Father Amadeus: Confessor to the Taggart Family

Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 11 months, 1 week ago to Books
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From "The Journals of Ayn Rand," edited by David Harriman (Dutton, 1997).

Page 405. April 10, 1946. “Characters Needed”

The Philosopher. A kind of Ortega y Gasset – vaguely. A kind of Aristotle if he came back to life today. Or even Thomas Aquinas.

The Priest. Father (medieval name) who is the last of the strikers. He withdraws his moral sanction from the world of parasites. (He represents the last stand for pity.)

Page 430 April 23, 1946. “Outline: The Strike. Part I: The End”
“Plant the stories of the philosopher who quit, the missing millionaire who vanished, and Ragnar Danneskjöld the smuggler. Also the “replacers” of the composer and the philosopher. Here – the influence of philosophy on people like Mrs. Rearden and her son, etc. – and on “the man of pity.”
Father Amadeus
Dagny and the girl writer
Dagny and the talented engineer who quits.

Page 432.
“The scene of Galt and the priest meeting in a dinky restaurant at night – with the world collapsing around them.”

“James Taggart – his hysteria at the realization of his complete evil. His scene with the priest. “I have nothing to say, James. I am on strike.”

Page 437.
“James Taggart makes use of the idea of charity – on the receiving end.
On the giving end, it is the priest. But the priest cannot go to the depths of depravity which this idea demands. If there is room for it, I might have to add another character to exemplify that…”

Page 538. July 18, 1947. “The Beginning: Atlantis.” VI
Taggart and Mrs. Rearden. Taggart confesses to the priest. The priest forgives him.

Page 540-541 XVII
“Taggart and the priest. The confession of total evil. “I have nothing to say, James. I’m on strike.: The rescue of Galt …

“[The above outline contains AR’s last reference to the priest. Years after completing the novel, she explained the meaning of the character and why she decided to eliminate him.

“I wanted to illustrate the morality of forgiveness. Also, I wanted to illustrate that the power of religion consists of the power of morality, the power of setting values and ideals, and that is what hold people to religion – that this is what belongs to philosophy, not to religion. As a type I wanted [the priest] to be my most glamorized projection of the Thomist philosopher, of a man who thought that he could combine reason with religion. Through his relationship with James Taggart I wanted to show the way in which he realized that he was sanctioning evil. And the drama of him refusing to sanction Taggart at the end appealed to me very much.

“But it did not take me long to realize that it would be an impossible confusion. Since all the other strikers in the story can be taken literally, [since] they are all representative of rational, valuable professions, to include a priest among them would be to sanction religion.]”


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  • Posted by  $  kevinw 11 months, 1 week ago
    Like many, Atlas Shrugged was my first introduction to Ayn Rand and Objectivism. After reading it I knew I had to learn more. I was raised in a religious household but could never attain the blind faith needed and so I lived most of my life with the guilt that came with religion. The more I studied objectivism and read Rand's other books the more free I became from religion and all it implies. It literally changed my life. Saved my life, actually.
    Looking at Atlas Shrugged with what I know now, the priest would have been an interesting side in the story, but looking back at where I was when I first read it I think it would have just confused me more so I believe she was absolutely right not to include it.
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  • Posted by jneilschulman 11 months ago
    If Ayn Rand had included the Roman Catholic priest as one of Galt's strikers in Atlas Shrugged. Roman Catholic William F. Buckley, Jr., never would have published -- as written -- Whittaker Chambers' killer review of Atlas Shrugged, and the alliance between conservatives and Ayn Rand's Radicals for Capitalism might have changed the course of history. For the better? Open question.
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    • Posted by  $  11 months ago
      It would take some argument to make that case. The anti-rational, anti-life, anti-Man nature of Christianity in particular and religion in general is explicit in Galt's Speech.

      Before that, the narrative around the action is somewhat equivocal. Following the San Sebastian Mines fiasco, Francisco says that despite the generally deplorable state of the construction materials, the church will stand. "They will need it," he says.

      Earlier, Dagny reminisces about her childhood and thinks of Francisco. He says that he wants to make money in order to deserve entry into heaven. James Taggart replies that any grifter can make money and Francisco warns him that words have meaning. They do not debate the existence of heaven.

      Finally, I believe that it is recorded that the pivotal moment was Rand's telling Buckley that he was "too intelligent to believe in God."
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      • Posted by jneilschulman 11 months ago
        Mike Marotta: I think you'd have a hard time arguing that C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, or J.K. Rowling are any less pro-life than Ayn Rand -- Christian writers, all.

        Me, I'm not a Christian or a member of any religion, and like Rand I place reason at the pinnacle of my philogophy -- yet I'm convinced based on the evidence of my senses that God does exist.
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        • Posted by  $  Rozar 11 months ago
          Define God.
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          • Posted by jneilschulman 11 months ago
            Existence has always existed and has always been Conscious. The nature of consciousness is rational and the basis for human consciousness. The First Consciousness made a decision to fission into multiple additional consciousnesses of the same kind each with its own free will, and the original consciousness that has been around the longest is that human being we tag God.

            But another way to answer the question is to look into the mirror.
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            • Posted by  $  khalling 11 months ago
              this is confusing to me. IF the nature of consciousness is rational then it has to Man we are talking about. Man hasn't always been here. Yet the world existed.
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            • Posted by  $  Rozar 11 months ago
              I'm not sure if I understood you fully but I'll take a crack at this. I am slightly confused because you seem to equate God = Human which I don't think I've heard rationalized before so please correct me if I'm wrong.

              Why would you use two terms to define the same thing?

              Consciousness is a product of matter, you can't prove consciousness without using matter. Your statement "Existence has always been conscious" is illogical, as you are saying that the state of existence has always been in a state of consciousness. That's like saying "The state of insanity is depressed." I may be wrong in how you define Existence though, as maybe it isn't a describing word but a noun for something. If so please define what you call Existence.

              How does human consciousness differ from any other? I didn't know there was a difference between consciousness and human consciousness.

              Do you believe that consciousness ends when we die?
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              • Posted by jneilschulman 11 months ago
                "Why would you use two terms to define the same thing?"

                Consciousness is a vague and less defined term than human consciousness, which we understand from our own experiences. My point is that the type of Consciousness that Existence started out with is the same type we have.

                "Consciousness is a product of matter, you can't prove consciousness without using matter. Your statement "Existence has always been conscious" is illogical, as you are saying that the state of existence has always been in a state of consciousness. That's like saying "The state of insanity is depressed." I may be wrong in how you define Existence though, as maybe it isn't a describing word but a noun for something. If so please define what you call Existence."

                I use the word Existence the same way Aristotle and Ayn Rand use the word in the phrase, "Existence exists." I'm saying that Existence which has always existed and always will exist unconditionally, as in the axiom "Existence exists," was always, is now, and always will be Consciousness and Self Consciousness, and a free-will actor of the same kind that human beings are, when we're not using a brain to filter out and control excesses of perception not needed for the human corporeal experience.
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        • Posted by  $  khalling 11 months ago
          you should be discerning evidence based on your reason and your "senses." so what evidence does your senses provide you? The Christian definition of God is self-contradictory, which is why rozar is asking you for a definition.

          "God is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit, A is non-A, perception is non-sensory, knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions are not acts of defining, but of wiping out." Galt's Speech

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          • Posted by jneilschulman 11 months ago
            "you should be discerning evidence based on your reason and your 'senses.' so what evidence does your senses provide you?"

            I document that in my book The Heartmost Desire.

            "The Christian definition of God is self-contradictory, which is why rozar is asking you for a definition."

            The usual religious definition of God is indeed self-contradictory -- but worse, it reduces to meaningless fog. Which is the point. If God is subject to reason God can't be used by priests to stampede and control the superstitious.

            But the concept isn't hard to grasp when one gets past the theological bullshit. You and I are consciousness and we experience that. Some postulate that our consciousness, like our bodies, are mortal. I reject that mortality of human consciousness for reasons that when given are merely anecdotal to others but to me are convincing. We are conscious spirits living in mortal bodies, and our consciousness is of the same kind as the original consciousness we're spun off from. We have more powers of perception than we customarily use while in these fleshly bodies, but sometimes "morning has broken -- call the repairman." That's me being cute, but my point is that just like the scene in The Matrix where the black cat walks by twice, things don't work in the conventional way, which upsets people who spook easily because such experiences are unfamiliar.

            "'God is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit, A is non-A, perception is non-sensory, knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions are not acts of defining, but of wiping out.' Galt's Speech"

            As I said, the purpose of much religion is to fog men's minds so they don't have a chance of finding out what's real on their own. Ayn Rand and I can agree on that -- but how reality functions beyond the fundamental axioms, on that we disagree. Thing are more complicated than she could imagine -- or she blanked out outlying data presented to her because it drew outside the lines.
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            • Posted by  $  khalling 11 months ago
              I agree with you on most of religion. Not sure on the consciousness part.
              I have read "Alongside Night."
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          • Posted by  $  Rozar 11 months ago
            Well yeah when you get down to the brass tax. I still like to take the time to wander around till I get where I'm going ;)
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  • Posted by cboeres 11 months ago
    Good stuff! Maybe the open school sect of objectivism has Ryan herself as a witness to mind of a Christian Objectivist. The standard of ethics of the two spheres appear to overlap
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    • Posted by  $  11 months ago
      Not really, unless you have a real good essay on hand. The ethics of the two spheres are diametrically opposed. Even as we might find some isolated virtues within Christianity - such as the opposition to slavery by the Jesuits - the basic tenets of Christianity and their real application are exactly what Ayn Rand was personally opposed to. Those mystical-altruist beliefs were invalidated by the Renaissance and Enlightenment before Objectivism put the final nail in the coffin.

      We have a few Christians here among the conservatives. In both cases, their contradictions are their own to deal with.
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  • Posted by  $  minniepuck 11 months, 1 week ago
    it's fascinating to see pieces of her thought process. I didn't know she was considering this character. Part of me wishes she had included him, but I'm glad she didn't.
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    • Posted by jneilschulman 11 months ago
      Mike Marotta: Christian writer C.S. Lewis makes at least as potent an attack on Kant and altruism as did Rand in his sermon The Weight of Glory on the web at http://www.verber.com/mark/xian/weight-o...

      That sermon begins:

      "If you asked twenty good men to-day
      what they thought the highest of
      the virtues, nineteen of them would
      reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked
      almost any of the great Christians of old he
      would have replied, Love. You see what
      has happened? A negative term has been
      substituted for a positive, and this is of
      more than philological importance. The
      negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with
      it the suggestion not primarily of securing
      good things for others, but of going
      without them ourselves, as if our
      abstinence and not their happiness was the
      important point. I do not think this is the
      Christian virtue of Love."

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  • Posted by  $  khalling 11 months, 1 week ago
    so, what do you think about it?
    My thoughts rest on the romanticism aspect of the priest. An iconic symbol for morality which , of course, goes against what Objectivism shows. Of course, today, the catholic priest as a symbol of moral heroism is tarnished in our society but I can see how she would be enamored of the concept for the final "fall" of Taggart.
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    • Posted by  $  11 months, 1 week ago
      My family was not very Catholic. My parents were divorced. My maternal grandparents perceived the Roman Catholic Church as a political institution of the Austrians. When they learned enough English to take citizenship classes and learned about the separation of Church and State, they quit going to church. Indeed, later, as a numismatist, I came upon the coins of Austria that called the emperor the "Apostolic King." I finally understood: to my grandparents, there was only one Apostolic King and surely was NOT Franz Josef II of Austria.

      You have to take the good and the bad with the Church, as with the State or as with Art or Music. You cannot condemn an entire domain of human action for the egregious actions of individuals who would be evil regardless of what sphere they occupied.

      Just for instance, the Jesuits take a lot of flak, but they were kicked out of countries for opposing slavery.

      Mary Doria Russell's THE SPARROW is about a Jesuit who goes to another planet on the very first extraterrestrial First Contact expedition. The priest is victimized. "God knows when the sparrow falls from the tree... Nonetheless, the sparrow falls."

      If I were really Catholic, I would suggest that the child molesting priests were minions of Satan masquerading in order to enter the Church as priests and cause it harm.

      That said, I agree with Christopher Hitchens: good people can say that they do good because of their religion, fair enough, but only religion can excuse, justify, condone, and encourage the horrors that people perpetrate.

      The bottom line is that as a materialist and a rationalist, I shave with Occam's razor.
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      • Posted by  $  khalling 11 months, 1 week ago
        didn't mean to vilify the Catholics. Just meant figure of a "priest" has that glorified romantic heroic cut to the cloth. Like all professions, evil can get a foothold when individuals are not vigilant. Interesting about your grandparents. that must have been a huge relief to them. and no paying parish taxes either! This is anecdotal, but I have a close friend who is swiss and whenever the Jehovah Witnesses leave little books in the lending library they operate as part of a restaurant or other local churches leave materials, she throws them in the trash with great relish. I am not religious, but these pamphlets don't bother me , so I asked her why get so worked up? she replied that the forced taxation through local parishes/churches in Switzerland, she and her family resented. She had no intention of being helpful for that foothold to take root where we live. She is of course for socialism in general and so does not understand my resentment towards onerous taxation for welfare. sigh. we're working on her
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        • Posted by nogestapo 11 months, 1 week ago
          Religion preaches altruism. "You are your brother's keeper." B.S.
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