Friday, March 4, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Alright my dears, I have decided that I can trust you and because of that I have decided that it's time for me to confess my complete and slightly unwholesome obsession with a book called Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand published the book in 1957, it weighs in around 1060 pages and it continues to be a top-seller in book stores to this day. I started the monster in 2008, it took me roughly four months to read it, it's a very long book and not for the uncommitted reader. To say I became obsessed is accurate except that it doesn't fully express how every single thought, comment and idea that popped into my head over ensuing year revolved around the book. I breathed it, and got so passionate about it I would sweat. I knew it was bad when Bryce said he couldn't take anymore. I broke the patience of the most patient man I know, he lets me tap his face endlessly to my own amusement but he couldn't take any more of Atlas. Needless to say n reading it I learned many things about myself, how neurotic I could be, but more importantly, I saw my moral and economic outlook change as I recognized Rand's belief that they are steadfastly linked to each other. Rand's philosophy deems people that work hard, earn their own living, who don't rely on the charity or sympathy of others as morally and economically upright individuals. She condemns free-loaders, looters, and anyone willing to complain before they are willing to work. She treats these kinds of people as evil, immoral, shameful and untrustworthy. - It sounds just and I love it, parts of it. She motivates me to work because I am conscious of the fact that as I work I am fairly, morally and truly earning the lifestyle that I have. It is a great feeling, I am indebted to no one, I've made it on my own, I worked hard and I deserve what I have. However, in the novel, Rand takes this philosophy of "objectivism" and applies it to  every aspect of human life: sex, love, work, clothing, relationships, etc . . .
In short, Life of Capitalism = Good, Life of Communism/Socialism = Really Bad/ you suck.

Problematically for me, I couldn't get my Christian philosophy reconciled to Rand's objective outlook. The problem for me, was grace. Grace is never earned or deserved, I am and will always be indebted to the sacrifice of Jesus and I can do nothing to decrease the cost. This was very, very frustrating to the fresh Atlas fanatic that I was. In seeking to reconcile these philosophies I knew I could not accept anything that conflicted with Biblical truth so I turned down the idea of having to earn the love of my husband and chose to just accept it. For example, despite the fact that I failed to do the dishes last night, he still told me he loved me today (yes!). I have limited Rand's philosophy to my work attitude, it boosts me to go and put in the hours, do my job well and in a way that I will be proud of. It is so satisfying to work and leave thrilled with what I got accomplished (even if it was explaining to a dear old man that wifi means "wireless" and no, we don't have a cord to connect your wifi nook to the wireless internet).
I have had to acknowledge that I am not a rational, heroic character out of Rand's book. I am a flawed person, in need of grace, in need of so much more than I can get for myself. Lately, God has been sprinkling money about the earth for Bryce and I. Last week I found a little pile of $3 at school, Bryce found a $50 on a car a few months back and I am always finding pennies or dimes on the ground wherever I go. Our parents have been generous to us in chipping in on groceries and blessing us with sweet gifts. All of that is all money we haven't earned, but God's love and grace has brought it to us. Therefore I will be thankful. I will also go to work tomorrow with the goal of earning enough money to purchase this bracelet conceptualized in Atlas Shrugged. 

 It's made of Reardon Steel! I WANT IT NOW. 
Go read the book and you'll understand how I could so passionately want to earn something as ugly as this.


1 comment:

  1. Everytime I go to a bookstore, including yesterday when I stopped by the Borders by my house, I see this book and want to buy it because I know how much you love it. Yet I am so intimidated by its size! Maybe after I graduate from grad school I will tackle it. :)