Highlights from OCON: Day 5

 Posted by on 3 July 2008 at 10:53 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 032008

Here are highlights from the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON), Day Five:

Tore Boeckmann on “The Novels of Ayn Rand and the Metaphysics of Value

  • Tore Boeckmann offered a fascinating look at the concrete values in Ayn Rand’s fiction in relation to the theme of the work, particularly the significance of the incidental elements or aspects of those values, such as Howard Roark’s gaunt, angular figure. This lecture offered a level of literary analysis well beyond my meager understanding, so I plan to be on the lookout for this new complexity when I next reread Ayn Rand’s novels, particularly her more developed works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

Onkar Ghate on “Cultural Movements: Creating Change

  • Onkar Ghate gave a fantastically chilling lecture on the rise of religion in American politics, beginning with the Goldwater campaign. His case for the deliberate infiltration of politics by evangelical Christianity was clear, systematic, and undeniable. Further details may be found in a source used by Dr. Ghate himself, one that I’ve repeatedly recommended, namely With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America by sociologist William Martin.

  • Toward the end of his lecture, Dr. Ghate observed the following, as recorded in my abbreviated notes: Increasing numbers of Christians are recognizing the contemporary evangelical Christianity is too easy, too soft: it doesn’t recognize man’s inherently sinful nature. Moreover, the younger evangelicals are not interested in the free markets espoused by the older generation but rather in environmentalism and poverty. So religion needs environmentalism — and vice versa. Environmentalism offers religion its necessary doomsday scenario according to which your mere existence is a sin. Religion offers environmentalism a widely-held philosophic foundation, as Yaron Brook argued a few days ago. Until now, religionists have been primarily concerned with the spiritual realm, i.e. with sex. Yet many recognize that the message of Christianity is far more broad, far more reaching than that. Correspondingly, environmentalism has been primarily concerned with the material realm, i.e. with industry. The merger of them is a natural outgrowth of their current trajectories — and very dangerous.

Academic Panel:

  • As usual, the Academic Panel had tons of news to report, but since I arrived late and without my computer, I didn’t take notes. If you want to know what’s happening with Ayn Rand in academia, I’d recommend donating to the newly-expanded Anthem Foundation, so that you can enjoy the regular progress reports.

Now, bedtime!

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