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Archive for June 16th, 2011

If you live near DC:

ANTIWAR FORUM

Come Home America!
Can Americans of all political persuasions unify to end war and empire?

Join us to explore the potential of a broad-based anti-war movement linking right and left, libertarian and liberal, progressive and conservatives.

Featuring:
Daniel McCarthy, the editor of the American Conservative
Ralph Nader, consumer advocate
Kelley Vlahos, writer for antiwar.com, FOX News
Kevin Zeese, Come Home America
Moderator, Marc Steiner, WEAA radio and Free Speech TV.

June 19, 2011
7:30 PM
Bus Boys and Poets,
14th and V Streets, NW

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At last, after all these years thinking that Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, was just a paean to selfishness and greed, Fr Robert Sirico reveals what he calls the “hermeneutical key” to Rand’s thought, a key that reveals that John Galt, the protagonist of the book, is actually….a Christ figure!

When you have finished laughing you can examine Fr Sirico’s argument:

As the plot unfolds, it might be said that Galt “comes unto his own and his own receives him not.” In fact, the world despises him, not because he is evil, but because he is good, and the leaders of the people set out to kill him because of his goodness and because those in darkness hate the light, their deeds being evil and contradictory. When the final confrontation with evil comes, Galt falls “into the hands of evil men” who seek to destroy him—these were the high priests of their day—and who have a certain fear of him because the people resonate with his message (all encapsulated in a speech anything but the length of the Beatitudes).

At the final inquisition he remains virtually silent, until they proceed to strip him and fasten him to a torture device. Placing electrodes on his wrists, ankles, hips, and shoulders, they come to discover their dependency upon him even in this. It is only by his leave and knowledge that they can operate the machinery. His suffering has dignity, and his disciples, chief of whom is a female figure, bear him away to a place he has prepared for them—somewhere safe and far removed from the chaotic consequence that is the result of rejecting the Source of intelligibility in the world.

As an Armageddon ensues and the world descends into the chaos of its own rejection of order and reason, while in the company of those whom he chose out of the world, Galt pronounces a benediction as he traces the Sign of the Dollar over the world as it implodes. He then promises a new world dawning at the close of Atlas Shrugged.

Of course just because a superficial outline resembles the Christ story does not Galt a Christ figure make. Indeed, as his whole ethos is the antithesis of Christianity -“a benediction as he traces the Sign of the Dollar”- is it not more realistic to speak of an Antichrist figure?

But according to Fr Sirico, Rand, growing up in prerevolutionary Russia, absorbed, as if by osmosis, the Christianity that was in the air. Never mind that as a Jew she would have been much more likely to have been inoculated against any Christian influence, as that Christianity was too often tainted with anti-Semitism.

Fr Sirico must know this is a stretch, as he  even quotes Chesterton, someone who loathed the free market ideology Sirico promotes, to make his strained point:  “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

That may be so; the man walking into the brothel  is seeking, in an inchoate way, an approximation of beauty, of human connection, of ecstasy. Ultimately, in his confused way, he is seeking love, union with the Other. But the man walking into the counting house is not moved by eros;  he is moved by greed and avarice and the only lust in him is lust for power. By its nature this vice cuts him off from communion with others. Indeed, it is sovereign individualism that is at the heart of Rand’s “philosophy”.

Of course Fr Sirico, who would lose all credibility as a Catholic otherwise,  eschews much of Rand’s thought :

“I disagree profoundly with Rand; her attenuated definition of faith as unreason and her notion of sacrifice as wholly lacking dignity are unrecognizable to a Christian. Even her economics are better spelled out in Mises or Hayek. Her esthetic philosophy is paper thin and idiosyncratic; her malevolence toward children and the vulnerable is exceedingly distasteful.”

Indeed, he eschews so much it is not clear what is left to revere. But his reverence is obvious, and just as confused as the woman he admires.

But you can read the whole sorry mess here:

http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Who-Really-Was-John-Galt-Anyway-Robert-Sirico-06-09-2011?offset=0&max=1

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The Audacity of Hype

I know politicians are notorious for governing in a way that is contrary to how they campaigned, but I can’t think of any who has veered as radically as Mr Obama, or with such, well, audacity.

“The brief against Bush encompassed numerous charges: his use of signing statements to provide a pretext for disregarding parts of certain legislation; the indefinite detention without trial of suspected enemy combatants in Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay; the use of military tribunals; the Patriot Act; his administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition; the use of national-security letters to comb through private information; and so on. Policies such as these “evoked the specter of tyranny,” put America on the slippery slope to fascism and were generally bad for children and other living things.

With Obama’s election, the nation supposedly said goodbye to all that. The clouds broke, the fog lifted and the sunlight of civil liberties once again bathed the nation in its golden hue. Except: Nothing like that happened. Instead, the Obama administration adopted every single one of the policies listed above. Some of the more principled progressives have voiced outrage and a sense of betrayal. The more partisan types have politely averted their gaze.”

Read the rest, on the imperial presidency:

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/oped/2011/jun/14/tdopin02-presidency-grows-even-more-imperial-ar-1106046/

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