Consider the religious values of those you admire

Tuesday, Dec. 6
December 6, 2011
Jake P. Lipari
December 8, 2011
Tuesday, Dec. 6
December 6, 2011
Jake P. Lipari
December 8, 2011

Not long ago, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition ran a series on philosophers and writers who have affected modern day thought. One person they featured was Ayn Rand. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1905 and moved to Chicago in 1926.

After six months in Chicago, Rand went to Hollywood to pursue a career in screenwriting. She married Frank O’Connor and stayed with him for 50 years until he his death. She died in 1982 in New York City.

Her philosophy of life is best stated in her best-selling novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

Ironically, when it was first released in the late 1950s, it was not a big hit. Among her admirers today are Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan and House Speaker John Boehner.

In 1957, Mike Wallace interviewed Ayn Rand on CBS television. Wallace asked Rand, “One principal achievement of this country in the past 20 years, particularly, I think most people agree, is the gradual growth of social, protective legislation based on the principle that we are our brothers’ keepers. How do you feel about the political trends of the United States?”

Rand answers: “I feel that it is terrible, that you see destruction all around you, and that you are moving toward disaster until and unless all those welfare-state conceptions have been reversed and rejected.” She is saying that these programs are destroying individual liberties, especially the freedom of producers, entrepreneurs and businessmen.

Wallace then says, “I imagine that you’re talking now about taxes.”

Rand: “Yes, I am.”

Wallace: “You believe that there should be no right by the government to tax. You believe that there should be no such thing as unemployment compensation, regulation during times of stress.”

Rand: “That’s right. I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy.” These are the positions that some people advocate today.

However, when we look at some of her other statements, about religion, about values, and immorality, I wonder how the so-called Christian Right can follow her teachings.

Let me give you some examples.

Rand wholly rejected religion. She called it a weakness, even a parasite, one that convinces people their purpose is to work for the betterment of others.

In fact, she says, the truth is just the opposite. “Man’s highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness.” Yet Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Luke 11:28)

Rand once said, “Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves, or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”

This is just the opposite of what Jesus taught, “What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” (Luke 9:25)

Another quotation, “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Jesus stressed the opposite: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Again Rand says, “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism (selflessness) that men have to reject.” Jesus told us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Unfortunately, Rand’s prediction about classes was also wrong: “Upper classes are a nation’s past; the middle class is its future.” Just the opposite is happening in the United States.

The teachings of Jesus must penetrate our whole lives, our economy, our way of thinking and our way of living. Rand’s values are obviously not based on Christ’s teachings.

True followers of Christ live by them.