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R. J. Rushdoony: A Working Model of Productivity

Gary North
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Sept. 14, 2009

We all need role models. Role models serve as guidelines to what is possible. We need different role models for different areas of our lives. In the division of labor, there are specialists who have done better than everyone else we know in various areas. When it comes to output per unit of time, R. J. Rushdoony has been my model since 1965.

Beginning in 1966, the second year of his newly created Chalcedon ministry, which was not yet approved as tax-exempt by the government, Rushdoony published a note at the end of his January newsletter on what he had done the previous year. This was so that donors would know their money had not been wasted. He listed the number of times he had spoken, the things he had written, and the books he had read. By "read," he meant: underlined, with a personal index of key ideas and page numbers at the back of each book.

(What would you pay for a series of CD-ROMs with PDFs of all of the public domain books he ever read, with his notes and underlines, with the books organized into categories? A dollar a book? His son Mark owns all of his books; he could produce these at 30 cents per scanned page.

This is the note for January 1, 1966.

Total number of speaking engagements, locally and across country: 266
Books read in full in course of research: 145
Letters written, exclusive of Newsletters: 1,265

Writing records:

Radio talks, October - December, KBBI, KPPC: 11
California Farmer columns: 14
News and Views issues: 2
Articles in Christian Economics: 6
Article in American Opinion: 1
Leaflets for Coast Federal Savings: 4
Filmstrips, texts written for Jotham Production: 3
Chapters in T.R. Ingram Creationist Symposium: 2
Chapter contributed to symposium on Gordon Haddon Clark: 1
Newsletters: 12
Other reviews and articles: 4

In preparation of the future:

Chapter in Your Church - Their Target
Forewords to two books
The Dallas County Committee for the Support of Local Police, published as a pamphlet the appendix to my book, published in 1965, Nature of the American System, on "Localism and the Police Power"

That was an off year, because he had moved to Southern California. More representative was his output in 1967, listed in Newsletter 29.

Total number of speaking engagements: 251
Letters written, exclusive of newsletter mailings: 1411
Books read in full, exclusive of extensive reading and study in various works: 223


Radio talks: 23 (Radio series was used in Los Angeles, and is now in use in South Carolina and northern California.)
California Farmer columns: 17
Mythology of Science, book. Mostly written in previous years; two chapters written in 1967; published in September, 1967
Foundations of Social Order, The Creeds and Councils of the Early Church. Written in 1967, in the hands of printer for 1968 publication
The Biblical Philosophy of History. Completed in 1967; to be typed and sent in to publisher, 1968
Filmstrip text: "Foundations of Social Order."
Review article for November, 1967, Westminster Theological Journal.
Article on John Witherspoon for Christian Economics, to be published in 1968
Introduction for Gary North's book: Marx's Religion of Revolution, to be published in 1968.

Then there was his output for 1968 (Newsletter 41).

Total no. of speaking engagements: 157
Books read: 303
Mail total: 1874
Articles written for California Farmer: 26 (All columns through 1968 will be published in a forthcoming book, Bread Upon the Waters).
Studies in Book of Revelation: 8 chapters, to be published with earlier studies.
Politico-economic studies: 3 chapters, to be published in a ms being prepared at present)
Two chapters written toward another book on education.
The Myth of Over-Population, written in 1968, to be published, 1969.
30 chapters of a study of Biblical law.
Two chapters added to study of the problem of the one and the many.
Two chapters added to the study of constitutional history.
One chapter added to study of The Religion of Revolution.
Two chapters written on U.S. coinage study, to be written with Burton Blumert.
Two articles; three book reviews.
Introduction written to John Witherspoon's Essay on Money, to be reprinted, 1969.
Introduction written Dooyeweerd's Christian Idea of the State,to be published, 1969. Proofs corrected, indexing done, for The Foundations of Social Order, Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church, which came off the presses at the end of December, 1968.
Mss. of The Myth of Over-population, The Biblical Philosophy of History, and Bread Upon the Waters prepared for printers.
During 1968, my study, Freud, went into its second printing, as did also The Messianic Character of American Education.
Wrote 12 Newsletters.

One of my great pleasures is receiving letters; one of my persistent problems is trying to find time to answer them! Please be patient if your letters sometimes go unanswered for many weeks: I do appreciate them but I am often unable to find time to reply.

As you can see, he slacked off on speaking engagements.

He usually read 200 to 300 books a year from at least age 25 to age 80. That was input. He never forgot about output. He did not believe in the labor theory of value. He believed in output per hour.

I once read a term paper -- not a master's thesis -- that he wrote as a graduate student for the famed medieval historian, Ernst Kantorowicz. It was about 600 double-spaced pages long: Visible Sovereignty: An Analysis of the Problem in Church and State in England Since 1500. He was not a history major. He was getting an M.A. in education. He had majored in English as an undergraduate.

This is productivity: decade after decade. He stuck to his knitting.

This has been my output model, along with Murray Rothbard.

And then there was Holland's Abraham Kuyper. He started his career in the mid-1860's. He was a minister. He founded a newspaper and wrote (we think) thousands of articles and unsigned editorials. He co-founded a new denomination, which survived until 2005. He founded a political party in 1879 and remained chairman until 1905. In 1880, he founded a university: The Free University of Amsterdam. He served as a professor of theology. The university still exists. He wrote about 80 volumes of works on theology. He served as Prime Minister, 1901-5. He, too, stuck to his knitting. He did a lot of knittimg.

Aim high. Shoot straight. Praise the Lord. Audit the FED.

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