Atlas Shrugged: The Ideological Event Horizon

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsIn life and in death, Ayn Rand stands alone as the supreme advocate of individualism. No one was fiercer in defending the romantic idea that you should follow your conscience above all else, chase your dreams whatever the price, and ignore the taunts and scorn of the masses along the way.At least, that's the popular conception. It's certainly how Rand thought of herself. But Atlas Shrugged offers surprising evidence to the contrary.The last third of … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: To a Gas Chamber, Go

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter XEven as John Galt is outwitting his torturers at the State Science Institute, outside, the capitalists' non-altruistic rescue mission is underway:Dagny walked straight toward the guard who stood at the door of "Project F." Her steps sounded purposeful, even and open, ringing in the silence of the path among the trees. She raised her head to a ray of moonlight, to let him recognize her face."Let me in," she said."No admittance," he answered in … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling, Part II

There's more good news in the saga of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an especially nasty totalitarian religious cult that splintered off from Mormonism. The sect's former ruler, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for facilitating rape, and his absence seems to be destabilizing them. As I wrote last year, outside observers and ex-members have noticed a greater outflow of deconverts from the FLDS than ever before.Now the authorities are closing in from … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 11

• eBible Fellowship, a Christian group with ties to Harold Camping, predicted the world would end on October 7. Oops! After the date came and went, they put up a defiant post in which they conceded their error, yet insisted the world is still going to burn in hell anyway. (Here's a graphic of some other end-time blunders through history.)• The men trying to stop Sikh women from marrying outside their religion, using violence if necessary.• I've written about the horrible … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling

Eight years ago, a particularly nasty cult leader named Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison. Jeffs was - and still is - the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an extremist Mormon splinter group with enclaves scattered across the American West.The FLDS, like most cults, was controlled with an iron fist, and members were expected to live like slaves serving the whims of an all-powerful leader. Both Warren Jeffs and the previous leader, … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions: Sovereign Citizens

This month, an Oregon pastor went on trial to face charges that he, like Kent Hovind before him, hadn't paid income taxes since 1994. On the stand, he offered a peculiar defense:Attorney Mark Weintraub argued that Ronald Joling has a deeply held belief that he is not required to pay federal taxes, which he claims was influenced by his conservative Christian views and teachings he's picked up from the sovereign citizen movement.The local newspaper The Register-Guard reported on … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: June 14

• Chris Hedges, the left-wing firebrand who really, really despises New Atheists, is apparently a serial plagiarist, according to a lengthy and damning article this week in the New Republic.• In the why-all-atheists-are-Hitler department: Part of the SS oath in Nazi Germany was to swear their allegiance to God and say that atheists are "not one of us".• I wrote in 2007 about José Luis de Jesus Miranda, a kook and would-be cult leader who claimed to be Jesus reincarnated. I … [Read more...]

Pensacola Christian College: The Republicans’ New Feeder School

I usually pay little attention to the State of the Union address, since it rarely amounts to anything more than political theater. I had it on in the background last week, but I only listened to some of it, and even less to the official Republican rebuttal, which was delivered by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a congresswoman from Washington state. My offhand impression was that Rodgers' speech was heavy on gauzy rhetoric and bromides about religion and God, but devoid of any actual policy proposals. … [Read more...]

Rationing Organs for Religious Refuseniks

Since new medical advances always catch my attention, I read with interest this article about "bloodless" lung transplants being pioneered at some hospitals - that is, salvaging and re-infusing the patient's own blood, rather than relying on transfusions from donors. It's being sold as a cost-saving technique and a way to lessen the risk of allergic reactions or other rare side effects, plus it conserves donated blood so that more is available for emergencies. But the technique was developed for … [Read more...]

The Watchtower’s Apocalyptic Pratfalls

Since we all had a hearty laugh at the antics of Harold Camping earlier this summer, I thought you might appreciate a little more light comedy. Presented here for your approval are some excerpts from Millions Now Living Will Never Die, a famous the-end-is-near book published in 1920. You can download the entire book in PDF form, or read some more background about it, from this link.The emphatic announcement that millions now living on earth will never die must seem presumptuous to many … [Read more...]