Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Benedict Option: the sound of one hand clapping

Benedict Option
It will all be explained in the book

In We Have Been Warned, Rod Dreher gives us his most succinct and salient explanation for his Benedict Option to date. All emphases in the paragraph below are Dreher's:

I find that even at this late date, it is difficult to get ordinary Christians, including pastors, to understand the reality of what’s coming. You should believe David Gushee. He has done us all a favor here. He and his allies — that is, the entire American establishment — are going to do everything they possibly can to eliminate any place of retreat. When people say that if the Left has its way, there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to, I agree. That does not mean they will succeed, at least not at first, but it’s just a matter of time. This means that we will need the Benedict Option more than ever. The Ben Op is not about escapism; it’s about building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions. The church will be under unprecedented pressure, legally and socially, to capitulate. But it will be possible to resist, though not without paying a high cost. I talk about how to do this in my forthcoming book.

Because this is such a rare gift of plainly stated gold, let's unpack it one logical line at a time, shall we?

When people say that if the Left has its way, there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to, I agree.

So there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to?

That does not mean they will succeed, at least not at first...

So there may be Benedict Option places left to retreat to?

but it’s just a matter of time. 

So there won't be Benedict Option places left to retreat to. So...because there won't be Benedict Option places left to retreat to,

This means that we will need the Benedict Option more than ever.


The Ben Op is not about escapism; it’s about building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions.

Very well. In this place from which the church has no escape from or means of avoiding the predations of the Left, we will nevertheless need Rod's Benedict Option more than ever to show us how to build the institutions and adopt the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions.

Let's make sure we clearly understand the meaning of some things right now.

If there really is no escape - Rod's own premise*, which we're following; and even if there were a means of escape, the Benedict Option wouldn't be about taking advantage of it anyway - then this means the Left potentially seizing property and bank accounts of non-compliers and even having Child Services remove children from the homes of non-compliers (ask the radical LDS church about this).

That's what no escape means. That's what happens to those with no escape. It doesn't mean that, because you can't relocate to Lichtenstein or Monaco, that there will still be a pinky promise floor supporting what you don't need to worry about escaping from.

If Rod is being serious, what I described is what he means by "no escape" - ultimately, the possibility of renouncing either your faith or your children.

If he's merely being dramatically hyperbolic in order to sell a book, then his Benedict Option becomes as optional as that book purchase.

So when Rod proceeds to talk about "building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions", he is very clearly now not referring to material things or means. Remember, in a "no escape" scenario, the Leftist State has just run its Komatsu D575A-3 over your church's remaining bricks.

He is referring to something else. Non-material things and means to build solely mental/spiritual institutions and adopt solely mental/spiritual practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions.

In sum, Rod's Benedict Option is being offered as, in essence, your conceptual Christian AndroGel, the solution to the problems your unfortunate Christian "low-C" will clearly enable in the face of the ultimately inescapable predations of the left. Had your Christian faith been, like Rod's, sufficiently potent to begin with, obviously none of this Leftist predation would have been allowed to happen.

Very well. Logically, we have finally come face to face with the real enemy, and he is you and your feeble, low-C Christianity.

Now this is actually plausible, at least in part. Feeble Christians who end up allowing an ultimately inescapable and irresistible Leftist State to overrun them could very easily, at least following these logical premises that Rod lays out, find themselves in the conundrum of renouncing their faith in order to retrieve their own children from Leftist State Child Services foster care.

So the questions remaining unanswered are

2. If the material, political realm (including, implicitly, armed revolt) has already been foreclosed upon, or if you have already written it off as lost, through what avenues other than prayer do you intend to act to ensure you're never forced to choose between your faith and your children?

1. If, as Rod's logic leads us inescapably to conclude, the problem is ultimately your own insufficiently potent faith (because every possible alternative has already been written off conceptually, in Rod-tendered despair), what reason do we have to believe that blogger Rod Dreher is the person with the magic cream to cure what ails you and, reciprocally, your very church itself?

But, really, if you accept that you and your church truly are Rod-defined impotent, and if you're still foolish enough not to call Rod, who ya gonna call?


Epilogue: In the scenario of Rod's Benedict Option logic and the settings he ascribes for it, there is no way to account for the timeline of the Leftist State finalizing its "just a matter of time" and the timeline of Rod himself triumphantly having implemented his Benedict Option becoming benevolently synchronous in Rod's favor.

So if the Leftist State has already moved to foreclose his escape and, because he is obviously a high-profile troublemaker, Child Services already has his children, which will Rod himself choose?

1. He weeps for his lost children, but he refuses to publicly renounce his faith.

2. He publicly renounces his faith, and his children are returned to him.

I believe I'll coin this the Benedict Option Choice.

*In this post I am following Rod's own clearly stated premises to their logical conclusions. If his Benedict Option is salted with an open-ended number of handy ad hoc sophistic escape hatches and do-overs instead, then his Benedict Option remains what we always cynically believed it was, that is, whatever he says it is, on any given day, as long as it lures you into giving him your money in exchange for his book about it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

"On this one, Trump is absolutely correct."

An NRA article about Clinton on gun rights quotes a piece by Charles C. W. Cooke. Both are good, here's an excerpt from the NRA article:

As Charles C.W. Cooke writes, “As anybody with an elementary understanding of American law comprehends, one does not need to call [a constitutional] convention in order to effectively remove a provision from the Constitution.

Cooke explains what it would mean, if Clinton were elected and appointed even one anti-gun judge to the Supreme Court, and thereafter the Court overturned the Heller decision and declared that the amendment doesn’t protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.

“Should Hillary get her way, that right would disappear (at least legally), and the government would be freed up to make any policy choice it wished — up to and including a total ban. Who can say with a straight face that this wouldn’t be ‘essentially abolish the Second Amendment’? Who can claim without laughing that a reversal of Heller wouldn’t render the right a dead letter? On this one, Trump is absolutely correct.”

As we noted in October, Clinton has said that the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller(2008) was “wrong,” and as we noted in June, Clinton has also said that it was “a terrible ruling.” When asked on national television “do you believe that . . . an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right,” Clinton refused to answer. She said only that the right “is subject to reasonable regulations,” and implied that “reasonable” would allow for every onerous gun law that came down the pike before Heller, including the handgun bans of the District of Columbia and Chicago, “assault weapon” and magazine bans in several states, and prohibitions on the carrying of firearms for protection, just to name a few.

Clinton refused to answer. We're used to that by now. Trump ought to try that now and again, you know, to mix it up a little. But Clinton's silence speaks volumes. I know I've noted it before, but a local Democrat Party leader I knew in Pennsylvania was also a life-long NRA member. And a single mom. When Obama made his famous clinging to guns remark he was not talking about Republicans or "right-wingers". He was talking about Americans.

Ownership of guns is a freedom issue, a security issue and a size of government issue. If no one is allowed to personally own a gun, government will have a bigger job protecting everyone. If personal gun ownership is ever made illegal it will be time for civil disobedience. Everyone has the God given right to defend themselves and their family.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why Rod Dreher is pushing a Hillary Clinton victory

Rod Dreher Hillary Clinton

Various email discussions over the past weeks have pondered who Rod Dreher will be voting for in the upcoming presidential race and have given several plausible reasons why, although Dreher himself has been coy about the matter on his blog in order to technically protect TAC's tax-exempt status.

Regardless of which candidate Dreher actually ends up pulling the lever for, here is who he is pushing to win, and why.

Who: Hillary Clinton

Why: The candidate most damaging to Christians will do the most to promote sales of his forthcoming Benedict Option book, delivered to the publisher just today, a book about, as Dreher himself touts it, the last, best and only hope for Christians at the end of the cultural line.

The better things are for Christians, the worse a book about a pointless and needless Benedict Option will sell. The worse things are for Christians, the better a book that purports to offer any hope at all will sell.

Demand, meet Supply. Or, rather, Supply, meet a Demand massaged as best the Supplier can manage to massage it.

Well, Keith, why do you say such a thing, readers may ask. Rod has already told us he cannot tell us who he favors for President. Why shouldn't we believe him?

He doesn't have to. His actions speak louder than any words ever could. And besides, it doesn't even matter who he votes for. What matters is how many votes he can steer to the candidate he needs to win to maximize his personal book sales profits. He doesn't need to vote at all so long as he steers enough votes to produce a Hillary win.

If one reads his posts over the last year, they are Trump-this and Trump-that out the wazoo, most of them either actively or passive-aggressively negative, with virtually no posts at all about candidate Hillary or any of her sins dating back decades.

Debbie Wasserman Schulz herself could have scheduled these non-existing Hillary posts in the same manner and for the same reasons she made poor Bernie Sanders try to make his case on television on a Saturday freaking night, for goodness sake, in order to effectively render the subject - in Dreher's case Hillary, in Schulz' case Bernie - virtually invisible.

But isn't Donald Trump just naturally more..."newsy"?

Sure enough. Trump is always saying things to make people's tongues wag.

But, although his style will always be Gawkerish at heart, believe it or not Rod Dreher's current beat really isn't the juiciest, most gossipy newsy tidbits of a TMZ or a Gawker. According to Rod, his passion and focus is being ostentatiously hip-deep in his own personal Christian holiness and, above everything else worldly, religious liberty and a fierce dedication to the protection of that religious liberty.

A religious liberty a Hillary Clinton presidency would end up stomping like Godzilla, before Godzilla then ate whatever mush remained.

But he hardly ever mentions Hillary Clinton. Why not? Why does he never mention the one candidate that everyone knows and every liberal dreams will do the most to damage the religious liberty of Christians in every way possible?

Because he needs a religious liberty stomped to mush by a Hillary Godzilla Clinton in order to drive sales of his prescriptive solution for mush-stomped religious liberty - his Benedict Option. If the financial motive were not so glaringly obvious, one might suspect Munchhausen by proxy.

To follow Dreher's comparative interest in Hillary Clinton is to be led to the belief that Hillary is spending her time only doing yoga and playing with her grandchildren, not trashing national security, not selling access to government for personal gain, definitely not working every angle available to change "...deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases..."

Prove me wrong. Watch Dreher's past, present and future posts about the presidential candidates and score things for yourself. Trump will be held up as an appalling pariah; Hillary will be invisible; and a dependable percentage of Dreher's readers will end up voting for the major party candidate who has not been held up as an appalling pariah.

And, then, after Hillary ends up doing enough of this and that, particularly with the help of her newly energized Supreme Court, even you might fall into enough despair to buy Rod's Benedict Option book, if only as the worthless placebo you nevertheless desperately need in lieu of no other hope at all.

This is the true cultural wasteland for Christians, what Hannah Arendt called the "banality of evil": in this case, casual, premeditated betrayal by those you trust most. Your mother sells you to the biker gang passing through for a bag of meth. Your ostensibly most (self-declared) Christian hero sells you out with a smile to line his own pockets.

By the way, I hear Rod's Benedict Option book goes on sale shortly after Hillary's inauguration. Just in time.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tim Kaine: Another Pro-abortion Catholic VP Candidate

Wow, what a coincidence. Hillary picks another souper candidate—a pro-choice Catholic in the mold of Joe Biden. This is obviously meant to secure the Catholic vote which is already eluding Trump as this piece points out; excerpt:

Consistently reliable Republicans who attend Mass weekly supported Mitt Romney four years ago by 15 percentage points. Clinton is winning this critical slice of the Catholic electorate by a whopping 19 points. The Republican ticket also usually performs well with white Catholic voters, who supported Romney by 9 points, 53 percent to 44 percent. Clinton has halved that gap, trailing Trump by only a few percentage points, 50 percent to 46 percent.

John Zmirak sums it up for me. My thoughts exactly, man.

As a Catholic who considers human life the first and most critical issue, with freedom a very close second, I can cut some slack to secular atheists and agnostics who don’t see what’s wrong with abortion. Their worldview tells them that life is cheap, man is a mutant, and we should grab what pleasure we can before our skulls fall to rot with Darwin’s. That’s an ugly view of life, but at least it makes sense. I feel profoundly sad for people who see their own lives this way; they’re like a primitive tribe that forgot why cannibalism is wrong, which proudly shows a visiting missionary their jewelry made out of human fingers.

But when a highly educated Christian, himself a former Catholic missionary, slaps on such a necklace because it will help him win elections — that’s something else entirely. Tim Kaine’s is the face of a man who knows better, who by his own admission realizes exactly what Planned Parenthood is doing, and who they are doing it to: innocent children, who hide in the womb as each of us, and as the baby Jesus, once did. It should be the safest place on this fraught and fallen earth — but in America, it has become a killing field. Not because of men like Lenin, like Hitler, or even like Hugh Hefner.

Because of men like Senator Kaine.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Barack Obama has become the Anti-cop President

City Journal's Myron Magnet points out that Obama had a chance to use his good fortune as the first black President to correct the impression that in the United STates blacks will always be an underclass of victims. It is so sad that he chose instead to stoke resentment among hate groups, even inviting representatives of one of them to the White House.

It seemed to me that Obama had a unique opportunity to speak about values and virtues to this minority of African Americans—to tell them that his own life exemplified how in twenty-first century America you could get an education, work hard, get married, be an attentive husband and father, and maybe even become president of the United States. How disappointing that he chose the other tack, stoking grievance and resentment over supposed victimization by all authority, whether from teachers, cops, or potential employers. He and his attorneys general went sniffing out evidences of racism everywhere, and demonizing the police. Even after five officers were assassinated by an enraged black murderer in Dallas, he said, inaccurately, falsely, and callously: “There are legitimate issues that have been raised, and there’s data and evidence to back up the concerns that are being expressed by these [Black Lives Matter] protesters. And if police organizations and departments acknowledge that there’s a problem and there’s an issue, then that, too, is going to contribute to real solutions. And, as I said yesterday, that is what’s going to ultimately help make the job of being a cop a lot safer. It is in the interest of police officers that their communities trust them and that the kind of rancor and suspicion that exists right now is alleviated.”

Obama was offered this chance, and he blew it....

Monday, July 18, 2016

Followup from David Clarke on the nature of Black Lives Matter

As an apt followup to my post about what Black Lives Matter is really all about, this is a short exchange between a journalist who is too limp-wristed to condemn a hateful ideology and a Sheriff, David Clarke, who is not.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Don't Take the Bait

If you are a mouse or a 21st century American I have some advice for you: learn to identify traps, then don't take the bait.

While driving down the road, several of my sons and I were watching some 20-somethings put up Black Lives Matter yard-signs in a neighborhood around West 150th Street in Cleveland. My oldest son stated it best. "Everyone believes that black people count just as much as whites, except for racists. So when someone says to you 'Black lives matter' what they really mean to say to you is 'You're a racist.' It's just an accusation."

He's right obviously. It's the same leftist abuse of language which infects the pathetic chant of the Occupy Movement "We. Are. The Ninety-nine Percent!!" But they're not; they are a tiny sliver of the American populace. They may speak for somewhere between 5% and 15% of the victicrat population, but that's probably generous of me.

Unfortunately some people who aren't anywhere near the fringe left have taken the rhetorical bait. The group Blue Lives Matter is one which I heartily support, but Oh! how I wish they hadn't named themselves that. Once you realize that saying "Black Lives Matter" is really a challenge which could be phrased as the question, "Are you going to support us or the police?", then saying "Blue Lives Matter" can be interpret as answering "No, I don't support you; I support the Police." It is a way to inadvertently perpetuate the perception that the police are out to get anyone who is black. That perception is a win for BLM and left's booming victim industry.

The latest abuse of this comes from the Charles Sheldon-style Protestant Socialist contingent in the form of WWJD-ing the rhetoric. The first place I saw this was a Facebook placard which simply appropriated the voice of Christ saying things like "Jesus didn't say all lives matter, He said leper's lives matter. Jesus didn't say all lives matter, He said the poor's lives matter." And on and on. The truth is that Our Lord didn't speak in hashtags and soundbites at all, and that is the best counterpoint here. One could point out the many times that Jesus used universal language (ever hear of John 3:16?) but I'd be wary of taking the bait.

The other place I saw something similar was a Patheos article which I won't even link to. It actually uses the Beatitudes in an attempt to make a similar point. It has a cartoon of Christ saying "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and a listener objecting "No, Jesus! Blessed are we ALL!" So the message is that anyone who says "All lives matter" is telling Jesus to shut up. One could point out that none of the Beatitudes mention race, but again, I think that getting into a theological discussion on this is getting into pearls/swine territory and we know how that ends. It's best to stay in one piece.

So the best comeback to shouts of "Black Lives Matter!" is not "Blue lives matter" or even "All lives matter". Calling out the Black Lives Matter movement for what it is, an organization profiting from civil unrest and organized by racist agitators, is the best reaction to anything touching which smells of their caustic rhetoric. Christians and especially American Christians have to become aware of real motives and quit being so gullible. Jesus instructed us as much.