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.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


There are 5 entries for this date: James Joyce , Ayn Rand , Havelock Ellis , Talleyrand and Burton Lane
James Joyce

James Joyce

On this date in 1882, novelist James Joyce (née James Augustine Aloysius Joyce) was born in Ireland, into a prosperous, Roman Catholic family. They moved constantly in search of cheaper lodgings after his father's drinking and financial irresponsibility landed the large family into poverty. James was educated in convents and by the Christian Brothers, who pressured him to become a Jesuit. But Joyce rejected Catholicism by the age of 16. He enrolled in the University College of Dublin in 1898. As a student, he published a broadside, "The Holy Office," in 1904, satirizing the Celtic revival. After living for a time in Paris, Joyce moved to Trieste, Italy, with Nora Barnacle of Galway, whom he married. Dubliners, a book of short stories, was published in 1914. Although James' last glimpse of Ireland was in 1912, as an expatriate he meticulously set his novels there. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in London in 1916, after an enraged Irish printer had destroyed the first edition of the novel in 1912. James and his family, including children Giorgio and Lucia, lived on the continent thereafter. Ulysses, documenting one day in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin circa 1904, was published in Paris in 1922. It was banned for many years in Great Britain and the United States. It took Joyce 17 years to finish the stream of consciousness Finnegans Wake, published in 1939. Joyce employed the idea of "epiphanies," or sudden consciousness, in his work. According to photographer Andres Serrano, when he told Joyce he wanted to capture his soul, Joyce replied: "Forget the soul. Just get the tie right." (Cited in Who's Who in Hell by Warren Allen Smith) Joyce once referred to Ireland as "that scullery maid of Christendom" (cited in "Happy Bloomsday" by Andrew Lewis Conn, Village Voice, June 15, 2004). D. 1941.

“—I'm the queerest young fellow that ever you heard.
My mother's a jew, my father's a bird.
With Joseph the joiner I cannot agree,
So here's to disciples and Calvary.

—If anyone thinks that I amn't divine
He'll get no free drinks when I'm making the wine
But have to drink water and wish it were plain
That I make when the wine becomes water again.

—Goodbye, now, goodbye. Write down all I said
And tell Tom, Dick and Harry I rose from the dead.
What's bred in the bone cannot fail me to fly
And Olivet's breezy... Goodbye, now, goodbye.”
"

—James Joyce, Ullysses (1922)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand

On this date in 1905, Ayn Rand (née Alice Rosenbaum) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to a nonobservant Jewish family. She became an atheist as a teenager. Immigrating to the United States in 1921, she renamed herself Ayn (rhymes with "mine") after a Finnish woman; the "Rand" was inspired by her Remington-Rand typewriter. She worked for Hollywood studios intermittently for 20 years, starting as an extra for Cecil B. DeMille and progressing to screenwriter. She married actor Frank O'Connor in "a 'proper' nonreligious ceremony in a judge's chambers."

Rand's first novel We the Living (1936) was not initially successful. The Fountain Head (1943) secured her place in literature, followed by Atlas Shrugged (1957). Rand's novels promote her philosophy of Objectivism, promulgated in John Galt's famous speech from Atlas Shrugged. Galt termed faith "a short-circuit destroying the mind." Rand's lecture, "Faith and Force: the Destroyers of the Modern World," was delivered at Yale University in 1960. D. 1982.

“Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life as of no value.”
"

—Ayn Rand, character John Galt in Atlas Shrugged (1957)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

On this date in 1859, Henry Havelock Ellis was born in England. The sociologist, who also earned a medical doctor's degree, wrote notably on the psychology of sex and criminal reform. His writings include Man and Woman (1894), Sexual Inversion (1897), which advanced the idea that homosexuality is not a disease or a crime, Affirmations (1897), where his agnostic views are found, and My Life (posthumous, 1940). His landmark 6-volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex, was published between 1897-1910. The forward-thinking sexologist's views—considered so controversial a bookseller was arrested for selling one of his books—are largely accepted today. Ellis hobnobbed with such notables as Olive Schreiner, George Bernard Shaw, A.C. Swinburne and Margaret Sanger. D. 1939.

“Had there been a Lunatic Asylum in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ would infallibly have been shut up in it at the outset of his public career. That interview with Satan on a pinnacle of the Temple would alone have damned him, and everything that happened after could have confirmed the diagnosis. The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a Lunatic Asylum.”

—Havelock Ellis, "Impression and Comments"

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Talleyrand

Talleyrand

On this date in 1754, Prince Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord was born in France. The Catholic priest became an agnostic and was recognized as one of the world's greatest diplomats. Educated for the Roman Catholic Church, he was ordained at 21, and was consecrated Bishop of Autun in 1785. During the Revolution, he became President of the Constituent Assembly and helped frame the Constitution. He proposed the nationalization of church property, and worked for a secular system of education. Tallyrand abandoned his bishopric in 1791, then was excommunicated. Parting with the violent revolutionaries, he went abroad for a time, and upon returning was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was Napoleon's main advisor in reducing the power of the Papacy. His career flourished under Napoleon and Louis XVIII. Tallyrand married in 1802 and was an agnostic. D. 1839.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Burton Lane

Burton Lane

On this date in 1912, composer Burton Lane was born in New York City. “How Are Things in Gloccamorra?”, “Old Devil Moon,” “On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever,” “How About You?” (one of two songs nominated for an Oscar) — these are a few of the beloved standards written by composer Burton Lane that have made it into the Great American Songbook. His most popular work was the score for the hit Broadway musical "Finian’s Rainbow," on which he collaborated with the witty and irreverent lyricist Yip Harburg. Lane was one of the rare composers who was able to work successfully in Broadway as well as Hollywood, writing musicals and composing music for more than 30 movies (including “Dancing Lady” with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, “Singin’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly, and “Babes on Broadway” with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland). He had studied classical piano as a child, and had his first published song when he was 15. When he was 17, he met the Gershwins and was introduced into the society of first-rank songwriters. (Ira Gershwin introduced him to Yip Harburg.) Lane is also known for having discovered Frances Gumm (who changed her name to Judy Garland) in 1934. He had heard the 11-year-old girl singing in a theater, and was so impressed with her talent that he immediately set up an audition with MGM executives where he played the piano as she charmed Hollywood, and eventually the world.

There is no proper biography of Burton Lane, but FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker interviewed his widow Lynn Lane on Freethought Radio during the revival of "Finian’s Rainbow" on Broadway in 2009–2010. Barker asked Ms. Lane how her nonbelieving husband got along with Yip Harburg, who was known for his agnostic and progressive views. “They were exactly on the same wavelength,” she told us. “Yip was writing the words, so more of what he felt was evident in his work. When you’re writing the music, there are no lyrics, so what you get, you get from the melody, and that does not show your political opinions. I don’t think there was anything, of any real consequence, that Burton and Yip disagreed about” (Freethought Radio, 2009). Burton Lane was president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers and served on the board of directors of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. He also collaborated with Alan Jay Lerner (“On A Clear Day”). Other well-known songs he wrote include “Look to the Rainbow,” “If This Isn’t Love,” and “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love” (Songwriters Hall of Fame). Said Barker: "Burton Lane, who didn’t mind mocking religion, came up with a creative melody that matches the genius of Yip’s whimsical, freethought lyrics." D. 1997.

"The Lord made Adam. The Lord made Eve.
He made them both a little bit naive.
They lived as free as the summer breeze,
Without pajamas and without chemise,
Until they stumbled on the apple tree.

Then she looked at him, and he looked at her,
And they knew immediately what the world was fer.
He said “Give me my cane.” He said “Give me my hat.
The time has come to begin the begat.”

So they begat Cain, and they begat Abel,
Who begat the rabble at the Tower of Babel.
They begat the Cohens, and they begat O’Rourkes.
And they begat the people who believe in storks . . ."

—Lyrics from "Finian's Rainbow" song, "The Begats," by Burton Lane

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch, with help from Dan Barker

© 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.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.