No rational observer will deny the role of religion in history. Ayn Rand herself argued that ideas serve as the engine that moves history. The core ideas of religion -- supernaturalism, mysticism, self-sacrifice, tribalism -- have influenced human action since man first walked the earth. Shortly before her death, Ayn Rand noted with trepid... (See the whole review)
Once again, Luke I will have to compliment you on the strength of your stomach, given your willingness to endure such onerous tasks as reading this book, even if you do have a very good personal objective in doing so.
I have one very minor criticism. You speak of Objectivism as having to "combat" this phenomenon. Given that I haven't yet, and don't plan to read that book, I may be interpreting it too benevolently, but isn't his success more a testament to the public's sense that a purposeful life is better than a nihilistic or hedonistic life than a tribute to the strength of the irrational? And if so, is not categorizing these people as enemies to combat rather than possible allies or converts too hostile a position to stake? That is, should one of them, as a curious valuer, pick up your work, is he immediately going to see that you view him as the "enemy" and be driven away before he tastes the merchandise? I know many Christians who will read Rand and be better people for it and be less likely to fall for or support open evil when she lets then see it, even if they think she's wrong on God, and they don't become Objectivists themselves. The public are not philosophers, and the methods one uses to reach them can be straightforward without having to be openly hostile - assuming that the public, and not just academia, is your intended audience.
In any case, thanks for going somewhere I, even as a reader of Lewis, Chesterton & the Scholastics, wasn't eager to tread.
Ted, my initial motive to read this book came because my dear brother, a Baptist, said he taught his youth Sunday School class from this book. I wanted to understand his point of view so I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book which the author himself narrated. Your comment about needing a strong stomach has merit as I told someone later that I felt an urge to reach for Pepto-Bismol while listening to this pablum in my car.
When I say "combat" I really mean combat in the political arena. Warren stays away from politics but you and I know that the political arena tends to mirror the cultural arena. Clearly Warren both reflects and influences the American culture.
You correctly observe that people looking for meaning and purpose in life read books like this. Leonard Peikoff explains via his hypothesis of DIM (Disintegrated, Integrated, Misintegrated) that whereas the purposeless mindset qualifies as a D, the mindset of purpose integrated with supernaturalism qualifies as an M and thus poses more danger. I can agree with that notion. This makes people like Warren dangerous in that regard and shows why I used the word "combat" as I did.
But to "combat" it requires an Integrated or I alternative and thus gives me motive to write The Vision-Driven Life.
I guess the distinction needs to be between "combat" and "combativeness." Given your title, you will get a lot of religious people picking up the book. Are you going to seduce them in, or throw a bucket of water on them in the way Rand did in her first sentence of TVOS? In that case, her readers should have been prepared, given the utter lack of ambiguity in the title. Since your title will be open to interpretation, I am wondering how far in an open minded but still religious person might get before he starts feeling his premisses being challenged. You will have to be the judge of your audience, but I don't get the impression you want only to preach to the converted. If that is the case, when I hear words like combat, I think of accidentally cutting of one's nose despite one's face. I assume you will make your arguments for purpose clear and convincing before you make any potentially demoralizing arguments against religion for those who do not yet have something with which to replace it.
I understand your use of DIM here, and agree with the use you make of it. My best wishes.
If I may, for a second, illuminate the thinking present in Christians that follow Rick Warren:
They are living up to what the Christian faith expects of people...rather than consider Warren's book an aberration, it is in fact the "logical" conclusion of following the Christian philosophy.
Other "reasonable" religions have tempered the fundamentalism that should be present in Christianity with reason...that is, most people know what Jesus demands of them but choose to ignore it because it makes them uncomfortable.
For those of you who have never been Christians (personal note: I used to be a zealous, rabid Catholic, preparing myself for the priesthood) there is, at the root of every true believer (as I used to be) a serious divide, between what you feel man's natural desires are and what Christ tells the Christian to do. It was a painful lesson to me...I sacrificed my desires, wants and needs for others because Christ demanded that I remain in servitude to my brother and to God. Most individuals who label themselves Christian are culturally Christian...they believe in God, go to church because their parents did and neighbors do, and because they seek something to explain life. When I was a Bible-banger, I had no use for half-assed Christians such as these...they were hypocrites, living comfortable lives while ignoring Jesus's teachings because it inconvenienced their lives. Ultimately, the pull of wanting and needing to live my life and emulating Christ tore my soul asunder; everything that I did for myself made me perpetually guilty...every earthly desire I had made me feel as if I was making Baby Jesus weep.
That's Christianity's true nature, the principles elucidated by Warren ARE what Christians are supposed to be...it's just most people hold their contradictions on different levels...there's no better chick in bed than the Southern Baptist, and if you were to call her out on what Christ taught, she would just shrug and say "eh, I know I am a sinner, what can I do?"
That was one reason why enjoyed Branden's Honoring the Self, in which he approached the issues from a step by step wherein one agrees at the beginning, and is led into new territories without the arguments, just the willingness to think on the matters presented...
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