Last week’s main event included an odyssey on my part of finally reading the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This 1100+ page monster took a good portion of my week to slog through—not entirely due to its length—but for the most part revolving around having to pay close attention because of the language and grammatical style of the book. It was released back in the 1950’s; a lot of nomenclature has changed since then. I was drawn to the book by the things I had read describing it over the years, and the sudden influx of its popularity due to the current economic conditions we are faced with as a nation and as a people. Pundits (Conservative) advertising that the book would ‘change my life’ also caught the lion’s share of my attention because, well, you never know…
So did this epic cause a change in my thought process, now that I’ve completed and relegated it to the shelf of books I’ve read and have not yet decided whether or not to pass along to someone else? Did I learn or gain knowledge that was unknown to me beforehand? And finally, who is John Galt?
First off it did not change my life. But I already knew that there is only one book that can truly change anyone’s life, mine included. The book was a tough read, but not as bad as say, War and Peace by Tolstoy. It had a happy ending, as most books do, and I can consider it among the list of 20th Century Classics. But what, if anything, did I learn from the book?
Ms. Rand broke society down into three classes in her epic tale; on one hand were the looters and moochers of the world. Across the aisle she placed the producers of our civilization. And she was graphic in her presentation of each, more so when you consider this novel was penned during a ten-year span between 1946 and 1956. I see a lot of what she represented in our present world, but walked away with a different take than most readers normally would. Please allow me to explain...
The looters (government) and moochers (entitlement recipients) are both alive and well in this enlightened age we live in. A liberal veil has spread across the hallowed halls of our congress and our court systems, using tax money to blatantly purchase votes from the moocher class. The moochers of our nation are the same today as they were in the book; dependent upon federal assistance and making no move at all to help themselves in any attempt to better their very own lives. Meanwhile the producers (the heroes of the book) complain of unfair taxes and too many regulations placed upon them by the same government in the name of ‘fairness’. Yes, Ann sort of hit it on the head—even back in the carefree days we normally associate with the 1950’s.
But the heroic figures she uses in her novel to represent the producer class have their own share of the flaws and patent fallacies I already knew of in my own heart as I read the book. In their zeal to work and create wealth, they become victims of much more than regulations or increased taxes. Their lives are fraught with disappointment, failed marriages, unloving/uncaring families, and sordid adulterous affairs (and these were the heroes!) in a search for a happiness that even by the end of the book—it was hard to comprehend if they had, in fact, actually attained it. In a Christian slant (which is what I do) I compare them to the people of Nimrod when he said, “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” Happiness can never be found in material possessions and wealth, despite the spin of words graphically presented by a fifty-year-old novel.
From the lawless violence and thanklessness of the moochers, through the self-immolating corruption of the looters, to the unattainable dreams of the producers—one thread remained clear to me throughout the book. It was the words Paul penned in his letter to the Romans, which he in turn quoted from David: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
Yes, we can point our fingers of perceived righteousness at each other till Judgment Day carries us away into the damnable eternity we all assuredly deserve—despite our status in society. In the meantime we can attempt to live an unlivable life by the morals contained within the book of someone said so. But in the end, we will all still miss the mark, we will all fail to make the grade, and we will all stand naked in what is left of our self-righteous rags of good intentions before a Holy G_d on that great and terrible day which is to come.
We must arrive in that place with something better. We need to be fully dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. Regardless of where we stand in the mix of her characters, in the end this is the only truth worth mentioning here.
It was still a good read, almost (almost) prophetic for her time. But the devil remains in the details once you—as she states—check your premises.