Saturday, February 14, 2009

Atlas and Zion

I just finished _Atlas Shrugged_ by Ayn Rand. I had listened to a significantly condensed audio version 5 – 6 years ago so I knew the plot. However, the read was worth it. Rand has some powerful ideas here, particularly in this day when, as Newsweek reported last week, “We are all socialists now.” One story she tells is of a factory where they decided that everyone would be rewarded “according to need” as opposed to effort and ability. The scene she paints isn’t, I suspect, too far from would actually would (does) happen. However, isn’t this what Zion is all about?

I think, and I’d love if someone was interested in discussing the point, we think of Zion as a place of abundance where we all have what we need and want and therefore don’t care what other people have. But, what if Zion were in a environment of scarce resources where we didn’t have what we all wanted and, in a very real way, someone else’s want made it so you couldn’t have your want.

It makes me think that perhaps the only way Zion is going to be established is when the alternative is so bad that we’re willing to give it a try.

Or, did Ms. Rand have it wrong (or, incomplete?)? Is there another way of looking at this as opposed to the path Rand projected? How would a bunch of really good people (and by that, I mean “God-like”) live together?

In a way, that’s what Rand depicts in John Gault’s society in the mountains. That is, for Rand, Zion. Maybe, that’s the more fair comparison – John Gault’s mountain society to Zion. How are they the same and how are they different?

Maybe, by getting rid of all the riff raff, you get Zion? What if, you lived in a society of good people, who had magnified their talents and had something to offer, and were willing to share. Not because they were compelled, but because they loved.

Maybe the riff raff don’t want to go to Zion and that’s a culling process.

I had a professor back at BYU who told a story about a cul-de-sac where he once lived. One guy had a snowblower. When it snowed, you walked into his garage and borrowed the snowblower. He had a little box where you could throw in a couple of bucks for maintenance and gas. The cool thing, only one person in the cul-de-sac needed to own a snowblower. You ‘could’ expand this on a grander scale. Maybe only one person needs to own a pickup truck. If you had people, who cared for each other, maybe it could work. It’s not that other people have a claim on your stuff, it’s that you can utilize what you have more effectively.

Rand, obviously, doesn’t think much of religion. In many respects (er, well, most), can you blame her? Just as an example, who are the ones most behind this atrocity we’re waging in Iraq and Afghanistan? Could Bush have committed this great evil without the support of the US Christians? You’d think Christianity would have learned something since the Crusades?

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