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Pope John Paul II Dies

My condolences to those mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. Whatever one's thoughts on organized religion, Catholicism, or the Pope's applications of Catholic doctrine, I think it can be said that this was a gentle man with guts, one who lent his support to such movements as Solidarity during an historical period that saw the collapse of Communism.


Update: At SOLO HQ, I reflected on the Pope's passing, and in reply to Lindsay Perigo's own homily, "The Pope, Objectivism ... and 'The Best Within'." I reproduce those comments below for readers of Notablog. Also note SOLO HQ follow-up here, here, here, and here.

Comments welcome, though you might also wish to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

Marcus [Bachler] writes:

More spirituality needed for SOULO? How about we rename this group GWBSO = George W Bush Spiritual Objectivists? :-)

You mean it's not named that already? [running for cover...]

Seriously, Linz's article raises a number of issues.

I don't think Objectivism will ever reach the kind of mass appeal that one finds in mass-appeal religious movements—whether they go by the name "Catholicism" or "Islamic fundamentalism" or the more secular religiosities of Communism and Nazism. And I say: Thank God! That doesn't mean, however, that some "Objectivists" are not prone to the same kinds of behavior that plague those types of movements (minus the killing of infidels); perhaps the development of joyless, nasty "sectarianism" is simply endemic to the development of movements as such.

Of course, Linz is right: Catholicism has been at the center of many achievements. But even those achievements were bound up with the development of secularism. The resurgence of Aristotelianism through Thomas Aquinas, and the Renaissance thereafter, laid much groundwork for, and provided the inspiration for, many glorious developments and expressions in architecture, sculpture, painting and music that followed. The secularization of the Western mind has taken centuries to achieve... even if we are still facing various "blips" that seek to interrupt (and reverse) that process. And so many of those who have expressed "total passion" of a religious nature are still looking to the heavens for height... belittling, in the process, the individual human being living on earth.

On the passing of John Paul II: I marked his death briefly because I have long viewed him as a "gentle man with guts," who stood up, rhetorically, to Communism and to Nazism in his lifetime. Ironically, the "gentle man with guts," the serene, self-confident man of conviction who embraces the "total passion for the total height" can also be found in Rand's own novels, in characters such as Howard Roark. Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that all of us have to mimic the qualities of Roark or even the gentility of John Paul II. Lord knows, we all have different demeanors and personalities, and there is strength in that diversity.

But I just don't know of any other way to fight "repressive, persecutorial, joyless, prudish and downright nasty" behavior, except by not practicing it in my own dealings with other people. My actions are part of a culture, and if I want a rational and civil culture, I need to practice those virtues in my own relationship to my self, and to others.

One cannot "implement" a culture the way one selects a Parliament, a President, or a Pope. A culture is emergent: If you desire a certain type of culture tomorrow, you need to own and exhibit the virtues of that culture in your actions today. "Anyone who fights for the future," wrote Ayn Rand, "lives in it today"—each in the context of his/her own life, individual goals, and familial, romantic, professional, political, social relationships.


"A culture is emergent: If you desire a certain type of culture tomorrow, you need to own and exhibit the virtues of that culture in your actions today."

This makes for a nice aphorism.

Thanks, Geoffrey!