Friday, May 5, 2017

The Gospel according to Ayn Rand

“We do not live in a just world,” according to philosopher Thomas Nagel who added, “This may be the least controversial claim one could make in political theory.” Not so fast Mr. Nagel. American conservative philosophy is rooted in the sense that the world is fair. Hard work, they believe, not one’s circumstance, controls everyone’s fate.

You heard it in the words of those who supported the bill the House adopted to replace the Affordable Care Act. Listen to Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama explain the new bill. He says it “will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good livesthey’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people — who’ve done things the right way — that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”

There it is. Life in the conservative mind is fair, the world is just. Only those who abuse their bodies and break the rules need healthcare. We have a responsibility to take care of only those who “have done the right things.”

"Rabbi," Mr. Brooks’ like-minded ancestors asked Jesus, "why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?" Jesus told them, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened that the works of God would be displayed in him,” adding “We must work the works of him who sent me.”

I guess my problem is that I take the Gospel’s red-letter words too literally. I actually thought that the works of him who sent Jesus was to do for the least of these our brothers and sisters, that which we would also do for Jesus.

Maybe Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Liz Cheney have a different translation but mine teaches that Jesus was fundamentally about healing those who suffered. Beyond that, what he taught is central to faiths other than Christianity. Doing otherwise may conform with the Ayn Rand philosophy running through the minds of conservatives but has no foundation in the expression of any faith.

Jesus healed when the establishment said he shouldn’t. Jesus healed the outcasts and those on the margins. those who the rest of the culture believed were undeserving. He sent the message that healing was central to a belief that there is a God and that humans have a duty to something bigger than themselves.

Jesus was clear about the responsibility of the Empire to create and maintain a social safety net. You cannot claim to follow Jesus if you disagree, for he said in unequivocal terms, “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

On the very same day Trump signed an Executive Order designed to obliterate the boundary line separating church from state, his party passed a healthcare law that dramatically displays a boundary line between the Gospel and their political philosophy.

1 comment: