Sunday, October 28, 2007

Atlas Shrugged (part 1?)

I say it with a question mark because I imagine I'll be posting again later, but I don't know for sure.

When two minds you respect dislike a particular book or author that you enjoy, it makes you wonder if you're missing something, heh. I'm not done with this one, but I'm *making time* to listen to the tapes more often. It's just that it's not the sort of book I can really listen to when I'm driving to WalMart or whatever... I have to take it in large chunks when I can focus on it or else I'd get lost. Anyway, I'm almost through part two (of three; cassette 21 of 38, total.) Two points I wanted to comment on, tonight.

1. You can't threaten a person of no morals with the possibility of being found out. A prostitute doesn't care if you tell someone that she sleeps around; it is only a person who is normally moral who has anything to lose. So if a person wants to blackmail you, really all they're doing is punishing you for being a human with morals. "Because you care about what is right, I'm going to hurt you for what you've done wrong in a way that I couldn't if you didn't." Meanwhile all sorts of people get away with the same wrongs and no one says a word because there's no way to wield that power over them. To blackmail a person is to use their sense of decency against them. Hardly decent, on your part....

The other factor, though, is that the person has to feel guilty. In order for your "hardly decent" scheme to work, they have to come through for you. If you accuse them of loving their work more than the poor and leechy but they don't see the sin in that, your threat holds no power. If you accuse them of something they did not do (or word it in such a way that is inaccurate), the only reason your threats work is if they believe your accusation - believe that they were wrong.

I don't have any great analysis... I just thought this was an interesting point.

2. I don't know about you, but for a long time, I had the vague impression (along with others, apparently, because I've also heard sermons against it) that there was something inherently noble in suffering for the greater good. Being willing to serve in the nursery on Sunday when you can't stand kids - that's a noble sacrifice! Letting an inferior singer be on the worship team because you think it would mean a lot more to them than to you - wow! ... except it's not true.

This book is made up of two types of people. The "looters" are just such people - everything must be for the greater good, no one is better or should have any more money than anyone else, regardless of how hard they work. To work solely for your own gain is selfishness. It is the responsibility of the rich to cater to the "needs" of the poor whether they are trying to better their situation or not. They hate what they do and they're proud of it. The other type of character works hard, thinks well, creates beauty, and expects to be paid in full for their work. They don't work for the good of the people as such, but because they are doing what they love to do and therefore doing it well because their hearts are in it, it benefits those around them, bringing good things into the world that people need.

I think of people who work in the church. A church secretary might do just as much as or more than a secretary in a lawyer's office... but do you think he or she is paid as much? Why? Should the one be financially punished for working just as hard simply because the location is one commonly considered to be related to "selfless serving"?

Yes, I am such a secretary; don't hear this as a complaint. My needs are satisfied and I am grateful to have a job I love. But it makes me you think, y'know? "A worker is worth his wages."

What do you think? Am I missing something? Have I bought into something awful or is there a lot of truth there?


I'm singing with the worship team today for the first time at Crossroads. It felt good to be at practice Thursday night. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy singing with a group (even if the "group" is only two other singers). But again - I'd much rather serve on the worship team than on the nursery team, and there's no reason to be miserable just so I can say I served. If I'm doing what I love and doing it well, it benefits my spirit AND the people I'm serving. I just never realized that's what they meant when they said, "How are you using your gifts to further the kingdom?" Again, I thought there had to be some dread, some painful sacrifice to fulfill that. But no. You can just do what you do best.