|Courtesy of Mike Hoy (Loompanics), I read Wallace Ward's Advanced Concepts of Poker and also the novel Man's Choice. At the same time, I read Confessions of a Poker Player by Herbert O. Yardley, the cryptographer and intelligence agent.
The specifics of poker aside, Frank Wallace's theories on life do describe some of what happens, as you found out at first. The zero-sum game exists. Whether and to what extent churchgoers get "nothing" for their money is debatable -- and von Mises, for one, would say that if they did not get something for their money, they would not part with it. Wallace looked at the problem from a different perspective.
Beyond that, the Neo-Tech cult is not much different from the Objectivist cult. There is truth at the basis of it. It is useful in life. However, when you factor in Ayn Rand's drug-induced paranoia, Frank O'Connor's alcoholism, and the purges -- which continue to this day -- as well as "rational dancing" and all the rest -- you have to take a step back and say, "This is not for me." Not that Objectivism, per se, is flawed, but that people are inconsistent.
Frank Wallace's personal problems are one thing. HIs published ideas are another. If you found some value in what you read, then you benefited to that extent. I drive a 1990 Toyota Camry with 300,000 miles on it. The radio does not work. There is no sense in blaming the car. I take things as they are and make the best of them. That's me. You, Luke, are still in church. You want One Truth to explain Everything and provide you with an Infallible Guide to Living. I don't think you are going to find it. I do see, however, that you have gained from your search. You have found truths that work for you. You are personally successful and reasonably happy. So, whatever you got from your brief encounter with Neo-Tech was a gain for you.
By the way, I have recommended Julian Jaynes here. I read his book. You will benefit from it, as well. "Bicameral" people are all around us. The constant drumming of mass media is how they get their instructions. Absent that, they would wander about huntering and gathering and using complex animal calls to find mates. That voice in your head that sounds like Luke, lots of people don't have one of their own.
You could get rich cheating them in zero-sum games, but, courtesy of Ayn Rand, you have found a better way to live your life.
I'd say more, but I have some achievements of my own to attain today.