It’s Not Patriotic to Complain About Sitting for the National Anthem

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That’s the first amendment to our constitution. Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech… One of the most important founding principles of this problematic country, is that we are free to speak our minds. It is, in my opinion, the principle that defines us best, and the only one that can eventually lead us to a country that is truly just. And, the rub, of course, is when people speak in ways that we happen not to like. The statement, “I hate what you are saying, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” is a reflection of the complexity of this particular founding principle.

The national anthem is a cultural instrument. There is no law, nor could there be, that forces anyone to do anything in particular during the anthem. You could sing “God Save the Queen” at the top of your voice if you wanted to. You could dance, you could stand on your head. And, you can sit. That’s called freedom of speech.

Thoughtless patriotism leads to tyranny. If we don’t want tyranny (few people actually do) we need thoughtful patriotism. And thoughtful patriotism says that when someone sits during the national anthem, they are expressing their freedom of speech. Yay!


Science Fiction and Faith: An Exploration of Intersections

One of the wonderful things that have happened in the last few years is that I have experienced a kind of synthesis of my life’s professional experiences. This fall, I’m teaching a course continues this process. It’s such a wonderful opportunity for me to teach what I’ve been exploring in my writing for so many years.

Here’s the course description:

Science fiction has always had many authors that explore theological and biblical topics. Science fiction has imagined the end of faith, the irrelevance of faith, fictional gods, and new kinds of faiths. Science fiction has explored the limits of science, and the ramifications of faith and religious thought for the future. Science fiction also uses metaphor for the theological concepts of good and evil, heaven and hell, etc.

This course will look at science fiction with a theological lens. We’ll investigate the relationship of science to faith and religion in science fiction. We’ll look at how faith is portrayed in science fiction, and the rich theological landscape that can exist in present in science fiction. We’ll explore fictional religions, humans as creator, and the what faith might look like in the future.

The course will include readings from novels and short stories, non-fiction, and include clips of science fiction films and TV.

Here’s the syllabus.

If you’re interested in taking the course, you can register here.