Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 3 entries for this date: Aaron Copland , Jawaharlal Nehru and J.M. Robertson
Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland

On this date in 1900, Aaron Copland was born. The great American composer of numerous ballets (including Appalachian Spring), operas, symphonies and orchestral works (including El Salon Mexico), concertos, film scores (including Of Mice and Men), chamber music, piano and choral works, was not religious. "[A]lthough retaining strong memories of the music he heard in the synagogue and at Jewish weddings," Professor Howard Pollack writes, "Copland evidenced little direct connection with Judaism or Jewish culture. He was neither religious nor observant. He rarely attended a synagogue service. . . His friend and protege, Leonard Bernstein, would tease him by saying that he was not a 'real Jew.' To all appearances, and by all accounts, he was what many might call a secular humanist." Professor Leon Botstein writes: "He emerged as an adult without an ongoing connection to religion." The Protestant sentiments in lyrics such as "Simple Gifts" from Appalachian Spring reflect, of course, the beliefs of Shaker American settlers, not Copland's own world view. Aaron Copland lived and died as a nonbeliever. His will specified that his funeral service, if any, be "non-religious." [Leon Botstein, "Copland Reconfigured," Aaron Copland and His World. (Carol Oja and Judith Tick, editors,) Princeton University Press, 2005] D. 1990.

“[On "inspiration"] To explain the creative musician's basic objective in elementary terms, I would say that a composer writes music to express and communicate and put down in permanent form certain thoughts, emotions and states of being. These thoughts and emotions are gradually formed by the contact of the composer's personality with the world in which he lives. He expresses these thoughts . . . in the musical language of his own time.”

—Aaron Copland, "A Modernist Defends Modern Music," New York Times, December 25, 1949

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru

On this date in 1889, India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was born to a humanist father and Hindu mother. Nehru was educated in England and Cambridge University and practiced law. He became an early protege of Gandhi in the 1920s and spent much of 1930 to 1936 in jail for civil disobedience campaigns. He was imprisoned for 32 months during the Quit India campaign, during which he and Gandhi pledged support for Great Britain during WWII only if India were freed. Upon the liberation and creation of India, Aug. 15, 1947, Nehru became the nation's first Prime Minister and led the nation through its turbulent beginnings for 18 years. Nehru, a rationalist and agnostic, believed in industrialization, education and mildly socialistic policies. Under his tutelage, India adopted a constitution which decreed a separation of church and state. During the Cold War, Nehru appealed to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to start nuclear disarmament. Nehru authored several books, including his autobiography. His only daughter, Indira Gandhi, became Prime Minister in 1966. D. 1964.

“I am interested in this world, in this life, not in some other world or a future life.”

—Jawaharlal Nehru, cited in Who's Who in Hell by Warren Allen Smith.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

J.M. Robertson

J.M. Robertson

On this date in 1856, John Mackinnon (J.M.) Robertson was born on the Isle of Arran, Scotland. He left school at 13, joined the staff of the Edinburgh Evening News in 1878, and several years later moved to London so he could work on the National Reformer, Charles Bradlaugh's publication, which he edited it until 1893. That year Robertson founded the Free Review, which he published for two years. He lectured in the United States in 1897- 1898. In 1900, Robertson traveled to South Africa to report on martial law for the Morning Leader. From 1906 to 1918 he served in Parliament. Robertson specialized in comparative mythology, and believed Jesus never existed. He wrote Christianity and Mythology (1900) and Pagan Christs (1903), still influential works. Other books include Short History of Christianity (1902) and Short History of Freethought (2 volumes, 1915). His expertise extended to economics, linguistics and politics. "No man has rendered higher service to British Rationalism in the last four decades, and few, especially among self-educated men, have attained such reputable command of so many branches of culture," wrote freethought historian Joseph McCabe in 1920. D. 1933.

“Petronius was surely right in saying Fear made the gods. In primitive times fear of the unknown was normal; gratitude to an unknown was impossible.”

—J.M. Robertson, Pagan Christs, 1903

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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