-attended, possibly because of the presence of a Channel 4 film crew. Well, I say crew, it was actually just one bloke with a camera, filming for a documentary about atheism being made by Rod Liddle. Mr Liddle himself was not in attendance, which made me wonder a bit about how our little gathering will be presented in the finished film, but it will no doubt make for interesting viewing when it hits TV screens, sometime in October.

Thanks to speaker Martin Freedman I now understand a little more about what the Brights is all about — an online commmunity of individuals which, I was relieved to hear, does not intend to become another 'ism' — but which instead wants to concern itself with the 'marginalised situation of Brights (for Brights, or brights, read anyone with a naturalistic worldview) in the political and cultural landscape of world society'. A sort of civil rights movement for anyone who doesn't subscribe to supernatural nonsense. Or, as Martin put it, subnatural nonsense. Supernatural just gives it too positive a spin.

Reassuringly, though perhaps not surprisingly, much of what Martin had to say about the origins of the Brights chimed with thoughts and feelings I have had over the years, particularly the insistent use of negative terms to describe what, for me, is an extremely positive worldview. Regulars to this blog (I flatter myself that I have any regulars, but I live in hope) will know that the head teacher at my children's primary school really got up my nose at a meeting a while ago by repeatedly referring to 'non-believers, people without faith' and so on, ad nauseum.

Although the term 'bright' itself is not universally popular (one argument against it being that by self-identifying as a Bright you are declaring yourself smarter than someone who is not a bright — well, I say, if the cap fits…), there was general recognition of the need to claim a positive word to describe ourselves. Personally, I think that now that the movement is up and running and has a worldwide constituency, the aims are what's important, the name is no longer relevant. There are much more significant things we can spend our time discussing — if you don't like the name, get over it.

All in all, it was a very interesting do, although as one bloke pointed out: 'It's all very well us lot sitting here violently agreeing with one another. What are we going to do about it?'

Well, what? I suppose just staying interested and not losing hope is a start. What with so much superstitious nonsense still floating around as accepted wisdom and the rise of religious fundamentalism across the globe, it does often feel like us rationalists are swimming against a very strong tide. And that's without getting started on all the other rubbish — astrology, alternative medicine, feng shui, etc — which is replacing religion in the lives of many otherwise intelligent people who can't quite grasp the irony of swapping one set of superstitions for another.

I'm going to continue to blog, as and when I feel inspired (and have the time). And now that I've made contact with the London Brights (I fully intend to make it to future meetings — I wasn't just there to try to get my face on the telly, honest) I'm hoping that that will be pretty frequently. I've already got a few ideas milling around in the grey matter, more of which soon...

As you asked. I recently discovered that my grandfather was an atheist so we have four generations including my son. I am particularly proud of the latter who has withstood the influences of a catyholic school and the "carers" at his accomodation. He is recovering from schizophrenia with people with some very strange beliefs - not related to the illness.

I also have a blog at


where you can get to his website.

I blogged about my own introduction to the term "bright" here: http://bob.seldo.com/?p=4

Glad to hear it went well! I wonder how much material they can use if Liddle didn't actually show?
I expect they did a few interviews on camera as well, before we got there. The Humanist Association have apparently provided them with some stuff too.
I'd find it rather insulting if Mr Liddle didn't turn up to the filming of his own show - no doubt there'll be a sardonic voiceover on the finished programme. I always thought he was quite cut-price. More Rod Lidl.
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