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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

• • Do capitalism and charity mix? 
,
Capitalism  |Egoism  | Greig Clark doesn’t strike you as the kind of person who goes in for social work. He’s a self-made man – inspired early on by Ayn Rand (“selfishness is good”) and skeptical of government.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

• • • The good-bad books of summer 
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Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  | Exodus wouldn’t make anyone’s list of literary masterpieces. But it surely ranks among the most influential American novels of the 20th century – not with other writers, but with the public. The same is true of Atlas Shrugged, which, I am embarrassed to say, also made a profound impression on my young and malleable mind.[....] [Ayn Rand’s] book embodied just the kind of rigid, judgmental absolutism that’s irresistible to self-absorbed adolescents who believe society is fundamentally screwed up and their parents are hopeless losers. No doubt, it helped make me more than usually insufferable. Eventually, I forgave my parents. I came to realize that laissez-faire capitalism was not, in fact, the answer to everything, nor were all religious people dupes and fools. Ayn Rand now seems a faintly ridiculous figure.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

 A wanderer from Islam with a message for the West 
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Ms. [Ayaan] Hirsi Ali’s admirers call her the bravest woman of our time. Critics (and they are legion) dismiss her as naive, simplistic, a dupe of the neo-cons, “a willing darling for Western chauvinists” and a convert to the cult of “Randian individualism.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

 When in doubt: An atheist’s Christmas 
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Atheism  | I lost my faith in God when I was 13. It wasn't as if I hadn't tried. Before my confirmation in the Episcopalian Church of Wilmette, Ill., I spent months in ardent prayer, longing for a conversion experience that would erase my growing doubts. Sadly, it didn't happen. By the time I walked down the aisle to be accepted into the Church, I couldn't even rustle up enough uncertainty to settle for being an agnostic. I was pretty sure that God was no more real than Santa Claus. I felt like a fraud, but I went through with it anyway. Later on, I read Bertrand Russell and Ayn Rand. I learned that religion was stupid and evil, the source of endless misery in the world. I adopted the rational, enlightened belief that we'd all be better off without it. This brand of militant atheism is much in fashion these days. For years, I never set foot inside a North American church, except when somebody I knew was married or buried. But the faith instinct stubbornly refused to die.