If you take a closer look at the photo that comes with NASA’s announcement of their new director for the Goddard Space Flight Center, you’ll notice something rather intriguing and delightful.
Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, the first female to lead the Maryland space center, opted not to take her oath on a conventional holy book such as the Bible, but instead on a copy of Carl Sagan’s 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot.”
Keith Cowing, the founder of NASA Watch, noticed the unique choice of oath-taking literature after Dr. Lystrup’s swearing-in ceremony last Friday.
“Normally I ignore these faked photos, Cowing said. “But this snapshot has drawn some strange comments from onlookers.”
— Dr. Jessie Christiansen (@aussiastronomer) April 6, 2023
While Dr. Lystrup’s decision to use Sagan’s book for her oath may seem “unusual,” it is perfectly legal in the United States due to the separation of church and state.
In fact, there is a long-standing tradition of political figures using books other than the Bible to make a statement during their swearing-in ceremonies, including works by Dr. Seuss, Superman comics, and various non-Christian religious texts.
This, however, appears to be the first instance of someone being sworn in on a book by Carl Sagan.
We wholeheartedly agree with Cowing’s admiration for Dr. Lystrup’s choice of literature. It is interesting to note that NASA chose not to mention this detail in its official blog post.
Cowing, a former NASA employee himself, humorously remarked, “Why do I have this compelling impulse to submit my resume to Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland? It’s safe to assume that anybody who does this is an awesome boss.”