Uncomfortable Truth Dredged from the Memory Hole

While everybody is busy having the vapors over exciting, dynamic Catholic Paul Ryan, permit me to throw a wet blanket on the festivities, as is my custom, by pointing out that a) he was (until it became awkward) a fanatical devotee of one of the great enemies of God the 20th century produced: Ayn Rand.  You know.  Ayn Rand the lunatic atheist who swore to devote herself to selfishness?  The zealot for abortion?  One of the most poisonous writers who ever lived?  Here’s where things stood a couple of months ago when I wrote:


I simply want to direct your attention to Daniel Nichols, who points out passages from Sts. Thomas and Ambrose as he looks at Paul Ryan’s sudden and preposterous claim that his love affair with the thought of Ayn Rand is an “urban legend”. Riiiiight:

I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.”


Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most.”


The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

I’m quite happy to welcome any move to reject Rand and follow St. Thomas. But by “welcome” I mean, “Trust, but verify”. When a former embezzler walks into Church and immediately sets out to convince everybody to put him in charge of the finances, common sense suggests a prudent evaluation of his claims to be a Reformed Character. And when Ryan starts his proclamation of fealty to the thought of St. Thomas with a good solid lie that it is a baseless “urban legend” that Rand has been a huge influence on him, he does not inspire confidence that what he is saying about anything else is going to be honest either. This is, after all, a man who was, just this past October, addressing the Heritage Foundation using the Manichaean jargon of Rand to divide the human race into “Makers” and “Takers”. Reader Dan C (a doctor, not an out of work Occupy protester with a degree in puppetry) summarizes my own caution about Ryan’s sudden invocation of St. Thomas and his ridiculous pretense that Rand was never an influence:

[H]e used the vocabulary paradigm of Ayn Rand in his address to the Heritage Foundation in October in which he identified the world as divided into the “Makers vs. the Takers” and he insisted he was going to protect the Makers (John Galt-style men) against the Takers, which I guess is me and my family. As a “Taker” in his construct, he is a threat to me and my family. Takers, in this construct, is everyone south of the creative productivity of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. As such, not being a John Galt, I am declared his enemy and he is out to wage war on me and my family.

Perhaps he changed or maybe this was just an Academy-Award performance at Georgetown. Why should I believe him now after he issued a call to class war on me and my family in October?

In your commentary about some “lie,” I ask you, is the urban myth comment he made a “lie”? Why is he hiding the past association and clear intellectual influence (Maker vs. Taker) and enthusiastic admiration (as a speaker at an Ayn Rand conference)?

I need more than one new speech to trust the man who declared class war on me.

I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious.


As far as I can see, not one thing has changed since that was written.  The man is a champion for the Ruling Class’ war against the rest of us. He denies, not repents, ever having said things like this:

He is also an unreconstructed neocon who gives every indication of having learned not one thing about the disastrous Bush policies, foreign and domestic, that led to the election of Obama in the first place.

By the way, another thing that has not changed is that the Etch a Sketch Candidate is a liar who will say anything to win. So here he is courting the conservative Catholic vote:

Oddly, he neglects to mention that he did exactly the same thing Obama is doing to the Church nationally, but he did it in Massachusetts, ordering Catholic hospitals to dispense abortifacients.

Some folks want to believe Romney’s etch a sketch claim. I believe it as deeply as I believed Obama’s claim to have never been influenced by 20 years of Jeremiah Wright, his claim to support traditional marriage, and his solemn promise to never impinge on religious liberty or the conscience of Catholics.

If you trust either of these party leaders, I have a bridge to sell you.

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  • Andy, Bad Person

    What strikes me most about the Ryan nomination is how no one is noticing that he’s Sarah Palin.

    No, I don’t mean he’s clueless or anything. I mean that, just like in 2008, the Republicans have nominated a corporate suit that no one really likes. Be honest. No one is excited about voting for Romney.

    Romney realizes that he needs the Great Unwashed vote, though, so he’ll throw them a bone with Ryan. Let’s stop pretending that the VP has any real power, though, and see it for what it is: pandering to the base that can get him elected.

    Politically, it’s a good move. Don’t read too much into what it means, though.

    • That was the first thing I thought: liberal Republican presidential nominee whom no one likes picks popular conservative running mate to maintain conservative vote. Then I got nervous; wasn’t this a miserable failure in 2008? However, Romney and Ryan do have two improvements over McCain and Palin: Ryan is more media savvy than Palin, and Romney will at least campaign as if he wants to win (unlike McCain).

      • Scott W.

        However, Romney and Ryan do have two improvements over McCain and Palin: Ryan is more media savvy than Palin, and Romney will at least campaign as if he wants to win (unlike McCain).

        I’d add a third imprvememt: an opponent who has so utterly alienated the moderates that voted for him that they will walk on their knees over broken glass to vote for a trained monkey instead. I won’t vote for him, but don’t listen to the polls and expect a Romney landslide.

  • Michael

    Mark, I love you, but this is over the top. I admit, Ayn Rand is not the stuff a mature Catholics should be impressed with, but its not the most revolting thing I can imagine. I’ve dabbled with way worse ideas myself! I don’t like Ayn Rand anymore, but don’t think this is enough reason to condemn this guy’s character.

    I happen to know a man, a small business owner who is a Catholic. He has statues of St. Francis all over his log cabin in mountains that he built with his hands, where he lives with his wife who works with autistic children. He employs young artists to do woodworking projects around his property so that they can get money and add work to their resumes. He’s been sober alcoholic for over 30 years. When he was younger he used to go downtown and work with drunks all the time and still goes down there and gives food away. This man is a Teddy Bear. Trust me, he’s a totally down-to-earth, humble, creative, Jesus-loving Santa Clause. No one in a million years would think of calling this guy an elitist. But you know what? He also loved ‘Atlas Shrugged’ so much that he named his first business ‘John Gault Enterprises’! He’s not a bad guy, yet something he saw in Ayn Rand’s crappy novels helped him work through a tough time and get his life together. I’m not going to fault him for that. And I wouldn’t fault Paul Ryan for it either.

    Could my friend’s drive to succeed and not to parish, to contribute to society rather than to get away with doing as little as possible (something recovering alcoholics like myself need all the encouragement we can get to wrap our heads around!), should this sentiment be reviled as part of “the Ruling Class’ war against the rest of us”? Come on Mark, do you really mean to say that ‘us’ — you and I — are at war with the ‘Ruling Class?’ Because I don’t feel that way. I’m broke, but I don’t feel like a victim. I’m an American, and that actually makes me a member of ‘the Ruling Class.’ I believe that, and I won’t subscribe to rhetoric that undermines this ideal. I want to succeed and prosper and I hope that I can find a way to make it financially someday. I want everyone to make it, but I know that not everyone will. That does not make me a classist. I can help a lot more people when I have money than when I don’t. I think me and Ryan are on the same page there, and that’s why I like him.

    More to the real point underneath all this: I’m done being afraid of casting an enthusiastic vote for my representatives. I despaired and mistrusted and whined about things for too many years. Now I want to play ball. I want to get behind a candidate and help him/her win. I’m tired of the old idea that ‘THEY’ are the bad guys and I can’t trust ‘THEM.’ Nobody’s perfect, but I want to get excited about my representatives and support them. In a similar way, I now support my priests and the authorities in the Church rather than blaming and mistrusting them, imperfect as they are.

    Vetting a candidate is one thing, but we aren’t going to find a flawless person to represent us. And its not such a sad, sorry thing as ‘picking the lesser of two evils.’ The truth is we GET to pick the better of two smart, passionate, qualified candidates, and we GET to keep moving forward and shaping this society. Being a part of democratic society is such an undreamt of privilege it boggles the mind! We ought to be rejoicing in this, and rooting for our home team, which ever team it happens to be. If we keep on attacking our representatives and demonizing them, are we setting a precedent for our kids to want to be involved in public office? Do we raise the bar that way, or do we perpetuate a culture of despair?

    Yes, we do need to bring our faith into our politics, and as Catholics, that can and should make us pretty choosy. But let’s not forget to bring hope and charity into the conversation as well. It’s gonna be alright, but only if we stay in the game, and don’t become bitter or despairing. This is a great country and an amazing process we get to be a part of. God’s the Referee. Let’s play ball!

    • Could I copy and use this? This is one of the best takes I’ve read in quite a while.

    • CJ

      I agree with much of the first part of your post. Like any other wordly ideology, one can find something positive in Objectivism. I think driven entreprenurial and creative people find a certain validation in it. Swallowing Objectivism whole is deadly, though.

      I do, however, disagree with the second part. I would love to get excited about a candidate, but these guys just aren’t that exciting. I don’t WANT to help Romney wage war on Iran. I don’t WANT to help Obama wage war on the Catholic Church. So why would I participate in either vision of shaping the country when I think they’re both dead wrong? Also, neither the Donkeys nor the Elephants are my “home team” and I think it’s a mistake to view politics this way. Look, I’m a sports fan, and I hated Dennis Rodman when he played for the Pistons and loved him when he played for the Bulls. You can do that kind of mindless loyalty (“rooting for laundry”) in sports because the stakes are so low. But politics are too important to vote for a label with no regard for what’s underneath. It’s not despair to demand better of the parties or the system itself.

    • Debra Mitchell

      thank you, Michael. I would love to use your eloquent words to give people hope instead of dispair. I find it so discouraging that we as Christians do not trust in conversion by the Lord. I wonder if we would have distrusted St. Paul if we had lived in his days. NO one can claim they have lived a mistake-free life, but understanding and accepting we have a merciful God gives us redemption. If we pray and let God be in charge, we will pray for our enemies and know as the Psalm states, “Be still and know that I am God”.

    • David K. Monroe

      Michael, thank you for an encouraging and intelligent response.

    • Mark Shea

      Ryan’s actions don’t indicate “conversion”. They indicate tactical shift. A convert says, “I was wrong. I repent.” A politician covering his ideological tracks says, “It’s all an urban legend invented by my enemies that I ever cared about Ayn Rand. Trust me. Something something Aquinas and Augustine. There! Now you have to acknowledge that I’m *really* deeply Catholic and you are the problem, not me, if you don’t fall in line and repeat that meme. Now shut up and vote for Romney.” This is what is happening here. Not buying it, any more than I buy Pelosi’s period Catholic allusions in her public yammering. Don’t get played.

      • Mark,
        I think you have set up an either or situation that might not be fair. You say he was a “fanatical devotee” because of some quotes and now he is denying it because of some quotes to the contrary.
        What I suspect might be the truth lies somewhere in between, I suspect this because this is the same for me.
        Say what you what about Ayn Rand, she did an excellent and captivating job describing the symptoms, even if however she completely misdiagnoses the disease and her preferred cure is death to us all.
        That said, she still described the symptoms well. I am on record repeatedly as rejecting her philosophy yet even I sometimes employ Randian language and allusion to describe the symptoms. These quotes alone might make it seems as if I am a “fanatical devotee” even though I have consistently rejected her philosophy as other quotes of mine make very clear.
        There is no contradiction there and so no repentance is needed. Perhaps it is not that he his changed his mind (although that is possible) but rather that with the addition of other quotes, we understand it better.
        Perhaps some benefit of the doubt is in order even for political opponents.

        • wineinthewater

          The problem is that that what you’ve described yourself, but not Ryan. If Ryan were to say something like, “There is a lot of truth in what Rand had to say, but also much that she got wrong. My enthusiasm has always been for what she gets right and not the parts she got wrong” then that would be one thing. If he had said what you said, that Rand “did an excellent and captivating job describing the symptoms, even if however she completely misdiagnoses the disease” that would be one thing. But that’s not what he’s doing. He’s on film and in print extolling the virtue of Rand and in print denying that he was ever a fan of Rand. That is not conversion, that is lying .. at least to us if not also himself. Conversion begins with being honest about your need for conversion.

          This just emphasizes to me that this is what the political parties do, they twist Catholics into parodies of Catholicism.

        • Dan C

          When the atheist is Karl Marx, and that atheist speaks of class war, the Catholic right gets the vapors. Obviously, it is just who is the atheist and who is the agressor in the class war. Rand sides with the Makers.

      • Greg V.

        It’s very hard for a politician to admit he was wrong. Practically a death sentence. Great example is Romney on his RomneyCare.

        I wish the situation were better, but politics ain’t beanbag. At least, that’s what another poster on this forum once told me. You’re only going to get a pure politician in a movie.

    • Mark Hartman

      Bravo, Michael. I’m frankly a bit tired of those like Our Illustrious Host who seem to demand perfection as the price of their support, rather then encouraging and rewarding the uncertain “baby steps” that those who are not as sure of their own righteousness take to try to find the proper direction.

      That one can find things to admire in the works of Ayn Rand cannot be questioned. If admitting this makes me a “disciple” of this writer, then let’s hope that the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation doesn’t apply the same standard to Volkswagen owners. And let’s also hope that we’re not held at the end to the same standard.

      • Mark Shea

        Not demanding perfection. Simply pointing out that Ryan has dishonestly denied, rather than honestly repented, his adoration of Rand. Therefore I believe his denial as much as I believed Obama’s denial that Wright was a huge influence.

    • RSMaxwell

      Amen, brother. That is exactly how I feel. And I do not understand Mark’s sometimes ludicrous leaps in logic — i.e., that he found a lot to like in Ayn Rand’s crappy novels therefor he is a “ruling elite” versus the rest of us. I’ve read books by authors on the right and the left in which I have found admirable and inspiring content, but I still find the authors morally repugnant.

    • Michael … your words are AMAZING and so very HOPEFUL!!! … obviously from deep down in your heart. We are all so very worn out by the sniping and sneering that has laid hold of so many today. Honestly, I felt life come out of me after reading Mr. Shea’s stretch to find fault with this promising candidate … I guess I went on to read the comments, hoping I’d find someone like you who might be willing to challenge this piece with some lines of encouragement … you were that person and you made my day! Thanks!!!

      (by the way … get a job writing … our church and our world needs more like YOU!)

      • Anne-Marie Queally

        Agreed. I thought Michael’s thoughts were spot on.
        Amen to keeping it constructive and positive.

      • Um … it disturbs me when a cleric rallies the troops against Shea. Not that Shea’s perfect, but what is Mark doing here? He’s not “sniping and sneering”, but simply pointing out that Ryan is lying, and that he is lying about something that reveals him to be a less than charitable or Christian figure. Michael, in response, expressed himself well, but Michael doesn’t seem to want to see the level of dishonesty at play here, which Mark Shea is simply pointing out.

        Either way, Michael’s words were neither “AMAZING nor very HOPEFUL”. They were well-intentioned but partisan, and spoken with the gusto of a good soul wearing blinders. To say “our church and our world needs more like YOU” is just a wee bit insipid and pandering, IMHO.

    • MattyD

      It’s stunning to me how many so-called Catholics are willing to jettison key values of their faith, as well as critical thinking skills, in order to advance one for their political team. That Ryan has been a vocal *advocate* of Rand — one of modern history’s most prominent enemies of religion, faith, charity and Christian love — is undeniable. That Ryan lied about it, to serve his interests, is obvious. And then when Mark Shea does us the service of pointing out this uncomfortable truth, we say he’s “over the top” a “perfectionist”. Really? Perfectionist? For pointing out that a self-proclaimed Catholic has been advocating the philosophies of one history’s greatest enemies of religion? Here’s a little Tribal Insanity gut check for you: Who do you reject more passionately – Ayn Rand, sworn enemy of Christianity, or Jeremiah Wright, Christian critic of American exceptionalism? Your answer to that question will tell us something about who your *real* God is. Great post, Mark.

      • MattyD, your last conclusion is not entirely fair:
        “Who do you reject more passionately – Ayn Rand, sworn enemy of Christianity, or Jeremiah Wright, Christian critic of American exceptionalism?”

        You beg the question with your phrasing. People might reject a small evil more passionately than a great, because it is closer to home, or a more immediate threat. Moreover, people might reject with greater intensity of feeling something they know to be less bad, because it is something that plays to irascible appetites or passions. Most people don’t know much about Ayn Rand other than that they enjoyed – or someone they appreciate enjoyed – her crappy writing because they felt it showed how an individual can be empowered to take charge of his life (which is undoubtedly a good thing). That’s it. That’s what most people know about Ayn Rand. What do they know about Jeremiah Wright? That they saw him curse and condemn one of the things they (rightly) love most – their homeland.

        Why on earth should they reject, in those circumstances, Ayn Rand over Jeremiah Wright?

        Let’s just calm down here, people. Of course Ayn Rand is evil and atrocious – and a bad writer, which is arguably as terrible. But the correct thing to do is to point out how and why. I imagine that most of her fiercest critics – and Paul Ryan’s – here haven’t read a word she wrote. Just as the big anti-socialists haven’t read a word of Marx or Engels or Shaw or any of its serious, intelligent proponents.

    • Walt J.

      Michael, I concur with your comments.
      I was/am a fan of the Rand literature. In particular I appreciated her analogy of “makers and takers.’ In no way did I, or do I, view this as any declaration of class warfare. It is to me a straight forward recognition that there exist in this world some who produce goods through their own efforts and there exist those who believe that they have a right to claim a share of those goods produced by the other. These were statements about the economic realities that plague our society in the present.
      I see no linkage between that view of economics and the atheism she held. Ms. Rand came from a communist Russia that was atheist and socialist. While she had reasoned the fallacy of extreme socialism, she obviously had not made that degree of change in her view of the divine. I have made the change from quiet atheist, at the time I first encountered the Rand writings, to be a devout Catholic work in progress. I see no contradiction in the above economic statement and Catholic teachings.
      Jesus teaches us to share with the needy. There is no equivocation in that! I do not see where he intended that anyone could demand that which belongs to another. I try to share with and assist my children (and others), but I fully believe that my grown children, or others, have any right to expect that I MUST comply with their request for more in event that I have not voluntarily offered it.
      Charity, alms, assistance etc. must be given in free will and with joy in the heart for it to result in any grace for the giver. I believe that any effort by any institution to take from some to give to others is in conflict with that avenue of grace. It also causes damage to the social order in that it causes some to cease efforts to be in any degree self-sufficient and over time society will become what it is coming to be and of which Rand warns us.
      So should we take Ryan to task for pointing to the writings that opened his eyes to a sordid reality of economics and human nature? I think not.

      • Mark Shea

        I appreciated her analogy of “makers and takers.’ In no way did I, or do I, view this as any declaration of class warfare.


        • Right. The problem with Smith, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Rand, and generally speaking, all the modernist thinkers is not their diagnosis of problems. Each of them see real problems, and some of them quite clearly. Their problem is their failure to understand the patient and thus to prescribe a good remedy.

          Every one of them is a materialist. They all deny original sin – the broken goodness of the human person. Some deny it by denying the brokenness, such as Smith and Marx. Some deny it by denying the goodness, such as Nietzsche and Rand. They all, in consequence deny the need for redemption advanced through an interior cooperation of grace and freedom. They all look for material – and ultimately social – solutions to all of life’s problems. Even Rand, the great individualist, fundamentally wants society to make room for her supermen, even if she denies that fact, it is inescapable – her superman needs heads to climb on. As a consequence, all of the prescriptions are fantasies that do not address the actual needs of the actual human/social patient, but rather, a figment of their imagination. For example, Rand errs on the side of rugged individualism, a thought process that is grounded in the Enlightenment; Marx errs on the side of social engineering, a thought process grounded in the Enlightenment. They come from the same overarching field of thought. But neither is entirely wrong or to be dismissed casually.

          Ryan is correct in stating that there are “makers” and “takers.” Rand’s mistake is to lump them into two distinct groups. In reality, we are all happy to get freebies, and we are all created to build up each other. I can’t imagine Paul Ryan saying otherwise. I can’t imagine him saying something coarse like, “I did all the work for everything I have.” I can imagine the current Administration saying things like, “You didn’t work for what you have. Other people built it for you.” That doesn’t seem quite right in most cases, either.

    • Yeah. Actually, Ayn Rand is pretty terrible. That said though, in many ways, she is pretty opposite of the terrible we are getting. In subtler, more fundamental ways, she is very similar to the poison we are getting, but that is harder to see. On the surface, though, seems to be a rejection of a lot of what is wrong with socialism. That’s why people embrace her. They are not serious students of philosophy or understanding what – intellectually – is deeply flawed in her. They intuit rightly the clear and present danger we live in, and sense in her some sort of opposition.

      I have a feeling that most people know precisely where to tell Ayn Rand to get off. Very few Americans are actually willing to see people dying in the streets of hunger. That’s why modern liberalism has gotten so much headway in building a nanny state. But now, more and more, most people are looking to put a brakes on that or reverse course. That’s all.

      Ayn Rand is every bit as much a second-rate nitwit as Karl Marx, or Nietzsche (her deepest influence), and makes most of the same mistakes as both of them. The average American isn’t very philosophical, but is very practical. And in practice, when you want to put a brakes on something or reverse course, you apply an opposing force. That’s what Ayn Rand is for most people.

      If she were alive and running for office, I’d be afraid. I wouldn’t vote for her. Paul Ryan might be a lot of things, but Objectivism Enfleshed, I don’t think.

    • PLK

      Thank you, Michael, for so much in this comment, most pointedly for the shot of optimism which I need so much these days for so many reasons, and also for the insight into habits of those in recovery, as I am recovering from a painful experience because of the behavior mentioned. Some hope and peace was given to me.

  • Bill

    Rand’s raison d’être is classism, though as opposition to the proletarian revolution of the Commies. It’s the continuing of the bourgeois revolution to its most frightening end.

    Objectivism scares me as much as fascism or communism because it is a totalitarian worldview. Instead of the state being all powerful, the bourgeoisie is, which shrinks and shrinks until you get a small and extremely powerful plutocracy that wants just enough of me and less of you.

    What unites all of these ideologies is Godlessness and utilitarianism. They hate each other, but all revolutionaries do. (think of Judean People’s Front vs the People’s Front of Judea from Life of Brian). It’s their common hatred of the ancien regime (today that’s Catholicism especially and Chtistianity in general).

    One could argue that all of this is the ultimate teleological end point of Protestantism. Especially Objectivism with it’s militant rejection of Good Works.

    • Well said.

      A lot of people – most people – have a hard time conceptualizing, because of 250 years of propaganda – that capitalism is not about free markets, but about captured markets. It is not a remedy for socialism, but a cause of it. Socialism is not a remedy for capitalism, but its bridge to a slave state.

      Hilaire Belloc’s “The Slave State” is a must-read.

  • Bill

    Mine? Sure! Thanks. I’m mad autocorrect didn’t fix it’s as its, but oh well!

  • While I disagree with a few (secondary) points in this piece a small bit I must protest one of them – Rand was never a ‘poisonous’ writer. ‘Tiresome’, ‘repetitive’. ‘shallow’, and ‘mediocre’ sure, but ‘poisonous’? Her skills as a writer weren’t advanced enough for her to be ‘poisonous’. I would agree to ‘offensive’ I suppose.

  • Matthew

    How about the fact that his local bishop went to bat for him when he was under attack earlier this year over his budget? His bishop testified to the fact that he is a good Catholic who takes seriously the teachings of the Church. Bishop Morlino said that he and Rep Ryan have regular conversations about Church teaching and particular legislation and while they do not always agree the disagreements are prudential rather than principled differences.

  • Andy

    Mr. Ryan embraces subsidiairty, which is only half of the equation. He uses subsidiairty to champion small government, which is not part of subsidiairty. Subsidiarity recognizes that there is a role for government intervention – when the problems/issues are beyond local abilities to cope with, when the inbalances in systems are over-large. He uses subsidiairity to mirror what Ayn Rand said in Anthem about the serfdom of “we” and the freedom and purity of I. The “we” that is the other half of subsidiairty – solidarity. That is the part of the equation that few want to talk about, the need to share and be part of the “we”. One need only read Gaudium et Spes, Rerum Novarum, Populorum Progressio, among many encyclicals to see the importance that the church gives solidarity. Solidarity though requires that we give of ourselves and of our abundance. It does not mean that we merely acknowledge that there are poor, it means that we actively promote their needs.

    The current brand of capitalism practiced in the US is based on maximizing profit, not part of the teaching of the Church; it is leads to an elite making mega-bucks and being able then control what the rest of us of do/have. It is based on the Randian concept of “I” and not the Catholic concept of “we”, inherent I both subsidiairty and solidarity. Mr. Ryan’s budget, his protestations notwithstanding, reinforces the “I” component of the current economic practice in the US.

    Mr. Ryan has said: “Simply put, I do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government,” he said. “Those unwilling to lift the debt are complicit in our acceleration toward a debt crisis, in which the poor would be hurt the first and the worst.” However, his very budget would increase the debt, because he uses only a knife – a knife to cut programs for the poor, and the same knife to cut taxes for the “I” group. This too is not in keeping with what the Church teaches.

    I have no doubt that Mr. Ryan is a good person, a good father, a good neighbor. Based on his presented budget priorities, I do doubt his conversion to the principles of St. Thomas and his embrace of Catholic Social Teaching.
    I think that the “cartoon” in today’s offerings shows the difference between the RR boys and the OB boys – one wants more corner windows for big business and the other wants more corner windows for big government. Neither should be appealing.

    • Yet as Rerum Novarum also expresses, solidarity and subsidiarity are correlative principles, and subsidiarity is primary.

      For those of you who DON’T nerd out over economics and Vatican documents: Subsidiarity is the principle that, if a certain order of society can provide a good always or for the most part or better than any other order can, it should be allowed to do so for the sake of the common good. Solidarity is the principle that when lower orders prove incapable of providing that good as above, a higher order ought to step in to do so. Note that this presumes that the proper subsidiarity is already being observed.

      Now, whether you like Ayn Rand or not, and whether you want the poor to starve in the streets or not, We Are Spending Too Much. Want to help Medicare? Cut spending, because right now Medicare is unsustainable and spending more on it will only make it worse. Want to help the recession? Cut spending, because raising taxes during a recession is a horrible idea, and that’s how one funds spending. (This INCLUDES defense spending.) And since in fact entrepreneurs ARE the basis of economic wealth creation (and no amount of whining about this fact is going to change it because this is How Economics Works) one does in fact need to emphasize their (individual) liberty, and you can find this in Aquinas to one degree or another in his notion of the private society in Contra Impugnantes, which Leo XIII cites in RN.

      Why am I saying this craziness about individual liberty? For the same reason I supported, say, the change in the Creed. It is not just that the Creed begins “Credo” and not “Credimus”; it is that in fact the “I” is contained in AND CONSTITUENT OF the “we”, and this is not something Rand invented, this is common sense. If you attempt to remove the provision for private goods by private enterprise, as Rand is saying in Atlas Shrugged, Bad Things Happen. But here’s the thing; Rand’s picture stops there. In that way, Rand shows you the “morality of capitalism”, but nothing more, and that is what I think Ryan meant, as evidenced by his noting that his “worldview” and Rand’s are not the same. This is an easy thing to miss if one doesn’t know where to look, so I would hardly blame Mark for having something else he took away from it. But I am worried we are, in our quest to be more clever like serpents, acquiring a certain cynicism, which offends against the innocence of doves we are supposed to keep. Whatever the case, I am going to guess that Ryan is not the libertarian anti-Christ Mark seems to think he is; but as they say, trust but verify. I like that Bp. Morlino has spoken up for him, and Bp. Blaire would speak out against anything if the Clinton Administration wouldn’t like it, so I am taking his criticism with a grain of salt.

  • Michael Francis Goodwin

    Mark, I do not think you have represented Ryan well.
    Ryan told National Review’s Robert Costa that it’s a stretch to assume that he considers himself a Rand devotee: “I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas.”
    Read the full article here: http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=34483

    • Mark Shea

      The Catholic Vote piece is simply regurgitating the original falsehood of the Costa piece. It is precisely that falsehood that I am taking apart. Ryan dishonestly denies, rather than honestly repents, his adoration of Rand, blaming it all on an “urban legend” rather than on his documented words. In so doing, he acts like Obama, denying rather than repenting his connection to Jeremiah Wright. Claiming Augustine and Aquinas and the Catholic tradition as fig leaves in order to manipulate Catholics into supporting him while denying the immense debt he owes to an evil and dangerous human tradition by an evil and dangerous thinker is…. just like Pelosi being motivated by Margaret Sanger while ocassionally pretending to care about Aquinas and Augustine. Don’t get played.

    • Dan C

      Explain the philosophical origin of his “Makers vs. Takers” Objectivist Manifest at the Heritage Foundation in October 2011.

  • Not being anyone who gave Ryan much thought, I hadn’t really looked into this particular argument. But given the recent shake-up, I looked into it and, quite frankly, was under- impressed by the hoopla. Unless there are some other clips of Ryan on more Rand than this, I’m not seeing it. He quotes Rand and believes she would have something to say about this. That’s just quoting someone and saying that individual happens to be right in this case. He does not seem to get inspiration from Rand in all things, just as folks can get inspiration from others in one topic when they may disagree passionately in others. And if folks are attempting to make him a fanatical disciple of Rand in all things, he could be right to say it’s a myth. He certainly could see it that way if he doesn’t believe he is such a devoted disciple. And, he may think he really is reflecting Church teaching. That’s different than someone who stands up and says the Church is dumb/wrong/evil and needs to get with the program. I would need a third step somewhere, some more evidence; I would have to *know* Ryan is just being political and not trying to clarify things for political expediency before I would make that a reason to discard him outright.

  • Kirt Higdon

    In actual practice, Ryan is not a Randian at all. He is a creature of the Washington ruling establishment who voted for the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, Medicare Part D, TARP, etc. etc. If his principles are truly Randian, then he is someone who routinely goes against his own principles for reasons of power or partisanship and that is hardly a recommendation. In fact, he is a big government conservative, which is what they call liberals who are in the Republican half of the duopoly. His celebrated budget proposal does not even pretend to balance the budget for a couple of more decades and is mainly aimed at preserving and expanding war expenditures to kill more foreigners. I think his Randism is to impress the shallow youthful intellectuals of the right who manage to discover this Witch with a Capital B every generation or so.

  • John H.

    I assume your criticisms of Ryan’s appreciation for Rand also work for others. So when Aquinas quoted Plato, Aristotle, Avicenna, he was, like Ryan, accepting EVERYTHING they ever wrote? And Aquinas assigning Aristotle to his students meant that he wanted them to read and teach it whole hog? Mark, you are being far from objective here. You can read Rand, Plato, Aristotle, Avicenna, and like what they have to say, and incorporate the good they have to offer into your own ideas of what makes a good political system without abandoning your Catholic faith. Reading, appreciating, promoting, and agreeing with Rand on many issues does not mean Ryan is a disciple of Rand any more than Aquinas was a disciple of Aristotle. This is really a shameful and disgraceful attack. Ryan is no where NEAR the objective enemy of Catholic teaching that Pelosi and Biden are. You may not like the way he wants to fix our broken system, but at least he’s not trying to do it by stabbing scissors into the necks of babies. This is really disgusting on your part.

    • SusanB

      John, Thank you for your excellent, reasoned response. I agree, this is a disgusting attack on Paul Ryan.

  • Taylor

    Dear Mark – I would suggest that you reach out to Paul Ryan and give him instruction. Please don’t assume that politicians who are Catholic actually have a master’s degree in theology – or that they even remember their CCD training or religious instruction from Catholic school. Instead, I think that it is better to consider them unschooled and then an opportunity for you to teach instead of “deconstruct” what is already “fertile ground” for fruitful Catholicism.

    In any case, I like you blog. But let’s see if we can help Ryan “blossom” into a real leader with a bit of instruction. Okay?

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    Makers vs. Takers. Ryan isn’t wrong in the analogy, but he is totally and completely wrong about who are the makers and who are the takers.

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” (Abraham Lincoln)

    Sad that Lincoln was more Catholic in his economics than Paul Ryan.

    • Confederate Papist

      “Sad that Lincoln was more Catholic in his economics than Paul Ryan.”

      Epic failure!

      When Paul Ryan kills 600,000 American men, women and children, then your statement may hold water.

      • Howard

        You seem to be missing the “in his economics” part of that comment.

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        I knew as soon as I said something nice about England, you’d pop up. 😉

        • Blake Helgoth

          Wasn’t the civil war all about the ‘economics part’?

  • Cinlef

    Mr Shea I think many of your readers fail to appreciate how utterly evil Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism” really is. If all you get from Rand is the importance of hard work you’ve misunderstood her as much as if you called yourself a Stalinist because you believe in sharing.

    At the heart of “Objectivism” is the belief that caritas (charity in the theological sense, selfless love) is morally reprehensible. You can literally not make a philosophy more anti-Christian than that. It’s the philosophy of hell a philosophy entirely based on a rejection of the Cross.

  • Bob W.

    You are undoubtedly aware of what Pope John Paul II wrote in Centesimus annus about the welfare state (his term). Now that you’re done defaming Paul Ryan, without the benefit of knowing his inner thought process and its evolution (e.g., maybe he did once foolishly admire Ayn Rand, and now that his thinking has matured he’s embarrassed about it), why don’t you give us your apologia for the continued existence of welfare state, which, in its modern Western form, Paul Ryan and JPII are critical of, but you and bishops like Stephen Blaire of Stockton and Richard Pates of Des Moines defend.
    Also, do you recall Paul Ryan’s written dialogue with Cardinal Dolan about the principles of Catholic social teaching? Do you doubt Ryan’s good faith in trying to faithfully apply them in a prudent way? Finally, do you recall Ryan’s own diocesan bishop recently praise of him for being a faithful Catholic conscientiously trying to apply CST in a prudent way? You’ve been most unfair to Paul Ryan in this post. Is whatever your apologia is for the welfare state at the roots of your feelings about Paul Ryan?

    • Mark Shea

      I have not defamed Ryan. I have pointed out that he has denied, not repented, his adoration of Rand. So I don’t trust him.

      • John H.

        Right, just like Aquinas didn’t repent of admiring Aristotle. Ryan has nothing for which to repent. Any good mind can appreciate the good that comes from an individual’s work, without accepting the evil that is apparent in it. Aquinas didn’t accept everything that came from Aristotle, but he did greatly respect his thinking, as does Ryan of Rand. It amazes me that you can’t see this.

      • Howard

        If so, could you provide better links? If I wanted to just cut and paste the comment into Google, I could do that without you. All Google is showing is a bunch of people quoting each other over the past 24 hours. An original source from, oh, a week or more ago would be helpful.

      • Brother Cadfael

        You have defamed Ryan by repeatedly and directly called Ryan a liar without evidence.

        Ryan has reportedly stated (1) that he has read, and even frequently re-reads Rand’s books; (2) that he believes they do an excellent job explaining the morality of capitalism and the evils of collectivism; (3) that he was inspired by them to go into public service; (4) that he has given the books out as Christmas presents and has encouraged his interns to read them; (5) that we are living in times that appear to out of an Ayn Rand novel.

        Those are the facts, and near as I can tell, they are undisputed (with the caveat that Ryan denies ever having actually required interns to read Rand’s books).

        Based on those facts, you and others on whose statements you rely have accused Ryan of being a Rand “devotee” or a Rand “acolyte.” You have accused Ryan of proclaiming “adoration” for Rand and of having a “love affair” with Rand’s thought. Others have gone further, proclaiming Ryan to be “obsessed” with Rand and to be a “cold-hearted Objectivist.” Without regard to whether your characterizations of Ryan comport with the demands of charity, that is not where you have defamed him.

        It was the attempts by his detractors to portray Ryan as “obsessed” with Rand, as being in total agreement with Rand, and as therefore being a “cold-hearted Objectivist” that Ryan rejected as urban legend. He did not claim it to be urban legend that Rand ever influenced him or that he cared for her books or even some of her thought. He did not deny or “take back” or even repent of any of the facts set forth above.

        Which is where we get to your defamation of Ryan. You have proclaimed Ryan to be a liar, but what exactly is the “lie” you claim Ryan is telling? You claim that Ryan is maintaining a “ridiculous pretense that Rand was never an influence.” That is false, he has not claimed that. You have claimed Ryan is lying by denying “that [he] ever cared about Ayn Rand.” That is false, he did not make such a denial.

        To put it mildly, you have to torture (horrible pun intended) both the content and context of Ryan’s original statements and actions concerning Rand, and Ryan’s rejection of the urban legend about his “obsession” with her, to conclude that Ryan is lying.

        If you had merely pointed out that Rand is poisonous and you are suspicious of any faithful Catholic admitting to be influenced by her, or even that you are suspicious about Ryan’s Catholic bona fides, you would have heard nothing from me. You don’t have to like Ryan, you don’t have to believe him, and you don’t even have to respect him. But you do have a charitable duty not to call him a liar without a real basis for doing so.

        • Jerry Beckett

          This is a challenge I would love to see an answer to.

          • Ben Dunlap

            Me too. Surprised it took so long for someone to make the challenge.

        • SusanB

          Thank you, Brother Cadfael. You are absolutely right in your post.

    • Dan C

      In October 2011, he framed his context at the Heritage Foundation in Randian objectivist terms- “Makers vs. Takers.” In such a context, public servants such as teachers, firefighters, and police are “Takers.” Due to government contracts, most hospital employees and physicians fall under this umbrella. Takers as a construct differs substantially from the anti-Madonna of orthodox conservativism, “the welfare queen.”

      Takers is not “welfare queens.” We have entered a new phase of GOP economic theory in which a substanital number of public servants and professionals count as “welfare recipients.” Ryan is the face of this class war.

      Here is the deal: if you choose to fight this class war, and it has been ratcheted up for several years, each faction should make preparations to lose. It is like the culture war, a war no conservative imagined 10 years ago would have gone so badly but did. The consequences of such a war, waged so passionately against “Takers” could be devastating to both the country or the faithful.

    • Perhaps you should try reading Caritas in Veritatem which gives the Church’s most recent approach to these issues. This is where the Church stands, and I seldom see anyone discuss this encyclical. Perhaps if more people would read it to discover what exactly the Church teaches on this issue, we would have better economic policy.

  • Mark,

    I’m going to take the man at his word in this case. There are really only two possible teams that will get into the White House this fall: Obama-Biden or Romney-Ryan. With all of their imperfections and faults, there is simply no comparison to the downright intrinsic evil being advanced by Obama-Biden.

    I really, really wish we could have the perfect, fully Catholic, saintly candidate who didn’t have a single controversial view. But, this ain’t heaven and I just want to puke as to think of Obama-Biden getting back into the White House.

    I’ve decided to pray that God’s grace influences Paul Ryan, and I’ve decided to interpret his most recent explanation in the most favorable light, leaving room for him to grow in God’s light with regards to Catholic social teaching and applying it to economic problems.

    I am just very fearful of the alternative. My conscience is clear in voting not “for” Romney-Ryan per se, but voting to keep the team that represents the greatest intrinsic evil – Obama-Biden – from getting back into power.



    • Bryant

      Well said, Diane. I’ve been reading comments here for 40 minutes or so, hoping someone would articulate your point. Thank you! We MUST “keep the team that represents the greatest intrinsic evil – Obama-Biden – from getting back into power.”

      • Blake Helgoth

        Oh, so we fall for the, we know we are running a horrible candidate, but you must plug your nose and vote for him anyway because he is the lesser of two evils, for the millionth time. I am tired of being played this way. I think the integrity of our vote demands more from us.

  • tz

    One thing Rand got right with Objectivism is that Morality is objective. Natural Law. Reason. What is right and wrong, good and evil is NOT made up but is like mathematics.

    Rand and Objectivists get things wrong because of erroneous reason, but they have the correct foundation. (l4l.org is an atheist pro-life organization). Moral Relativism is the malignant common enemy to both Catholics and Objectivists, and it is the dominant culture and is destroying everything dear to us.

    In Rand’s magnum opus novel, the workers were paid to the last penny. Midas Mulligan’s books balanced to the last penny when he closed his bank. The judge was overruled when he decided justly on the facts and the law. Would that half the Catholic businesses and politicians do the same, and call for the same. Any politician that followed the example of any of Rand’s heroes from the novel would be a great improvement.

    In the novel, reality itself was the cause of the slide into the dystopia. Debt will be our destruction, but why do military hawks become deficit doves?

    My concern with RYaNO is the long list of cases where he rejects the Natural Law, the rule of law and will simply follow the corporate socialism corruption which has been going on for most of my life.

    My problem is less with Ryan being a follower of Rand, but more with him being one of the heretics against Rand with things like “in efficient markets, there can be no fraud”. Tell that to the customers John Corzine looted.

  • Dan C

    I love that the Catholic right is embracing these economic theories. It leaves enormous reciprocal room for the rise of a reasonable liberation theology, which, even in its forms enunciated by Guttierrez, et al, are so much closer to Catholic Tradition and the Faith than the “Makers vs. Takers” Manifesto.

  • One more thing:

    I think our bishops will have a better ear in Paul Ryan than they currently have with Obama-Biden. I think Ryan can be influenced, but Obama has proven he won’t be influenced.

  • Ethan

    While Ayn Rand was a horrible person, as you say, a fanatical proponent of abortions and selfishness, her philosophy has as much to offer Catholics today as she was a poison pen. Truthfully, though her economics are pure and conservative. A society cannot function founded on the economic principle of giving, rather a society is only healthy under the social principle of giving, something Ayn Rand failed to identify. Rand’s mistake was trying to bridge the gap between economic philosophy and social philosophy. There is no system of “Catholic economics”. Catholicism as a standard set of ethical and metaphysical principles may guide our political and economic decisions. However, Catholicism is also a matter of personal faith and reason. I reason that a society where private property does not exist and need dictates portion is incapable of existing and rightly see that economic egalitarianism is dysfunctional at any level. That is my reasoning, and it agrees in part with Ayn Rand. Yours may be different. I am not saying that I wouldn’t help a poor person in need. What I am rather saying is that I should get some dividend out of the process. I won’t invest in the useless man, I will invest in one who shows promise and needs help not to feed off of me like a leach but become self sufficient and make the world a better place for all of us to live in.
    I would also say that you’ve been missing out on the meaning of her economic plan. Have you read Atlas Shrugged yourself? She doesn’t only look up to Bill Gates types; she idolizes the railroad mechanic who has a passion for his work. Even on the first page of her novel, she describes the beauty of the city in the precision skill of a mere bus driver at his work. Her great society is in skilled and devoted, whatever their vocation in the working world.
    Paul Ryan is the future of the Republican party and an exemplary example of a conservative Catholic. Charity comes from caritas in latin, i.e. charitable and brotherly love. To do charity, I must have that love and want to make a difference. It is a choice that I must make with the money that I have made and the time on this earth God has alloted me. When the government takes my money and throws it on domestic and foreign hopeless causes like just another worthless number, my ability to do true charity is impacted and I feel that my place in the world is dishonored. Like so many, Ayn Rand was a philosopher whose thought was partially flawed and partially correct, and Paul Ryan does the Republican Party, the Catholic Church, and the world an honor by finding a clear and productive way to combine the ethics of Catholicism with the economic rationality of objectivism.

    • Cinlef

      ” I am not saying that I wouldn’t help a poor person in need. What I am rather saying is that I should get some dividend out of the process”

      Which is entirely Randian but is not charity in a Christian sense at all….

    • Dan C

      ” To do charity, I must have that love and want to make a difference.”

      I daily pray that I do not get what I deserve, and I often try to mimic in minor ways to those less fortunate that grace which is beyond what I deserve. What I deserve is exile from Paradise. I receive much better than that daily. I think that is the Christian approach and has a Gospel basis.

  • Richard C.

    Anybody know: who did our Evangelical friend Ron Paul name his son for?

    • LOL – And many of those screaming the loudest about Paul Ryan’s past with Ayn Rand are Ron Paul supporters.

    • A quick google shows that it was not for Ayn Rand:

      Randal Howard Paul – Despite his father’s libertarian views and strong support for individual rights,[9][10] the novelist Ayn Rand was not the inspiration for Paul’s first name; he went by “Randy” while growing up.[11] His wife shortened his name to “Rand”.[9][12][13]


  • Mr. Patton

    W.W. Jacobs’ literary allusion comes to mind in this happenstance. “But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in.” – The Monkey’s Paw

  • Okay, one-more, one-more thing…

    St. Augustine dabbled not a little with all sorts of philosophies, and more than dabbled with the Manicheans.

    God’s grace can transform people and even if Paul Ryan is still clinging to certain errors he may have picked up from Rand, I suspect he is a good enough student to grow in his understanding.

    I just am not comfortable with all of the hositility aimed at his past as if people can’t change. The bishops will be all over any budget plan put out by either set of candidates. I think Ryan will continue to grow in his understanding as solid theologians (not dissenting types who cloak their dissent in “care for the needy”) challenge that understanding. This is bound to come. At least the guy is trying to apply Catholic social teaching to it. He’s read it. Has Biden? Pelosi? As Paul Ryan learns, how might he influence others?

    I’m just leaving room for spiritual and intellectual growth here.

  • Margaret

    It was a youthful enthusiasm. Just as beta males often have a youthful flirtation with socialism, it is not uncommon for young alphas to become briefly taken with objectivism. When we look at this we have a choice whether we want to keep it in perspective or focus on it to sensationalize it. This column never misses out on a chance to be contrarian and zero in on some minor point to really rile up the combox. Common sense and a mature perspective keeps us focused on the present and the real issue of Ryan’s infinite superiority to Biden.

    • SusanB

      Well said, Margaret. Thank you.

  • Captain Peabody

    If you’re accusing a man of *lieing,” you darn well better have better evidence than this. All you have are (1) statements of appreciation for Rand, (2) statements that use Randian constructs, and (3) a statement that his being an Objectivist is a myth. Whatever you may think of the matter, these are simply not contradictory statements.

    Actual Objectivism as it is practiced is radically different from most of the actions Ryans has taken throughout his career, and radically opposed to Catholicism as such. Being influenced by Ayn Rand, thinking she’s brilliant, using some of her ideas, is simply not the same thing as accepting the life-encompassing philosophy of Objectivism, and it is a huge stretch for anyone to claim that it is. In that sense, Ryan’s statement simply seems to be an obvious fact.

    The simple fact is, Ryan is rather obviously NOT a philosophical Objectivist, however much of a fan of Rand he might be, and being a Catholic, he could hardly help being a lot closer in many areas of philosophy to Thomas Aquinas…which is all that statement says, essentially.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that Ryan isn’t influenced by Rand to a negative and unhealthy degree, that he isn’t taking some aspects of Randian economics and anthropology and using them for his own purposes, or that he is isn’t a Evil Corporate Republican. It just means that accusing him of lieing about all this is not supported by the evidence, and at this stage is coming close to sheer calumny.

    • Dan C

      So, was it an urban myth that he was enamoured of Ayn Rand?

  • Confederate Papist

    All this blather does not matter because with the Chicago political machine heavily involved in this election, plus all of the college kids, Occupiers, unions, nuns in pant suits, etc., you’ll see an Obama victory.

    And it will be the last “democratically” held election.

    And I pray that I am wrong and will gladly eat the crow (fried, please), but I am making sure my passport is up to date and am looking at real estate in various parts of the world.

  • BTW, where did Ryan say he was enamored with Rand? Not agree with, but enamored.

    • Dan C

      I suspect he never admitted to be enamoured. If you need such a comment to identify “enamoured” then you will never be satisfied. If being a speaker at an Ayn Rand conference, giving out her novels as staff Christmas gifts, and then embracing her class war constructs in pulic forums isn’t enough to convince you of his deep interest and admiration of her philosophy, even very recently, then nothing will.

      • I’ve seen Mark give as many complements and praises to Jon Stewart as well. But if someone said Mark Shea is a passionate follower of Jon Stewart, and by extension everything Stewart stands for, and Mark then corrected them by saying he is no such thing, should I assume Mark is just pulling a fast one? Or should I assume that what appears to be to be a real fanboy with maybe a few minor disagreements, may in fact be a person who supports Stewart when he thinks Stewart is right, but in no way wants people to think that he endorses everything Stewart stands for, and therefore Mark is being honest in correcting the notion that he’s entirely in the Stewart tank?

        • Mark Shea

          If I said Jon Stewart’s individualism is what matters to me most and Stewart’s explanations of individualism are what propelled my intellectual journey in to public life, you’d have every reason to doubt me if I suddenly claimed that it is an urban legend that Stewart is my principle intellectual guiding light.

          • The point is, I would believe you if you said all that and still informed me that I had exaggerated your devotion to Stewart. Why? Because you’ve given me no reason not to trust you, and I would be willing to assume that, despite appearances to the contrary, I might have overstated your feelings about Stewart.

            Now, the big question is, has Ryan given me reason not to believe him? Let’s set this whole Rand issue aside for a minute. Has he said or been caught doing other things that show he is not to be trusted, that he spins and lies and does whatever to get himself ahead? If he has, then the evidence does start to pile up, and there could be a reason to assume he’s simply sweeping this whole thing under the carpet hoping that nobody catches him. But if not, is there any other reason I would have to condemn Ryan’s denials rather than give a favorable interpretation of his explanations?

            • Bryant

              Interesting thread. Reading how Ryan was “enamoured” (love the u in that word) of Ayn Rand, I suddenly remembered having been enamored (spell-checker caught it) of Mother Jones for a while in my wild youth. Heavens, I even rang doorbells for Gene McCarthy!

  • David

    I have to say that in this instance I don’t really care if Paul Ryan likes Ayn Rand. I am no fan of objectivism, but to be fair, I am guessing that Paul Ryan isn’t really either. I am sure reading Rand inspired him to believe that individual rights and responsibilities are better for a society than collectivism. A person can read a book, appreciate it, and yet use their critical faculties to recognize the bad contained within it. Some of my favorite books on science assume a materialistic outlook, yet I can take them for what they are worth, and even recommend them to friends, while noting their weaknesses from my point of view.

    My biggest issues with Ryan are that he begged for TARP to be passed, voted to allow indefinite detention of American citizens, and was a cheerleader for Bush’s invasion of Iraq. For me, these are the real issues. All I know is that most people I know that actually like Ayn Rand would never support any of those things, so my guess is that Ryan is just another neo-con that talks about individual rights, but is willing to sacrifice them as long as his party is in charge.

  • Mark Q

    I’m really glad bloggers weren’t around during the formation of the early church. Augustine, Saul, Francis of Assisi, etc., wouldn’t have had a chance.

  • Michael DePietro

    This is really a disgraceful and inaccurate piece. I ordinarily do not read Mr. Shea because as a general rule he is not someone who is particularly rigorous with the facts. In this case I have made an exception as I suspected the column would be inaccurate and given the importance of the election to Catholics it deserves rebuttal:

    1) Ryan agrees with Rand on some of her points, including perhaps the central one that if the government excessively taxes and regulates the most productive members of society their productivity will decrease and the society will suffer for it. There is nothing about this incompatible with anything the Church teaches, and in fact their is significant empirical evidence in support of it. That evidence is too extensive to document in a blog response. Perhaps calling to mind the situation of experiments in Democrat liberal control in places like Detroit however indicate the truth of the Rand claims in this area. Detroit is in shambles and there is no longer anyone to tax as those who are productive tend to flee the area. Similar scenarios are evolving in other major cities or even states like California. It is nice Mr. Shea cares about the poor and down trodden, perhaps he should care enough about them to actually make an effort to understand the empirical effect of policies claiming to help them. Anything else is not Christian but rather moral posturing.
    2) Beyond this Congressman Ryan has openly rejected Ayn Rands atheism, and excessive individualism. Certainly he rejects her pr0-abortion stance. To suggest otherwise is simply calumny. He has a 100% pro-life voting record, he is not primarily known for this, as chairmen of the budget committee he has been most known for his fiscal discipline but he has enthusiastic support from pro-life organizations. Even his budget policy prosposals have been criticised from the right as not being rigorous enough ( demonstrating his effort to balance needed reforms with support for those dependent on government programs.) Specifically Ryans plan does not even “cut” anything, it simply reduces the rate of increase in programs from the projected 4.5% /year to 3% / year. This is hardly Randian individualism. Are you even aware of this Mr. Shea? ) The very fact that he has personally engaged the Bishops in discussing his proposal demonstrates he takes his Catholicism seriously. On what basis can it be said that his policy proposals that invoke the principal of subsidiarity merely just lip service? The Principle Mr. Shea is that a larger unit should not usurp the power and activity of a lower unit of organization unless there is no choice, ie the lower unit has been shown to be unable to carry out an essential function. It is a very reasonable position that the current federal government that is spending at a rate of 70% of GDP is now smothering the private sector and if reducing its rate of growth is not and example of the principal of subsidiarity then the principal has no meaning and you simply reject it.

    I do not agree with Mr Romney or Mr Ryan on every issue. Nonetheless it should be obvious that either Romney and Ryan will prevail or Obama will. It is incomprehensible to me that Mr. Shea would in essence diminish support for Romney/ Ryan in the face of Mr. Obama’s attacks on the Catholic Church. Mr. Shea are you ok with Mr Obama’s contraceptive mandate? Do you disagree with the Bishops in this area? Can you not see that if Obama prevails the mandate will prevail, barring a ruling against it in the courts ( by no means certain). Is it the poor you care concerned about? What specific policy proposal of Obama has evidence that the poor are helped? In fact there is evidence that his policies ( including the runious debt ) are causing the very weak recovery. Have you no concern for the unemployed? It may be that Romney is not as historically pro-life As I would like ( I personally favored Santorum) nonetheless his pick of Ryan should be encouraging ( Ryan is more pro-life than George W Bush) and is their any doubt that Romney is more sympathetic to pro-life concerns than Obama will be? Do we want more Elizbeth Kagans on the supreme court or do we want the individuals Romney will appoint? Do we want Sebelius as HHS secretary or the person Romney will appoint? We have a moral duty to limit the abortion license as best we can. Abortion being an unspeakable crime as Vatican II said. Can a morally serious person doubt that the license will be broadened and strengthened more under Obama/Biden compared to Romney/Ryan.
    Mr Shea this is not a game. You have a platform. To the extent what you write ends up supporting Obama ( even by way of suppressing the vote for those who would otherwise support Romeny/Ryan, you bear some responsibility for the policies Obama pursues.

    In any case to be fair to Mr. Ryan, he agrees with her on some points chiefly centering around the idea that limiting government control over the most pruductive will do a lot to encourage thier productivity, and he rejects the elements of her beliefs that violate Catholic teaching ( such as her atheism obviously) to claim otherwise is slanderous. I do not know if Mr. Shea will have the intellectual honesty to retract his remarks, but I would encourage interested readers to parouse the web and other sites including Mr. Ryans public statements and policy positions ( including the actual numbers in his budget proposal) and make their own judgement.

    • Dan C

      He, with her constructs, is promoting class war in his identifying “Makers vs. Takers.”

      It is clear he differs substantially than Benedict the 16th with regard to his encyclical Love in Truth. One must remember that as a Theologian, Benedict received a government paycheck his whole career in Germany. Benedict, as Ratzinger, was a “Taker” in the Ryan construct.

      He may differ radically than current understanding of economic morals in the Church.

    • You could have made a worthwile point, had you omitted the nasty and ignorant suggestions regarding Mark Shea’s beliefs. Mark has repeatedly called Obama a tyrant, urged everyone to oppose the HHS mandate, and has said that he does not understand how anyone in his right mind could vote for Obama. I actually agree with you that Ryan’s admiration for Rand is not a big deal. Patrick Archbold made that point much more charitably and clearly a ways up. (Ryan’s gung-ho support of the Patriot Act has me most concerned.)
      And calling out Romney and Ryan’s shortcomings does not make one responsible for a second term of Obama or any of his fascist policies. If one is going to vote for the lesser of two evils, he should know as much as possible about both candidates to make an informed conscientious decision. And voting for the lesser of two evils is not morally obligatory; in this circumstance one can also vote third party or not at all. (I do believe in doing that, given proportionate circumstances and as long as the lesser evil is significantly lesser.)



    You are normally very refreshing and interesting to read, especially when writing on the Faith. But throw in a Catholic, mix in a little Republican Party and season with conservativism, and BOOM your political cake blows up! Time to get on board Brother not aim for perfection (Ron Paul, lol!). We know what we have in Obama, your strident rhetoric against ANY self professed (and in Ryan’s case demonstrated) conservative candidate is self defeating. We are on the edge of an abyss. While not perfect in many ways, Romney’s choice of Ryan speaks volumes that he not only wants to lead but, maybe govern. Prolife, profaith, proUSA. Sorry, but quit being such a primadona. Paul didn’t make it. Fact! A vote or non-vote for anyone but Romney/Ryan is national suicide. Fact. Your move. I love your articles but man get real politically.

    • Mark Shea

      “Time to get on board” really nicely summarizes the message. That’s exactly what all the outrage is about. I won’t get on board.

      • Mr. Patton

        Hang in there, Mr. Shea! Soon this election cycle will be over and the sheep’s cloak will be unveiled…:)

  • julian

    Thomas MacDonald http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godandthemachine/ has a good write up on the Ryan/Rand fixation. He doesn’t get all spun up with Ryan being the end all-be all but he is also willing to take Ryan at his word that he now rejects Rand’s philosophy. I think an litmus test or demand for sincere apology might be a bit much. Burden of proof is on the accuser to prove that he’s lying. He’s a political candidate so approach with caution, but I think on this topic I’m content to drop the matter barring any other current or relevant evidence.

  • Frank La Rocca

    My goodness, Mr. Shea — demanding “repentance” from Mr. Ryan? Repentance is a spiritual matter and it is an exceptional display hubris on your part to think you are in a position to demand such a thing from another person.

    • Mark Shea

      So you don’t think Obama needs to repent his support of abortion and his war against the Church?

      • Dan C

        As well as his war crimes.

        • julian

          well, i suppose Rand could “repent” for giving someone a book, but that really is different from actively setting laws in place to make abortion more readily accessible and forcing Catholics to participate in grave moral evil. I mean, Bush should perhaps repent of some of his errors in office as well. I think the Ryan/ Rand thing is more like this: I used to really like John Piper, (Calvinist Theologian). I think I might have recommended a couple of his books if I didn’t give them to anyone. Now, I’m not saying the error in Calvinism is equivalent to the error in Objectivism. I am NOT saying that, but hopefully you get my point. Now I very much disagree with Piper, but at the same time, I am still thankful for the time I spent reading his books because it was part of the path towards discovering Catholicism, (for me anyway). Likewise, my appreciation for Kant has waned over the years. Should I repent? Heck, I mean, I have a feeling that even Descartes is going to be horrified, (or is already), when he realizes what became of his ideas. Yes, Ayn Rand was substantially, much worse, but I can understand, and even (forgive?), if someone made a Randian pit-stop. I don’t think we have to go all Joe McCarthy, (or is Bachman), on the guy. Hold your fire, he’s probably to give us plenty of more real things to be disappointed with in the future.

      • MRD

        Mr Obama needs to stop his war on the Church. he will not however. In fact Mr Shea the election is a choice between Obama/Biden and Romney/ Ryan. It is obvious to any morally serious Catholic who the better choice is:
        Romney/ Ryan ends the contraceptive mandate, will clearly appoint judges more favorable to the pro-life cause, and at the very least will defund the left. Planned Parenthood that notorious pro-abortion outfit is running anti-Romney ads as I write.
        Moreover it is simply slander to link Ryan to Rand in terms of Catholic teaching. The following is a quote from Us News and World Report ( hardly a right wing publication) The US News and World Report online states: ” Ryan, on the other hand, is in stark opposition to abortion under any circumstances, even in cases of incest or in instances when the mother’s life is at risk. He has a 100 percent approval rating from National Right to Life Committee, a major pro-life organization. Ryan also supported adding a personhood amendment to the Constitution, which would give a fetus equal rights and stated life begins at conception. Rand was a firm believer in scientific advancements and likely would have been an advocate for embryonic stem cell testing, while Ryan voted against the controversial research.” Mr Shea have you no decency? It is obvious that Ryan regardless of his statements that In some respects ( mostly in terms of aspects of limited government involvement in the economy) Rand inspired him. It is quite possible that atheistic philosophers might have elements of truth in some of their writings. It is clear that Ryan rejects a purely libertarian philosophy as his pro life stance indicates. If anyone need to repent of anything you need to repent of the calumnies directed against Ryan. Disagree with his budget proposals if you like and if you have the competence. To simply lie about the man is repugnant.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Do you know for SURE that Romney will change that contraceptive mandate? Did he change it in the legislation from his own state (I would not know where to find this info, please give me link) ? Or is it just political posturing?

      • Lauri Friesen

        I’d take Obama, or any of the hundreds of political leaders like him, just backing down on these positions. Repentance by them is something I pray for, for the sake of their souls, not the sake of my intellectual satisfaction. You are not likely to get the words you want from Rep. Ryan, especially if you continue to be so belligerent in your approach. And, unless and until you admit you went too far, you are little more than “the pot calling the kettle black” on this.

  • bill bannon

    The buzz in some papers this day is that Ryan’s budget cuts to the Medicaid poor will in effect be immense
    in that he will reduce the Feds part of Medicaid by using block grants to states rather than leaving the Fed’s obligation open ended and that will pass the job on to states who can’t afford it. Medicaid is not just welfare medical but it is what covers many of your relatives if they have not accrued a million and therefore go through their savings in late life by being in a nursing home several years. The nursing home would be draining the assets and then switch the elderly person to medicaid. Many hard working people can end up in
    very late life on medicaid in a nursing home. The Washington Post has Ryan’s cuts therein resulting in a possble 30 million people cut from medicaid.
    It is this area that the Bishops will examine closely….not the theoretic realm of which author Ryan really likes.

    • Dan C

      The elderly are merely “Takers” no matter how much they may have worked in life. They most likely didn’t make enough or save enough to manage this aspect of the end of their life. They should be cared for by their family, who most likely are also Takers. Such is the construct in “Makers vs. Takers.” This is A Ryan construct.

      While Ryan, as a Conservative Catholic does not advocate euthanizing these folks, he has little interest in assuring dignified lives for them through any government means.

      This differs from how conservatives like Robert George have been defining law and government. Law and government are “didactic” in fucntion, and how both promote and support the elderly instructs society on their dignity.

      A government that fails in such protections will be part of a society that fails to dignify the elderly. In such a society, euthanaisa will be common.

      • bill bannon

        Yes and something less noticeable than euthanasia: elderly forgoing hospital stays which lead to nursing home care which takes their homes if they live too long ( shorter period under Ryan it seems)….assets they were hoping to leave to grandchildren. They’ll secretly choose death and giving to grandkids and less orderly suffering at home and who is to say they’re wrong in a culture where few nursing homes check sufficiently to prevent sometimes lethal contaminating bedsores. I’ve seen that world in a relative’s case in a pristine looking nursing home which one day didn’t notice how far her blood pressure fell….she died within two days. Never fear dying before the nursing home age no matter how beautiful the home in question. You’d need Elijah to direct you to one where they assiduously check the anal area for stage four bedsores which contaminate the blood stream. You’d be better off being shot a tad earlier by a car load of crypt gang members in a drive by….presuming they know how to shoot. If Mr. Ryan wants no military cuts but wants medicaid cuts to the working poor elderly, the Bishops will support no one since they themselves have seen elderly situations by their age of life. Imagine a candidate for whom elder care was primary. I can’t.

  • N. Zinos

    Mark, I agree with you 100%. Thank you for speaking the truth amidst the idealogical blinders that so many “conservatives” seem to be wearing. I’m pro-life, and will be voting that way, but am certainly no fan of Romney or Ryan.

  • Betsy

    I don’t think there will ever be a perfect candidate, but it would be interesting Mark if you’d name the people you would vote for if you could nominate the Presidential/VP candidates.

  • Ted Seeber

    I’m to the point though where I am almost ready to cooperate with evil (to the detriment of my soul) in that I’d rather see drone missiles hitting the National Labor Relations Board than the Church of the Immaculate Conception. And sadly, it seems, that’s the choice presented between the major parties.

    Too bad The Rent Is Too Damn High Party isn’t on my ballot.

  • Bill

    Mark, as usual, is dead balls right. And, as usual, many tribalists fight him.

    Mark is today’s Avery Cardinal Dulles.

    • Mark Shea

      “dead balls right”? Hmmmmm…..

    • Brother Cadfael

      I can assure you that Avery Cardinal Dulles would not throw around accusations of “lying,” particularly in this instance. Go against the grain? Absolutely. Stick by unpopular opinions when the tenets of our faith filtered by the demands of conscience require it? Yes. I will agree that Mark shares some of those admirable qualities. But I challenge you to find a single instance when Cardinal Dulles resorted to repeatedly attacking someone as a liar, particularly when the objective evidence is simply not there.

  • westcoast

    From NOR Q&A with Lopez and Fr. Scrico:

    LOPEZ: How troublesome is Ayn Rand? Does Paul Ryan have a problem here?
    FR. SIRICO: I believe it was Chesterton who said something to the effect that “heresy is truth gone mad.” This is certainly the case with Rand. Few writers describe more dramatically, clearly, and, at times, hysterically the evils of collectivism. She knew how to get the reader’s attention. Whatever happened in her life before she escaped the USSR enabled her to see down to the root of the danger of socialism, but not until it scarred her deeply. From all reports, she was as bright as she was cruel. She could vehemently denounce Communism in one breath and exercise a slave driver’s control over her followers in the next.
    All of this is to say that one can find some good things in Rand (her appreciation of Aristotle, grudging respect for Aquinas, and high regard for America). Yet she was also contemptuous of religion (especially Christianity), people who were religious, the poor, and the vulnerable, and she had an utterly irrational contempt of unborn human life. This means that Rand inspires contradictory thought among many. Obviously Rand has an appeal, especially to the young in search of heroes and idealism. Rand gives this to them in spades. Are there other places to find these things? Of course, but not everyone finds them early on. Is she troublesome? Yes. But most of the people I know who read her when younger have outgrown her and moved on.
    I certainly do not think that Congressman Ryan has a problem with anyone he would not already have a problem with. His descriptions of what he liked about Rand are all references to what some might call the “Good Rand.” Besides, all you would have to do is imagine what Ayn Rand would think about Paul Ryan to know just how far removed he is from her core philosophy. She would, for one thing, utterly despise his Catholic faith and his solid pro-life record. If you know Rand, it would not take a great imagination to construct what she would say about him. That, I should think, would establish the moral and philosophical distance between them.
    So, no, I do not think Congressman Ryan has a problem with any reasonable person.

    • Bob W.

      Well done, westcoast.

    • Mark Shea

      Seriously? Fr. Sirico is your go-to guy for sanitizing Ryan’s debt to Rand?

      One has to stand back and marvel at the sleekness of the Right wing noise machine in burying the past and getting out the New Reality for mass consumption.

      • Lex Libertas

        Mark, do you ever get tired of endlessly arguing with those who find your posts tediously partisan? I have never seen a blogger with thinner skin than thou. You have a genuine talent for turning a phrase, but so did Christopher Hitchens, and you both demonstrate an intrinsic mean streak and absence of charity in your writing. However, Hitchens at least was confident enough in his delusions to not feel compelled to carry on a running battle with his readers. It’s clear after reading the good, bad and ugly of your work(s) that you just can’t help yourself. The need to correct “error” and have the last word is not a virtue. I swear you must have Tu Quoque tatooed on your arm, right above Ad Hominem. The best writing on this page was Michael @ 4:05. A real man would have acknowledged that, rather than wasting 9 1/2 hours of is life engaging in defensive argumentation. And Ryan needs to repent??

        • Mr Michael Moon

          Where did he go? Why hasn’t the thin-skinned blogger replied to you yet as he always does? Perhaps tomorrow? I must say your criticism on grounds of charity doesn’t seem to fit its own bill, what with all of the accusations of him not being a real man and swearing he has them tattoos. You may call it rhetoric but that is the poor excuse of our very own Mark Shea for his own vitriol. Then again perhaps the virtue of Charity is not at issue here. Perhaps it is, as you suggest, partisanship. But partisanship on Mark’s part? Pray tell, what partisan allegiance hath he shown, for he seems to lambast all, whether Republican or Democrat? I would argue the man could be faulted for incessant anti-partisanship; he appears to not like Ryan because he is a standard Republican, but not because he isn’t a Democrat. I do wish I could hope for a response to these questions that do confuse me but, alas, you do not believe in correcting error and having the last word. And so I bid you farewell, Lex Libertas, with this, the last word. For I am a man far less virtuous than thee.

      • westcoast

        Wow, Mark. That sure argued the point, didn’t it?

    • bill bannon

      I actually avoid all pharma stocks in stock trading because I can’t keep track if they are producing a drug that is abortifacient after the cell mass is no longer totipotential….around day 14. The CDF would be stricter than I but Ryan disclosed his stocks and one is Brystol Myers Squibb which makes birth control pills. He is free to rather put such money in e.g. a water stock or Dominos Pizza because he isn’t locked into a 401 like some of you. Freedom from virtual necessity increases one’s responsibility in cooperation matters. I think the pro life Bishops would warn him off owning BMY as unnecessary in his case but for 401 people, more a matter of a regretable double effect since BMY makes wonderful anti disease drugs also. But we’re tending to canonize these people too fast as with Santorum and if someone in the Obama camp notices the
      BMY, or….a moderator in a debate notices it and puts it in a question….mama mia is all I can say.

  • Ian_jr

    The commenters who say, (paraphrase) yeah he probably said it, but he is probably better now, are dangerous. I do not want to pick on any particular commenter, but the rationalistic comments made by Margaret seem to be the epitome of the like minded missing the point of this article.

    “I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.”

    Yes, that certainly sounds enthusiastic. Pseudo-intellectual attempts at a dismissal of the facts are embarrassing. “Alphas [commonly] do this, betas often do that…” This is not the point at all. A practicing Catholic who goes to Mass every Sunday makes a clear (even if generic) and concise confession of sin, in public, and hopefully seeks the sacrament of Reconciliation as needed in addition. When I have been ashamed of mistakes I made in the past, it has often been by the encouragement, and sometimes the belt, of my parents that I was able to feel the relief that comes from “owning up.” I can understand the need to save face in the political world, but this has had the opposite effect. The evidence presented as the basis for this post is clear, even if only on this one issue.

    “Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most.”

    “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

    “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly.

    Where is the debate? It seems like some have not even read the post, just jumped into the comment section because they are either a Romney booster or anti Obama.

    The point of the article is that for some, Mr. Ryan’s adult enthusiasm is not an acceptable counterbalance to his “youthful enthusiasm”. And therefore it comes off as insincere. Pointing this out does not mean we think he can never improve. For me it is like my dad says, hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Of course reasonable people do not expect others to be perfect. However, as many have pointed out, the stakes are high when choosing leaders. I do not give in to the fear and panic that leads others to say, ‘this is the most important it has been or will be”. Because I know about the history of the world; the French revolution, WWII, the Cuban missile crisis, etc. But now is my turn to step up. I do not want to look back and say, well, I thought he seemed the least destructive.

    As for those warning of doom and rattling sabers and renewing their passports, yet again, I ask, why wait? Just go for it now. For people who believe the teaching of the Bible, the nature and inevitability of “the end” was never a question, and is eagerly awaited. From the Nicene creed, ” I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”. In fear I have convinced myself it would be a relief to go some where else. But in peace I have thought I should do my best to join the ranks of saints and martyrs, heeding Jesus’ call to be salt and light. Everyone will die someday, I would rather die in my own streets protecting my family and home, than drown like a rat jumping from a ship.

  • yan

    You can find some good in any thinker, Ayn Rand included. I personally think that her philosophy was very courageous especially in the context of the 30’s, when people didn’t yet have general knowledge about the evils that communism had already committed and was going to commit. She has inspired many people. Of course, no informed Catholic can recommend her atheism or her idea that the world is imperfect because people aren’t sufficiently selfish. But when people are young they unfortunately take the bad with the good. He has distanced himself from those aspects of her thinking which are anti-Catholic; that doesn’t mean he has to or should distance himself from those aspects of her thinking which are still pretty good.

    Mark, I don’t see how Ryan benefits politically with aligning himself with St. Thomas, so I have a hard time understanding why anybody would suspect that such an alignment is insincere. Think about it. I don’t believe the Thomistic vote is something that politicians are eagerly vying for. If I were to guess, I’d bet there were a lot more Randians than Thomists in America. So his alignment with St. Thomas is, in my opinion, praiseworthy and courageous, and not self-serving, as you seem to suggest. What substantial part of the electorate do you think Ryan is trying to impress with his alignment with the thinking of St. Thomas??

  • Mark said –
    Not demanding perfection. Simply pointing out that Ryan has dishonestly denied, rather than honestly repented, his adoration of Rand.

    I am glad someone pointed out his taste for Ayn Rand is worrisome. Though I think adoration is kind of a strong word no? Veneration maybe:)

  • adele young

    Mark….your tendency to lean left when feeling boxed into a political corner is all over this piece. I have
    been following your blogs for sometime and while I find you are very good at articulating the
    Catholic position on eccleisiatical and moral matters you never fail to show (like some Bishops!) your favortism toward the view of the liberal/left. You will deny this as you always do when confronted with this fact but anyone can go back and follow this trend of your political thinking in your blogs. I am not faulting you exactly for airing your views, ( that is your right here in American) but just noting the truth where you seem to come from on political issues. You are entitled to give your opinion, but here it
    is mostly a biased view designed to denigrate a man’s position which has been over analyzed and
    distorted. Paul Ryan with something has admitted has postion here has evolved differently from
    what it might have once seemed. His actions in the 14 years he has been in Congress have been
    hardly reflective of the rapid side of Rand’s extremism. I am sorry, given the seriousness of this race, that you choose to help the Dems shovel this distraction from their truckload of myths and lies to distract from the real issues at hand. If you have read the Ryan budget plan, you will give credence to the fact far more of
    the Catholic social policy ( subsidiarity) is reflected than anything else. If truth be told Rand is
    no where to be found there! Nor is it indicative of Ryan himself!

    • Bob W.

      Well said, adele young.

    • julian

      There’s a difference between being Contrary and being Lefty. Just because you criticize some one on the right doesn’t mean you’re holding a leftist view. Now, I happen to disagree with Mark on this post. My disagreement is more a matter of degrees btw. I concede that Ryan still “might” have some Randian ideas bonking around in his head, beneath or below the conscience. I just think it’s a bit of a stretch to hold him on the particulars. The guy, disavowed Objectivism – let’s move on already. Not just so we can endorse him either but so we can really look at the body of his legislative work and specifics of his proposals. My argument on this is that it seems sort of a reach to get all psychoanalytical “yes, but are reaaallly sorry Ryan? do you still have deep hidden nefarious thoughts, hmmm?” But even in the silly characterization I just gave, that is NOT A LEFTIST ARGUMENT! There are lots of reasons to doubt a republican candidate, that are not leftist reasons, (in fact I would suggest that there are more conservative reasons for doubting them). The reason I’m taking up all this typing space though is because you lumped in the Bishops here. Lobbing accusations at Ryan is one thing, but lobbing them at our pastors is another. The Bishops can caution, they are appointed by the Holy Spirit to do so. It doesn’t make them all lefty, (or righty for that matter) when they correct one candidate or another, (even if we feel like the other side needs a spanking too). I think sometimes we, (myself included), can assume that pastoral admonishment, cautions or corrections are only meant for the other team but the Gospels have has all sorts of warnings about those sort of assumptions.

  • Joseph

    A note for most commentators: Your politics are showing!

  • yan

    As for Romney, I am convinced the evidence shows that he is personally not partial to the Catholic view of artificial contraception. Even among Catholics, not many people are partial to the Catholic view; what can we expect from non-Catholics? However in Romney’s case, he at least favors allowing Catholics to do things their own way if it is politically feasible to allow them to do so. That is a better situation than what we have with Obama, who wants Catholics along with everyone else to do things his way, or the highway. The options may not be the options you would like to have, but they’re the options we have available to us. If Catholics make their opinions on this matter well-known, it is more likely that they will be respected under a Romney regime than they have been under the Obama regime. That seems to be the best we can hope for under these circumstances.

  • Shan Gill

    Mark Shea uses the language of the Occupy Wall Street crew to make his point. Shea impresses less with each read.

  • David M Paggi

    Mark, thank you for your post. Considering the dirt the Democrats are trying to dig up (or, as they have already demonstrated, simply manufacture), we should be grateful that Mr Ryan is willing to accept the nomination. He may be far from ideal, but it is inconceivable to me that he could be as far from ideal as Mr Biden, which corresponds remarkably to my view of Romney vis-a-vis the despicable Obama.

    Obama owns the media, both news and entertainment, the academy, unions, the LBGT crowd & their considerable number of misguided sympathizers, many very young voters (he’s much more hip & will let them get away with more), those Catholics who place great store on “social justice issues” relative to doctrine, & a very significant portion of non-Evangelical Protestants. That’s a lot of folks, for which he need not do very much work. Notwithstanding news stories to the contrary, he has access to practically unlimited money (Soros & fellow travelers).

    So I believe the perceived moral advantages in abstaining are illusory. Romney has a great deal of adversity to overcome even to be perceived as competetive, before we can even get to a point where their ticket can really have sufficient momentum to win.

    I’m no pundit, but unless the above perception is a great deal more pessimistic than ultimately obtains, every vote will count. “Less than ideal” seems light-years ahead of “proven adversary & promoter of intrinsic evil”. Abstension really isn’t an option.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    You shall know them by their fruits.

    Look at Ryan’s budget. He may be disavowing Ayn Rand in public, but he’s still promoting her views.

  • Here is another perspective on the pick of Ryan. http://catholiclane.com/romney-solidifies-pro-life-stance-with-ryan-pick/

  • Jim Mazzarelli

    Mark – Wow! I agree with 90+% of your writings: thoughtful, witty, sometimes biting, always engaging. But on this one, I think you need to press “restart”, or better yet “delete”. The language you use and demands you make of Ryan are not only unfair, but extremely uncharitable. I’m sure you’ve read it before, but maybe it’s time to read again the USCCB’s “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship — http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship-document.cfm. As much as you’d like to sit this election out, I’m afraid that’s not a faithful option. The choice is Romney-Ryan or the current president and his Catholic-in-name-only cohorts. Our nation, not to mention our Church, can’t afford another four years of this decline.

    • Timothy

      Wait a sec, are you saying a vote for the Romney ticket is now a moral obligation? What do you mean the Church can’t afford four more years of decline? It’s afforded far worse than this and the gates of Hell have still not prevailed against it.