Creative Team Building and Leadership Resources - In our Elements

Heels and Heroes

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Fellow Passengers: This week’s Poetry Passage* (Ecclesiastes 10:1-7) transports me to the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights and their leadership development program for business executives. One of the stated goals of this program is to spread the “right ideas” of Objectivism, which is Rand’s philosophy, so that corporate leaders in America will one day be celebrated as heroes instead of heels (a fate they suffer whenever news leaks of wildly exorbitant executive compensation rewarding unethical practices). There is a strong sense of entitlement among these aspiring leaders, who like to quote their beloved philosophical mentor: Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. Less visible in the Center’s pr materials, but part of the underlying philosophy nonetheless, is another of her famous quotes: A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. Rand was hyper critical of the leadership of her day, and the ethos of egalitarian collectivism and cooperation that was weaving through the fabric of American society in the 30s and 40s. She bought none of it. She longed for a world in which the alpha dogs survived and the weak herd was thinned out. All for the happiness of the strong individual, with a morality based on the credo: What is good for me is right.

The sage of the book of Ecclesiastes, attributed by some to wise King Solomon, was a social critic not all that unlike Ayn Rand. It must have been an era of rapid social change, with the sure social fabric of strong masters and subservient slaves unraveling before his eyes. There is an evil I have seen under the sun, he says, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves. According to the sage the wrong people are celebrated, as lowlifes ride into town on regal steeds, while the deserving rightful heirs to the thrones of power are frustrated, getting calloused feet as they have to hoof it through the dusty streets. It’s worse than folly, the philosopher says, it’s an evil.

All this is to say that in the long and drawn out conversation among people of faith, recorded through the scriptures, the voice of Ayn Rand can be found. Objectivism and individualist imperial entitlement thinking is there. And it was no doubt there in Jesus’ day, as the people of faith debated and argued over the kind of messianic leadership needed to rise to power. There were those looking for the deserving hero king to ride in on the regal steed and trample Roman society under his feet. And then there was Jesus, kneeling in an upper room washing the dirty feet of his friends, in an attempt to create a beloved community that would institutionalize the “evil” the Ecclesiastes sage saw under the sun. Fools lifted up, and princes laid low. It is no wonder that Ayn Rand had this, among many other things, to say about this new egalitarian ethic Jesus was embodying: All the criminal, ludicrous, tragic nonsense of Christianity and its morals, virtues, and consequences. Is it any wonder that he didn’t accept it? The “he” was one of her heroes, a character she based on a real life serial killer, William Hickman, who had kidnapped and decapitated a 12 year old girl. What is a wonder is how many people are today looking to Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism for their guiding light. It’s not just the corporate execs taking training at the Ayn Rand Center. Now we have none other than the candidate for VP of our country claiming her voice as the inspiration for his getting into politics. May Paul Ryan be one of those aspiring leaders for whom the hero in his soul continues to perish in frustration, lest he trample our society under his feet.

How about you? Where does this Poetry Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment, and share with friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, email, etc.

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Comments

  • August 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    This post is very misleading about Ryan’s views on Rand. Ryan was influenced by Rand’s novels to study economics, ….not her philosophy or “voice influencing him to get into politics,” as you state. Rand was raised under communism and her novels are influenced by her experience with the evils of that system. Ryan has publicly stated he does NOT at all agree with her atheistic philosophy of Objectivsim.

    See this interview @ 18:06 for what he REALLY feels about Rand:
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/1785458730001/

    Comment by Susan

  • August 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Susan – thanks for reading the blog post and engaging in the dialogue. I watched the Fox News interview, and found Ryan’s comments to be disingenuous and fallacious. It wasn’t simply a matter of reading her novels as “a young man” the way Britt set it up, and his “discovery” later in life that she was an Objectivist philosopher. What I have read, on conservative web sites as well as liberal, is that Ryan as spoke admiringly of her as a “thinker” in 2005: “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” He tries in the interview to distinguish between her novels and her philosophy, which is something she didn’t do herself. The Ayn Rand Institute web site states: “After Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand turned to nonfiction, to elaborate on the philosophy set forth in her novels.” She wrote the novels as a way to express and disseminate her philosophy, which is essentially individualistic social Darwinism. That is the basis for her laissez faire economics. As I wrote in the set up to the blog link on Facebook, I am not surprised that Ryan is trying to squirm out of his long association with her. I would rather that he be honest, and have a genuine dialogue between this philosophy which grounds his economics, and the collectivist approach which President Obama at times espouses. I have been a consistent critic of the President whenever he has compromised collective principles in hopes of gaining Republican and Independent votes. I find the teachings of Jesus and the example of the early church to be much more in line with collectivism than unregulated and individualistic social Darwinism. Ayn Rand was honest enough to admit the same thing, which is why she rejected Christianity. I hope we will have a genuine dialogue about this, as the various voices of scripture seemed to have across the centuries.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Good one Stan, please don’t forget to mention that he requires all his interns to read her books if they are to work in his office. Not the bible.

    Comment by Carrie lee Hoffman

  • August 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Yes, Carrie Lee, I read that, too. There was an interesting story about that on NPR yesterday evening, about how the conservatives have a few “go to” books to reinforce their ideology, but liberals don’t. It’s the nature of liberalism to value diversity, including diversity of thought, so there’s not one single intellectual “hero” for all the liberals to read, like there is for conservatives.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    yeah, those liberals they are so open to diversity and free thought, it amazes me. I, especially like how tolerant and loving they showed themselves when the owner of chick fil a, a bible believing christian stated his views and the open minded liberals went on the attack. The mayors of major cities would not allow the opening of a restaurant because the owner was a christian and stated a biblical world view. Amazing how tolerant the liberals were on that subject. Btw, I am not a fan of Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney.

    Comment by jim

  • August 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Jim, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, one’s liberty to swing a fist ends at another person’s nose. Liberals believe in liberty for all, which means being intolerant of actions which deprive others of liberty. As I understand it, the owner of Chic-Fil-A did more than state a so-called Christian belief, his advocacy included using his company’s profits to punch gay people in the nose so to speak, contributing to causes that deprive them of basic human rights. It is inaccurate to say that Mayors dis-allowed the opening of a restaurant because the owner was a Christian and stated a biblical world view. I don’t agree with their actions, by the way, it sets a horrible precedent, but the basis was neither his Christianity nor his world view, but his advocacy and investment in organizations designed to deprive people of civil liberties and human rights. As I said, I disagree with the Mayors’ actions, but we do need to understand more accurately their motivation. Since one of those mayors is a Christian himself (the other Jewish), it is highly suspect to believe that they are out to boycott Christianity or biblical world views. And I’m glad to know you’re not a fan of the Romney Ryan ticket.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

    All I heard about was his statement and then all the so-called loving, tolerant liberals were going for the death grip. I don’t know but if you are referring to Rahm Emanuel, he doesnt give the perception of a christian but thats God’s business. I routinely go to chick fil a and have never seen anyone mistreated due to age,color,religion or sexual orientation. I have never seen anyone told to go outside, or go to the back of the line or we don’t serve you. He just believes gay marriage will further lead to moral degradation and ruin this country. I concur and you will never hear all the good they do as a company, only the bad. But that’s the loving,tolerant liberal media and now I guess the loving, tolerant liberal church institutions.

    Comment by jim

  • August 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Jim, you confuse personal nice-ness with public policy advocacy. The Chick Fil A corporation invests its profits in advocacy causes against human rights for gay people. That’s the source of the push-back. I do not doubt that the company treats its employees and customers well. And they make a great sandwich. I simply do not want my money to go toward organizations working to deprive people of liberty, so I don’t eat there any more. It’s every individual’s right not to personally believe in marriage for certain classes of citizens; it’s also every church’s right not to perform weddings for certain classes of believers. But it’s not an individual’s right or a church’s right to impose these restrictions of civil liberty on society at large. An individual or church can cite biblical references for their beliefs against inter-racial marriage, but they can’t impose that belief on our society. An individual or church can cite biblical references for their belief against divorced persons remarrying, but they can’t impose that on society. An individual or church can cite biblical references for their belief against a Christian marrying a non-Christian, but they can’t impose that belief on society.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 17, 2012 at 10:33 am

    well, I ate there this morning and it was really good, and I know the liberal religious institutions will push back and society will continue to spiral downward but I say eat more chicken. btw, I think for all of us to eat chicken it still takes a hen and a rooster….just sayin’

    Comment by jim

  • August 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Interesting that you mention that, Jim. Kim and I raise chickens, and we had a gay rooster one time. He didn’t crow, and imitated the chickens, sitting in the coop like he was going to lay an egg. I think you understand that reproduction of the human species is not at risk because 10% of the population is gay. Earth seems to be fairly well filled up with humans, population wise, despite the presence of gay and lesbian persons in every corner, every culture, including, by the way, conservative Southern Baptist culture. The Baptists have produced some of the best gay and lesbian preachers! Don’t worry too much about the spiral, cousin. Life goes on.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    there will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but heap to themselves teachers having itching ears…laodicea we are here!

    Comment by jim munsey

  • August 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I checked sbc website to see their position on this subject. Sexuality
    We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ. But even before the sbc was the word, so even if they change, scripture doesn’t.

    That is consistent with scripture and I hope the ones you know will get saved and then God can use them to really make an impact on society.

    Comment by jim

  • August 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Jim, I understand the SBC position on sexuality; it’s similar to the position they held a generation ago on inter-racial marriage. They were wrong then, and have confessed so. One day they will make a similar confession around this issue. My reason for mentioning them was to your biology lesson “it takes a hen and rooster.” Yes, procreation requires a male and female. Fortunately, procreation is not the only basis for getting married, which means that couples who do not have children are still blessed in God’s eyes. And having a minority of gay persons in the population has not kept humanity from overpopulating the earth. That minority can be found across all cultures and religions, as I noted, even among the Southern Baptist families who do their best to raise all their children straight.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Jim, I’d like to respond to your last comment. It is the height of arrogance for you to presume to be judge over people’s salvation. I’m sure the saved people I know who happen to be gay and lesbian preachers who grew up in Southern Baptist churches and continue to share the gospel and follow the Way of Jesus will pay your presumption that they “need to be saved” so that “God can use them to really make an impact” with about as much concern as you would those who judge you to be lost because you make a living by selling birth control (something some corners of the Church deem a mortal sin). And not only is your comment presumptuous and arrogant, it is terrible theology for a Baptist who believes we are saved by grace through faith, not of works. I understand that you believe homosexuality to be sinful, but do you really believe that you have to be straight to be saved?

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I believe in accordance with s.b.c. doctrine as stated above, and I also believe people can fall into sin and miss the mark, however, if a person stays in or does not desire to turn from sin and lives a lifesyle of sin, whether it is fornication, stealing, drunkeness, or homosexuality according to scripture in 1 Corinthians they are not going to enter heaven. Your problem isn’t with me, your problem is the scriptures that you don’t want to face openly and straightforwardly and that is your prerogative. If you read the s.b.c. statement, it states the same thing. People can choose to live celibet??sp. if they want and still have desires but don’t act on them. I am not condemning anyone, just don’t want to give false sense of assurance to people when it is clear throughout the bible, what God has said on the subject. You are the one who is arrogant and presumptuous to tell people that it is ok to live lifestyles that are condemned in scripture because you PERSONALLY don’t agree with it. That is the height of arrogance. I want to agree with God on what He says and disagree with what God disagrees with. We will all have to answer for how we led people either toward Him or away from Him. Matthew 18:6

    Comment by jim

  • August 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    btw, you seem to be hung up on birth control which we dispense very little of but it has many uses. Medical use includes endometriosis, acne, dysmenorrhea, and other types of hormonal issues. You also need to read Eph. 2:10 and Jude 1:4,7,11,16 just to help you understand grace.

    Comment by jim

  • August 20, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Jim, If you would study I Corinthians 6 you will find that the 2 words Paul uses that have only in modern Bibles been translated as homosexuality do not in fact mean that. The first word, “malakos” literally means “soft,” and there is no evidence to tell us what Paul meant by that, and the second word “arsenokoites” had a wide range of usage in the first centuries, none of them referring to a faithful and loving homosexual relationship. It referred to many things, such as rape and fraud, and was at times used in reference to something a husband did to his wife. Only in the politically charged homophobic atmosphere in which we live have modern translators seen fit to misinterpret the words and apply them to gay or lesbian couples. These mistranslators appeal to the ones you mentioned earlier, who will not endure sound doctrine and have “itchy ears.” Paul’s list of vices that preclude entrance into heaven does include some much clearer words, though, such as “greedy” or “covetous”. You could interpret that to mean that the 1% who complain about taxes because they are never satisfied with enough material stuff in their lives will not get in. That would be more in line with Jesus’ teaching about the camel and the eye of the needle. And by the way, I am not hung up on birth control, I just wonder, since you sit in judgment of a particular class of people you deem to be living sinful lives, but who aren’t doing you or anybody else harm, how you feel when the tables are turned, and people judge you to be living in sin for enabling and supporting fornicators and profiting from it. I am aware of the many good effects of birth control, as you mention, but I suspect your pharmacy is not able to limit your dispensing of birth control only to serve those needs. If a single woman comes in with a prescription, do you have her fill out a signed statement swearing that she will not use it for sinful purposes? I have a good understanding of grace, by the way.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 20, 2012 at 6:20 am

    Historically, you are on the wrong side of the issue and I would like for you to show me one or two verses that endorse same sex marriage or relationship. I just don’t want to see people being misled and told its ok when there is no evidence to support that position. I do not hate them, I hope for the best for them. Only in the last few years, have people taken the position you have taken and tried to make it ok, but I can’t find any CLEAR passage that endorses that lifestyle.

    Comment by jim

  • August 20, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Jim, historically the SBC was on the wrong side of race relations. They eventually confessed their long historical sin. As far as one or two verses that endorse same – sex marriage, they are the same verses that explicitly endorse the marriage of two senior citizens, or a man marrying a woman recovering from an abusive first marriage, or a black man and white woman, or an Anglo man marrying a Latino woman. There are many things that we find blessed in this life that do not have explicit scriptural endorsement. As I’ve told you many times, I look at the core teachings of Jesus, the greatest commandments, the teaching of Paul in terms of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, and I see people in same sex relationships embodying the greatest commandments and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And they are engaged in ministering to the hidden Christ among us, aka the least of these. And they are doing no one any harm. So I have learned to overcome the historic cultural prejudice and sin of discrimination, and bless those that I see God blessings, the gay and lesbian couples who are following Christ and spreading the good news of his grace and salvation and liberation. And as far as my view being only in the last few years, please do a little research, and you’ll find that there have been examples within the history of the church of people blessing same sex relationships. Even your beloved King James who authorized the Bible you read had gay relationships!

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 20, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I am not a kjv person, and I hope you realize biblically you are out on a limb but as I have seen in past posts, you seem to be ok with that. So as I say, you have no biblical mandate for your position so good luck with that.

    Comment by jim munsey

  • August 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Which limb am I out on, Jim, the one about older people marrying, or divorced people remarrying, or white people marrying someone who is black or Latino, or two Jesus-followers who happen to be of the same gender loving each other faithfully for life? Did you happen to do your word study of 1 Corinthians, or are you just taking your preacher’s word for it?

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • August 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Being the theologian that you are, you recognize that throughout the bible, there is a prohibition to same sex couples. Leviticus,Romans, 1 Corinthians, Jude, etc. but you still refuse to take heed. On the intermarrying, you also realize in the o.t. God had a people in Israel and they were to remain married to those in their race. This was to show outwardly a purity of the people and no co-mingling of different religions because they worshipped other gods. That was the reason in the o.t., however you also know that Paul makes it clear in Corinthians to marry another believer, it makes no distinction about race or country. Same sexes have not been allowed to marry until lately and so it is clear in Jesus teaching, Pauls teaching, and others that marrying same sexes is out of bounds. Just as it is wrong for someone to have a wife and multiple mistresses. Some mormons would argue that is a loving relationship and so it should be ok but there is no mention of it in the n.t. so with your logic, I can justify any and all forms of sexual deviancy but stick to strict interpretation and it does not wash.

    Comment by jim


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