The Soul of AtlasThe Soul of Atlas http://soulofatlas.com Exploring Common Ground: Ayn Rand Libertarians & Christian Conservatives Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:13:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Orwell’s 1984: Now Available in Non-Fiction [Photo] http://soulofatlas.com/photos/orwell-1984-nonfiction/ http://soulofatlas.com/photos/orwell-1984-nonfiction/#respond Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:13:11 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?post_type=photo&p=4842
Photo Post 1984- Now Available in Non-Fiction


From 1949 comes the prophetic voice of George Orwell. Along with Ayn Rand, Orwell is turning out to be prophetic in the battle between the individual and the state.

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered, and the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute, history has stopped, Nothing exists except an endless present in which the party [government] is always right.

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Review: The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms http://soulofatlas.com/review-the-songs-of-jesus-a-year-of-daily-devotions-in-the-psalms/ http://soulofatlas.com/review-the-songs-of-jesus-a-year-of-daily-devotions-in-the-psalms/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:21:22 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4837 The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy Keller My rating: 5 of 5 stars I am so grateful for this, the best devotional I have read in the last 30 years. The approach of the Kellers is refreshingly practical, very devotional. It illustrates what it means to “preach […]

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The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms
The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy Keller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so grateful for this, the best devotional I have read in the last 30 years. The approach of the Kellers is refreshingly practical, very devotional. It illustrates what it means to “preach the Gospel to yourself.” Every day is a constant reminder of God’s character and Jesus’ actions and thoughts toward us. They honor God’s word through recalling sound exposition and then, every day, they “bring it home” with an intimate prayer.

View all my reviews

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Review: Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://soulofatlas.com/review-universal-declaration-of-human-rights-2/ http://soulofatlas.com/review-universal-declaration-of-human-rights-2/#respond Fri, 05 Aug 2016 13:35:58 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4835 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations My rating: 1 of 5 stars Of course, this is a classic now and many people refer to this document when they identify human rights violations. It is a “must read.” But there are some troubling aspects to this document, especially because it is so widely referenced. […]

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Of course, this is a classic now and many people refer to this document when they identify human rights violations. It is a “must read.” But there are some troubling aspects to this document, especially because it is so widely referenced.

First, it is truly a declaration. That would be fine if it explained its reasoning and contained its scope. Unfortunately, it contradicts itself without explanation and the reader is left wondering how these declarations must be reconciled. For example, Article 25 “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family” cannot be achieved unless a centralized entity practically contradicts Article 17: “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” I say practically because achieving the former does not happen without distribution of wealth. Note that there is no reference to voluntary charity. It sounds benevolent, but it’s very heavy-handed.

Second, the declaration exceeds its scope by such a wide margin that it may be disregarded by other than Western cultures. For example, I agree that education is extremely valuable, but my view is largely due to my Western upbringing and middle-class experience. Without a corresponding apologetic, these declarations become circular.

I encourage people to read this, if only to discover the contradictions and omissions that make it unworthy of the authority it assumes.

View all my reviews

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Review: Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://soulofatlas.com/review-universal-declaration-of-human-rights/ http://soulofatlas.com/review-universal-declaration-of-human-rights/#respond Fri, 05 Aug 2016 13:35:52 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4833 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations My rating: 1 of 5 stars Of course, this is a classic now and many people refer to this document when they identify human rights violations. It is a “must read.” But there are some troubling aspects to this document, especially because it is so widely referenced. […]

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Of course, this is a classic now and many people refer to this document when they identify human rights violations. It is a “must read.” But there are some troubling aspects to this document, especially because it is so widely referenced.

First, it is truly a declaration. That would be fine if it explained its reasoning and contained its scope. Unfortunately, it contradicts itself without explanation and the reader is left wondering how these declarations must be reconciled. For example, Article 25 “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family” cannot be achieved unless a centralized entity practically contradicts Article 17: “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” I say practically because achieving the former does not happen without distribution of wealth. Note that there is no reference to voluntary charity. It sounds benevolent, but it’s very heavy-handed.

Second, the declaration exceeds its scope by such a wide margin that it may be disregarded by other than Western cultures. For example, I agree that education is extremely valuable, but my view is largely due to my Western upbringing and middle-class experience. Without a corresponding apologetic, these declarations become circular.

I encourage people to read this, if only to discover the contradictions and omissions that make it unworthy of the authority it assumes.

View all my reviews

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A Tale of Two Philosophies: Objectivism and Christianity http://soulofatlas.com/a-tale-of-two-philosophies-objectivism-and-christianity/ http://soulofatlas.com/a-tale-of-two-philosophies-objectivism-and-christianity/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:06:13 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4817 It’s a rather tired reference to a novel by Charles Dickens, but… …it also describes theme of The Soul of Atlas by Mark David Henderson. Like with many philosophies, there is a lot to learn from how a person handles “the big three”: Money, Sex, and Power. John and Dad view money differently. They might […]

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tale-of-two-citiesIt’s a rather tired reference to a novel by Charles Dickens, but…

…it also describes theme of The Soul of Atlas by Mark David Henderson.

Like with many philosophies, there is a lot to learn from how a person handles “the big three”: Money, Sex, and Power. John and Dad view money differently. They might say that they view it similarly, but their behavior is different, it tells a different story. What can you learn about a person by observing how he handles money or uses power? What can you tell about a person by the way she views sex? In any case, especially with sex, people do not talk about their views very often or with much candor. A person’s behavior, however, makes him an open book. Because of my relationship to each man, our secret conversations revealed deep considerations of these issues.

Dark Soul 385 x 385As much as any ideas in our culture, Joy, Hope, Meaning, and Faith have been claimed by Western Christians much more than their secular—and certainly atheist—counterparts. Because Ayn Rand builds her doctrine on “rational self-interest,” Reason and Capitalism appear more closely aligned with the atheist intellectual community. However, Rand has much to say about these ideas of Meaning and Faith—and even that which is left unsaid serves to instruct us. (Consider what she does not say about the origins of the universe or when life begins.) For example, Ayn Rand’s philosophy is profoundly metaphysical, while not theistic. She is driven by the truths she finds unequivocally objective; and she is by no measure either a nihilist or a relativist. Joy, like Meaning, may find a very different object for the Christian, yet it can be argued that Joy was Ayn Rand’s highest pursuit. Whether or not her detractors understand the idea of Selfishness as Rand meant it, they use that term against her with little room for engagement.

2015-10-10 10.32.40While each world view challenges the other, their agreements may surprise you, as they have surprised me. In my life with my fathers, I set out to promote understanding. I pursued this Conversation. As a result, thoughtful people with disparate world views considered another perspective. The cathartic journey was, in retrospect, inevitable. The journey is the story. I could list the areas of opposition and reconciliation, but the journey itself has put the flesh on the bare bones of the intellectual puzzle. Each of the subsequent chapters addresses foundational matters in society. Both Christianity and Rand’s philosophy have infused our culture with unavoidable perspectives that the Conversation of this book will illuminate.

Stretch your mind in this season of stimulating discussion and intellectual conversation.

Read The Soul of Atlas and engage in stirring conversation with an opposing view of the world.

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What is the Soul of Atlas? http://soulofatlas.com/what-is-the-soul-of-atlas/ http://soulofatlas.com/what-is-the-soul-of-atlas/#respond Mon, 02 Nov 2015 10:06:18 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4812 While intellectually stimulating and a compelling story, The Soul of Atlas is also deeply personal. The author, Mark David Henderson, uses his own life to show how the conflict and the convergence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and Gospel Christianity were unavoidable. These world views came to him through the lives of the his two fathers. […]

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Jsu-as-Francisco-Grant-Bowler-as-ReardenWhile intellectually stimulating and a compelling story, The Soul of Atlas is also deeply personal. The author, Mark David Henderson, uses his own life to show how the conflict and the convergence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and Gospel Christianity were unavoidable. These world views came to him through the lives of the his two fathers. The author’s experiences with these two men illustrate the essence of each world view, the fundamental exclusivity between them, and the ethical conclusions that unite the two men and their beliefs.

Since his parents’ divorce and his mother’s remarriage when he was eleven years old, his life was characterized by absorbing, balancing, and reconciling the devout Objectivism of the author’s stepfather, John, and the passionate Christianity of his biological father. One was a champion of rational self-interest, the other a thoughtful man of faith. The author’s intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development played out in the process of conversations with these two, brilliant men. The Soul of Atlas invites you, the reader, to enter into that conversation to consider where these world views vary or unite with your own.

taylor-schilling-as-dagny-taggart_1Today, people claim and disclaim both world views with very little comprehension. Arguably, people do this with all kinds of thinking. Unaware, they embrace parts of varying philosophies without regard for consistency. Or, perhaps worse, they dismiss the “other” as misguided and villainous. The merits and influence of these world views mandate more thoughtful consideration. Understanding is a precursor for a meaningful exchange between these two, influential vantage points, if not from other vantage points, as well. These pages lay the groundwork of understanding as a foundation for a productive dialogue.

From the author of The Soul of Atlas

This conversation is not only for those, like the author, familiar with both world views. Perhaps you have come from the perspective of a Christian or another faith tradition. Perhaps your intellectual background is more sympathetic to atheism or Objectivism. In any case, keep an open mind. In fact, I would argue that productive interchange requires it. If you come to the Conversation as an atheist or strict rationalist, Dad’s well-reasoned Gospel perspective will challenge you. If you approach as a Christian, John’s passion and ways of thinking will inspire you to deeper understanding and cause you to question. Finally, if the world view that you articulate differs from both of these men, I envy the adventure that awaits you.

On the way to a comprehensive world view that reconciles what my fathers taught me, I ask four questions that help me characterize anyone’s way of thinking. In various forms and on many occasions, they are “What is the nature of Reality?” “What is a person’s highest pursuit?” “What is wrong with the world?” and, “How do you fix it?” Since understanding each world view is foundational to the Conversation, I answer these questions early on, relating each father’s perspective.

In this season of debates and intellectual conversations, why not stretch your mind?

Read The Soul of Atlas and engage in stimulating conversation with an opposing view of the world.

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Engage in Productive Dialogue; Tough Questions in Context http://soulofatlas.com/engage-in-productive-dialogue-tough-questions-in-context/ http://soulofatlas.com/engage-in-productive-dialogue-tough-questions-in-context/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2015 10:06:13 +0000 Mark Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4806 How should we engage in productive dialogue and embrace tough questions? Parties with opposing viewpoints on the issues should not be afraid of–rather each should embrace–the tough questions. Of course, each party must demonstrate understanding of the other so that they ask the right questions, rather than merely antagonizing. When it comes to questions of […]

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How should we engage in productive dialogue and embrace tough questions?

Parties with opposing viewpoints on the issues should not be afraid of–rather each should embrace–the tough questions. Of course, each party must demonstrate understanding of the other so that they ask the right questions, rather than merely antagonizing. When it comes to questions of faith and reason, The Soul of Atlas addresses tough questions like “How would we evaluate whether a politician is a hypocritical libertarian or disingenuous in his Christian beliefs?” Why might it even matter?

We need to know and it does matter.

Ayn RandIt matters how the story of an executed carpenter from first-century Palestine and the story of a political refugee from post-World War I Russia have managed to weave their way into our story. It matters because the influences and consequences of these ideas are pervasive in our society in ways overt and subtle; and we need to know what influences us. To recognize and comprehend what influences us and others is to function with purpose. The more purposeful we are in our lives, the more likely we are to achieve what we pursue. And this is not mere utilitarian jargon. “Achievement” can be as varied as developing a kind and loving demeanor, finishing a marathon, or bequeathing a fortune to medical research.

Keira-Knightley-wallpaper-gallery (4)When we know what persuades us, what controls us, and what inspires us, we are able to navigate our lives with intention. Our perspectives develop in concert with some principles and in contest against others. This book concerns two of the most profound influences—for good or for ill—of American ideology in the twentieth century in particular, and investigating those influences is a worthwhile endeavor for anyone interested in how Americans think. Moreover, it is a necessary endeavor in recognizing how these influences affect you, personally.

And so I write a very personal story. The context of my own life makes the conflict and the convergence of Ayn Rand‘s philosophy and Gospel Christianity unavoidable, as these two world views came to me through the lives of my two fathers. My experiences with these two men illustrate the essence of each world view, the fundamental exclusivity between them, and the ethical conclusions that unite the two men and their beliefs.

I urge you, in this coming season of debates and intellectual conversations, to engage in conversation with people whose world views are opposed to your own. Do so with respect and understanding. As a start, read The Soul of Atlas.

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Barriers to Achieving Great Strides, Faith and Reason http://soulofatlas.com/barriers-to-achieving-great-strides-faith-and-reason/ http://soulofatlas.com/barriers-to-achieving-great-strides-faith-and-reason/#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2015 10:06:23 +0000 Mark David Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4802 In the past few generations of American society, these two, very distinctive world views have stood as paragons for Faith and Reason themselves. Faith and Reason repeatedly fall prey to our inclination to avert complexity. They can be cartoonishly foisted against one another in simplistic bifurcation. In the twenty-first century, the term “New Atheists” has […]

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Breaking Down BarriersIn the past few generations of American society, these two, very distinctive world views have stood as paragons for Faith and Reason themselves. Faith and Reason repeatedly fall prey to our inclination to avert complexity. They can be cartoonishly foisted against one another in simplistic bifurcation. In the twenty-first century, the term “New Atheists” has been coined by journalists to describe some hot, best-selling books—popular authors like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett—that carry the theme “Religion makes no sense.” Of course, atheism is not a new idea. For centuries, there have been atheists saying that religion is bad. What’s new is the message that respect for religion is bad: that to even be congenial and respectful toward believers is bad; that religion is the worst thing that has ever happened to humankind and it needs to be wiped out. In trying to counter the message of the New Atheism, there are plenty of Christians who simply raise their voices. They do not sympathetically put themselves in the shoes of the doubters. They don’t know how to engage in a Conversation. Instead, they heap scorn on the other side. The New Atheists do that too.This Nietzschean power struggle has resulted in alienation and a stalemate.

As with the theist/atheist debate, there seems to be the relentless insistence that Faith and Reason are merely opposed to one another, despite history’s display of their interplay in symphony. While some people recognize a seamless melding of Faith and Reason, others deny the very prospect. They claim utter sovereignty of one over the other, citing the instances of religion and science or metaphysics and pragmatism clashing. Regardless of these opinions, however, it should be safe to say that Reason and Faith are fundamental drivers of culture and society. Whether one understands Faith as religion or as a mystical hope in Beauty or Love, whether Reason means the empiricism of scientific investigation or the rigor of logic in intelligent rhetoric, we see their interplay in education, politics, entertainment, medicine and most other realms of life.

tsoa-3-flavorsInsomuch as Gospel Christianity and the political philosophy of Ayn Rand represent seminal forms of Faith and Reason in our culture, why is there such limited analysis in either academic or popular writing of how these world views are similar and how they differ? How is it that a conservative politician could be publicly skewered in the media for holding to Randian theories on economics while practicing Catholicism? Moreover, what of his own ambivalence in acknowledging Rand’s influence on his thinking? The impulse to apply simplistic characterizations does not allow for a Christian to adhere to Rand’s ideas and seems to make the Christian uncomfortable with it as well. Is that a necessary distinction? Furthermore, how would we evaluate whether such a politician is a hypocritical Randian or disingenuous in his Christian beliefs? And why might it even matter? This is a particular example of the kinds of questions that The Soul of Atlas addresses.

 

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What’s the difference between a God-centered and Other-centered life? http://soulofatlas.com/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-god-centeredness-and-other-centeredness/ http://soulofatlas.com/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-god-centeredness-and-other-centeredness/#comments Sun, 15 Mar 2015 10:06:33 +0000 Mark David Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4778 Is there a difference between a life centered on God and a life centered on others? They seem synonymous. Look at Mother Teresa. She represented a godly life through her focus on the needs of others. At Brown University, I studied the Middle Ages. Amidst the violence and disease that caused me to prefer calling […]

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Is there a difference between a life centered on God and a life centered on others? They seem synonymous. Look at Mother Teresa. She represented a godly life through her focus on the needs of others.

At Brown University, I studied the Middle Ages. Amidst the violence and disease that caused me to prefer calling this period the “Dark Ages,” I found the behavior of the monks refreshing. When they left their cloistered habitat to participate in the lives of the people, they went about the work of another kingdom. The monks’ inventions, scholarship, art, and building of hospitals renewed society and improved lives.
So often, I see in myself and others the loud and clumsy proclamation of the way things should be, a kind of evangelism or proselytizing, whether it’s Objectivism or Christianity. In contrast, the monks were busy doing excellent work. If anything, they were earning the right to be heard. But, even without being heard, the Gospel was being proclaimed in what people saw.
When it comes to the sacrificial life, there is a subtle but crucial difference between the motivation of self-interest and a God-centered motivation. I am implying that sacrifice has a place in Objectivism because I am using a more broadly recognized definition than Ayn Rand uses. According to the common definition, sacrifice is not subjecting a greater value to a lesser. It’s making the often difficult choice to forego a good value for a great one. In the case of the monks, they were putting their own lives (of great value to themselves) at the disposal of God (a much greater value). God, in turn, directs his work for the benefit of those whom he loves. At face value, the monks are putting others before themselves and this looks like Altruism. Whereas the motivation of Altruism is its own end, the monks’ end is glorifying God.

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Spiritual, but not Religious? http://soulofatlas.com/spiritual-not-religious/ http://soulofatlas.com/spiritual-not-religious/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:06:17 +0000 Mark David Henderson http://soulofatlas.com/?p=4772 Ayn Rand applauded a culture in which the interests and desires of the individual take precedence over those of the family, group, or community. Frequently, I hear “I am spiritual, but not religious” or “I like Jesus, but not Christianity.” I applaud the courage and honesty of people who have had bad experiences with churches, […]

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Ayn Rand applauded a culture in which the interests and desires of the individual take precedence over those of the family, group, or community. Frequently, I hear “I am spiritual, but not religious” or “I like Jesus, but not Christianity.” I applaud the courage and honesty of people who have had bad experiences with churches, yet continue their spiritual search beyond the church. They want nothing further to do with organized religion. They are honestly interested in a relationship with God, but not if they have to be part of an organization.

That may take them on a long and interesting pilgrimage, but I don’t know if it’s possible to get to experience “spirituality” in the full way that they seek. Here’s what I mean. C.S. Lewis was part of a famous circle of friends called the Inklings, which included J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, and also the author Charles Williams, who died unexpectedly after World War II. In The Four Loves, Lewis wrote a striking meditation on his death in an essay entitled, “Friendship.”

Grand Tetons

In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.

It takes community to know an individual. How much more would this be true of Jesus Christ? Only if I am part of a community of believers seeking to resemble, serve, and love Jesus will I ever get to know him and grow into his likeness.

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