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: George R.R. Martin , Upton Sinclair and Robert Emmet
George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

On this date in 1948, novelist, screenwriter and producer George Raymond Richard Martin was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. Martin, the son of longshoreman Raymond Collins Martin and his wife Margaret Brady Martin, grew up with siblings Darleen and Janet watching the boats come in and out of the docks. Feeling isolated, Martin turned to literature for inspiration, devouring fantasy and science fiction novels. He even began writing monster stories, selling them for pennies. Later selling his fiction to comic fanzines, Martin was first published in 1970. Martin earned his B. S. in journalism, graduating summa cum laude, and a Masters from Northwestern University. During the 1970s, Martin wrote part time, working also as a VISTA volunteer and as a chess director for the Continental Chess Association. In 1976, he became an English and journalism instructor at Clarke College in Iowa. Martin moved to Santa Fe in 1979 to pursue his writing passion full-time, receiving Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards for his short fiction. Venturing into Hollywood, Martin took a position in 1986 as a story editor for “The Twilight Zone” at CBS, and as executive story consultant for “Beauty and the Beast” in 1998, quickly moving up to co-supervising producer. During this period, Martin served as vice-president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

In 1996, A Game of Thrones was published, Martin’s first installment of the epic fantasy series that would launch him to celebrity and become his magnum opus. A Feast for Crows (2005), the fourth novel in the series called A Song of Ice and Fire, became a New York Times No. 1 bestseller and was nominated for a Quill award and the British Fantasy Award. The next installment, A Dance With Dragons (2011), was heralded an international success, remaining on the bestseller list for 88 weeks. That same year, the first book was adapted by HBO into the Emmy-winning hit series Game of Thrones, of which Martin is the co-executive producer. The following seasons received further critical acclaim, with Martin winning two Hugo Awards to accompany his other laurels, which include six Locus Awards. Exploring the inner turmoil of the human condition, and blurring the borders between right and wrong, good and evil, Martin’s novels are as stirring as they are thrilling. A man with a firm moral compass — he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War — Martin persuades readers to confront their beliefs, to question bedrock assumptions, often killing his darlings to the dismay of his fans. Martin was married to Gale Burnick (1975 to 1979) and in 2011 married Parris McBride.

“You would consider me an atheist or agnostic. I find religion and spirituality fascinating. I would like to believe this isn’t the end and there’s something more, but I can’t convince the rational part of me that that makes any sense whatsoever.”

—— George R.R. Martin, Entertainment Weekly, July 12, 2011 (George R.R. Martin Talks ‘A Dance With Dragons’, Interview by James Hibberd)

Compiled by Noah Bunnell

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair

On this date in 1878, Upton Sinclair was born in Baltimore. As a boy, his two heroes were (the anticlerical) Shelley and Jesus Christ. Sinclair paid for his education at the College of the City of New York and Columbia University by writing for newspapers, magazines and boys' weeklies. Sinclair's sixth novel, the muckraking classic, The Jungle (1906), catapulted his literary career. The Jungle brought a presidential inquiry into stockyard regulations, and resulted in passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act (1906). Raised in an Episcopalian family, Sinclair was skeptically deistic as an adult, never quite losing his boyhood admiration for the moral teachings of Jesus, but going after organized religion in his book, The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918). In the preface, which Sinclair wryly titled "Offertory," he explained, "This book is a study of Supernaturalism from a new point of view--as a Source of Income and a Shield to Privilege." A cursory scan of its chapters reveals its thrust: "The Priestly Lie," "The Great fear," "Priestly Empires," "Prayer-wheels," "The Butcher-Gods," "the Holy Inquisition," "Hell-fire," "Anglicanism and Alcohol," "Bishops and Beer," "Trinity Corporation," " 'Suffer Little Children,' " "God's Armor," "The Unholy Alliance," and "Riches in Glory." Sinclair was an activist socialist who ran for public office, unsuccessfully, several times. Over his lifetime, he wrote 90 books, many of them political novels. He won the Pulitzer in 1942 for Dragon's Teeth, about the rise of Nazism. D. 1968.

“There are a score of great religions in the world. . . and each is a mighty fortress of graft.”

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—Upton Sinclair's Magazine, April 1918

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert Emmet

Robert Emmet

On this date in 1803, Robert Emmet, the Irish patriot and infidel, was hanged. Born in 1778 to a Protestant family, he attended Trinity College in Dublin, until he joined the United Irishmen. He fled to France in 1800 after the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was crushed. There Emmet became a Deist and met Napoleon and Talleyrand. For organizing an aborted uprising against the British upon his return to Ireland in 1803, Emmet was condemned to death. Refusing to permit a priest's ministrations, Emmet called out on his way to the scaffold that he was "an infidel by conviction," according to the History of the Irish Rebellion by Maxwell. (Source: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists by Joseph McCabe.)

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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