In the middle of a Mexican town heavily dominated by Catholic inspired residents–largely very poor, I saw one of the most ambitious renderings of The Passion week in my life. The entire town showed up to follow an outdoor drama of The Christ’s crucifixion. In their play, Jesus was tried and convicted in the town for all to see and forced to carry his cross all through streets shut down by local law enforcement. My wife, who is the type of person who will do exactly the opposite of what three thousand other people are doing stood off to the side bewildered why so many people would think to gather in one place to be a part of something they clearly couldn’t see from their vantage point. The mass collectivism exhibited by the town was stunning and she could only look at me in shock. But to me, who had grown up around religion, the exhibition was not surprising. The people of the small Mexican town shared much with the ancient Hebrew people in Jerusalem so their re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion was probably very close to how it would have actually looked in the streets of the old Holy city built during a long struggle by the Jewish people. For me, such displays are never about the wonder of sacrifice as is usually the focus of those who pledge themselves to Jesus for eternal redemption. I never fault people who do not know any better but to follow behind a parade of their peers blindly. My wife and I stood off to the side in casual observation knowing that the real tragedy of Christ’s crucifixion was not that Jesus would be hung on a cross to be sacrificed so that all the people of the world would be saved in the eyes of God; it was why Jesus was killed in the first place. The poor people in Mexico like the Jewish people in Israel during the time of Jesus had a lot in common. Drug lords and corrupt politicians run the towns in Mexico where the drama I witnessed took place, and the Jewish people during the time of Jesus were controlled by high priests and Roman authorities with virtually the same motivations—control of the population so that they could sap the wealth off their labor. The message Jesus had for the people of Jerusalem at Herod’s Temple was essentially the same that John Galt had in the fictional novel Atlas Shrugged written without the pretext of religion, that the “power of pull” is the highest concern of the corrupt and the powers who desire such “pull” will do anything to maintain it. It is for this reason that The Holy Bible and Atlas Shrugged are the two most popular books read in the modern Library of Congress.
The poor people in Mexico like the poor people in ancient or even present day Jerusalem tend to lose the message that Jesus uttered at the temple when he stepped in and overturned all the vendors’ tables attempting to put a stop to all the corrupt dealings conducted there during the week of Passover. The focus of The Passion events always resides on the crucifixion, but for me the cause of the execution is far more important. People struggling just to find their next meal discover they have little control of their lives and as a result put their sentiments behind the tragic end of Jesus, instead of truly grappling with the message that placed him into so much trouble in the first place. Ayn Rand in her epic novel Atlas Shrugged understood this, and told nearly the same story with her character John Galt without being hidden behind religious metaphors, so that the impact of her message would not be lost, as it often is when studying The Bible in churches.
Before people become upset with me about comparing the Passion of Christ to Atlas Shrugged understand that I have studied and acted in renditions of The Passion many times. I have played in stage plays virtually every role in The Passion from Nicodemus to Jesus himself so I have a very good understanding of the events that led up to Jesus and his execution and I see the parallels to the story of Atlas Shrugged to be purposeful on behalf of Ayn Rand. Rand without question hoped that her warnings would not be lost behind the tendency of civilization to find the value of such stories in sacrifice, instead of attacking the real villain, the “power of pull.” Matthew 26:57 states that Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. Matthew 27:1 adds that the next morning the priests held another meeting. Mark 14:53 states that Jesus was taken that night “to the high priest” (without naming the priest) where all the chief priests and the elders gathered and in Mark 15:1 it adds that another consultation was held among the priests the next morning. Luke 22:54 states that Jesus was taken to “the high priest’s house” (without naming the priest) where he was mocked and beaten that night and in 22:66 it adds that “as soon as it was day”, the chief priests and scribes gathered together and led Jesus away into their council. Jesus was taken to the high priest because the message that he brought with him to Jerusalem was a dangerous one that countered what the Pharisees were attempting to preach to the Jewish people. In the same way John Galt was tortured in Atlas Shrugged to force him to yield to collective rule, to renounce his beliefs for the benefit of all world governments.
The Pharisees had worked out a deal with the Roman power structure within their empire which profited them greatly. They wished to believe in a similar way that James Taggert did in Atlas Shrugged that they were the good and benevolent acting for the “greater good” of the Jewish people. Of course they were truly acting on their own self-interest behind the cowardice of political pull. Jesus exposed this to the people of Jerusalem not maliciously, but simply through his authenticity—and individuality. Alone Jesus stood against the powers behind Jerusalem politics, and he was targeted for assassination because of his resistance to collective obedience to the existing powers. He was offered a chance on several occasions to take peaceful allegiance behind the Pharisees in Jerusalem but Jesus turned them all down insisting each time that he was the Messiah and that he was the “Chosen One.” The message behind Jesus taken without religious context is essentially the same as John Galt insisting that he is the power that drives the world. John Galt did not mean that he alone drove the world, but that it was through people like him that the engines of existence were motivated. Jesus intended the same message and the Pharisees couldn’t accept such a reality—because it would essentially put them out of the religion business and destroy the safety they had arranged with the Romans for their own preservation.
For the same reasons, James Taggert worked with Hank Reardon’s wife to bring the steel tycoon to trial. They conspired to protect what they believed was the good of mankind by making Hank a sacrificial lamb to the urges of collectivism. Later in the book John Galt is captured because of his love for Dagny Taggert, and he is tortured in a similar fashion. He is then offered to the mob to withdrawal his messages of individual sovereignty by the point of a gun, which he refuses. He is then stripped naked and tortured through electric shock seemingly to his death because he refused to yield to the forces of collectivism constructed by the “power of pull.” Jesus was betrayed by Judas for the price of 30 pieces of silver. Judas wanted to believe that he was doing right and uniting the Jewish message behind the Pharisees. But in reality he simply wanted the money and was no different from anyone else who cowers behind the “power of pull” to align themselves with any power for their own profit.
Peter declared that he would stand with Jesus to the bitter end but discovered as Christ predicted that he would betray the Messiah three times before the cock crowed on the following morning. Peter was very bold in his proclamations until he was faced with his own demise because he was not aligned with the “power of pull” which the Pharisees had negotiated through collectivism to suppress the minds of man. This denial by Peter of Jesus is similar to how Hank Reardon allowed himself to be convicted by The Government. He had “sinned” in cheating on his legal wife and sought to protect his true love Dagny Taggert. His need to preserve this love forced him to comply with the “power of pull.” In the novel Atlas Shrugged, John Galt never yields to such a temptation even at the point of death, which makes him the most pure form of individuality and therefore worthy of Dagny’s love. Jesus in real life did what Ayn Rand created in a fictional context. The heroes never yielded to the powers of man—to the “power of pull,” in either the Passion of Christ or Atlas Shrugged. Rand seemed to be attempting to strip away the religious context of The Passion to tell the story of John Galt so that the essence of the message would not be lost behind the human tendency toward sacrifice in religion.
The people of Jerusalem like the poor people in the Mexican town were suppressed by forces their intellects would not permit them to be freed from. The Pharisees had proved to even the most staunch supporters of Jesus that even they would cower in fear behind the “power of pull,” the power of collectivism. Human beings in private understand the message of Jesus at a level beyond consciousness, but they find they cannot act on it, just as Peter failed three times before sunrise. Many religious groups just as motivated as the Pharisees take the story of The Passion and focused on Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. The reason for this is that they wish to see donations coming into their churches and governments have openly advocated such behavior for the soul purpose of tax collection—which is at the center of the entire Jesus crucifixion—a little known fact that will be explored vividly in Bill O’Reilly’s upcoming book Killing Jesus. Institutions of all kinds have taken the message of Jesus and discarded the implication of immoral criticism and instead focused on individual sacrifice to a collective whole.
Ayn Rand wrote her story of John Galt from the point of view where religion and institutions were the villains, and she attacked their premise—which is essentially the message behind Jesus’ actions during Passover. As sure as I write such things here, there are religious zealots who will proclaim that my comparison of The Bible to Atlas Shrugged is blasphemous—and those same souls will not see that they act just as the Pharisees did against Jesus when he declared himself The Messiah and road into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, fulfilling a long-held Jewish prophesy. Jesus was preaching against institutionalism when he gave his Sermon on the Mount, it was not in a church with collections, or organized hierarchies of human behavior where some were above others based on social titles. When Jesus’ followers declared him to be The Messiah with chants of conquest he was deeply distraught, because the people didn’t understand what he was trying to teach. The message of John Galt is very similar to Jesus Christ except it’s written against two thousand years of evil that has since transpired since the time of Jesus. The great John Galt speech is something Jesus Christ would feel right at home in understanding. Jesus came from a culture that believed sacrifice was needed to appease the gods, or in Jesus’ case—GOD. His views were radically different from those of the ruling Pharisees. In the modern age Ayn Rand’s character of John Galt expands on such teachings with a uniquely American frame of reference. With all the concern over religious perspective removed, the teachings of Jesus and John Galt—relative to their impact on world literature are virtually the same. It is no wonder that the world gobbles up the words of The Bible and Atlas Shrugged with such vigor, which terrifies all institutional control organizations.
The people my wife and I observed in Mexico celebrating The Passion with a mass display of raw collectivism are a long way from understanding what Jesus or John Galt intended in their literary communications. With the Mexican people afraid that if they step out of line, they might be killed, raped, or otherwise socially disgraced—there is no room in their minds to comprehend the real messages of Jesus aside from memorizing the sacrificial portions of his sermons. It is far easier to sit in a church pew and allow a “man of God” to interpret the value of spirituality for them, than to think on their own and stand against an entire empire as Jesus did in The Bible, or as John Galt did against the entire world in Atlas Shrugged. As I watched the Mexican people follow the actor of Jesus through the town streets dusty with rainless days and an unforgivable sun, I felt pity that I could not help the thousands of people following blindly the idea of sacrifice when the messages that caused the crucifixion were truly what was important yet being missed. My wife and I could only shrug at each other and pay respect to their rituals without insult, for it is more valuable to have rituals that instigate worth than to cast aside morality because fear contorts reason. Many people use religion to hold their fears at bay. The idea that one should struggle, sacrifice and live their lives for an after world to finally meet Jesus on the other side of life is what the Pharisees and their Roman controllers intended in order to preserve the power structures that they profited from, which is why they killed Jesus. Watching history interpret the story of Jesus the way they did, Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged so the message could not be distorted in any way by any institution. Rand removed the religious context so that the words of John Galt could not be intercepted by any institution and re-interpreted over the wine glasses of sacrifice. Jesus was one of the most pure souls who ever graced the world of mankind and it appears that only a fraction of his total essence made its way into history through written form. But what did survive was a lesson that is still present for those who have eyes to see the message and have the courage to do as he did—and that is to stand against the institutions which seek to preserve the “power of pull” which has held mankind in chains since the first village elected a tribal chief to force submission of all others under their command. Such arrangements are almost always claimed by the powerful to be the work of God. Yet Jesus attempted to free the human mind from such shackles and due to his crucifixion and short life, institutions were able to contain the message behind tragedy. But 2000 years later through a work of fiction, clarity was brought to the literature of mankind through the unique country of America and the raw passion of Ayn Rand who wrote the greatest novel perhaps ever created…………..Atlas Shrugged, which had solved a riddle against institutionalism that had been a plague to man’s mind for all of known history and shattered the long accepted notion that human beings would always be ruled by the “power of pull.”