“WHY” IS A BEAUTIFUL WORD
CSPAN has this cool American Writers series.
Cable hasn’t turned off my CSPAN yet. I thought CSPAN was free, but no. You have to pay for it, and I am being ascetic.
But Cable is lazy in following through with my order to turn off my decadent TV programming. So today I got to learn more about Ayn Rand.
I first read Ayn Rand in the summer of ’93. What a momentous summer that was! I loved The Fountainhead so much that I read it at stoplights while driving. I couldn’t put it down!
Rand is interesting, because she is different than just a writer. She is a PHILOSPHER. She started this whole idea of OBJECTIVISM.
I don’t know that much about objectivism, but the essence of Rand’s philosophies is given all throughout her books. It’s a PHILOSOPHY, don’t bother about being realistic.
I had encountered the idea of philosophy once before I read Rand. I had read Francis Schaeffer’s book He is There and He is Not Silent. This was a Christian Apologetic book. That means, it was a book explaining why Christianity is right and true. Previous to my reading Schaeffer’s book, I had never really heard anyone address Christian apologetics. I had gone to chapel every school morning, twice on Wednesday, and then there were the regular church services on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. I had gone to our denomination’s seminary for a year. No apologetics. Just believe!
But Schaeffer…He should have been so over my head, but he wasn’t. He actually had read philosophy, and not just Aristotle. An educated Christian man! I had not encountered such a thing. I was 19 years old, and I was reading this man holding up the bible to the philosophies of Plata, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. I had never once heard of ANY OF THESE PEOPLE. But Schaeffer was bringing up their questions and addressing them as if they were important. I ate the book like a lit match eats gasoline.
When I look at it now, I understand it differently than I did then. Sometimes, you don’t know the answer, but just formulating the question can be so satisfying that you almost forget about finding the answer.
I was changed. The world became Eden once again. I laugh now, because I was in a Soviet era town in Yakutia Russia. I was surrounded by grim blank nine-story concrete apartment houses and grim blank grocery stores. I should have been terrified, but I was cherishing every snowflake and sunbeam, because I finally understood that I had a right to question the world and find out why. Everything was fascinating and beautiful, because I could fearlessly examine it.
That was ’92. The next summer, I encountered Rand, my first taste of Philosophy, directly experienced. I loved it. I did not entirely agree, which I also cherished, because I COULD disagree. But I loved her vision of personal strength and no barriers to achievement.
I didn’t want any barriers to my achievement, now that I was back in America. America is SUPPOSED to be a land of no horizons for the brave individual.
Later, when I got to go to the University again (how I love universities!) I took a philosophy class. It filled a slot in my schedule. My education has largely been determined by the convenient time scheduling of class times.
It was also beautiful experience. I remember enjoying the class so much, I thought of it as a lovely faceted diamond. All these beautiful questions and answers, lined up in contiguous sparkling symmetry. They were not perfect, but so much of them were, that you could forgive the flaws.
It was in that survey class that I met Anselm; he had derived the ontological proof of GOD. Philosophies worry about God a lot.
Anselm was from Britain, and he was the head of a monastery. His little monks were asking him questions about God, like “How do we know that God exists?”
Anselm did not bitch-slap them and tell them to have faith. He thought about it. He came up with a well-thought out answer. It is not a fully satisfactory answer, but it’s a pretty good answer. And it was an ANSWER to a question. He respected questions.
I love him for that. In the 11th century, in Britain, Anselm said, “That’s a good question. I will have to think about it.” I am so grateful to his respect of questions, I can never forget about Anselm. I have heard something about some people getting out of hand with the answers, but I will not blame later followers mistakes on the founder
Years later, when I visited Canterbury Cathedral in England, I sought out his grave. I wanted to reverence him.