Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A cafeteria Randian

GetReligion is a site where journalists comment on journalism about religious subjects. The premise is that a great many of those who write about religion don't know enough about it to "get religion" resulting in a lot of faulty reporting. Here, Mollie Hemingway discusses an article about the accusation that Paul Ryan's budget proposals were influenced by Ayn Rand:
Ayn Rand died years ago but her influence has been tremendous. She is known for her two best-selling novels and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. She’s also a really bad writer. But, hey, that doesn’t stop Dan Brown from making a lot of money.

The RNS piece begins by noting that progressive advocates are trying to tie Rand to the Republican budget:
But in a petition drive, video, ads, and websites, liberal Christians counter that Rand’s dog-eat-dog philosophy is the real inspiration for the GOP budget and its author, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“You’ve got a guy who is a rising Republican star, and who wrote the budget, saying he’s read her books and Washington needs more of her values,” said Eric Sapp, executive director of the American Values Network, which produced the video. “If you’re a Christian, you’ve got to ask some serious questions about what’s going on here.”

In other words, Sapp argues, you can follow Ayn Rand or Jesus, but not both.
.... Most Christians I know who also enjoy some of Rand’s ideas would tell you that they think she had some bad ideas, too.

The article eventually quotes someone pointing out this same general idea but I wonder if it was handled in a balanced enough fashion. I mean, I know atheists who absolutely adore Martin Luther King, Jr. but strongly disagree with his Christianity. I know lots of non-Confucians who quote Confucius. It was just somewhat weird to not engage that general idea that one can enjoy a particular author without agreeing with every single thing he’s ever written. .... [more]
Congressman Ryan is a practicing Roman Catholic who gets high ratings from conservatives on both economic and social issues. Earlier this year he had an interesting exchange on budgetary issues with Archbishop Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops [Ryan's letter, Dolan's response], which would indicate, at the very least, that Ryan wasn't looking to Ayn Rand's theological opinions as he framed his budget.

Paul Ryan and the atheist bogeyman » GetReligion