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In a way, I've been dragged kicking and screaming into this.

For most of my life, I've tried to become a Christian, as I admired my grandfather who was a minister, and I appreciated the values Christianity endorses. Indeed, I even gave serious thought to becoming a minister myself. Unfortunately, one can't (or I can't) simply will to believe in God and do so. For a long time I regarded this as a personal deficiency and even thought of becoming a minister who kept his lack of faith as a personal secret. Eventually I left it aside and simply went through the motions of religious practice on occasion.

About fifteen years ago I found a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal laying about on a family reunion vacation. I remember myself reading and agreeing with much of what I read in the book, and so I purchased a copy more recently when Greenspan was starting to inch the interest rates back up. Rand made every bit as much sense as Greenspan, so I picked up The Fountainhead as a bit of a lark. From there, I ploughed through Anthem and Atlas Shrugged, as the characters and constructs rang true. The characters' actions all made sense, and were either comfortably predictable or made me want to cheer and shout "Well-played!" when surprised. Books don't normally affect me this way.

I'm now working through some of Rand's essays and starting to collect other Objectivist material as I struggle to internalize the material well enough to act on it from the gut. Questions and seeming exceptions come up, and eventually resolve in a logical way, so long as Objectivism's few logical laws are accepted. I'm a programmer by trade, and it's refreshing and encouraging to finally be able to work daily life, political views, and ethics into a cohesive whole in much the same way it's comforting to create a program and know all of its parts. I'm a person who doesn't like surprises or unanswered questions.

That said, this has been exceedingly frustrating for me.

I had initially expected - even hoped - to find where Objectivism was "broken," or where Rand had cheated in developing her fictional characters in order to produce a biased outcome. However, the more I read, the more solid Objectivism and Rand's two major novels have proven. I did not want this, and I've tried to be very critical.

The reason this is frustrating is that Objectivism denigrates the religious society I would very much have liked to have become a part of. Many of the people I respect the most are religious conservatives, but I'm starting to realize that the aspects I most appreciate - honesty, intelligence, integrity, accountability, and work ethic - are better instilled by Objectivism than by Christianity. Indeed, Objectivism demands each trait, whereas Christianity encourages, but forgives lapses. Furthermore, Christianity demands certain compromises in support of faith and subjective charitable obligations.

Further, Rand's non heroic characters are proving just as consistent as her heroic characters. Rand's portrayal of the second handers reaffirms many of the biases I've held against people who try to tell me what I "should" do, or how I "should" feel about things where such feelings and actions haven't come naturally for me. Having her characters in mind has also got me gritting my teeth and ill at ease whenever I start hearing a littany of weak external excuses for failure or contradictory logic accepted as fact.

Lastly, while I find comfort and inspiration in Objectivism's clarity, it also makes me feel physically ill. Starting to recognizing the amount of unrealized potential out there and the means by which it's been wasted is enough to make me want to abandon the thing that made me see it. But I can't will that realization out of existence any more than I could will God in.

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Interesting story, McGroarty! You're in a battle against your internalized philosophy but you seem like a honest thinker. Because of that--and as long as you continue to be honest with yourself--reason will win out in time and frustration will give way to a fundamental sense of happiness.

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Interesting story, McGroarty! You're in a battle against your internalized philosophy but you seem like a honest thinker. Because of that--and as long as you continue to be honest with yourself--reason will win out in time and frustration will give way to a fundamental sense of happiness.

I agree!

I went kicking and screaming into Objectivism myself because I was wary of cults and movements and unwilling to accept anything on someone else's say-so. But, darn it! Ayn Rand was right. So after eight years of serious, critical examination, I realized I WAS an Objectivist and I had no reason ever to be otherwise. That was over three decades ago and my life has been successful and happy as a result.

From my own experience and those of many other Objectivists, I can reassure you, McGroarty, that your current difficulties are temporary. Right now you are betwixt and between two different moralities -- the old one you haven't completely abandoned and a new one you haven't completely accepted. It is a frustrating, confusing, and depressing situation because whatever you do, it will be "wrong" by some standard. This will be resolved in time as you understand and integrated your new ideas.

Go for it and have a happy, wonderful life!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I can totally relate. I was never religious...but was brought up with a Catholic background. When I was younger I read the Bible ...I read all about Catholicism and Christianity...rules and things. I even considered becoming a nun when I was older (i was very young and not completely serious). I didn't like the way you could have been a sinner all your life and then ask for forgiveness right before you died. I can't say I ever wanted to be part of religious group though.

My first experience with a priest was when my mother took me to get my first communion class, the priest asked her if I'd been baptized and my mother replied no. At this, the priest frowned and gave me a look as if scolding me for being a bad child (i was about 8). I didn't like the way he seemed to judge me without even knowing me and told my mom I didn't care to be baptized. I was attracted to Protestant church for a bit because of the whole "you dont have to go through a priest to be close to God" bit. Anyhow, in the end ...like you...I was dissatisfied with any religion (including eastern ones)....and found Objectivism. The fact that I had studied so much about religions gave Objectivism that much more validity. It is only thing that truly makes sense to me. :D

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