Saturday, November 3, 2012

Comparatively Speaking

“In 1991, a survey conducted for the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club asked club members what the most influential book in the respondent’s life was. Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.”

This blog post is written for those who claim to believe in both.

John Galt: The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live. (D:771)2

Jesus: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (New Testament John 16:33)

John Galt & devotees: 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. (D:557, 558, 814, 867)

Jesus: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (New Testament Matthew 16:24-25)
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (New Testament John 12:25)

John Galt: His own happiness is man's only moral purpose, but only his own virtue can achieve it. (D:777)

Jesus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (New Testament Matthew 22:37-40)

John Galt: … the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself—and that the proof of an achieved self-esteem is your soul's shudder of contempt and rebellion against the role of a sacrificial animal, against the vile impertinence of any creed that proposes to immolate the irreplaceable value which is your consciousness and the incomparable glory which is your existence to the blind evasions and the stagnant decay of others. (D:776)

Jesus: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (New Testament John 4:34)

My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (New Testament John 7:16)

John Galt: A doctrine that gives you, as an ideal, the role of a sacrificial animal seeking slaughter on the altars of others, is giving you death as your standard. By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose. (D:771)

Jesus: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.(New Testament John 15:13)

John Galt: So I'll warn you now that there is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word 'give.' (D:544)

Jesus: “… freely ye have received, freely give.” (New Testament Matthew 10:8)

Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. (New Testament Luke 6:30)

John Galt: … man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul—that to live requires a sense of self-value, … (D:776)

Jesus: I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (New Testament John 5:30)

John the Baptist: A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (New Testament John 3:27)

John Galt: When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him—by force. (D:779)

Jesus: … resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. (New Testament Matthew 5:39-42)

Francisco d’Anconia: Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. (D:361)

Paul: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (New Testament 1 Timothy 6:10)

Jesus: Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (New Testament Luke 16:15)

Hank Rearden: I work for nothing but my own profit. I earn it. (D:366)

Jesus: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (New Testament Matthew 16:26)

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: … (New Testament John 6:27)

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (New Testament Luke 12:15)

Dagny Taggart: I think that only if one feels immensely important can one feel truly light." (D:115, 180)

Jesus: … whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (New Testament Luke 14:11)

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (New Testament John 8:12)

Dagny Taggart: "This is the place [Galt’s Gulch] where one doesn't ask for help, isn't it?"
John Galt: "That's right." (D:575)

Jesus: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (New Testament Matthew 7:7-8)

When Galt’s words are compared with the astonishingly radical ones of Jesus we see how normative Galt is. Where Galt stokes and strokes the natural man, Jesus offends him. Galt finds the Gospel intolerable because God’s will and ways repeatedly insult the reasonable and rational. Jesus knows there are ways and thoughts higher than man’s.3  Throughout Galt’s lengthy radio address we hear how shocked and offended he is. To bolster his rational, “non-emotional” scold, he (like every offended natural man) distorts and/or disparages, conveniently forgetting the “as thyself” admonition in “love thy neighbor.”

If you (like an astounding number of conservative folk) think that God and Galt are reconcilable, here is more of Mr. Galt from his radio address:4
"You have been taught that morality is a code of behavior imposed on you by whim, the whim of a supernatural power or the whim of society, to serve God's purpose or your neighbor's welfare, to please an authority beyond the grave or else next door—but not to serve your life or pleasure. Your pleasure, you have been taught, is to be found in immorality, your interests would best be served by evil, and any moral code must be designed not for you, but against you, not to further your life, but to drain it.
"For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors—between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it. [But lo, here am I, John Galt, to do it!]
"Both sides agreed that morality demands the surrender of your self interest and of your mind, that the moral and the practical are opposites, that morality is not the province of reason, but the province of faith and force. (D:769)

"The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive—a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. … Man's mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God, …. Man's standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. …. The purpose of man's life …, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. His reward, say the mystics of spirit, will be given to him beyond the grave. …
"Selfishness—say both—is man's evil. Man's good—say both—is to give up his personal desires, to deny himself, renounce himself, surrender; man's good is to negate the life he lives. Sacrifice—cry both—is the essence of morality, the highest virtue within man's reach. (D:781)

"Your code—which boasts that it upholds eternal, absolute, objective moral values and scorns the conditional, the relative and the subjective—your code hands out, as its version of the absolute, the following rule of moral conduct: If you wish it, it's evil; if others wish it, it's good; if the motive of your action is your welfare, don't do it; if the motive is the welfare of others, then anything goes. (D:784)

"The mystics of both schools, who preach the creed of sacrifice, are germs that attack you through a single sore: your fear of relying on your mind. They tell you that they possess a means of knowledge higher than the mind, a mode of consciousness superior to reason—like a special pull with some bureaucrat of the universe who gives them secret tips withheld from others. The mystics of spirit declare that they possess an extra sense you lack: this special sixth sense consists of contradicting the whole of the knowledge of your five. The mystics of muscle do not bother to assert any claim to extrasensory perception: they merely declare that your senses are not valid, and that their wisdom consists of perceiving your blindness by some manner of unspecified means. Both kinds demand that you invalidate your own consciousness and surrender yourself into their power. They offer you, as proof of their superior knowledge, the fact that they assert the opposite of everything you know, and as proof of their superior ability to deal with existence, the fact that they lead you to misery, self-sacrifice, starvation, destruction.
"They claim that they perceive a mode of being superior to your existence on this earth. The mystics of spirit call it 'another dimension,' which consists of denying dimensions. The mystics of muscle call it 'the future,' which consists of denying the present. To exist is to possess identity. What identity are they able to give to their superior realm? (D:787)

"For centuries, the mystics of spirit [meaning Christians, Jews, Muslims, et al.?] had existed by running a protection racket—by making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners." (D:790)
Thus, with a generous dose of self-serving spin, Galt has captured the minds of many rational people who don’t distinguish between irrational and transrational, or grasp the link between now and hereafter. But as usual, the choice is ours.

Galt: This life is it! A One-Act play — so play it for all you’re worth!

Gospel: Act Two matters.5 Act Three is pending.

1. From under “Popular Interest” subheading; [bold emphasis added].
2. These page references refer to the digital PDF version of Atlas Shrugged found at . The 35th Anniversary hard copy Plume Book version (© 1992) has 1168 pages; the PDF has 891.
3. Old Testament Isaiah 55:8-9 — For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
4. Digital pages 767-814 of the PDF Atlas Shrugged referenced in footnote 2 above.
5. What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? (Old Testament Job 7:17-18)
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (New Testament 1 Peter 4:12)
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, … (Old Testament Jeremiah 17:10)
And I … will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: (Old Testament Zechariah 13:9)
Creative Commons License
Déjà Vu ~ Times blog by SMSmith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.