When he was asked about paying taxes, Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render unto God the things that are God’s.” Doesn’t that mean Americans should be paying taxes to the Vatican?
I thought that would be the secular Italian government.
I always knew that verse was a problem.
I have never been able to discern any criteria by which the the Premillenial, Dispensational, Reconstructionist Dominionist, Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians pick and choose among Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The Hebrew prophets were, I thought, quite clear on the concept of corporate responsibility for the widows and orphans and other powerless folks. The Holy Land of the New Testament was a Roman occupied territory, and I can’t for the life of me recall Jesus ever saying anything on the record about the Romans, except for that coin thing.
I think that verse is like so many verses: It gets trotted out for just about anything.
Maybe the scriptures of Ayn Rand?
I almost included “Atlas Shrugged,” but feared someone had already made it into a musical that wasn’t recorded on the Interweb.
Ayn Rand was no fan of religion, or possibly more correctly, religious faith.
In her interview with Playboy magazine, she was asked if any religion ever offered anything of constructive value to human life.
“… no – in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very – how should I say it? – dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith. [emphasis added]
And she addressed the subject of Jesus and Christianity directly in a letter to Sylvia Austin:
“There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism — the inviolate sanctity of man’s soul, and the salvation of one’s soul as one’s first concern and highest goal; this means — one’s ego and the integrity of one’s ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one’s soul — (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one’s soul?) — Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one’s soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one’s soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one’s soul to the souls of others.
This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men’s natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war — both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man’s soul).”
Contemporary “libertarian” Christians cherrypick Rand for effect almost as much as they do the Bible. They love to invent connections between objectivism, rational self-interest, the egoism of libertarian thinking and Christianity, where no connection can exist logically.
But as Rand herself said in The Fountainhead:
“If you get caught at some crucial point and somebody tells you that your doctrine doesn’t make sense – you’re ready for him. You tell him there’s something above sense. That here he must not try to think, he must feel. He must believe. Suspend reason and you can play it deuces wild.”
That pretty much defines Tea Party politics…although I doubt any of them lifted the idea from Rand.
I’ve tried several times to read Ayn Rand, and — again, this maybe a failure of creativity on my part — I am incapable of getting engaged with the work. I read it and think “There’s a hidden meaning in here somewhere,” and then toddle off without finding it.
I haven’t read much source material, but I’ve read some of what has been written about her. I think the only hidden meaning is “I hate everything about the Soviet Union, and everything about the monarchy before that. I love everything about the crass materialism of the United States.”
There is nothing hidden about the inherent contradictions in Christianity–“he who would save his own life will lose it”–but I’m not sure where she gets the idea that Jesus put so much emphasis on the individual “soul (ego),” or even where she gets the idea that “soul” and “ego” are one and the same. I doubt that she even believed that there was such a thing as a “soul,” since it can’t be bought or sold.
The one recurring thread in all religions seems to be The Golden Rule, or variations thereof.
# One should treat others according to how one would like others to treat them
# Treat others as you would like to be treated
# One should not treat others in ways one would not like to be treated
# Do not treat others in ways you would not like to be treated
I don’t imagine Rand endorsed any one of these forms.
Maybe that’s what keeps me toddling around in the first 20 or so pages of each of her books. I think ” Something smells foul” — again, strictly to me, and I’m not interested in exploring her further. I tried again here a few months ago when “going Galt” became such a buzz phrase. I still didn’t-love her.
There are just too many contradictions in her work. For example, in the letter to Austin she identifies Jesus as a great teacher, but then denies the validity of his teaching.
As with Nietzsche, I see some value in her observations, her critique, but get repulsed by the egoism. I think the kind of rational self-interest espoused by Rand and others goes against human nature. Like Galt, it’s a fiction, a fantasy, and every bit as evil as the religious faith she sees as malevolent.
So what happens if you combine religious faith with malevolence?
This is not a lead-in to a joke, but I think that combination may be my least favorite, ever.
But I could make a list.
Yeah, I’m hard-pressed to find scriptural backing for the practices of Maciel and anyone else within the Legionaries who lived as he lived.
“Kill them all. God will know His own.”
Jaysus. That’s just awful.
Oh, I know this one! I know this one!
HELL NO! Right?!
Well, that was too easy.
“Springtime for Hitler” is already taken.
How about “The Wit and Wisdom of Rush Limbaugh?”
Pretty short musical…
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