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Rev. Sirico: Who Really Was John Galt, Anyway?

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On the Patheos website, Rev. Robert A. Sirico examines the current debate over the legacy of Ayn Rand in conservative circles, and the attempt by liberal/progressives to tarnish prominent figures like Rep. Paul Ryan with “hyperbolic and personal critiques of the woman and her thought.” But what if there is much to Rand that defies the caricature?

Rev. Sirico writes:

There is in Rand an undeniable and passionate quest, a hunger for truth, for the ideal, for morality, for a just ordering of the world. She is indeed frequently adolescent in this quest, yet this may be just what appeals to so many idealistic young people who read her before reading the Tradition in depth.

One of the most famous opening lines in literature is the question she poses and uses as a device throughout Atlas, a question now on display at Tea Party rallies: “Who is John Galt?” The answer is not immediately given in the book; it (he) remains mysterious throughout much of the novel. Yet it inexorably emerges: Galt is for Rand the ideal man—the Man of the Mind (the logos); the One upon whom the world and its creative capacity depend. He is, in a real sense for Rand, the God-Man.

As the plot unfolds, it might be said that Galt “comes unto his own and his own receives him not.” In fact, the world despises him, not because he is evil, but because he is good, and the leaders of the people set out to kill him because of his goodness and because those in darkness hate the light, their deeds being evil and contradictory. When the final confrontation with evil comes, Galt falls “into the hands of evil men” who seek to destroy him—these were the high priests of their day—and who have a certain fear of him because the people resonate with his message (all encapsulated in a speech anything but the length of the Beatitudes).

Read “Who Really Was John Galt, Anyway?” on Patheos.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Anonymous

    Why, Fr. Sirico, are you putting an athiest’s philosophy over the Pope’s?

    • Tim Rozmajzl

      Did u read the article?

  • Anonymous

    I prefer Caritas In Veritate to any form of Enlightened Selfishness, and it seems to me any good Catholic should.

  • Anonymous

    If you really want to know who John Galt is, read the book.

  • Patrick Powers

    I just reread Fr. Sirico’s article.  In his closing paragraphs he make the following statement: “It is especially off-putting to see the left employ images of her to tar and feather political opponents in a dishonest way very much reminiscent of the McCarthyism they so frequently denounce. They do not argue with Mr. Ryan—for their own ulterior motives, they merely associate him with an admittedly flawed and mean woman, and think they have done society a service.”

    Ann Coulter, no friend of the Left, has a new book “Demonic”. The thesis comes from the New Testament story of Jesus casting out a demon named Legion into herd of swine, which immediately run into the sea and perish.  The Locals, apparently used to their pork, ask Jesus to get out of town.

    Coulter goes on to assert that the Left is possessed, much as the man in the story, and cites a variety of proofs and examples to support her thesis.  One of the tricks of the demon was to pervert the truth to make a good man be identified with a known evil personality, such as likening Ryan to Rand.

    Philosopher Peter Kreeft, in his discussion of the culture wars, has also especially mentioned the devil as being the principle enemy and influence in our culture of death and social dysfunctions.  Being a college graduate, I can easily understand the arrogance that leads one to believe reason and more educated people must produce a perfect world, but when I realize that I can not program my own VCR, I am humbled enough to call a limit to this hubris.  Which may explain why so many oppose war but favor abortion…there appears to be a moral/spiritual disconnect.

    Nothing in my background has prepared me to deal with demonic forces, much less to identify a qualified exorcist.  Thus, I wonder if Fr. Sirico or the fine staff of the Acton Institute can offer or create any good sources on identifying and countering demonic influence in our culture and economy?

  • In case you missed it, the Christianity Today website published on June 29 an article titled “Ayn Rand Led Me to Christ — How the anti-Christian philosopher prepared me to hear the gospel” by Bishop Edward S. Little II of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana. Snip:

    Only and finally in Jesus do we see humanity as the Father intends it. And only and finally in Jesus can our humanity ultimately be transfigured. “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, RSV). Our heroic destiny is fulfilled in Christ, whom we shall gaze upon eternally. Even now, while our transformation is still incomplete, we have “put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10, RSV).

    There is little in Ayn Rand’s philosophy or worldview that a Christian can endorse, even in small ways. Moore is right; Rand is “first and foremost an anti-Christian philosopher,” and Objectivism stands in painfully stark contrast to the gospel. Yet I wonder if I am alone in offering thanks for Rand and her role, inadvertent as it was, in Christian conversion. God can use a donkey to chastise a prophet. Can he also use Rand as a kind of waystation on the road to Christ?

    Read the full article here:

  • In World Magazine’s July 16 issue, Marvin Olasky contributes, “Take a stand against Rand — The religious left finds a real wedge issue.” Link:

  • Brent

    Truth is not dependent on men to speak it.  And it can be spoken in a lie nearly as well as directly.  JRR Tolken quoted Iluvatar (God) as saying, “And thou, Melkor, shalt see that
    no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any
    alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but
    mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself
    hath not imagined.”  To preach anything but the truth can only prove the truth.  William Stafford said it as simply as anyone, “If you live by truth, any thought belongs.”