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  1. digbydolben permalink
    August 13, 2012 9:26 am

    What DOES hold it together, however, is the Puritanical, Protestant (and Calvinism-inspired) contempt for the poor and the “unsuccessful” as a mark of their failure of “election” and lack of grace. This is the strongest element of American intellectual history, along with distrust of “intellectuals” as “weak” and “unmanly” and, somehow, always duplicitous, because dealing, ever, in the nuances of language, which the pioneers and cowboys never had time for.

    I suspect it was this strong visceral aversion to the poor that allowed Ryan to overlook the pure, utter contempt for the Catholic Church that Rand clearly enunciated in many of her writings.In one of her tracts, as I recall, she bluntly stated that Catholicism was a “paternalistic” system that “weakened” folks the way socialism did. I was young when I read it, and it was a long time ago, but I distinctly remember that it was a perfect expression, in language, of the deepest hatred imaginable.

    • August 13, 2012 11:46 am

      DD–Do you find it typical of American Catholics that the influence of cultural Calvinism is able to so completely override their Catholic upbringing as to make Paul Ryans a commonplace? If so, doesn’t that actually prove the superiority of Calvinism in providing its adherents (and even its antagonists) with principles according to which they can actually live? If you go to mass on Sunday and act like a Presbyterian for the rest of the weeks, which confession actually has your number?

      • digbydolben permalink
        August 13, 2012 11:59 am

        I will “admit” that Calvinism has a peculiar hold over the Anglo-Saxon mind. I don’t think that says much for the “Anglo-Saxon mind.” I myself am a cross between a Celt and a Jew, and I MUCH prefer Southern European, Catholic culture and art and philosophy to almost anything produced by American or British culture–with only a few notable exceptions (Hopkins, Blake, Whitman, Shakespeare, Byron, etc.) As far as I’m concerned, the Anglo-Saxon temperament is intrinsically BORING and also emotionally impoverished due to their apprehensiveness in assigning motives to affections. Give me an American Black or an American Hispanic any day, over an emotionally dessicated Puritan.

        • digbydolben permalink
          August 13, 2012 12:03 pm

          Oh, and REAL Catholics (the European kind; I was recently in Italy and I SAW this:) don’t think, ever, in terms of a “confession”; Catholicism there, unlike in America, is a way of life, a certain “trust” (not “faith”) in the universe. (We say, here in India, a conviction that “all will be well.”) It’s more closely aligned with festivals, arts and family outings that with creeds mouthed in ugly, iconoclastically defaced and “cleansed” “places of worship.” Give me a Hindu over a Protestant way of living one’s faith any day!

  2. karla permalink
    August 13, 2012 11:32 am

    “I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”

    “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

    • August 13, 2012 11:47 am

      Yes, I mentioned this and linked to this very article in the post. I also said Ryan is not an Objectivist or a Randian. He has, however, been influenced by her individualism–an influence made evident in other statements he’s made, his rhetoric, and the ways in which he frames social conflicts.

    • August 13, 2012 2:31 pm

      @ DD — I’m not certain that you addressed my question about American Catholics there, but if you did, I need more clarification.

      • digbydolben permalink
        August 14, 2012 1:16 am

        Basically, I think that American culture is profoundly antipathetic toward Catholic cultures, as they are expressed in emotional and aesthetic experiences all over the world. American Catholics ARE basically Presbyterians, you are right, but I don’t think that Catholicism can EVER flourish in a society that has been defiled by Puritanism and Puritanism’s ingrained attitudes toward “the heart and the heart’s affections.” The English people, for instance, were profoundly changed by the forced uprooting of their fervent Catholicism during the so-called “Reformation” period (as the historian Eamon Duffy has demonstrated in more than one book) and their basic emotional sensibilities were tampered with FOR GOOD. The rising bourgeoisie, which supported an absolutist monarchy for financial gain, basically CRUCIFIED the “traditional way of life” of the peasantry and the landed aristocracy, and turned the English into a nation of “stock-jobbers,” to use Evelyn Waugh’s phrase. Except for the working classes, the Americans have been, historically, the same kinds of peoples. Heresy does, indeed, have a profoundly deracinating and socially disruptive effect, and, to extent that it promotes “liberties,” those “liberties” have promoted nihilism. John Henry Newman’s “middle path” is the genuinely, and traditionally English way of respecting freedom and community at the same time.

        • August 15, 2012 7:42 am

          @ DD — I probably agree with much of that. But it’s a huge topic and requires more than a general sense of understanding.

  3. Rat-biter permalink
    August 13, 2012 6:20 pm

    How much it matters, depends on how formative it has been, and on what Ryan has taken away from his reading. Readimng books that are deeply anti-Christian in one way or an other has often been no problem for the Churches (CC included) – as is shown by the history of the Christian study of the classics. If schoolboys weren’t corrupted by reading Catullus, Homer, Ovid, and the Greek Anthology year after year, why should Ayn Rand be any more dangerous to Christian values than Lucretius or Cicero ?

    If the Classics have been so freely read by Christians, with the sanction & approval of the Church’s authorities, despite the far from Christian values in them (the “wrath of Achilles” is a leading instance of unChristian values in them), why should reading books that are no more Christian even if they are more recent be a problem ? The influence of the Classics – to say nothing of other non-Christian influences – has been incalculably great, directly or otherwise: but if being saturated with them has not destroyed the character & thinking & faith of Christians, why should Mill or Marx or Keynes or Rand be any more destructive ? Or, indeed, Harry Potter ? Is there nothing valuable in Ayn Rand ?

    • digbydolben permalink
      August 13, 2012 7:15 pm

      No, there’s NOTHING “valuable” –or ethical or even vaguely spiritual–in Ayn Rand. Also, the great classical authors you speak of did not excoriate Christianity or its Founder. Ayn Rand actually does both, in many of her writings. While it is true that the sense of many classical philosophers is inimical to Christianity, none of them ever wrote animadversions against it. Rand did; she mocked the Christian Church’s values, and she expressed contempt for its ministers. Now that you’ve challenged this, I’m going to have to go and see if I can find this stuff online.

    • August 13, 2012 7:18 pm

      @ Rat-biter — Because the classics were pre-Christian, not anti-Christian. Ayn Rand is specifically, and to some, convincingly, anti-Christian. And Marx certainly has proved to be destructive.

  4. digbydolben permalink
    August 13, 2012 7:37 pm

    OK, so here’s Ayn Rand on you folks’ faith, as well as what William F. Buckley thought of her:,_Objectivism,_and_Religion_(Part_1_of_4).shtml


  1. Does Ayn Rand’s Influence on Paul Ryan Matter?
  2. In Ayn Rand We Trust « Woodgate's View
  3. Assertion without Evidence | The American Catholic

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