The War Within

Now that I am reading Ayn Rand (again), I can’t help but get inspired by the men and women she brings to life. The central theme of all her works is the concept of Man-Worship.

It’s quite funny, but the biggest book influences to me are Ayn Rand and the Holy Bible. Both inspiring. Both controversial. Both polar opposites.

To be fair to both of them, I guess what they both have in common is always gunning for excellence. To be the best possible person you are in all facets of your life. Though the term ‘best’ is defined differently in both books.

A few years back, during my initial readings of Rand, I admit, she gave me strength but at the same time she confused me. I went through a Rand-worship phase.

Rand is a radical. A rebel, if you must. But that is also why I love her so much. She believes in the human potential. She is immensely in love with it.

I can’t say I am any bit like her, though I would like to be. She is sure of herself, what she wants and what her purpose in life is. She values competence, strength and intelligence. I hunger for that kind of person in real life.

There is an ongoing war within me. I want to take pride in what I do but the Bible talks differently. It advocates humility, self-control, patience and other fruits of the spirit. Why shouldn’t I take pride in what I do? Why can’t I enjoy my passions to the fullest?

Sometimes, I feel sad and torn inside. My walk with the Lord is bringing me more questions than answers.

 

6 thoughts on “The War Within”

  1. You know, it’s kind of funny that in the Bible, Yahweh is often referred to as “the living God.” But what is life? Life involves struggle, growth, achievement, adversity, pleasure, pain, triumph. Life is shot through with change, and part of the essential nature of living things is that they can die.

    Rand’s characters are truly alive. But contrast them with the Biblical description of Yahweh: immortal, eternal, unchanging, perfect. Does this sound like a living creature who could have aspirations and goals? If he is already “perfect” what could he possibly want? If Yahweh could be shown to exist, wouldn’t he be more akin to a stone floating in space than a man with values?

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    1. I hate to admit this, but I agree with you. Which is why I am in constant battle with myself. This inner struggle has been going on for quite sometime now. The Lord requires us to believe and depend on Him completely. But this is counter to what everything life is. The more I know, the more I question.

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      1. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” –Exodus 20:4-6

        Have you read much of the Old Testament? Why would a “perfect” God be a jealous God? Why would he punish the children and grandchildren of those who failed to keep his commandments? Why would he threaten destruction against those who didn’t obey him, rather than encouraging them like a good leader?

        God’s behavior in the OT is a deep mystery, so long as you believe that he is a real entity. But if you switch your perspective for a moment and think of him as a mythological figure of the Israelites, (as Zeus was to the Greeks) he all of a sudden makes perfect sense.

        The semi-nomadic life of an ancient Israelite was very harsh and unpredictable. People and livestock would suddenly die inexplicably, women routinely died in childbirth, harsh weather and famine could strike at any time, enemy tribes attacked without warning.

        People naturally want explanations for important events, and the ancient Israelites didn’t have the concept of modern science. Yahweh served as the explanation for both the good and bad things that happened to the Israelite tribes. When things went well, it was because people had been good, and Yahweh was pleased. When things went badly, it was because people had been sinful, and Yahweh was punishing them. Since things could become bad very suddenly and without warning for the Israelites, the character of Yahweh in the OT is capricious and vengeful. (See Leviticus 26:14-39.)

        Life in the Roman Empire during the time of the New Testament was more comfortable and predictable. So the divine representative of God on earth, Jesus, mostly preached God’s loving forgiveness. The character of Yahweh mellowed with the less harsh lifestyle brought by Judeo-Roman civilization.

        Does this sound plausible to you?

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      2. Eric, all your points make sense. In fact, they still make sense to me even after years of going through an agnostic phase.

        However, I guess, the best possible explanation I can give you from an objective point is that the ‘concept’ of God gives me a sense of peace. I can only speak for myself in this area. He gives me rest in a life that is full of struggle.

        Yes, I agree that there are a lot of questionable areas in the Bible. I don’t accept things on face value or because I am required to accept and believe. My brain was not made this way. But this is what is required if one wishes to be called a true Child of God (as outrageous as that sounds).

        As I simultaneously read my Bible with Rand, I am told that there is a “promise”, a promise for those who obey and follow His statues. This is all that I am holding on to.

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  2. I read Rand when I was in college, 3-4 years ago. Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, were huge influences and I thought a lot about the concepts she spoke about in her books. I still admire Rearden, Francis D’anconia, Dagny Taggart and Howard Roark. Unforgettable characters.

    However, after a few years of working, I realized that Mrs. Ayn Rand’s works did not always apply to the real world. One point in particular was the characters ignoring poor people. I understand that she meant people should work to help themselves, but how does this translate into the real world, for example tribals being displaced from their ancestral land by big companies? Are they to be left alone because “they are not trying hard enough to help themselves”?

    Also I read a bit more about Ayn Rand’s personal life by researching on the internet, and it wasn’t exactly a very happy life. Yes, she was firm and passionate about what she believed, but she also passed away alone, with few friends or family.

    Ayn Rand’s ideas are good for inspiring you to believe in yourself. But after that you have to find your own answers in your life which make sense to you.

    What God wants for you is again a very personal answer to a very personal journey. I believe that God is too beautiful to be understood in human terms, and by trying to understand Him, we limit Him, who cannot be limited. Most important thing is to be at peace with yourself and harm no one else.

    That’s all.

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    1. Utsav, thank you for your input. I agree, it is indeed a personal journey and I believe, it is impossible to tailor-fit my journey according to an idealogy (the Bible or otherwise). I will keep your comment in mind.

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